Having the binary gender system of choosing male or female will be a thing of the past when Facebook introduces more options. The launch will initially just be for the 1.59 million United States users, but will eventually reach the globe.
It is a major shift in the way social networking allows people to express themselves. Most sites state that you have one of two options: you’re either male or female. That is not the case for many people, and the social media giant is the first to acknowledge that. Some of the extra gender choices—and there will be around 50 added—include bi-gender and androgynous.
Brielle Harrison, Facebook’s software engineer, shared the update and stated that she will be switching her gender from the current female setting to TransWoman. She is currently undergoing the transformation from male to female, so understands how important this setting will before many people out there.
The current binary system doesn’t allow people to share who they are, according to Harrison. She commends the site for being the first one to allow those undergoing gender transformation surgery and those of nonconfirming gender to express their true genders. Those who currently opt for keeping their gender private will still be able to do so.
Those who would like to share their new gender with a select few are also able to. The privacy settings have been updated to allow only friends and family see the update and keep it private from anyone else looking.
The news for Facebook to introduce more gender options has had people from both sides of the argument weigh in. To those who simply see the world as split in two, it has seemed pointless and unnecessary. According to Focus on the Family issues analyst Jeff Johnson, just because someone says that there is an infinite number of genders doesn’t mean that that is really the case. He believes that biologically people are either male or female and there is no in between.
However, there are plenty of people supporting the idea of multiple genders. Transgender Law Center executive director Masen Davis welcomes the change, but does admit that some people won’t see the point in having this new ability to select from multiple genders on websites.
When Facebook initially started out, there was no reason for Mark Zuckerberg to even consider this. It has only been over the last 10 years that more gay activists have become more outspoken and organized. It has been in the last decade that people have expressed their wishes to state that they are of different genders. The social networking site has answered the requests of people to state they are something different to male or female on their profiles.
So far, there has been a largely positive reaction to the news on the website. It shows that the social networking site is willing to move with the times and listen to its users. The new gender options are limited to the United States for now, and Facebook has not yet shared when it will introduce this to more countries.
By Alexandria Ingham