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The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.
Facebook said the changes being rolled out Thursday for the company's 159 million U.S. users are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual.
Facebook, which has 1.15 billion active monthly users around the world, also allows them to keep their gender identity private.
Holy shit, Facebook! Way to go!
As someone who's been watching this larger consciousness shift for a long time, by virtue of being young and in a progressive city, it's been fun to watch a bunch of mainstream older adults suddenly discover, over the last year or so, the robust movement among young people to start exploding the gender binary. In part it's a move of allyship toward trans and queer people, but also just because they're starting to notice that gender categories aren't as "real" as everyone's been acting like they are for the last few hundred years.
In particular, I remember this NPR piece from last summer, in which longtime reporter Margot Adler comes face to face with kids at Oberlin talking about their "preferred gender pronouns." She finds the concept baffling at first. "I admit my first reaction was it felt cult-like, and I thought, 'These people are paying $50,000 a year for college and this is what they care about most—what pronouns you use?'"
But it's not that crazy. And as she moves through her understanding of the issue, with some help, she gets somewhere else:
So, he says to me, these college students you saw identifying with transgender people, the most marginalized group in our society, how different is that from you, when you were in college, identifying with the most marginalized and joining the black Civil Rights movement? He brought me up short. I had to think long and hard.
But the fascinating thing with this generation in high school and college is they are going way beyond transgender. They are arguing for a world beyond the gender binary—beyond male and female. And it's something that many people over 30, like myself, are totally unaware of.
What does a world where gender categories are more fluid look like? We don't quite know yet. But I can't wait to see how this plays out in the larger culture over the next decade or two. I'm fucking psyched. And thank you so, so much, trans people everywhere, for paving the way for the rest of us to rethink some shit. If it weren't for your courage, it would be taking forever to get here.