Businesses and marketers can let out a sigh of relief, as Facebook’s latest update has nothing to do with pushing businesses into buying more paid advertisements. Instead, Facebook has changed the gender options on an individual’s personal profile, allowing them to choose beyond “male” or “female.”

Facebook has broadened its definition of gender beyond the binary in order to accommodate those who do not identify as male or female. “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,’” states Facebook’s page on diversity.

New gender options include trans male, trans female, trans person, pangender, androgynous, and transsexual. Male and female users can list themselves as “cis” or “cisgender” male or female, meaning that their biological body matches their gender identity. Each profile allows for the pronoun they prefer people use when talking to them, such as “he,” “she,” or “they.” There are over 50 new gender terms that users can choose from.

Facebook worked with LGBT rights advocacy group GLAAD to create this update. “This new feature is a step forward in recognizing transgender people and allows them to tell their authentic story in their own words,” says GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis. Individuals identifying outside of “male” and “female” have hoped for this kind of update for some time.

The reaction to this update has been mostly positive. The biggest complaint is that many will now need a dictionary to know the meaning of these new gender nonconforming terms. The update is not available outside of the U.S., and there is not yet any indication of the new gender options spreading worldwide.

To change your gender options, click on the “About” section of your profile. Under the “Basic Information” section, you can choose “male,” “female,” or “custom.” Begin typing your preferred gender identifier, and the terms should show up. Once you’ve chosen your gender, Facebook will ask you your preferred pronoun. You can also change the settings to make your gender shown only to certain Facebook friends.

What do you think of the new update? Let us know in the comments!

Sources:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=567587973337709. (18 Feb. 2014).

Griggs, Brandon. “Facebook goes beyond ‘male’ and ‘female’ with new gender options.” http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/13/tech/social-media/facebook-gender-custom/. (18 Feb. 2014).

Fitzpatrick, Alex. “Facebook Adds New Gender Identity Terms.” http://techland.time.com/2014/02/13/facebook-gender-identity-zuckerberg/. (18 Feb. 2014).