Facebook's new gender settings earn praise

The Illawarra’s gay and lesbian community has welcomed changes to Facebook settings to give users more than 50 gender orientations to identify themselves.

Previously, the social network only provided two gender options – male or female – for users to choose from, a sore point for members of the intersex and queer communities who often identify as neither, both, or somewhere in between.

Announced yesterday, Facebook will now allow users to choose from a list of new “custom gender” options, which includes intersex, trans, androgyne, agender, bi gender, gender queer or gender questioning.

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“It’s about the world being more inclusive. We were only given two options to choose, but some people don’t fit into those labels any more,” said Illawarra LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, questioning) advocate Jon Le Breton.

He said for Facebook to put such options in front of its 1.15billion active users was a positive step for recognition of the LGBTIQ community.

“It acknowledges what people feel about themselves,” he said.

“It creates awareness for the LGBTIQ community, and lets them represent themselves online the way they want to, not just the way they are told to.”

Facebook announced the change on its Diversity page.

Scott Richardson, secretary of LGBTIQ group Unity Wollongong, also praised the changes.

“It is a good step in the right direction for awareness and recognition of the community,” he said.

“Some people identify as genders outside male or female, and they want to show themselves as that online, not class themselves as something they are not.”

The changes currently only apply to Facebook users in the USA, but are expected to roll out across the whole network.

Some of the new genders available on Facebook

Gender fluid, gender queer, gender questioning, bi gender, cisgender, pangender, transsexual, andogyne, agender, two-spirit, gender variant, intersex, neutrois, neither, female to male. 

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