Until recently, Facebook users could choose between identifiying themselves as male or female. But as of Feb. 13, users may also choose from a total of 56 gender options, including “agender,” “transmasculine,” and “two-spirit.”
According to a Feb. 13 article on techcrunch.com, Facebook worked with LGBTQ activist groups in order to create this list of options. Facebook also provides a privacy option that allows users to block certain people from seeing their gender option.
Tarah Demant, Visitng Assistant Professor of English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, was pleased to hear of Facebook’s gender options.
“This is very welcome news that recognizes that gender identity exists on a spectrum, not a binary of male OR female,” Demant said in an email. “Facebook is a place where we all choose how to present ourselves and how to identify — what information do we divulge, what do we post, what do we like, what do we ignore — and having more than two binary gender options recognizes the fact that gender is presentation, not something innate, fixed, or unchanging.”
Facebook has made other decisions to become more LGBTQ-friendly. In 2011, the website added “civil union” and “domestic partnership” to their list of relationship options. Facebook also won a GLAAD award in 2012 for their LGBTQ support efforts. Last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and over 700 Facebook employees marched in the San Francisco Pride parade.
Demant hopes that the recent additions to Facebook’s gender options will help others understand gender identity more.
“Because Facebook has such broad reach, hopefully this change will help broader people’s understanding about gender identity,” Demant said.
How to Change Your Gender on Facebook:
1. Click on “Edit Profile.”
2. Hover over your gender and select “Edit.”
3. Click on “Custom” in the drop-down menu, which will provide you with 56 gender options.
4. Select your preferred gender pronoun from female pronouns (she/her), male pronouns (he/him), and gender neutral pronouns (they/them).
5. Click on “Save changes.”