By Anshul Tewari:
The News: The world’s largest social network, Facebook, does not require you to be just a male or a female. The platform has added 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, shared with The Associated Press before the launch on Thursday, 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.
“There’s going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world,” saidÂ FacebookÂ software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project and is herself undergoing gender transformation, from male to female. On Thursday, while watchdogging the software for any problems, she said she was also changing her Facebook identity from Female to TransWoman.
“All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option, do you want to be male or female? What is your gender? And it’s kind of disheartening because none of those let us tell others who we really are,” she said. “This really changes that, and for the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is.”
The Opinion:Â This move by Facebook has come after years of advocacy by users, many of who even started pages and petitions demanding this change. While it has often been stated that gender is a spectrum, there has been very little space for genders that don’t fit the conventional norms, and have often been stereotyped – both in public and private spaces.
While Facebook takes a stand for better representation, Governments, corporations and individuals like you and me should take a cue and strive to move towards a gender neutral society that stands for equality.
What do you think about this move by Facebook?