facebook custom gender identification

Facebook has been eating comments across my friends page all morning, but it can eat all the posts it wants without destroying any good will right now, because it has announced today that it is now allowing users to select a custom gender for their Facebook profiles, and that’s amazing.

In an attempt to more fully include transgender users, Facebook has stopped using giving just “Male” and “Female” as gender options. Now there are 50 options, including “transgender,” “intersex,” and “cisgender,” which can be paired up as the user chooses.

Even better, the site allows people to declare the pronouns that they want the site to call them, so instead of saying “wish her a happy birthday,” Facebook might instruct a user’s friends to “wish them a happy birthday.”

Users can choose who can see their gender as well. It can be public, friends of friends, just friends, or custom groups. It’s their information to share as they see fit.

The new system just rolled out today, and at the moment the option is only available for people who use Facebook in US English. And people still cannot input whatever gender they want. Facebook will only allow them to select one of the pre-determined custom genders, which creates a huge range of gender identification possibilities but has still resulted in some people being excluded.

It appears there is still some work to be done with the system, because parents and guardians have found themselves unable to specify a relationship with their children besides “Son” or “Daughter,” even when their child has declared that they want to be identified by gender-neutral pronouns. Also the “relationships” and “interested in” options still default to male, female, or both. Fill-in fields would be much more useful for that.

We hope they get those issues worked out quickly, but in the meantime this is a great start and a long time coming. Way to go, Facebook!