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Are Facebook’s Gender Policies Too Square For Trans Users?

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Facebook wants users to select whether you’re male or female to make its status messages (“Michael added ‘Hot Guys’ to his interests”) easier to publish. But where does that leave more complex gender identities? Trans users are lobbying the site to change course … by starting groups on Facebook. [Campus Progress]

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8 Comments

  • myrios123

    I think that’s true. Makes me wonder why we need to have it at all? Male or female, blue or pink, even the bathroom signs…

  • Kid A

    if the user doesn’t select a gender, it says “Michael added hot guys to their interests” which seems fine … except it goes on to bother you to choose a gender.

  • someoneisgoingtocallmeahater

    Okay, this is the sort of thing that confuses me. I’ve always been under the impression that when you are transgender you are becoming (or have become) the sex you feel you always were supposed to be. Therefore what’s wrong with selecting “male” if you’re a transgender male? I get that that some people don’t want to be labeled, but come on.

  • tavdy79

    Facebook does give you the option to not display your gender on your profile in any way – including the use of gender-neutral pronouns.

  • Emily

    @someoneisgoingtocallmeahater

    Because not everyone identifies as either male or female. The binary gender model is flawed and does not recognize the existence of people who identify as neither, both or an entirely separate gender altogether. There are many ways to identify your gender, beyond male or female.

    Incidentally, there are facebook apps that give one the option of identifying your gender as something other than male or female, but it does not affect facebook’s own gender marker.

  • DaveO

    The entire premise of the complaint is false.

    “He continues, “Facebook needs to get a grip on reality and acknowledge that not everyone feels comfortable with explicitly identifying as one gender or the other … I see no need for Facebook to know what is in my pants, but that’s what they ask everyone that signs up.”

    Facebook doesn’t ask what’s in your pants. The answer you give can correlate or not correlate with what is in your pants – your choice. Facebook doesn’t even make you answer any of their questions in the first place.

  • Kathy Middlesex

    I totally understand Miles’ complaint. As another genderqueer person who doesn’t like Facebook’s reinforcement of the gender binary, it’s really annoying that Facebook updates constantly make me into more than one person. Months ago, I deselected my gender. It then asked which pronouns I would prefer them to use in letting others know what I do in their news feed. The answer would be gender-neutral ze and hir. But they don’t offer that. So now, it says “___ added the book The Color Purple to their favorite books.” I am only one person. People argue that “they” is gender-neutral. It is. But it is not singular, even if people sometimes use it that way.

    @DaveO
    It doesn’t specifically ask what’s in your pants. And yes, it doesn’t have to correlate (you get to respond), but there are those of us who don’t identify with our sex or with the “opposite” sex (like there are only two!). And I had the option of not responding to the pronoun question when I deselected gender, which I did. So, while it didn’t make me answer the question, it did not respect that choice.

  • Lauren

    This is old news! The Facebook gender stuff happened months and months ago. Why is this being reported now?

    I am biologically female, and my gender identity is also female/feminine, but after facebook prompted me repeatedly to “choose” a gender I declined, and now all my stuff say’s “Lauren something something their something”, which is fine, but I do think facebook should change their policies about it and should make the gender box have some different options perhaps:

    Sex:

    Female
    Male
    Transgender
    Genderqueer
    FTM
    MTF
    “Wide open text field, like the religious views section”

    There is an application facebook users can dowload called SGO, which stands for Sex, Gender and Orientation that is much more flexible and fluid, but the application is too large to display on a users homepage and has to be shunted over to the “boxes” page.

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