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Facebook Allows Users to Fill-In their Own Gender Identities

In this screen grab provided by Facebook, the custom gender options now available are seen on a profile page. Facebook users who don’t fit any of the 58 gender identity options offered by the social media giant are now being given a rather big 59th option: fill in the blank. “Now, if you do not identify with the pre-populated list of gender identities, you are able to add your own,” said a Facebook announcement published online Thursday morning, Feb. 26, 2015, and shared in advance with The Associated Press. Facebook software engineer Ari Chivukula, who identifies as transgender and was part of the team that made the free-form option, thinks the change will lead to more widespread acceptance of people who don’t identify themselves as a man or woman. (AP Photo/Facebook)

A recent, exciting announcement marked a crucial milestone for the future of mainstream social media: Facebook announced that it would allow users to fill in their own gender identity.

 

Last year, the company made it possible for members to choose a gender identity from a long list of possible options. During this process, Facebook consulted with The Trevor Project, and our team was able to provide feedback and guidance as the social network moved toward becoming more inclusive. Now, Facebook is taking the next step in allowing for a wider range of gender identities and terms.

Youth deserve the chance to identify with the words that best describe who they are, and we know that allowing a “fill-in-the-blank” option opens the door for young people with diverse genders. Imagine being able to self-identify as your true gender for the first time, and actually allow others to see it; for some, that can be life-changing.

In fact, that’s why our safe and secure social network for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace.org, allows members to choose from more than 20 gender identities. What if a young person can’t find what they’re looking for? In that case, each user has the ability to fill in and create any gender identity that speaks to them, even if it isn’t listed – or, they can select multiple identities rather than simply choosing one.

The importance of supporting LGBTQ youth and respecting diverse identities cannot be understated. As the younger generation’s communication continues to shift into the digital world, it is our hope that more social networks and online profile features will allow for self-expression outside of the gender binary. To learn more about gender, and why it’s so important to reflect diverse identities, click here!