Facebook Wants You To Do You, Adds New Non-Binary Pronoun and Gender Identity Options

Facebook has released an update that allows users to move beyond binary pronouns and the male/female gender options they’ve had since the social network launched a decade ago. Now, users can select from about 50 different gender identities and select the gender-neutral pronoun “they/them/their.” The latter lets Facebook refer to you with your preferred pronouns across the site, i.e. “Write on Kaitlyn’s wall for their birthday” versus “Write on Kaitlyn’s wall for her birthday.” (This option has been available on and off via various hacks and workarounds, but not as a native feature to Facebook.)

Facebook hasn’t released a full list of the gender options, but Slate did some legwork and found 56 possibilities in addition to male and female. You can even select multiple identities or list yourself as cisgender, which I think is pretty cool. Users can also create different privacy settings for their gender identity, meaning that you could make your gender visible to only your friends or people you go to school with, but it won’t show up in public searches. Curiously, new users will still be required to check “male” or “female” when they sign up, but as soon as their profiles are done, they can navigate to their profile and switch to something new.

A social network is supposed to be a portrait, however curated, of your actual life, and until today, people whose lives didn’t fit Facebook’s checkboxes were forced to list a gender they were uncomfortable with or use a hack to force Facebook code to refer to them as they/them/their. I’ve always used binary pronouns, so I can’t speak to the experience of someone who doesn’t identify with them, but I can’t imagine it was pleasant being forced to hide, erase or lie about part of yourself. Though this is a relatively simple change, it’s one that will undoubtedly improve the Facebook experience for a huge group of users. In an explanatory post on Facebook Diversity, the company says the new options are an invitation to be “your true, authentic self.”

Want to change your gender or pronouns? Here’s how:

1. Navigate to your about me by clicking “Edit Profile” under your name and photo in the top left corner of your News Feed.

edit profile

2. Scroll down to Basic Information and click “Edit”

edit basic info

3. Open the drop-down menu under Gender and click “Custom”


4. Type your gender identity (or identities) into the box and select it from the list


5. At the top right of the box, open the audience drop-down menu and select the group you want to see your gender. (The default seems to be set to “Friends”.)


6. Scroll down to the bottom and hit “Save”


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Kaitlyn lives in New York, which is the simplest answer you're going to get if you ask her where she's from. She went to journalism school and is arguably making the most of her degree as a writer and copy editor. She utilizes her monthly cable bill by watching more competitive cooking shows than should be allowed.

Kaitlyn has written 69 articles for us.


  1. I’m happy about this, its a good start, but right now it isn’t enough. I just tried and I didn’t like their options but it wouldn’t let me put in what I wanted. Apparently you can’t be just “female” (which is NOT a gender!) AND something else (an actual gender), just like you can’t be JUST “woman”; its either JUST female OR cis female, trans woman, cis woman, trans female, etc. None of the options are adequate. There is no “femme” or “butch” or anything else for anyone that may want those. I compromised with an “Androgenous” “Two-spirit”.

    • I’m interested in perspectives like yours, because like I said, I’ve always used female pronouns and identified as female and have no problem with this. I think it’s impressive that they started off the bat with more than 50 options, but it’s certainly far from comprehensive. I assume that’s why they’re hesitating to publish the full list themselves, because that would sort of lock them in to those options. Keeping it under wraps like this lets them add or subtract labels without it being as obvious.

      • Well I’m female. I just am, don’t feel like there’s anything to identify with or not regards to that. And I’m used to ‘female’ pronouns so I don’t have a problem with those either. But I feel when it comes to gender, something that is ever expanding and shifting, they should just leave a blank spot and let us fill it in ourselves. And take the sexes off since they’re not the same thing and the “question” isn’t asking about that.

        • hi! you can also choose multiple descriptors, you aren’t limited to just one, so you could choose ‘female’ ‘genderfluid’ and ‘androgyne’ for example, you can feel free to mix and match, if that helps. I agree that ‘female’ shouldn’t really be in the gender category, scientifically it just means you produce large gametes, but I’ve seen a concept of sex identity floating around amongst intersex folks and it could be an important part of someones gender identity so idk.

