Today Facebook rolled out some big changes that many of those in the LGBTQ community will surely "like." As reported in the AP, Facebook has added more than 50 gender options for users who don't identify as simply "male" or "female." Options now include identifiers like "agender," "FTM," "gender fluid," and "neither" in addition to some less common terms, such as "neutrois," "two-spirit," and "pangender."
"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," said Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project and is herself undergoing gender transformation, from male to female. On Thursday, while watchdogging the software for any problems, she said she was also changing her Facebook identity from Female to TransWoman.
While the new labels present a small step for Facebook users, it's also a giant leap for trans and gender non-conforming folks, who still face alarming rates of bullying, assault, and harassment. It's no ENDA or anything, but the new options on the social media megalith promote visibility and recognition to those who've been politically and historically denied them.
"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 continued. "This really changes that, and for the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is."
While our preferred gender expression (unintentionally femme with a dash of hipster) isn't on the list, we applaud Facebook's attempts at inclusivity.
Anna Pulley writes the weekly Gayborhood Beat column. Follow and send tips to @annapulley on Twitter. She'll tweet you right.