Why Facebook’s new custom gender option matters

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Gigaom

On Thursday, Facebook (s fb) announced that instead of identifying as male or female (or hiding gender entirely), U.S. users will now be able to chose a custom gender, along with a gender-sensitive pronoun that allows for use of the singular “they.”

On the surface, it appears to be a small change. But Facebook’s decision to allow custom gender grants visibility to users who identify as queer, trans, genderqueer, intersex and more of fifty recognized gender-presentations.

“Custom” now sits alongside the “Male” and “Female” options in the “Edit profile” page, allowing any user to fill a blank box with the gender presentation that best suits them. In addition, Facebook asks for pronoun support — either “he,” “she” or “they,” for status updates and birthday messages.

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Those who choose a custom gender will also be allowed to control who sees it. This is a huge deal, particularly for trans, genderqueer, and intersex users…

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