Facebook’s new genders

When I first saw that Facebook had added around 50 new gender options it made me really excited. I went straight to my profile to see what they were and pick an option that fitted me better than the “select gender” which I had managed to set before.

Unfortunately it looks like these new options may only be available in the USA for now as I was unable to change mine. In fact, I made things worse by accidentally changing it to ‘female’ while trying. I don’t want to change it to ‘male’ because I’m not out as trans to most of my friends or any of my family yet, but having it read ‘female’ makes me really uncomfortable. The hack I was using before doesn’t seem to work any more so I’ll have to go research how to fix this.

This mistake aside, I think it’s great that facebook not only added an official ‘other’ status but went way beyond by adding a lot of other options at the same time. The number of Facebook’s users who identify as ‘Pangender’ for example may be small but to those people the ability to express themselves accurately may mean the world.

I can’t help but notice that on the list of genders which they have added are options for:
Cis Female
Cis Male
Cis Man
Cis Woman
Cisgender Female
Cisgender Male
Cisgender Man
Cisgender Woman

This seems like an unnecessary number of ways of saying essentially the same thing that was already expressed by just ‘male’ and ‘female’.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems unlikely that there is anyone who identifies specifically as ‘Cisgender’, who wouldn’t just select ‘male’ or ‘female’.

There are also some notable genders missed from the list such asĀ fa’afafine which many more people are likely to identify with than ‘cingender’

More significantly for me they also add the option to choose your pronouns. There are only three options which may leave some non-binary people feeling left out, but I can understand the limiting options as, unlike gender which is displayed only on your profile, these pronouns show up on everybody’s news feeds and a lot of people don’t know what Zie and Zir mean.

You have always been able to find a way to change to neutral pronouns (them, they, their) if you can spend the time, but it’s great to see Facebook making this a standard option and acknowledging that pronouns are important.

The cynic in me does wonder whether this is just a way to target ads to people with higher specificity, but having to view a few trans centric ads seems like a small trade off for being able to express your true self (especially for those who have adblock).

Finally, they have added the ability to only show your gender to certain circles, rather than to everyone or not at all. This is a great option for people like me who may have shared their gender identity with certain groups of people but aren’t ready to have that conversation yet with others.

On the whole – a great step forward, but I also look forward to seeing this both improved, and more widely available.

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