Facebook today announced it’s dropping the binary restrictions it previously placed on gender selection. Now, Facebook’s 1.23 billion users can select either male, female, or a third customizable option which includes 50 new terms that the social network hopes will satisfy every member of the LGBTQI community.
Terms include “Agender,” “Trans,” “Pangender” and “Androgynous,” with users also able to select the appropriate pronoun they wish to be referred to with. Options are now him, her, or them. This will change the way Facebook displays that person’s profile, such as showing “Comment on their status,” rather than on her or his, for example.
Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison spoke with the Associated Press about the new changes:
“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. All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option, do you want to be male or female? What is your gender? And it’s kind of disheartening because none of those let us tell others who we really are.”
Harrison intends to change her own Facebook identity to TransWoman.
The changes will initially only cover users in the U.S., and there are currently no plans to change binary family identifiers, such as Mother or Son, to include new gender options. However, the importance of this move by Facebook cannot be overlooked.
Facebook’s director of growth, Alex Schultz, summarized the company’s reason for the change:
“Really, there was no debate within Facebook about the social implications at all. It was simple: Not allowing people to express something so fundamental is not really cool so we did something. Hopefully a more open and connected world will, by extension, make this a more understanding and tolerant world.”
Photo Credit: Giuseppe Milo