Friday, Jul 25, 2014 06:17 pm est

NYU Reacts: Facebook adds list of 50 gender categories, expands pronoun choices

Posted on February 19, 2014 | by Anjana Sreedhar

Shawn Paik/WSN

Social media giant Facebook announced its addition more than 50 new gender categories for users to identify themselves with this on Feb. 13. It also expanded pronoun choices from “him/his” and “her” to include “them/they.”

CAS sophomore Amy Peterson said this is a positive change for identity on social media.

“It’s important for people to use labels that best fit them and it’s important for social media to recognize that,” Peterson said.

Facebook made the change after working with LGBTQ advocacy organizations, such as GLAAD, reportedly in response to hearing that Facebook users wanted more gender options. No other social media sites currently permit users this variety in gender choices.

CAS sophomore Krystal Lawrence changed eir gender category from female to non-binary, which means one does not conform to male or female gender identification. Eir is Lawrence’s preferred gender pronoun. Before Facebook’s change, those who preferred to display the gender pronouns “they/them/their” had to go through a more complicated process.

“Before the expansion, I had my gender unlisted and was using a third-party extension to make Facebook refer to me as they/them/their,” Lawrence said. “After the expansion, I have my gender listing set as non-binary and my pronouns as they/them/their for ‘the public’ to see.”

Lawrence also said revealing correct gender identity on Facebook gave eir a sense of empowerment and made eir ecstatic.

“I want to be out and stuff about my gender, but in day to day things, I’m usually too shy to share or correct for my pronouns,” Lawrence said. “The integration of genders other than male and female in Facebook itself encouraged me to display it proudly again, just like how any other person, cis or trans, would want to clarify their gender.”

While some praised Facebook’s move, others, like Gallatin sophomore Holden Compton, said improvements still need to be made regarding gender identity on social media.

“I think that the options are incomplete, given that you can only choose from their list of 50, I believe, labels and can’t input your own, though I understand that restriction probably exists to prevent people inputting offensive words, slurs, profanity, et cetera,” Compton said. “The list is still restrictive. Plus, there are still only three pronoun sets when people use many, many more.”

Multiple on-campus organizations such as SHADES, for LGBTQ students of color and allies, and T-Party, for transgender and non-conforming students and allies, continue to fight for equal representation of the LGBTQ community in public spaces.

Tisch sophomore and co-leader of SHADES Mars Marson thinks that Facebook’s change, while necessary and important, should have been taken sooner.

“Recently I’ve seen so many news reports about transgender women being assaulted and murdered,” Marson said. “One cause of transphobia is ignorance. A cause of ignorance is lack of representation. Having options for your gender and pronouns on Facebook lets its 500 million users know that trans people exist.”

Anjana Sreedhar is a staff writer. Email her at news@nyunews.com.

Comments

CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

AS
Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.

 

DY
Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

CLOSE [x]
  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    NEWS FEATURES MULTIMEDIA SPORTS ARTS OPINION
    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.

    Next