Facebook: no longer just for boys and girls
On February 13, social media giant Facebook took a courageous step forward by improving its gender identity feature. Previously it only offered “male” or “female” as a user’s choices. It now lists over 50 possibilities, along with pronouns the user can choose to let friends know how they would like to be referred to publicly. Facebook’s message is forward thinking and clear—it wants its users to know that it recognizes the large spectrum of gender identity. It also wants users to feel comfortable and included, no matter where they identify on that spectrum.
There were many reactions to this change, from positive to ambivalent to negative; but the LGBTQ community certainly has reason to celebrate. Surely there will be people for whom this change means nothing—but for the users this does impact, it could mean everything.
For users that still identify with only male or female as a gender, the big question will be, “What do these identities signify?” For example, those who are unfamiliar with the queer spectrum may find learning about this community a daunting task, but education creates awareness, from which breeds a more inclusive culture in our towns, communities and organizations.
To help our readers understand what these terms mean, we’ve highlighted a few.
agender: These folks prefer to be “without” a gender. It doesn’t mean they lack a gender; it simply means that a defined gender is not central to their identity.
bigender: A person who identifies with two genders. These two genders can include any specific gender on or outside the gender spectrum.
cisgender: A cis person is born one sex and also identifies with the gender associated with that sex.
gender fluid: Gender fluidity conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender expression, with interests and behaviors that could change day to day.
neutrois (noo-TWA): These people see themselves as gender neutral; they do not feel that gender is a big part of their identity.
pangender: These individuals do not feel that they fit into binary genders; instead they identify with all genders.
transgender: This is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity or expression is different than their sex assigned at birth.
transgender female: A person who was assigned the sex of male at birth, but identifies herself as a female.
two-spirited: This term comes from the Native American culture and describes someone who embodies both the spirits of a man and a woman.
I also found an insightful article, A Comprehensive Guide to Facebook’s New Options for Gender Identity, which can help you understand the other gender identity choices listed on Facebook. I invite you to take a look, learn something new and spread awareness.
At Aloysius Butler & Clark, we take diversity and inclusion (D&I) very seriously. We recognize that D&I initiatives allow organizations to build a stronger and more innovative culture, which in turn helps to grow their businesses and their supportive community initiatives. We strive to help our clients realize all of the advantages associated with being a diverse and inclusive workplace.
If you have questions about the organizational benefits of a culture that values diversity and inclusion, let’s talk!