"Facebook is a place where many LGBT users can be exactly who we are, free of the legal, social and financial barriers facing us offline"
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, commended Facebook for a new, inclusive feature the social networking giant rolled out today that will allow individuals to use their own words to describe their gender identity.
The change builds on the “Custom Gender” option introduced last year by Facebook, which provides users a list of more than 50 gender identities they can choose from to describe themselves while building their online profile at the site.
The feature will now include a free-form field in which individuals who use Facebook in US English can self-identify with their own words.
The need for the new option is underscored by HRC Foundation’s gender-expansive youth report, which found that many young survey respondents wrote their own description for their gender identity.
In the survey of 10,000 LGBT youth, nearly 10 percent identified as transgender or gender-expansive, with more than 600 using their own words to describe their gender identity.
“Facebook is a place where many LGBT users can be exactly who we are, free of the legal, social and financial barriers facing us offline,” said Jay Brown, Director of Program Strategies for the HRC Foundation.
“Creating a free-form field for gender is a perfect solution for ensuring gender-expansive users have that kind of freedom.”
In its Facebook post announcing the new feature, the company said that it recognizes that “some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way.”
Said Deena Fidas, director of HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program and co-author of its Corporate Equality Index (CEI):
“Facebook has demonstrated a commitment to LGBT equality, both within the company, earning a 100 percent on our Corporate Equality Index, which measures workplace LGBT inclusion, and through these very meaningful changes to their networking platform.”
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
The original rainbow flag, called the Freedom Flag, was devised by Gilbert Baker in 1978. The design has undergone several revisions since its debut with 8 colored stripes, and today the most common variant consists of 6 stripes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
Picture of Gilbert Baker's original Freedom Flag showing the meaning of the 8 colors.