back to article Facebook adds 50+ gender options: Stalking your 'Friends' just got more LGBT-friendly

Facebook has introduced more than 50 gender options its users can select when choosing how they wish to identify themselves. The Social Network revealed the new feature to The Associated Press, where a story features Brielle Harrison, a Facebook staffer who is "undergoing gender transformation, from male to female". It's also …

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  1. Ole Juul

    Sex is Not Gender

    I hope they have "don't know" on the list. As for pronouns, there aren't enough to go around.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Sex is Not Gender

      I doubt they'll ever put "Don't know" on the list. Americans love labels. You might get "Decline to say" if you're lucky.

      Honestly, they could have five-hundred options and it still wouldn't cover everyone because gender is a fluid thing. Some people go through phases, some people might be gay but have a specific type (e.g. a man who might conceivably sleep with a masculine man if the circumstances were right, but finds effeminate and camp gay men really irritating). There aren't really a finite number of options, only a finite number of people.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Sex is Not Gender

        <form> <select width=180><option value="Stewie">A man who might conceivably sleep with a masculine man if the circumstances were right, but finds effeminate and camp gay men really irritating</option></select></form>

      2. johnnytruant

        Re: Sex is Not Gender

        "a man who might conceivably sleep with a masculine man if the circumstances were right, but finds effeminate and camp gay men really irritating"

        Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't you talking about sexuality not gender?

        "Occasionally gay for the right sort of dude" isn't a gender, it's a sexual orientation.

        Or have the definitions changed around again? I can't keep up.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Sex is Not Gender

          We're gonna need a bigger Acronym!

        2. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Sex is Not Gender

          Or have the definitions changed around again? I can't keep up.

          People who say gender is fluid haven't ever tried to keep up with the politically correct terms that surround gender.

      3. Turtle

        @ h4rm0ny

        "Americans love labels."

        Just like everyone else on the fucking planet. And it doesn't take much of an understand of the way the human mind works to understand why.

        1. handle

          Re: @ h4rm0ny

          I always thought the labels were not much to do with people but more to do with getting another piece of information out of you with which to target you with advertising.

  2. Mondo the Magnificent
    Childcatcher

    WTF!

    So, now I can man up. or woman up, or trans up, or whatever up to being whoever or whatever I want to be?

    Surely they could have gotten this down to seven choices

    Male

    Female

    Both

    Neither

    Undecided

    Outcome pending

    To be confirmed

    1. xperroni

      Re: WTF!

      My first thought was much the same, but then I pondered, hell what do I know – maybe there are 50-plus unique ways people relate to their reproductive organs, and it's just me that haven't been keeping up. Guess I'm just an old fart that can't let go of the outdated ways of yore...

      1. solo

        Re: Extend to "Post visibility options"

        Friends

        Friends of Friends

        Female Friends

        Male Friends

        Female Friends of Friends

        Trans Friends

        Cross Friends

        Wanna Be Friends

        Friends To Enemy

        "FB respects your privacy and gives you total control."

      2. Gerardo McFitzpatrick-O'Toole

        Re: WTF!

        Oh but gender is /so/ much more complex and nuanced than the relation between a person* and their reproductive organs - it's a social construct, doncha know. Or that is what those involved in the academic pusuit of Gender Studies would have us believe.

        *Please forgive what could be seen as personist language; I wasn't trying to exclude those who self-identify as not being people, or as not having identities, or not existing.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: WTF!

          >>"Oh but gender is /so/ much more complex and nuanced than the relation between a person* and their reproductive organs - it's a social construct, doncha know."

          Gender is a social role. You might be thinking of sex (you probably are), which is a biological characteristic.

          And if you actually don't think social expectations based on sex make any difference, then you really have led a very sheltered life and should meet more people from different backgrounds. If you don't think gender is a social construct then how do you explain major differences in the roles sexes play in different cultures? Because it's a sure thing that there isn't a gene that says Indian women are more likely to be interested in a career in programming than Caucasian women, or which turns on and off whether pink is seen as a masculine or feminine colour between different generations.

          1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

            Re: WTF!

            " how do you explain major differences in the roles sexes play in different cultures? ... "

            Well that's a three-pint conversation, and certainly not something that's suited to being conducted in anonymous text boxes.

            Personally, I think that gender roles are the expression of a number of mostly biological factors and gender is loosely coupled to sex and sexuality, so I must respectfully disagree, but with the emphasis on "respectfully".

            It is, after all, the weekend.

            1. sisk Silver badge

              Re: WTF!

