For a social media platform with 1.39 billion users and counting, Facebook has taken a lot of flak from the LGBT community over the past year about its pretty prescriptive gender options. Especially compared to the less popular Google+ network, which choose to introduce infinite gender selections two months ago.
With its new "custom" option, the site has finally decided to let users type in the definition that best describes their own gender identity. They will still try and give you a hand with some auto-fill options, but a statement from the Facebook Diversity page says: “We recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way.”
Last February the site tried to update its gender options with 71 new choices, like "intersex" and "transgender", after working with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). While a step in the right direction, this still forced users to pick from a pre-chosen list of gender terms.
Now Facebook have decided to scrap that and give people the right to self-determination and gender expression on the site. You want to define your gender as a genderqueer anarcho-femme? Go straight ahead.
GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis was happy to see Facebook free up the gender field, saying: “By empowering people to talk about their gender in their own words, Facebook continues to be a leader in its commitment to respecting and protecting LGBT users.”
She added: “Part of who you are is just being able to describe yourself in a way that feels right to you.” Something we can all agree on.
To edit your gender on Facebook, all you need to do is hit edit on the Basic Information section of your profile. Unfortunately, the update is only available to those using the English-language version of Facebook. How about rolling it out to the rest of the world, Facebook?
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