A year ago Facebook took a socially responsible step forward when it allowed its users to choose from preset custom genders like ‘cisgender’ or ‘transgender.’ But while the company worked with GLAAD to generate the custom genders, the move was not completely celebrated because users still made to choose from pre-defined options. Now it appears those options are gone as the company has started rolling out new versions of its custom gender field. This version still gives suggestions as one type, but also allows users to type in any word they wish to represent themselves with across Facebook.
“Now, if you do not identify with the pre-populated list of gender identities, you are able to add your own,” said a Facebook announcement on Thursday. Facebook software engineer Ari Chivukula, who identifies as transgender and was part of the team that made the free-form option, thinks the change will lead to more widespread acceptance of people who don’t identify themselves as a man or woman.
The way the ‘infinite’ gender options work is very similar to the options in Google+ that rolled out in December. After typing in the custom genders, users can choose a pronoun they want to be called throughout the site, with female, male and neutral options (her/him/them). Facebook users can also change the privacy settings specific to gender, meaning they can also select which audience is able to see a user’s gender or if they even want it to be public at all.
There no news yet on when the option will roll out to all users. In the meantime, people who are not logged in when they arrive at Facebook homepage still only see male/female options on the quick sign-up section of the page