              Personally, I think that gender roles are the expression of a number of mostly biological factors and gender is loosely coupled to sex and sexuality,

              I would say very loosely. While most peoples' gender does indeed match their sexual equipment there are many who don't. Furthermore not all people who are biologically gay have gender identities that don't match their sex. There are, for example, some very masculine gay men. Where it gets confusing is when you start dealing with asexuals, bigendered people, and true transexuals (as opposed to a transvestite -- there is a lot of crossover, but not all transvestites suffer from gender dysphoria).

              I do believe that there are certain things which, for whatever reason, are more interesting to one gender or the other. For instance men like to hunt more than women do in general(which is probably a holdover from way back when hunting was a necessity of survival and usually handle by the physically stronger men). There are things women are attracted to universally across cultural lines similar to hunting for men, but its late and none come to mind. However a lot of it is socially ingrained. Why, for instance, are men interested in cars? Or, even better, why aren't men interested in sewing (almost a necessary survival skill since everyone has damaged clothes at times that could be saved by rudimentary sewing skills).

    2. Gav

      Re: WTF!

      You've forgotten;

      None of your business

    3. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: WTF!

      I was told that one large UK Gov't department has several values for gender: male, female, male was female, female was male & I think 'unknown' & a couple more where people had decided to revert to their original gender.

      None of this is about preference of sexual partner - and is (or should be) of no interest in a corporate database.

    4. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: WTF!

      One more option needed.

      "It's complicated"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I applaud with all three hands ! To make things more fun they should also widen & blur all other categories... And why not introduce parallel time lines, and time loops (otherwise tardis users could not use facebook properly).

    Not sure how they could monetise the data though....

    Some options....

    What kind of being are you? - Conscious / Drunk / Distributed / Cyborg / Machine / Ravenous beast / Vegetable

    Gender? - Male / Female / Emale / Transgender / Who cares / Werechicken / Asexual / Vegetable

    Birthday? - Yes/ No / don't remind me / Unbirthday / every year / 20th century / a long time ago in a galaxy far away....

    Religion? - Only in emergencies / hedonist / tory / Grauniad reader / pseudo scientist / football fan

    Education? - Pardon? / Wot? / Work in Progress / Classical / Over Educated for his own good / School of hard knocks .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They won't even let me put my location on Facebook! Mars to them is not a real place...

      1. Matt 21

        I know you posted AC but you've got to be "amanfrommars", who else could you be?

    2. Nordrick Framelhammer

      What kind of being are you? - Conscious / Drunk / Distributed / Cyborg / Machine / Ravenous beast / Vegetable

      You forgot "Meat Popsicle". I am also faily positive you left "Bugblatter" and "Of Traal" out as well

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    The original internet

    If men are kids, women are men, and kids are undercover FBI agents, what are all the other options?

  5. Bluenose
    Trollface

    bigender

    I would have thought this was a question of size or boasting to be honest rather than one of gender.

    (Bad joke alert)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: bigender

      I read it as "big-endian" at first.

      1. h4rm0ny
        Facepalm

        Re: bigender

        So did I.

        (genuinely)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WFT

    Penis size appears to be covered by big-ender!

    Why would anyone fill this type of information in, has their been a really big change in the gene pool?

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: WFT

      has there been a really big change in the gene pool?

      It's the gender pool which has exploded.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WFT

      There hasn't been a change in the gene pool, just a growing awareness, respect and tolerance that everyone is born different. Of course you are right, unfortunately a lot of people won't fill this in because of a social stigma associated.

      There will be others who say this list is ridiculously long but people don't always fit into neat little roles and through no fault of their own so this is progress.I'm far from a fan of the site but this shows a good level of respect from Facebook.

      1. A Long Fellow
        Thumb Down

        Re: WFT

        "...a good level of respect from Facebook."

        ??

        Facebook is only respecting its ability to tag you with ever-more-focused labels for its own marketing benefit -- not yours or mine.

    3. Vociferous

      Re: WFT

      > has their been a really big change in the gene pool?

      No, but political correctness has reached critical stupidity.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: WFT

        Other than the desire to label everything and everybody, it's also attempting to merge biological identification with orientation into one label.

        Biologically, there are "male", "female", "both" and "neither". The occurrences of the latter two are very low in comparison but they do exist. To further complicate this, questions such as "is a female who is 'born' with no ovaries truly a biological female?". Best not to answer this one unless you want a very long discussion, but it's an example of how things are complicated.

        Beyond the straight biology, for many thousands of years humans themselves have blurred the lines, starting with eunuchs and cross dressing and moving on to trans-sexuals in various applications and stages (surgical, hormonal, etc).

