Facebook Steps on Hermaphrodite Toes

Confused about your gender? Worry no more because Facebook is now requiring you to select a gender according to the Los Angeles Times. Facebook previously used the word “themself” in newsfeed stories but unfortunately themself is not really a word. As a result Facebook will be prompting users to specify whether or not they prefer to be referred to as “he” or “she”. To all my fellow hermaphrodites, it’s now time to make a decision about what gender you affiliate yourself with.

According to Naomi Gleit of Facebook, “We’ve received pushback in the past from groups that find the male-female distinction too limiting.” As such, Naomi stated “We have a lot of respect for these communities, which is why it will still be possible to remove gender entirely from your account, including how we refer to you in mini-feed.” The problem surrounds the lack of a gender specification when creating statements in newsfeeds in other languages.

For those that speak a foreign language, you probably know how important gender is in language. While Facebook will be requesting all users to specify how they would prefer themselves to be presented (as he or she), there will be no requirement for specifying a gender. How will Facebook cope with those that don’t specify “he” or “she”? I’m not sure how Facebook plans on handling people that don’t respond but in foreign languages there is a good chance that news stories just don’t display due to a lack of gender.

Do you consider this gender discrimination or do you think that this is strictly a result of language barriers?