        • wooooooooow just reread your comments and realized you already know you can choose more than one!
          redundant comment is redundant

        • Female scientifically “just means you just produce large gametes”??? Seems like a pretty simplistic way of looking at it if you ask me. Would you tell a woman who had her ovaries removed due to ovarian cancer that she is no longer female because she no longer is producing large gametes? I certainly would hope not. Not to mention that there are plenty of females born without ovaries, some of them are cis women and some of them are trans women (I’m one of them). I’m not trying to come down too hard on you, lexi, but I do think it’s important to push back on simplistic, reductionist concepts of what females are. The word “female” has been around for a long time. The word existed, in fact, long before the existence of the human egg had even been discovered, which happened in 1827. So I refuse to reduce being female to simply being about one biological detail among many, a detail that people didn’t even KNOW ABOUT until about 200 years ago.

        • Hi Rebecca! I agree that it is simplistic and I would absolutely NOT tell a woman who had her ovaries removed that she is no longer female. I also would not tell a woman who never had ovaries that she wasn’t female, or a woman who never produced eggs. I agree and thing sex/gender are considerably more nuanced and concrete definitions for these things are impossible/damaging and I mentioned the definition in biology because I think its important to realize how actually vague and arbitrary sex categories are medically/scientifically cause I think it takes away some of the power to essentialize and intrinsically tie people to them, but I realize that my first comment might have implied that I was attempting to do just that, sorry about that!

          Have you read evolutions rainbow? Its a really interesting read and really helped me uninternalze some stuff I had internalized about biology/binaries/destinies

        • Hey Lexi!! Thank you for your very thoughtful response. It actually is quite a relief for me to hear that you are already well aware of the fluidity, complexity, and subjectivity of not just gender but also “biological sex.” As a trans woman, I’ve had the misfortune of being exposed to a great deal of people’s ignorant and rigid opinions on these topics. I figured that none of that was probably the case with you, and it was more just about a particular wording you had used without thinking of all its potential implications. But one can never be too sure. My experience has unfortunately taught me to be rather paranoid about this stuff. Anyway, sorry if I was uncharitable with you earlier.

          In terms of the book Evolution’s Rainbow, no I hadn’t heard of that prior to just now, but I’m looking it up, and it looks very interesting! I actually really want to read it! Being as most biologists throughout history have been patriarchal cis, straight men, they’ve naturally attached their own bias to the different animals they’ve studied, I think. So it’s nice to correct that one-sided interpretation, which is what it sounds like this book is trying to do. Personally, I often deal with feelings that who I am is unnatural or fraudulent in some way, so it would nice to see evidence of how similar experiences actually appear in a lot of different species. So thank you so much for your book recommendation!! :)

        • Thanks for your response! Sometimes I forget to be careful of my wording on the intertetz because its so difficult to read tone and not everyone knows where I’m coming from, as well biological essentialst ideas are really really common on the internet and can get really hurtful so I don’t blame you at all for pushing back, thank you for calling me in about that!

      • I totally agree, I actually wrote facebook this morning in the feedback form and explained that there still aren’t options for me to identify the way that I want to, and that it’s really frustrating that they keep trying to place people into boxes, rather than allowing them some way to self identify. I get that they want options for searching/marketing, but why not have an additional custom text field so people can at least offer an explanation or alternative they prefer more.

      • Femme and butch seem like genders to me, just like things such as genderqueer or andro, etc. Female and male are not, those are sexes. Things like femme, butch, stud, etc are how people identify, how they feel inside. How’s that not a gender?

        • Sometimes (very rarely but it happens) I wear dresses and sometimes I put on my most lesbian stereotype outfit (flannel jeans and combat boots) one is clearly more femme than the other. But I’m not changing my gender when I change clothes.

        • Maybe to some it is but not to me. in general I look more butch, but I’m not. I consider my gender to be hard andro regardless of what I’m wearing, and I’m guessing a butch or a femme or whoever probably feels similarly.

      • Actually, many people do consider butch and femme to be genders. Butch is my gender. I know you didn’t mean it this way, so I’m not upset, but it’s rather insulting to boil butch or femme down to what clothes you decided to wear today. Bear Bergman’s “Butch Is A Noun” has a lot to say about this, if you’re interested!

    • Please tell me you’re actually part of a tribe whose culture includes two spirit identities because if you’re not you need to educate the hell out of yourself. And no I don’t mean that your great-great-grandmama was a Cherokee Indian princess because hell no.

      • If my great great grandmama was a Cherokee indian princess I’m afraid no one told me about it, but I do identify with my heritage, thank you.

