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Facebook and nonbinary gender


I have mixed feelings about Facebook and gender.

I love that people are no longer being shoved into the pronoun boxes of “she” or “he” - people who’ve got their language set to US and UK English can now be referred to as singular “they”, which would suit me just fine. They can also be agender or nonbinary or any of the other 50+ options. (It remains to be seen whether anyone will draw attention to “asexual” being on the list despite it being a word for a sexuality rather than a gender.)

However, you must still choose a binary gender when you sign up - which they have admitted they still use to target ads, even if you change your gender to something other than male or female later on. Imagine choosing male or female at random just to get an account and then having the marketing treat you like someone you’re not. Marketing based on gender is bad enough when you’re not gender-nonconforming, but this way is a massive dysphoria-inducing ick-fest.

And on a neutral observational note, their choice of singular “they” does reflect the majority of nonbinary people accurately - about 62% of nonbinary people are happy with singular “they”, though often not as the only pronoun they’ll accept - but there’s still a sizeable proportion of the population that don’t like he, she, or they. In other words, there is no consensus, and it’s not likely there’ll be one for a long time. Facebook choosing the oldest and most common inclusive pronoun is not a surprise, but I wonder whether it’ll be suitable for all nonbinary Facebook users, and I wonder whether it’ll affect the pronoun climate in the future. Will this bring us closer to what many nonbinary people want, which is a consensus on one inclusive pronoun, so that people can use our pronouns more easily and social dysphoria is thus reduced? Will binary cis people be all like, “Facebook says nonbinary people are called “they” so I’m going to call you “they” even though that’s not what you want me to call you”?

I tweeted at Carolyn Petit, an awesome video games critic/journalist/person who is a trans woman. She was saying that she was losing followers so I tweeted: “Once a cis guy told me I count for two school union votes because I’m genderqueer…so maybe I count as two followers?”

Anyway, that cis person is gross! Even when I try to make it a jokey, oh-god, positive. It’s just making me sad at the moment, actually.

But I really count as millions of followers, then, by that logic? I can be so many gender and identities outside of the binary while I’m figuring out who I am. I am unmappable and numerous. 

So Carolyn can add a million or so followers to her count. 

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