Facebook has been praised for introducing a custom gender field that will allow users to more accurately reflect who they are.
The company announced in a statement that people will now be able to select from an extensive list of gender identities for their profiles instead of just male or female.
“When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organisations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self,” said Facebook.
“An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just “male” or female.” So today, we’re proud to offer a new custom gender option to help you better express your own identity on Facebook.”
It said that it had collaborated with leading LGBT advocacy organisations to come up with the “list of gender identities that many people use to describe themselves.”
Facebook further revealed that people who select a custom gender will now have the ability to choose the pronoun they’d like to be referred to publicly — male (he/his), female (she/her) or neutral (they/their).
“We also have added the ability for people to control the audience with whom they want to share their custom gender. We recognise 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,” said the company.
The new custom gender option is available to everyone who uses Facebook in US English.
The development was welcomed by LGBT groups. “This new feature is a step forward in recognising transgender people and allows them to tell their authentic story in their own words,” commented GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) President Sarah Kate Ellis.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin added: “Over the past few years, a person’s Facebook profile truly has become their online identity, and now Facebook has taken a milestone step to allow countless people to more honestly and accurately represent themselves. Facebook’s action is one that I hope others heed in supporting individuals’ multifaceted identities.”