      • “And no I don’t mean that your great-great-grandmama was a Cherokee Indian princess because hell no.”

        Lol, and I’m done. But seriously I never understood people who would say that when they are not part of that culture. You can be inspired but damn, you are not entitled to it! I honestly give people like that a confused look when they say that. It really does confuse me sometimes.

        I’m really happy that fb has this option granted it is not perfect. I tend to be more or less fluid with my gender but if it was up to me my gender would be a spectrum between David Bowie during his Ziggy stardust era and Prince.

        • Identifying your gender via David Bowie should always be an option. Personally, I’m David Bowie fluid. I range between Ziggy Stardust and Thin White Duke.

        • I hope that there is room in the David Bowie – Prince spectrum, that sounds great. I recently did the which David Bowie are you and I am the one in the Berlin period, reserved, androgynous. Also if Tilda Swinton could be an option…. in all her incarnations. Waves a hyelloo!

    • In my opinion, there’s no sort of objective way in which certain things either “are” or “aren’t” genders. There’s plenty of people who consider “female” to be their gender, or “male” to be their gender, or “femme” to be their gender, or “butch” to be their gender. I certainly don’t see feel it’s my place to tell them otherwise. I think that’s the problem with this system Facebook instituted. It just further reinforces the idea that some authority can determine what gender is and what it is not. Which is pretty ridiculous. I feel the only non-oppressive options is for it to be a fill-in-the-blank, same as religious beliefs or the “About Me” section.

      And I am so, so happy for all the non-binary and other folks who got their gender recognized by Facebook today. But I feel pretty bad for all the other folks I know whose gender is still not recognized by Facebook. So I think while this is all is a big improvement, there is still a long ways to go.

      • Yes I totally agree with this, I think because gender affects many many many aspects/facets of our lives and interacts with other parts of our identities in many ways for many people its not something that is squared off cleanly.

  2. I did all this but it isn’t actually showing up in the ‘about me’ section… does it just take a day to set in or something?

    • Hey Anna, I looked around with it. You have to check the box that says “show on my timeline” for it to show up on your about me.

    • It’s showing up for me right away? Did you make sure to set the privacy settings so that people could see it and also to save?

      • If you pick “Custom,” it doesn’t give you the option to show it on your profile. You have to first pick “Female” or “Male” (which sucks) to see and check that box to show it. Then after checking it, you can go back and change it to whatever you want, and it should actually show up. Confusion.

  3. This is so exciting; i’ve already changed mine :)))) Though i do wish there was some sort of genderqueer femme-ish term available? I ended up including “cis female” because i’m okay with pronouns like she/her/etc., but i don’t really feel cis female. I chose a bunch of other descriptors, like “genderqueer”; when i saved the list, though, “cis female” had been bumped to the top. Which makes me feel a little noodly.

    But overall, i think it’s really super cool! : ) I definitely appreciate being able to choose more than one thing, as a way to try & describe myself.

    • I really appreciate that you described yourself as “noodly” in this comment with your profile picture being as it is.

    • So, did you go with both “Genderqueer and Cis Female”? It sounds like a contradiction but kind of implies what you want to say about yourself. I didn’t immediately notice “Femme” and “Butch” were missing, because I’m not very much either one of those but I feel so sisterly around butch womyn because if any roughly cis identity matches my trans* identity it’s that! I’m having a very difficult time convincing people I’m transgender with this Sinead O’Conner hair! Can I just put down her name instead of a gender, like the David Bowie and Prince people? Because that would be pretty awesome…

      • I went with cis female, neither, other, genderqueer, & gender fluid : x It was the closest i could get, with those as a group, to what i think fits. : )

        I actually don’t ID as femme or butch either, but i have a slight femme-ish-y slant, i think?? Which was why i was looking for something that would go with that, but i basically had to just pour & mix, pfff

  4. so while this is not available yet in other languages than “us english”, at least it does allow you to go back to gender neutral also for other languages, in case you once selected a gender and now regret being stuck with the binary (those hacks stopped working a long time ago):
    using the us english settings, i changed my gender and chose gender neutral pronouns, then switched my profile to dutch, and there i am now back to no gender and the pronouns used are “hem/haar” (i.e., “his/her”), which makes sense as dutch doesn’t have a neutral gender like they/them (the words for they/them are the same as she/her)

    • I wonder how many other languages this is the case for, definitely an interesting line of thought. I am no cunning linguist so don’t dare speculate, but Dutch can’t be the only one where this is the case.

