On the basis of consultation with people in LGBTI communities, Facebook came up with a list covering a wide range of gender identities, including many relating to trans*, intersex and queer communities.
The social media giant will also provide three pronoun options for users, available regardless of gender identification in a given category: him, her or them.
To address concerns from users a gender change would be made public by default, Facebook has said such changes won’t be automatically posted to users’ timelines. Facebook also said this means advertisers won’t be able to target people who have recently changed genders.
The move has been praised by Australia’s leading trans* and intersex organisations as a big step towards increased recognition of gender diversity.
“The announcement itself, the fact that it’s there and people will think about it, that alone increases awareness of gender issues, for a start,” Transgender Victoria Executive Director Sally Goldner told the Star Observer.
“One person I know has already said, ‘I’m reactivating my Facebook account now I can be more who I am.’”
Tony Briffa from Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia gave more qualified praise.
“I congratulate Facebook on becoming more inclusive of gender diverse and trans people, but would rather see intersex off the list as a gender identity. Intersex is about biology, not gender identity. All the other options are wonderful so people born biologically intersex can use any of those options if they identify other than male or female,” Briffa told the Star Observer.
At the time of writing the changes had not yet been implemented on Facebook in Australia, but are expected to become available soon.
Other than the existing categories of “male” and “female”, the full list of gender options announced by Facebook is:
Female to Male
Male to Female