Facebook sets the stage for gender inclusion
This month, Facebook added over 50 new gender options and by doing so, changed the way people have been forced to identify themselves on social media for the past ten years. Users will no longer be forced to conform to the gender binary of male and female. All one needs to do now is customize their gender, and Facebook will offer the multitude of options — including cis(gender), gender fluid, transsexual, and neither — in a drop-down menu. Not just that, Facebook users will now be given the choice to publicize their preferred pronoun for those who are not already aware. At the Foghorn office, we find this move to be progressive and a much-needed acknowledgement of the diverse range of genders on a widely used online platform by all generations.
This shift in Facebook settings triggered a media circus. Bloggers and news sources took it upon themselves to identify all 56 new, gender options for those who were confused or unaware that there were so many ways one could identify; and the likes of Stephen Colbert interviewed acclaimed transsexual author and activist, Janet Mock.
Daniela Ricci, former Editor-in-chief of the Foghorn, identifies themself as genderqueer, and says “I’ve seen a lot of backlash from people who have never heard of non-binary gender identities before and consider it freakish, unnecessary, annoying, etc., which just goes to show that just because something is on Facebook, doesn’t make it automatically socially acceptable. I’ve also heard people in the queer community scoff at it and consider it a relatively meaningless action… I don’t think it’s revolutionary or anything, but I do think it’s a small step in the right direction of normalizing queer identities and making people like me feel as though there is a place for us in society.”
Users will no longer be forced to conform to the gender binary of male and female.
The fact is that while this change is a move forward, it comes with its own murky territory. Those who are unwilling to learn about gender and sex might alienate those who have decided to make known their gender identification. And there is no denying that others might abuse this new feature, thinking it as funny as getting creative with the ‘religious views’ and ‘political views’ section. This only means that we must take advantage of the timeliness of this Facebook move and push for more awareness and education of the struggles of those who affiliate with a multitude genders and sexes.
For more resources and educational material on related topics, please contact the USF Gender and Sexuality Center in UC 412, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.