  5. I wish it would show for those of us who have Facebook in a foreign language. :| My Facebook is in Spanish, and I had to change my settings to English in order to make the change, but when I changed my language back to Spanish, it’s not showing up anymore. :(

    • People need to talk more about that issue! I guess Facebook thinks everyone lives out here in California and we don’t have Hispanic people somehow. What really surprises me is they don’t even get this option in The United Kingdom! I’m pretty sure English isn’t different enough over there that the sex binary is somehow a valid way of labeling people! I’m noticing that a lot of the headway we’re making toward trans* inclusion isn’t trickling down to everyone… If you’ve changed it in US English mode, do you think I’d see it that way? I’m guessing you’d be unable to see my gender on mine with yours set to Spanish. They’re not so good about making changes that are consistent through the whole site.

    • I imagine it’s just taking them a long time to get it working in other languages. Facebook tends to release things before they are completely done. I wouldn’t worry yet!

  6. mmh yeah i tried to do this and i can’t. all i see under step 3 are male and female. do i have to do anything first or is FB just being selective about who gets the update?

    • It’s a language thing – it didn’t show up for me either until I switched from “English (UK)” to “English (US)”. I admired it for a bit, then switched back because I couldn’t handle all the zeds.

    • Yes, make sure your language set is for English (US). Everyone who has had an issue this has been the problem. Evidently if you are in another country you can only be male or female. smh!

  7. Wonder how long until changing this to something random takes off amongst the high schoolers. Similar to being married to their BFF.

    • That might protect some people though. Like if somebody who isn’t gender-chill gets a bit too nosy about the whole thing, you can always go the ~just a joke with my friend~ route.

      • That’s the exact reason why these options don’t make a lot of sense to me. For example if you are a trans woman wouldn’t you want to just put female down? I don’t really get it but I’m also comfortable with the sex of which I was born so idk.

  8. Serious question:

    How does one gender?

    My mind is going five million places I need to take a nap because this is great but assigned at birth sex and gender is the last frontier for steadfast convention that informs “the everything.”

      • OH GOD! I’ve read Judith Butler’s really dense work and “gender performativity” is in my vocabulary….*~*~*forever~*~*~

        Talking about gender gives me a lot of emotions.

        I’m going to listen to David Bowie and *perform* the hell out it and finish doing Prince splits.

        *eewughhh* (It’s a Prince onomatopoeia; see: Kiss, Purple Rain, Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stores: Shirts vs. Blouses)

  9. Haha, well, guess it’s time to subtly come out. I can definitely confirm that having to pick a binary gender and pronouns makes me uncomfortable beyond belief, so having the option to change it makes me incredibly happy.

    • Subtle congratulations on your subtle coming out! I remember the joy of finally putting up that I was “interested in women” on Facebook, and even though I was hiding it from most people and it wasn’t going to show up in anybody’s news feed, it was really affirming and refreshing to undo the little lie of omission I’d held onto for so long.

  10. I liked this change to Facebook. I may not really have any of teh genderfluid or trans* going on in myself (I don’t really consider myself either butch or femme, but that doesn’t make me androgynous really. It just means I’m not a super masculine or feminine woman) but I like that it had the option to label myself as cisgender female. (Cisgender female because I am both of the female sex and also a woman, but mostly because it sounds better than Cis Woman or Cisgender woman, both of which look better spelled as ciswoman).
    I like being able to call myself cisgender on Facebook because I don’t personally know a lot of trans* or genderfluid people and I need to remind myself and other people that gender differences are thing that deserves respect and recognition.

    • As a trans* womon, I’m pretty picky about the spelling, not keen on “woman” and “women” but not militant about it. I agree that “ciswoman” looks better than “cis woman” yet I’d always spelled “gender queer” as two words before. Something about a G and a Q together in one word makes me uncomfortable. I’m thinking about getting used to it since I’m “Genderqueer and Transfeminine” officially! Is it weird I feel so strange all these terms are being capitalized?

    • Agreed — there’s a post going around Tumblr about this asking that cis people add that to their profiles, because listing all these new options under a “custom” form still sets them apart from the male and female selections, subtly underlining those as “normal.” I think it’s a positive step to identify ourselves as cis if it means undoing a microaggression and making our non-cis peers feel less othered.

