The online networking site made several gender pronouns available to users on Feb. 13, allowing members a vast array of terms to describe themselves.
U.S. users can now choose from nearly 50 different gender options such as “transgender,” “cisgender,” “gender fluid,” “intersex” and “neither.”
“When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self,” said a Facebook representative on the site’s diversity page. “An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just male or female.”
Kai Niezgoda, president of Transcend, said Central Michigan University’s transgender student organization sees the move as a step forward.
“Generally speaking, I know that for a lot of people having new gender options on Facebook won’t mean much at all,” Niezgoda said. “But like other people have said in media so far, for the select few people who it does affect, it really means a lot to be able to accurately represent yourself on social media. I think it’s necessary because the fact of the matter is whether or not Facebook has those options for people, there is a trans community and it does exist.”
Samantha Wilton, a Lake City sophomore and president of Spectrum, CMU’s LGBTQ organization, thinks Facebook should allow users to be able to add custom pronouns.
“I know there’s also many other pronouns that people can go by, so I wonder if a next step could be Facebook adding a place where you can put in your preferred pronouns,” she said. “For so long it’s just been the binary male or female and obviously many people identify in or out of those two options, so just by showing they’re including us, they’re supporting us and I think that’s really important.”
Rebecca Detroyer, the Student Government Association diversity committee chairwoman, said she thinks this is a positive step and the recognition is crucial.
“I think it’s definitely a very, very good step forward because it’s an actual online presence acknowledging that the gender spectrum is a thing,” she said. “A lot of people don’t believe in the gender spectrum, so the fact that these options are being put on Facebook is definitely progress.”
Hemlock junior Laura Frollo said individuals who might identify with the non-conforming gender options should have other choices on Facebook.
“I think it’s really important that they are doing that because it’s a personal preference,” she said. “I feel like they should have the option to express it.”