Facebook introduces more than 70 new gender options to the UK: 'We want to reflect society'

Custom options added specifically for the UK market include intersex man, asexual, and hermaphrodite

James Vincent
Friday 27 June 2014 13:23 BST

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.

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.

The new gender options are suggested to users if they select 'custom' from the drop down box.

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.”

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