Binary no more: Facebook announces expanded gender choice for profiles

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After today, Facebook is binary no more.

The social media company announced via its Facebook Diversity page that profiles will now allow for a custom gender choice, a change long sought by transgender rights activisits. 

Traditional social networking (and even dating) websites mostly allow only the choice of male and female. But now Facebook has functionality to add multiple gender identifiers under a customizable text menu. The change was brought about through a collaboration with a number of LGBT advocacy groups, including GLAAD.

"This new feature is a step forward in recognizing transgender people and allows them to tell their authentic story in their own words," said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis, in an announcement on their website. 

The new function has up to ten variable gender options: transgender, cisgender, androgynous, genderqueen, neutral, and others. The list will be added to in the future, GLAAD said. 

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Facebook's new gender customization option allows multiple identifiers. 

There's also an option to choose which friend groups (friends, family, or other circles) can see which of your gender identifiers. Facebook users can also change their preferred pronouns to "their/them/they."

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The option, though only available in the United States, is seen as a major step forward for LGBTQ rights. The Bay Area's Transgender Law Center lauded the change.

"It may be hard for some people to understand the importance of having the ability to select from multiple genders online," said Masen Davis, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center, in a blog post on Facebook's update. "We applaud Facebook for making it possible for people to be their authentic selves online, and we are honored to be in the Network of Support that will continue to help Facebook improve this functionality."

Local transgender activist Gabriel Haaland said the change was "brilliant."

"In my 18 years of being openly transgender I've seen an arc of change" that surprised him, he said. "If my tea party Republican dad can roll with me be transgender, so can the rest of the world."

Haaland describes his gender as fluid. "I never experienced the world like any other guy, nor have I experienced it as a female. It's challenging terrain for me, and I suspect, others, who feel they don't fit into one category or the other," he said.

Now, on Facebook at least, he'll get the chance to review his options, and choose.

"Exactly," he said. 

To get started in changing your chosen gender expression on Facebook, click here.