Facebook Proudly Waves its Rainbow Flag with New Gender Options

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In the ongoing conversation about sexual orientation and gender roles, Facebook just took to the podium. The social network has expanded its gender selections to include 50 alternative options beyond male and female, including transgender, cisgender, gender fluid, intersex and neither. 

At least 700,000 people in the US now identify as transgender, according to a UCLA study. And with more than 1 billion active users on Facebook, the social network plays an important role in the global debate over such subjects.

“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,” Facebook wrote in note on its Diversity page. “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.”

Users can now change their gender to a custom setting on their Facebook profile by clicking “Update Info,” then “Edit” at the “Basic Information” setting. The declaration can also be made private, and at this time, the changes are only effective in the US.[more]

Facebook worked with leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organizations to come up with the new gender categories.

“This new feature is a step forward in recognizing transgender people and allows them to tell their authentic story in their own words,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, whose organization assisted in the changes. “Once again, Facebook is on the forefront of ensuring that the platform is safe and accessible to all of its LGBT users.”

While the move won praise from activists, there were of course a few nay sayers. The post has received more than 4,700 likes and over 2,500 shares, with hundreds of comments from users, such as:

“If you don’t like the option, don’t use it. It’s that simple. How someone identifies them self is no one else’s business. It changes your life as much as me changing my morning coffee to tea. Get over yourselves.”

Kudos for being inclusive, Facebook. 

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