Facebook has announced that it will introduce around 50 new gender identity options for its billion-strong userbase so that people can define how they want to be perceived.
Some of the new options, created in consultation with gay and transgender advocacy groups, include “transgender”, “androgynous”, and “transsexual”, amongst many other variations.
Users will also be able to choose whether they want to be referred to as “he”, “she”, or the less gender-specific “they”.
In a statement on Facebook’s Diversity page, the company said:
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. 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.
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. Moreover, people who select a custom gender will now have the ability to choose the pronoun they’d like to be referred to publicly — male (he/his), female (she/her) or neutral (they/their).
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.
The change, which will mean a lot to a minority but not affect the majority of users at all, has found a lot of support on Twitter:
— James Evans (@jamesevans42) February 13, 2014
— Prof Paula Gerber (@DrPaulaGerber) February 13, 2014
The new options will initially be available only to those who use Facebook in “US English”, but the company are looking to roll out the change to other languages soon.