    • To be fair, being both of the female sex and a woman does not imply that one is cis or cisgender. I get that’s true in your case, but the same thing applies to me and most of the trans women I know. I’m female, I’m a woman, and I’m a trans woman. (and I’m gender nonconforming! But that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax).

  11. I’m actually kind of glad that they opted not to allow a write-your-own gender option, not because I think they’ve created an exhaustive list of genders people can choose to identify (or not identify as), but because it will keep assholes abusing the system and mocking the non-binary/trans communities.

    I hope as time goes on the option will become available, but for now, while they’re still adding terms to options, I think this is the best thing we can get.

  12. I don’t agree with the idea that I’m not female because science. It’s just that I’d be a frustrated ghost if a medical examiner described me as a “white male”! I’m Swedish (Sami/Viking/Jewish), Polish and a goth grrl! I’d been quite comfortable using “Female” to describe my gender because like any word it’s linguistic before it is physiological, biological or technological! What if I didn’t produce gametes at all? Sterility doesn’t exactly make a person sexless, does it? Anyway I’m thrilled to switch to “Genderqueer and Transfeminine” just because nobody can really argue those aren’t valid identities for me to claim! Now I’m waiting to change who I’m interested in from “women” to “androgynous yet femme vegan womyn”! I’m not very butch but I agree these terms should be included and “male” or “female” should be “masculine” and “feminine” so as not to let cis people be the default just because chromosomes. Also, it bothers my obsessive-compulsive disorder that some of the choices are nouns while others are adjectives. Why hasn’t anyone else noticed that? Am I the only one irked by this?

    • yes this is exactly the problem with trying to put sex in two discrete categories in any concrete way at all, biologically female is defined by the gamete type across species, which is SUPER ARBITRARY, I don’t identify with my gamete size at all, but medically they assign sex based on fucked up and kinda flexible standards that are not the same as the definition in biology. WHAT GIVES MEDICAL PROFESSION. WHAT GIVES.

    • Yeah, I was surprised to see people arguing that female is not a gender. Yes, “female” refers to something specific in a particular biological classification system(which is not the only possible way to define sex). That doesn’t mean the word doesn’t have other commonly accepted meanings, one of which is a gender.

  13. While I’m happy for GQ/gender fluid people to FINALLY be able to have options on Facebook (how about OK Cupid and other sites doing this?), I also admit how people identifying themselves as “cisgender female” or “cisgender male” gives me the heebie-jeebies. As a trans person, it kind of has an entire coding of “I’m not one of them, I’m real, you’re free to date me.” Yes, I know, they’re trans allies, blah, blah, but it still smells suspiciously like jumping in to say “I’m not other (or at least, not ‘their’ kind of other)”… looking for “folks like me but I know the word ‘cisgender’ so I’m obviously cool.” Yeesh.

    • I can appreciate your concern here, and I’m sure there probably are people who will add “cis” to their profile out of that intention. But it doesn’t really seem to be how it’s shaking down yet among my Facebook friends, at least. The people who are identifying as “cis” seem to be the people who I would normally trust the most to actually have my back (I’m a trans woman). A large percentage of them–maybe even a majority–seem to be people who wouldn’t really be interested in providing a coded message to bigots that they are dateable, as they often date trans people. In fact, three of the newly minted “cis women” off the top of my head either are currently dating a trans woman or had a trans woman as their last romantic/sexual partner. In contrast, the cis people who I don’t really trust seem to be leaving their gender as “male” or “female.”

      So I guess that’s just one of those funny things. . .what to you seems like a person flaunting their privilege in a negative way to me seems like a person owning their privilege in a positive way. I definitely will slightly look eschew at any cis person who lists their gender as simply “male” or “female” from now on. I totally get why trans women and trans men would want to list our gender thusly, but for cis people, I’d be concerned that either they just view themselves as “normal” and above all that crazy gender stuff, or they are one of those charming people who “doesn’t believe in cis” and considers it an insult. Either way, they’re not someone I’m likely to feel comfortable around. “Cis” is a word that trans people created to describe the privilege certain people have over us, and so I feel respected when cis people willingly use it for themselves. And I like hanging out with ‘cis women.” I don’t like hanging out with “real women” or “biological women” or “women-born-women.”