        This is before the complication of sexual preference comes into play where the basics are accepted as male-female, male-male and female-female however these basics only take into account the two primary biological sexes. Expanding just the biological side and sticking to pairings there are ten distinct combinations. Add in those who are interested in more than just one partner type and it becomes quite a mess. Next include the non-naturally occurring "genders" and it's one hell of a matrix. Lastly, don't forget those who have no sexual desires at all and are happy that way therefore they shouldn't be identified as one of the others.

        Even attempting to refactor the single label into a few becomes an exercise in pointlessness as no single label will fit all unless there are n! combinations. So in essence, it's a multiple choice list and not a single selector, after all your work colleague could be a heterosexual man during the week and a cross-dresser that is only interested in other cross-dressers at the weekend...

        50+ doesn't seem too insane a number considering...

    4. TRT Silver badge

      Re: WFT

      I haven't even reached the gene pool yet. I couldn't decide which changing room to head for.

  7. Chris Miller
    Joke

    Someone's been reading Gulliver

    Bigender? I'm sorry, I was raised a Littleender, and will die a Littleender!

  8. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face
    Headmaster

    ReferenceError: invalid assignment left-hand side

    I see a problem on the left-hand side of the equals sign. The definition of the entity to which all of these politically correct attributes are being assigned should be "sex" rather than "gender". The former relates to the characteristics of the whole person, the latter pertains to the physical characteristics of objects. (At least this used to be the case, but since we all started giggling and writing "three times a night" when official forms asked us our sex, the two words have started to be used more interchangeably).

    1. aBloke FromEarth

      Re: ReferenceError: invalid assignment left-hand side

      Other way round:

      Sex is the biological term for the physical attributes.

  9. TrishaD

    "Changing gender is simple"

    If only ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Changing gender is simple"

      Changing gender is currently impossible, you can do the cosmetic alterations, and they are getting damned good at it but unfortunately they cannot change your biological gender, your internals will always be the gender your born with. Eventually organ printing will let us really do functional sex changes, but we're not quite there yet.

  10. thosrtanner

    What saddens me is not that facebook have done this - I applaud them for that, (it's about the only thing I do applaud them for admittedly) - but I just know what the reactions will be.

    Technology and medicine have come a long way in the last 2000 years. It's a shame that culture and behaviour don't seem to have caught up.

  11. Semaj

    I'm all for not discriminating against people who like to say they are whatever gender they want but this seems like a little strange way to go about it. I'd have just replaced the dropdown with a tag based textbox so it covers all bases while still remaining elegant.

    1. Test Man

      I think it's fine. Clearly there's a significant amount of people who want to describe themselves a bit more than the standard blunt "male" or "female" choices so let them, it's their profile page.

      It's also a bit like the "race" question you sometimes see on things such as job applications. I'm fine with the choices myself, but as the list is usually very short sometimes you do wonder how people can choose when they may not identify with the blunt choices they are presented on the form?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The race question...

        I find that question itself racist and I NEVER answer it for me or my children.

        Why do you need to know my race?

        The ONLY person who needs that information is my Dr, because there are differences in genetics between the various breeds of humans...

        1. oddie

          the amazing race

          I think it's sometimes asked to make sure there is no discrimination or something like that.. not entirely sure on the details... like the details of how it helps determine that they aren't discriminating.. maybe its like - if I put out adds for a job-position, and then maybe I had a review bit of the application process (for next time or whatever) to see what genders/races replied to ensure that I had put out the adverticements in areas sure to reach a wide demographic.. to avoid situations where I would be left with applicants from only a certain subsection of genders/races/nationalities/all people from the same pub.

          edit: spelling and clarity.

        2. Vociferous

          > The ONLY person who needs that information is my Dr,

          Also dating sites. On a related note: I knew there were a lot of weeabos, but I didn't know there were enough to skew dating site statistics.

        3. Suricou Raven

          To make sure that you see advertising featuring characters matching your race. The industry doesn't like to admit it, but it's known to work. It's common in radio advertising to segregate by region just so you can always use a local accent.

        4. skeptical i

          race: [x] human

          Ditto about gender: if you ain't my doctor or bedroom activities partner it is not your concern. Period. However, having said that selecting 'male' for web- based stuff generally gets one shown somewhat less- insipid adverts (big dumb trucks and military recruiting -v- weight loss products and cosmetics). Curious to see what adverts come up with the different options, I see much facepalm in future.

    2. harmjschoonhoven

      @ Semaj

      Let us not forget FB will USE the gender info. That is why there is no textbox.

    3. Ben Rosenthal

      Absolutely, they knew it would make a nice attention grabbing headline that blogs would all jump on.

