Facebook's New Gender Options

Facebook is joining the twenty-first century, offering multiple options when users select "Gender" in their profile. Recognizing that not everyone self-defines as strictly "male" or "female," Facebook now provides more than 50 labels in its drop down menu:

FB gender

On its diversity page, Facebook explains the change:

When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self.  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. (Read more.)

Users also can select the pronoun by which they would be referred on the site: he, she, or they. Students of business communication know that "they" isn't standard as a singular pronoun, although "one" is dated, "she/he" and "she or he" are clunky, and other variations haven't stuck. But considering the large number of gender labels, I wonder why more pronoun options aren't available.

Both the Human Rights Commission and GLAAD, which worked with Facebook on the change, applaud the move.

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of Facebook's new options?
  • What could opponents of the move say? What would be their rationale for limiting gender options?
  • Why don't we have a common, neutral singular pronoun. If you were to invent one, what would it be?