Facebook is always trying to evolve and stay ahead of their competitors while still giving the people what they need. In their newest announcement, the social media super giant is rolling out some new options in the gender department that go well past the previously offered “male” and “female” options. In fact, they are introducing 56 new one, for a total of 58.
Didn’t know there were 58 genders? Well there aren’t exactly–at least not in the average physical sense. The options offered refer to the way that people identify (or don’t identify) to the physical gender of the body that they were born into. In the transgender world this can be multi-layered, since some people who are born into a male body feel that they are actually a woman, but might also not conform to either gender norms at all, for example. Users are free to check as many as 10 of the label options as they feel they apply to themselves.
Options include things like transsexual, gender nonconforming, gender fluid, and the options get even more specific (or non) with options like: trans women, trans feminine, and trans person.
You can check “agender” if you don’t associate with a gender at all, “bigender” if you associate with both, and “cisgender” if you straight up identify with your birth sex. You can check “gender questioning” if you’re not sure but wondering, “neither” if you’re not wondering at all, or even “two spirit” which is a Native American concept for gender ambiguity. The “gender nonconforming” category is open to tomboys, but raises the question if your clothing choices should require a more bold label than just, girl who wears boy stuff.
To someone who associates with a more “traditional” view of gender, the nuances between the options can appear quite subtle. For someone who doesn’t feel like they fit the mold the distinctions between the different associations are anything but.
Many people are applauded Facebook’s move forward in diversity and awareness, but others worry that younger teens using the website might be overwhelmed by choosing the right option, and some worry this opens an unnecessary door for the cyber bullies. For some the decision to say how they really identify in a public forum will be a dream come true.
Still others think we don’t need to use any type of gender association labels on social media at all. Like none. If that’s how you feel, you’re still free to leave the question unanswered. Just like your relationship status.