  12. Slacker@work

    And even more ridiculous...

    Hermaphrodite is not on the full list but Cisgender is.

    I had to look up the designation Cis (as in cismale or cisfemale), and basically it breaks down to "individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity"

    So using myself as an example: Born male, lives as a male, identify myself as a male

    So that's male then.

    Major kudos to the research psychologists who managed to get funding for this research!!

    1. WraithCadmus

      Re: And even more ridiculous...

      Initially I too found the term 'cis' a bit awkward, but I couldn't come up with a term I knew that didn't seem a bit pejorative in some contexts. So I think it's a good term to have around when one wants to be specific.

      1. TrishaD

        Re: And even more ridiculous...

        A lot of trans people find 'cis' awkward too.

        The trouble is that, lacking a description like 'cisgender', the only other handy term would be 'normal'.

        And trans people arent abnormal, we're just different...

        As far as I've managed to glean so far, other trans people seem to feel (as I do) that Facebook have gone spectacularly over the top on this one. Most trans people either describe themselves in terms of the gender they identify as (regardless of physical sex), as transsexual, or transgender. 'Transgender' is the widely used generic term, although 'trans *' appears to be becoming popular. Which reflects how many of us are techie/geeky types, I guess.

        1. WraithCadmus
          Joke

          Re: And even more ridiculous...

          One needs to be careful with globbing using trans*, all it'll take is some wag putting more options in and you'll have to specify Autobot or Decepticon.

      2. Getriebe

        Re: And even more ridiculous...

        But to the T in LGBT cis is used as perjorative. I have heard it used as a put down.

        And never ever use any form of gender designation if talking to a T. Just avoid the issue if you do not want to be yelled at, borded to death, listen to cod psycology or have your eyes scratched out

        Oh shit, I need to go HR and confess again.

    2. skeptical i

      Re: And even more ridiculous...

      Perhaps because 'intersex' is the preferred term?

  13. John H Woods Silver badge

    Will DBs have to follow suit?

    The NHS Data Dictionary defines 2 sets ([gender at] Birth, [gender at] Registration) of four values (Unknown, Male, Female, Unspecified) leading to 16 combinations*. It looks like FB are extending this, although not in a formal way, to include 'current identification' which should lead to 64 combinations.

    This seems overly complex to me: only medical records need to know what Gender you were born with, I can't see that FB needs anything more than your current self-identification; to me that seems to be a matter of M, F or Other (optional specification in text field). Maybe it's just the developer obsession with using drop-down lists, so you can select a pre-defined value. But I think it's quite likely that many people not wishing to chose M or F might want more freedom to describe their gender than a list gathered up by whichever developers have made a mini research project of it.

    *Although, despite this all being known, some companies who shall remain nameless, think they can write medical software with straight M/F choice for a gender

    1. WraithCadmus

      Re: Will DBs have to follow suit?

      Sounds like the NHS is (quite rightly) using the ISO standard.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO/IEC_5218

      1. Vociferous

        Re: Will DBs have to follow suit?

        > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO/IEC_5218

        I note that they left 6 options undefined.

    2. monkeyfish

      Re: Will DBs have to follow suit?

      The problem with letting people put 'other' and then choose something is that you'll get a load of Jedi's, Cyborgs, and Romulans.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: Will DBs have to follow suit?

        > The problem with letting people put 'other' and then choose something is that you'll get a load of Jedi's, Cyborgs, and Romulans.

        How is that a) a problem, b) different from the current situation?

      2. skeptical i

        Re: Will DBs have to follow suit?

        So? It's only Fecebook, and full of porkies anyway.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      "to me that seems to be a matter of M, F or Other"

      But that system puts everything other than M/F as a 2nd tier. It would be like saying to a bisexual person "you must identify as Gay, straight or other (please specify)".

  14. 7-zark-7

    Perfect descriptor

    I'm going to choose the bottom one, BIG ENDER. Thanks FB.

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: Perfect descriptor

      Perfect indeed. I assume it refers to bulbous buttocks.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hurrah!!!

    Hurrah!!! about freaking time...

    But why can i not see this? all i got is male or female...

    1. Christine Hedley

      Re: Hurrah!!!

      "But why can i not see this? all i got is male or female..."

      Apparently it's currently only available if the language is set to US English.

  16. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    WTF is Gender Fluid?

    And should I have mine changed every 20 000 km or so?

    1. Ralph B
      1. h4rm0ny
        Facepalm

        Re: WTF is Gender Fluid?

        Oh dear gods. Is that why the band is called that? I never got that.

      2. TrishaD

        Re: WTF is Gender Fluid?

