Facebooks Adds New Gender Options for Transgender Users | Fanboys Anonymous

Facebooks Adds New Gender Options for Transgender Users

Posted by Caelan Dooley Thursday, February 13, 2014
Facebook has announced that it will now offer a customizable gender option to appeal to its transgender members, adding about 50 different terms people can use to identify as.

Facebook adds 50 new gender terms for transgender users


Transgender members amongst Facebook's 159 million monthly users in the United Sates will now be able to choose how they are represented on the social network. International users will soon share the option.

Facebook said in a post on its Diversity page:

When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self. An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just "male" or "female." So today, we're proud to offer a new custom gender option to help you better express your own identity on Facebook.

Facebook collaborated with a group of leading LGBTQ advocacy organizations to come up with the new gender categories, CNN reported.

Among the new gender options are: Trans Female, Trans Male, Trans Person, Transsexual, MTF or FTM, Bigender, Androgynous, Cis-gender, Cis-Female, Cis-Male, Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer, Pangender, Gender Variant, and Gender Questioning.

The new feature also allows users to select a custom pronoun that will represent them across the website, such as "her," "him," or "them." 

Users will also have the option to control who can view their custom gender.

Facebook allows the option to change how the user is represented"This new feature is a step forward in recognizing transgender people and allows them to tell their authentic story in their own words," GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis—whose LBGT rights organization worked with Facebook on the new feature—said in a statement, NBC reported. "Once again, Facebook is on the forefront of ensuring that the platform is safe and accessible to all of its LGBT users."

"There's going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world," said Facebook software engineer, Brielle Harrison, to LGBTQ Nation.

In a major step by Facebook for its 1.23 billion users around the world, they are the first of the social media giants that offers a custom gender option. While Google+ offers male, female, and "other" as choices, the more specific terms will set Facebook apart from its competitors.

However, Facebook's advertising targets users according to "male" or "female," so for those who opt. to use the custom gender, ads will be targeted based on the pronoun they select. Advertisers will not be able target to the transgender community—at least not yet, anyways. Additionally, changing of your gender is not perceived as a "life event" and will not post publicly on your timeline.

With Facebook and other social media outlets becoming a person's online identity, the basic addition plays a significant role in the nation's growing transgender rights movement, allowing users to comfortably and accurately represent themselves.

To further support the LGBT community, Facebook added the options of "In a Civil Union" and "In a Domestic Partnership" in 2011, and in 2012, gay marriage timeline icons were added.

Transgender activists have long been pushing for a gender-neutral option. LGBT rights network, All Out, started an online petition demanding the change, gaining 38,566 signatures as of today.

According to The Human Rights Campaign, roughly three-quarters (73 percent) of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths it surveyed in 2013 say they are more honest about themselves online than in the real world. The survey reported that 56 percent of LGBT youth have said they came out to their immediate family, with only a quarter coming out to their extended family.

With LGBT youth being two times as likely to be verbally harassed at school—identifying at a younger and younger age—Facebook addresses the need to be comfortable with who you are and how you are represented on the Internet.

This is a crucial milestone to the overall acceptance of the LGBT community on the Internet, and hopefully other social networks follow suit. Let us know how you feel about the changes in the comments section below.
THIS POST WRITTEN BY: CAELAN DOOLEY

Caelan Dooley is a queer artist, activist, and writer, covering comics, tech, and video games. She regularly performs with the Rich Weirdoes, Orlando's Rocky Horror shadow cast. You can follow her on Twitter. Extended staff profile here.

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