Discovering the New Gender Options Available on Facebook

This blog was created to fulfill a project requirement for English 577/477-01. Team 1 (Anna, Juleonna, Monica, and Tim) was given the task of creating a blog that described how to document an action using some form of social media. We were further instructed to incorporate DITA documentation. Team 1 hopes you find our blog informational, helpful, and interesting.

 

According to the newspaper The Guardian, the website Facebook has 1.23 billion users each month. The social media giant just took a large step to ensure that all of its users feel included. On February 13th, Facebook unveiled 56 new gender options for its users to choose from.
Facebook pie chart
“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. What Harrison is referring to is that the majority of users who identify as male or female will not see a change in their use of the social media website, but to those who do not fit into these two categories will now have a place
on Facebook.
Facebook states that 1% of users already select “other” for their gender option. One percent of the 158,000,000 American Facebook users is a significant amount of users that now have the ability to allow their social selves to reflect their actual identity.

In addition to the new gender classifications, users can update their profiles select a preferred pronoun. For example, when the site sends friends a birthday update it will say “write a message on his/her/their timeline.” As always, the user will have the ability to control whether his or her gender preference is public or private.
Although it may seem extreme to add 56 new options to the traditional binary, the truth is that there is a lot of overlap in the categories. For example, transgender is a broad term, and while it may accurately reflect a users’ gender it may not be as specific as “trans male” or “MTF.” Listed below are some definitions of the new gender categories added to the site. These definitions were taken directly from the Gender Wiki (http://gender.wikia.com/wiki/Gender_Wiki).

Agender is a term that describes people who lack a gender.
Androgyne is a person who may possess traits that are simultaneously feminine and masculine, or neither.
Bigender is a person who feels that their identity is fully male and fully female, or any pair of genders, generally by switching between the two.
Cisgender is a label for individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity.
Gender Fluid is a label for individuals who switch between genders like male and female, neutrois and a third gender or any other genderqueer identity.
Genderqueer is a catch-all term for gender identities other than man and woman, thus outside of the gender binary and heteronormativity.
Intersex refers to a person who is born with sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit the typical definition of male or female.
Neutrois is a word taken to mean “non-gendered class.” It refers to a gender identity which is also called null-gendered on occasion.
Non-Binary Genders are gender identities that do not fit within the accepted binary of male and female.
Transgender refers to people who are born into a body not associated with their gender, or were assigned a sex that does not match their gender.
Two-spirit is a term used to indicate a person whose body simultaneously houses a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit.

With growing activism for LGBT rights, it seems that Facebook is staying ahead of the curve. This move suggests that the social media company understands that gender is a social construct, and it is not static. What is good for the LGBT community is also good for Facebook, as the site has been a tool for activism in recent history. If the site is more inclusive, it just may be an incentive for groups to use it as a communication tool.

Check out our  step-by-step instructions on making this update on your own Facebook account.

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