Announced on the official Facebook Diversity page, the social network has rolled out 50 new alternative gender identity choices for users that include options such as transgender, bigender and cisgender. Prior to this point, Facebook users could only choose male or female as their gender. In addition to the new custom gender options, Facebook users can also choose which pronoun should be used to address them within the feed. Basically, there’s a new option for going completely gender neutral, thus the user would be referred to as “they,” “their” or “them” within updates on the social network.
Writing about the changes, a representative for Facebook said “We collaborated with our Network of Support, a group of leading LGBT advocacy organizations, to offer an extensive list of gender identities that many people use to describe themselves…We also have added the ability for people to control the audience with whom they want to share their custom gender. 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.”
If users wish to modify their gender identity on Facebook in the future, they simply need to access the “About” section of their profile and select the “Basic Information” section to locate the settings. While it’s unlikely that Facebook will release statistics on the total number of users that shift into a new gender role, it’s likely a welcome change for transgender users that previously avoided the social network due to limitations of the platform.
Commending Facebook on the shift in gender identification, GLAAD released a statement which read “Facebook users from across the country have been asking for the ability to reflect their gender accurately, and today Facebook showed they have been listening. Facebook’s new gender options will make a difference to many transgender and gender nonconforming users, who are now empowered to accurately describe their own identities on the platform.”