      • Isn’t the point, though, that “female” should be suitable for anyone who is female whether that person happens to be trans or cis? I can totally see how having alternative options is great for genderqueer people who don’t strongly identify as female or male, and of course there may be trans people who prefer to specifically state their trans identity, but surely there are others who simply want to identify as female, full stop?

        For this reason, I don’t really think it’s fair of you to say you’ll always look askew at cis people who don’t indicate that they’re cis, because there can be many reasons they might not choose to do so and not all of them are necessarily bad. My personal feeling is that specifying “cis” divides the category “female” into two groups, which feels disrespectful to me because it seems contrary to the ideal that all females, cis or trans, should have equal claim to that category.

        I certainly think it’s important to clarify one’s status as cis in context when there’s a need to acknowledge cis privilege, but to make an analogy, if a straight couple kept talking about their “straight wedding” outside of any context of privilege, that would seem off to me, like they were trying to either reinforce the idea that straightness should be inherent to weddings or their wedding was more authentic than others.

        • A person should acknowledge their cis privilege wherever it occurs. One place where it occurs is in the “gender” field of Facebook. Cis people should have to answer awkward questions from their Facebook friends and relatives about what the word “cis” means.

          And yeah. . .all females should have an equal claim to the word “female.” You know who currently doesn’t have an equal claim to that word? (hint: it’s not cis women who don’t have a claim to it). You know, when a bunch of cis women start having the word “male” on their birth certificate or start getting thrown into male prisons where they almost inevitably get assaulted or raped, then I will start giving a shit about how unfair I’m being to them by expecting them to list the word “cis” on their Facebook page.

          I’m not stupid, and I can see what is happening on Facebook this week. Cis people who I trust, who have trans partners, who don’t say horribly offensive stuff about trans people–they are changing their gender to include the word “cis.” Cis people who I don’t trust, who don’t know many trans people, who are ignorant about our lives and the oppression we face are NOT changing their gender to include the word “cis.” This isn’t just some big coincidence. Now I’m guessing as a “label-free” person you may not be big on making generalizations, but generalizations and risk assessments are an important part of how I survive day-to-day. I would be a fool to not take note of who is changing their gender and who is not, and to not use this information as one hint when I meet a new person and am trying to figure out whether I will be safe around them or whether they are an ignorant asshole.

        • “My personal feeling is that specifying “cis” divides the category “female” into two groups, which feels disrespectful to me because it seems contrary to the ideal that all females, cis or trans, should have equal claim to that category.”

          Thank you Chandra. Exactly this!

        • “will start giving a shit about how unfair I’m being to them by expecting them to list the word “cis” on their Facebook page.”

          Rebecca, I don’t want to speak for Chandra, but I read her statement that it wasn’t about being unfair to her, but how it creates classifications which separate all women, most especially marginalizing trans women. There are obviously times when trans or cis are important identifiers (including in discussions like this) but when it comes down to a possibility of some cis women using that descriptor to mean a subtext of “real woman” or expecting someone to out (or primarily identify) oneself as trans kind of woman (a tacitly ‘accepted but with an asterisk and a knowing wink’ woman) then it becomes oppressive. I’ve already seen preliminary discussions about OK Cupid where many guys are supporting a “trans” ID’ing option with the expectation trans women will be required to ID as such so they can be more easily avoided.

          I believe your friends are supportive, but that doesn’t make me feel better about anything which potentially separates trans women from just being women if that’s how they experience themselves. Likewise, I have issues when I see a large number of articles about this explaining how Facebook’s policy change ‘is for the benefit of the transgender community so they can identify themselves as other than woman or man.’ Yes, that’s absolutely crucial for some parts of the trans community to do so, but like the ‘asterisk’ after trans, it also feels somewhat coercive for other parts of the trans community who ID as binary and are uncomfortable having developing expectations they’ll ID using queered/third gender labels with which they aren’t comfortable.

        • @Rebecca Weaver – Maybe it was not the best choice of words for me to say that I don’t think it’s fair of you to do that, so I apologize for saying that. You should obviously do whatever works for you within your circle of acquaintances.

          All I’m trying to point out is that your experience within your circle of acquaintances may not apply to everyone. Right here in this discussion, we have two trans people in complete disagreement over whether or not it’s possibly offensive for a cis person to list themselves as such on Facebook. So there’s pretty clearly not one obvious choice for a cis person who is trying to navigate this question in a respectful way. Hopefully in my own circle of acquaintances, my friends will base their judgement of me on my words and actions rather than how I identify myself.

