Civil Liberties

Beyond Male and Female



In February, Facebook changed its gender identity feature. Users can choose among more than 50 possibilities, from androgyne to genderqueer. You may also pick your pronoun of choice.

Predictably, some people are not happy. On Fox & Friends, Clayton Morris and Tucker Carlson poked fun at the feature, asking why anyone would want to use it. Jane Fae of The Guardian claimed that Facebook should just eliminate gender identification entirely, because she believes it negatively impacts women.

Yet as Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison told the Associated Press, "There's going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world."

Government has long operated with a mindset of simple binaries: Republican or Democrat, with us or against us. But the rest of society, thanks in part to our ongoing technological revolutions, is opting for a more cooperative, dynamic, and productive worldview.

Carlson, Morris, and Fae are free to maintain their personal preferences about Facebook and gender. The new alternatives won't displace the old categories; they'll just set up camp alongside them. Nobody loses.