From today, Facebook users in the UK will be able to choose from more than 70 new gender options as the company seeks to better reflect the country’s diversity.
The new gender options (around 50 of which were first introduced in the US in February) include androgynous, trans person, polygender, and cisgender - with users also able to suggest their own additions.
Speaking to The Independent, Facebook’s policy director in the UK Simon Milner said: “It’s all about Facebook enabling people to be themselves, and making users feel comfortable in how they express themselves and how they talk about the issues that matter to them.”
Mr Milner said that the social network had worked with two UK organizations - Press For Change and Gendered Intelligence - to select the new options, and that additional terms added specifically for the UK market included intersex man, asexual, and hermaphrodite.
Facebook privacy settings you should know about
Facebook privacy settings you should know about
1/6 Change who sees your posts.
Anything you post on Facebook - from a status update to a photo - can be given its own privacy setting. 'Public' means that the information can be found via Google, or you can create custom groups of friends (http://ind.pn/1bVJJ2H) to share info with. Remember: whatever setting you last choose will become default until you change it again.
2/6 Check what your friends are sharing about you.
Sometimes it's not you, but your friends that give information away. Follow this link to see the information that your friends might be sharing with third party apps - http://ind.pn/1bVVar6. Click the 'edit' option to the right of 'Apps other use' and un-tick every category of info you don't want to share. There's also an option above labelled 'Apps you use' that lets you select which apps can use your Facebook data elsewhere on the web. Don't trust them? Click the little cross on the right.
3/6 Hide old posts.
If you're keen to make your Facebook past more private, limiting who can see your old posts should be your first step. Follow this link - http://ind.pn/1bVK7hv - and click 'Limit The Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline'. You can make all of these old photos and stats updates vieweable to the public, friends only, or just yourself. From this page you can also change who can send you messages and friend requests.
4/6 Create friend lists.
Since September 2011 Facebook has let you create different 'lists' of friends in order to let you separate what your close buddies and your work colleagues see. Facebook can give you a head start by suggesting lists based on who you went to school with and where people live - and you can even choose to browse a News Feed populated only by a certain list. Follow the link below for a full guide: http://ind.pn/1bVPu0d
5/6 Limit adverts.
Pages you like will sometimes be used by Facebook to endorse a product to your friends. If you don't wnat these to show up head to this page - http://ind.pn/1j6Mc2b - select "Pair my social actions with adverts for no one" and click Save Changes.
6/6 Check your profile.
If you're still worried about which of your photos or posts are visible to people you can check what the public (or any specific individual) sees when they click on your profile. View your profile by clicking on your namem then click the cog in the bottom right hand corner of your cover photo, then select 'View as...'
As well as custom genders, users will be able to select which pronoun they’d like to be referred to with, choosing from male (he/his), female (she/her) or neutral (they/their). Users selecting a custom gender can also control which of their friends see the changes.
The company says that the new gender options will not “change the way marketers can reach people” and that there is “currently no way for marketers to target ‘transgender/custom’ [individuals] on Facebook.”
Professor Stephen Whittle, Vice-President at Press for Change, said: “By challenging the gender binary, Facebook will finally allow thousands of people to describe themselves as they are now and it will allow future generation of kids to become truly comfortable in their own skins."
To change their Facebook gender users must click the 'About' tab from their timeline, then navigate to 'Contact and Basic Information' and select 'Edit' next to the 'Gender' option.
Mr Milner added that although the company was "not pushing an agenda," it recognised that some people in the UK might feel uncomfortable about the changes. "Those kind of people haven’t figured in our thinking on this," he said.
“We expect there may well be debate about it and there will be different reactions to it as there are to any progressive changes in society, but we think it’s the right thing to do and in tune with the vast majority of people in the UK and how they think.”