Facebook has announced today that it will provide 50 different gender identities. And, according to the Associated Press, the options on the list will evolve based on user input.
This move, which has been in the works for four months at Facebook, feels one part unexpected and one part reactionary – as Facebook users have been protesting for a move like this for sometime, both through the creation of groups and the signing of petitions, but also through taking advantage of a loophole in Facebook’s coding to change their pronouns form ‘his’ or ‘hers’ to ‘theirs’.
Facebook has also shown its forward thinking by ceasing to tie gender to pronouns. Users can now pick their gender,and additionally and separately choose their pronouns (though only from a list of ‘she’, ‘he’ or ‘they’).
In a world that often times sensationalizes or caricaturizes the transgender community, this move from Facebook goes a long way in helping to normalize different gender identities.
There are at least 700,000 individuals in the United States who identify as transgender, estimates The Williams Institute, a think tank based at the Univesity of California, Los Angeles.
In addition to empowering the transgender users of Facebook, this move allows users to identify as cisgender. In allowing for this, Facebook is helping to do away with the idea that any one gender identity is the “norm” or the “prototype.”
Mara Keisling, the Executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), says, “At a time in which transgender people still face high rates of bullying, disrespect, harassment, and violence, this welcome change is another step in the recognition of transgender and gender non-conforming people.”
The NCTE also encouraged Facebook to consider “Other policies that help maintain the privacy of transgender people.” One such policy being “to make LGBT-specific privacy and security information available to users.”
So, how do you go about changing your gender? Simple, follow these steps:
1. Click the “edit” button for Basic Information
2. In the pop-up menu, select the “custom” option
3. In the field that appears below that, type in your gender and a list of options will appear