Facebook on Thursday announcing the addition of a customizable option for identifying gender, as well as their preferred pronoun choices: he, her, or they.
The new feature allows users to choose from about 50 different terms to describe themselves, in addition to male or female. They include androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual. Initially available to U.S. Facebook Users in English, the expanded choices for gender identification will eventually be rolled out internationally.
“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. An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just 'male’ or 'female,’” stated a blog post today on the Facebook Diversity page.
Facebook said it came up with its list of gender identification terms after consulting with a group of leading LGBT advocacy organizations. Based on that effort, people can also choose whether they want to be referred to publicly -- male (he/his) female (she/her) or neutral (they/their).
Users now have the ability to choose the audience with whom they want to share their custom gender. “We recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way,” stated Facebook.
Choosing the “public” setting, for example, would mean that anyone could see the gender description, but Facebook also provides narrower audience options that would let only “friends” or “close friends” to see it, among other subsets of people. They can also opt to keep their gender identity private.
When it comes to advertising, Facebook currently allows gender targeting by male or female. For people changing to a neutral term, ads will be based on the pronoun they select for themselves. If they choose “they” as their pronoun, ads won’t be targeted to them based on gender, according to a Facebook spokesperson.
Changing gender isn’t considered a “life event” on Facebook and will not be posted on a user’s timeline, like getting engaged or married. That means advertisers can’t target ads to people who classify themselves as “transgender” or recently changed their gender.