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Facebook's gender blunder

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Jul. 10th, 2008 | 01:15 pm

I've had my gender as "Select One" on Facebook since I first signed up. I have a few other friends that have it that way too. The only effect it really has is that your gender is not displayed on your profile, and that when you do certain things, the mini-feed uses a gender-neutral plural:

facebook gender

Recently, however, I guess facebook decided to address this oversight. Today when I logged into my facebook homepage, I received this message:

facebook gender

I can't imagine what they hope to accomplish by this. I don't think that most users will react with "Oh thank god, now my friends on facebook can know what gender I am, I can't believe I forgot to fill that in." There are many users like me who find Facebook's sex & sexuality options limited. I actually use the SGO application to put a box on my profile that's more informative, and in that box, yes, I do identify my sex as female. But that's hardly the point. I generally identify with "not otherwise specified" and I feel I have a right to straddle the line, if I please.

So luckily, you'll notice, facebook prompt has a third option, which is the one I'll be picking. It's "close".

Update: I've made a facebook group encouraging people to switch to an unspecified gender. This should be interesting...

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Comments {15}

Update from three years on

from: exhipigeonist.net
date: Aug. 15th, 2012 05:13 am (UTC)

Hi! My name is Andrew and I came across this entry through a ddg search. Hope you don't mind random comments a billion years since you posted.

I've been doing some research on Facebook's handling of gender and sex and have been trying to find out more about the transition a few years ago where Facebook removed the ability to not choose 'male' or 'female'.

I believe around the time of this post Facebook made it impossible for new users to sign up without declaring one or the other, but I'm not sure whether users who actually clicked on the practically-invisible-third-option 'Close' (like you did! - thanks for including photos, by the way) have been forced to choose since that time.

Are you still on Facebook? If so, are you still able to have gender-neutral pronouns referring to your profile?

Also, the Facebook group you link to appears to have been removed. Was that done intentionally on your side? (Or was it causing too much disruption?)

No idea if you're still interested in the weirdness relating to the way Facebook handles gender and sex, but I've been writing about it a little in my blog over at exhipigeonist.net (http://exhipigeonist.net). The tags are accurate =)

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