Facebook adds custom gender options

Facebook has added a new custom field for users to select their gender identities. (Screenshot / February 13, 2014)

Digital gender identity just became a lot less binary.

Internet behemoth Facebook has added a customizable option to the gender field on its profiles, allowing users to identify beyond male and female.

When editing their basic information, users are given the option to select "Custom" if they choose not to identify as male and female. A text box appears that allows users to type in options including trans, androgynous, intersex, genderqueer and more-specific denoters like "trans female" or "cis female." (According to the Associated Press, which first reported the news, Facebook has provided about 50 options in total.) Users can also choose a preferred pronoun ("him," "her", of the neutral option "them")

Facebook also appears to be conscious of avoiding awkward outings or uncomfortable discussions with distant cousins who seem to have opinions on everything. Users can customize privacy settings on those custom gender options, allowing them to choose to whom they wish to disclose their gender identities. The AP also reports the social network will not post changes to gender identity as a "life event" on its user's timelines. Phew.

The move is a huge step forward for transgender people and others who don't conform to traditional gender identities. Having control over their digital selves is often a tricky issue for trans or gender-variant individuals, who are forced to select labels that don't accurately represent them. Facebook's change will allow people to fully express themselves to friends, and it represents the kind of inclusivity with the potential to help breed greater acceptance.

(And yes, I opened with a computer joke. Might not have been a great bit, but I'm sticking with it.)

Switching tabs (yep, did it again) to other news:

  • Looks like the Olympics aren't stopping Russia from passing laws targeting the LGBT community. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree posted online Thursday that forbids international adoptions by same-sex couples and single people from countries where same-sex marriage is legal. (Worth noting: The decree won't impact Americans, who are already banned from adopting Russian children. Just potential parents in nations like Spain, Brazil and New Zealand.)
  • Meanwhile, in Idaho, the state's Supreme Court found that the state's laws allow same-sex partners to adopt their partners' children.
  • A Texas appeals court ruled Thursday that Texas must recognize the marriages of trans people to those of the opposite gender.
  • Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin called homophobia "insulting to God" in an interview Monday. "Anybody who doesn't show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God," he said, later adding that opposing same-sex marriage doesn't qualify a person for homophobia.

    (A later gem: In another interview, Martin said that "people in the Catholic Church may be homophobic. Certainly the teachings of the Catholic Church could be used by some people in a homophobic way." Gee, really?)
     
  • In light of the shower and locker room panic induced by Michael Sam's coming out, one former college football player sagely points out that there's nothing sexy about a locker room. 

So, that's what we've been reading this week. Any news that has you buzzing?