Facebook leaves behind the binary

Along with turning 10 years old this month, Facebook made the choice to expand its personal gender options. Overnight users went from having two options to having more than 50. Besides having trans options, users can also identify as agender, androgynous, gender fluid, gender queer and two-spirit, among others. GLAAD was one of the leading advocacy groups that helped Facebook develop the custom options.

“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,” Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison told the Associated Press.

With 57 percent of all American adults using Facebook, the site provides an important platform for discussion; the inclusion of non­binary gender identities has brought attention to issues that do not usually receive mainstream media attention.

“I think it is important because it normalizes non-binary gender identities and doesn’t trap people into being put into one box or the other,” thesis student Lynn Gusman said. “But, it’s also important for people to know that you don’t have to change your gender on Facebook if you’re not in a safe place to do so.”

The sites familial and relationship descriptors remain within the binary, but some are hoping to see a change in these options in the near future.


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