        • Well Gina, to clarify, I certainly don’t support cis-ness as an actual thing. I want cis-ness to be completely done away with. I don’t want there to be a norm that trans folks are perceived as deviating FROM. But in the meantime, I do feel that the word “cis” is necessary to provide a name for the oppressive social position of people who are made normal so that we trans people can be seen as abnormal, subhuman freaks. I never chose or wanted to be trans. To me, I’m simply female, but the world didn’t let me be simply that. The world said you will always be a transsexual woman, never just a regular old woman. So I think it’s unjust for cis women to be encouraged to bask in their experience of being regular old women when that experience is never going to be accessible to me. It doesn’t matter what I list as my Facebook gender, what surgeries I might get, or how well I can “pass.” I’ll always just be a tr**ny. The moment someone learns about my background, I am marked as an Other, as not fully or authentically female–and sometimes this can have violent consequences. So I can’t condone cis women reveling in their unmarked, normalized status given that this is the type of social climate we live in. They should strive to be constantly aware of the fact they are cis and the unfair advantages that gives them. I see expressing this awareness on Facebook as a important, albeit small, component of that.

          But yeah. I will never support any system where trans people are pressured into disclosing their trans status. And I wouldn’t necessarily feel the same about the obligation of cis people to disclose on a dating website like OKCupid because of the sorts of totally valid concerns you raise, Gina. But Facebook is not primarily a dating website. It is primarily a way for people to keep in touch with their friends and family. The reason I believe cis people who are trying to be allies should disclose they are cis on Facebook is to trigger conversations with their cis friends and cis family, conversations about cis privilege and the oppression of trans people. And it is just one small step. I would like to see them doing a lot more besides just changing one data field on Facebook.

          Finally Gina, I just want to say I respect your opinion even though I do see things a bit differently. I do have strong opinions on this, but I don’t necessarily think I’m “right.” I think the voices of all trans people are equally important on this issue; I don’t see my voice as being any more important than yours or anyone else’s.

          As for you Chandra, the way you identify yourself IS words and an action, and your acquaintances have every right to judge you for it if your self-identification is oppressive. Sorry. I wouldn’t simply give you a pass if you were a cis woman and chose to identify as a “woman-born-woman,” for instance. That’s an oppressive self-identification. And the fact that trans people disagree in some areas about the best way for cis people to be allies to us does not absolve cis people from having responsibility for their actions or the way their actions impact trans people. For example, a cis person could consider not listing their gender on Facebook, at all. I don’t think either Gina or I would have a problem if such a person chose to keep their gender private. But I personally DO have a problem (though Gina disagrees) with someone presenting themselves as just a regular old female if, in fact, they are specifically a cis woman with socially constructed cis privilege that permeates every aspect of their life.

    • I’m really glad that Facebook has taken this step, but I’ve been unsure about whether to change mine for exactly the reasons you mentioned. It’s easy to see it both ways. The terms “trans” and “cis” can be both unifying and divisive. On the one hand, “cis” helps to clarify that both trans and cis women are equally women – one is no more “normal” than the other. On the other hand, I don’t consider “cis” to be a part of my gender, and I know many trans women do not feel that “trans” is a part of theirs either (though if people do, that’s great too). For binary identified cis and trans women our gender is woman. The prefixes provide information about our chromosomes and the genitals were born with but say nothing about our gender identity. It’s difficult to say what’s the best choice (not that anyone is likely to care what I list as my gender, but I still feel like it’s something worth thinking about).

    • I changed my gender on Facebook to “cis woman” because right now, that is the only accurate way for me to have the word “woman” be a part of my gender. I identify much more strongly with “woman” than with “female,” which, in my experience, is often used derogatorily. It seems that most people in my feed who are leaving their gender as is probably don’t even know what the word cis means, so maybe my changing it will be able to open a conversation about that. In my limited experience, most bigots consider “cis” to be an insult, so I doubt they’ll be jumping on that bandwagon. I could see them putting pressure on trans women to explicitly list themselves as trans, however, which you already mentioned as a concern on OK Cupid.

  14. Great step etc etc… not to be picky or anything, but this option is available to only those people who have English US as their option. Why do I have to choose between “colour” and “realise” and setting my gender as one of the sparkly new options?? As someone who is a) very into language and b) very into gender and sexuality presentation, this leaves me a little disgruntled.

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