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Facebook Unveils New Gender Options For Users

This article is more than 6 years old.

Facebook has made its user gender options more inclusive. As The Associated Press reports:

... The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.

Facebook said the changes ... initially cover the company’s 159 million monthly users in the U.S. and are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual.

WBUR reached out to Cameron Partridge, a transgender chaplain at Boston University, who emailed back this response to the news:

I am heartened to learn of Facebook's shift. I see it as significant in at least two ways. First, it affirms that there are indeed many people whose genders do not conform to binary ideas of male and female. I know a number of people — particularly young adults, including college students — who identify as bigender, genderqueer, or gender fluid, and more. So many parts of the world fail to reflect, and even actively undermine, this core part of their reality. And then second, the major significance of Facebook's move shows us how forms of all sorts — the various ways in which the world "sorts" us into basic categories — can have a major, concrete impact on our day to day reality.

In the Episcopal Church's General Convention of 2009 we passed a resolution that called on the Church to do just the sort of thing that Facebook has done today, to make its forms open to a wider variety of gender designations than simply male or female. Today's news reminds us how the world is in a number of ways opening up and how other entities that have the ability to contribute to this ongoing process need not be hesitant to do so.

For more on identity challenges, pronoun difficulties and other transgender issues, be sure to revisit our Martha Bebinger's recent "Living Transgender" series.

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