Facebook has taken a huge step forward in relation to transgender recognition and gender equality worldwide by offering ‘custom’ gender choices on its site for the first time.
Facebook users no longer have to choose whether to identify as male or female in order to register an account with the giant social networking site. Instead Facebook will offer up to 50 gender identifications which include “intersex”, “transgender”, “fluid”, “other” or “neither”.
Zuckerberg’s organisation have previously been criticised for not implementing these options sooner, especially seeing as rival social networking sites such as Google+ offer an “other” option in relation to gender.
The gender options also provide users with an option that allows them to dictate who can view whatever gender they would like to identify as. This may be particularly attractive to those who don’t want to identify as any specific gender or for transgender people who do not wish to reveal personal details.
Facebook collaborated with a group of LGBT advocacy organizations to compile this inclusive list of gender options. However, before you begin applauding Facebook for its open mindedness it is important to note that these new options are currently only available in the USA for those who operate the English speaking version of the site.
The rolling out of the new gender options in just the States is probably to test how its users there find the new custom options and rectify any hiccups before rolling it out to the rest of the world.
Skeptics may see this custom gender feature as yet another way for Facebook to sell advertisement space by making their audiences even more specific. If Facebook considers itself to be gender inclusive, fluid etc why not opt to delete the gender specific option altogether? Is it because a gender irrelevant Facebook may not be such an attractive space for advertisers and marketers if they could not pinpoint their audiences by their gender identity?