        If we're listing euphemisms, might I offer 'Gentleman's Trouser Relish'? Coined by a friend, it has a spendidly Steam Punk sort of vibe about it....

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: WTF is Gender Fluid?

          Man Custard, and the vasectomy version Man Custard Light (for those worried about dramatic weight gain)

        2. WookieBill

          Re: WTF is Gender Fluid?

          frighteningly, gentleman's relish actually exists

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentleman's_Relish

          My flatmate keeps his in the fridge and eats it on toast! Ooo Err...

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: WTF is Gender Fluid?

      What's sauce for the goose is source for the gender.

  17. Tom 7 Silver badge

    My gender is not set

    but it only offers me male or female.

    Shame, I was looking for Gullible Exhibitionist.

  18. Derek Thomas

    Correct

    It should be Sexual Orientation not Gender. There are only three genders, male, female and androgynous.

  19. Derek Thomas

    Correct

    It should be Sexual Orientation not Gender. There are only three genders, male, female and androgynous

  20. Suricou Raven

    Looking forward to the backlash.

    By the weekend, conservative and religious blogs and news sites will be carrying articles about facebook's "liberal indoctrination" and how their actions endanger children. That should be entertaining to read.

  21. Vociferous

    I DEMAND THEY ADD "WISE CAT LADY!"

    Enough of the discrimination against us wise cat ladies! It is not, as bigoted people claim, a "mental illness" or a "choice"! Isn't it enough that we are branded "crazy" and our hundreds of cats are brutally taken from us by society!? For shame, Facebook!

  22. monkeyfish

    Brilliant.

    This will be the first thing to change when someone leaves their facebook open for you mess with.

  23. Tim 11

    the seem to have missed out 99% of the population

    According to the list on the ABC news page, "male" and "female" seem to be missing

    Or maybe I'm in a minority nowadays

    1. Vociferous

      Re: the seem to have missed out 99% of the population

      > According to the list on the ABC news page, "male" and "female" seem to be missing

      Apparently we're the "cis" options?

      > Or maybe I'm in a minority nowadays

      Have you read "The Forever War", by Joe Haldeman? I always felt that aspect of the novel was ridiculous. It seems I was wrong.

    2. Diogenes

      Re: the seem to have missed out 99% of the population

      No they are still there - the 58 or so options come up only if you choose "custom"

  24. frank ly Silver badge
    Terminator

    “his”, “her” or “their” the three options.

    I want the 'it' option. I renounce my humanity and detest all fleshy forms of existence.

    1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

      Re: “his”, “her” or “their” the three options.

      Surely "their" only works if you're a conjoined twin?

    2. JonP

      Re: “his”, “her” or “their” the three options.

      It's really simple - just two options required:

      Human

      Non-Human.

  25. TRT Silver badge

    Avoid Facebook...

    I do.

    *sigh*

    The internet used to be fun until they let all the people in.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing option?

    Same as my biological sex

    1. Old Handle

      Re: Missing option?

      That's what cis means.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cut-off point

    Surely at this stage a simple text box would be better. When you try to keep 58 minorities happy it won't take long for #59 to complain.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: Cut-off point

      Exactly

      #59 "4th grade jewish boys who want be black basketballers"

      #60 "male who wants to be a dolphin"

      South Park S09E01 :-)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple model already exists.

    FB already has a very simple model for how to handle this:

    Gender:

    Male

    Female

    It's complicated.

  29. Bubb_Stubbley

    Gingerfancy

    Gingerfancy - I only do it with red heads, or blondes if I no ginger around.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They made it overcomplicated

    Honestly they could have kept everyone happy (except for the fuddy-duddies who bristle at the idea that there are more than two genders) with this list:

    Male

    Female

    Both

    Neither

    In Transition

    I've never met anyone who wouldn't be satisfied with one of those five, and I know a ton of people who'd fall into one of the last three. In fact most of the people I know who have equipment not matching their identity (again, a lot) would still choose one of the top two as they still want others to see them as male or female. There's no need to have 50 choices. This is politically correct nonsense taken to an extreme level.

    Anon to avoid awkward questions from people in my life who don't know about other people in my life.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where is the "Oi! Wanker! Stop trying to put me a box to simplify *your* life" option?

    Or the "Just a human. There are no Gods!" option?

    Silly humans, their so small and pathetic!

  32. G7mzh

    They're asking the wrong question

    All they need to say is "How do you like to be referred to?" and give options of Him, Her, or It.

    I know a few trans people, and all of them prefer the traditional "him" or "her". I'd like to hear from anyone who objects to both of those, and what word they would like instead.

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