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Facebook has introduced new gender identity options for users, broadening its selection to 58 options. Here’s a recap of the great and not so great aspects of this move.

The Bad:

  • While you now have the ability to self-identify in more diverse ways, Facebook still embraces the gender binary and stigmatizes those that do not fall within this binary. From the drop-down menu you can select male, female, or “custom”. My gender identity is not a magical outlier that needs to be customized.
  • Once “custom” has been selected you must begin to type in an identity for suggestions to pop-up, instead of another drop-down menu that lists all options. This is not the easiest design Facebook could have implemented and is difficult for users to fill-in who aren’t familiar with the dozens of gender identities Facebook now allows.
  • Facebook is still seriously lacking pronoun options. Users only have three options: he, her, or them. In recent years there has been a rise in other pronoun options becoming common and vernacular, and it would be great for Facebook to validate these.
  • Some, including me, would be just as pleased to see Facebook eliminate all gender identity options. Or at the minimum have an option for no response. I respect individuals’ authority to believe in gender and identify in any way they want, but on Facebook you cannot choose your performance and reproduction of gender. For instance, Facebook bombards you with gendered ads that you cannot opt out of.
  • So far the new gender identities are only available when using Facebook in English (US). Hopefully, this step forward will be extended to all language platforms soon. It would also be wonderful to see Facebook include linguistic selections for gender identities around the world.

The Good

  • The inclusion of options has already sparked conversations regarding gender identity. Even introductory conversations on the difference between gender and sex by the masses are monumental.
  • Facebook has always been an intuitive and accessible platform. The ease of use has continued for selecting your gender identity option. I especially like that Facebook allows you to separately choose your gender identity and preferred pronouns. So you can list that you identify as a cisgender woman who uses he/him/his pronouns, or any other combination you wish.
  • It is refreshing that Facebook included gender identities common within various communities. For example, users now have the option to identify as “two spirit” which has historical and modern relevance among First Nation peoples.
  • Equally as exciting is Facebook’s decision to not just add “transgender” as a gender identity, but a spectrum of gender-variant options. Diversifying the “T” reminds folks that transgender is often employed as an umbrella term, and there are dozens of identities within the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

  • LokiSJack83

    I’m so happy to see this happening!