For many people, selecting “male” or “female” on their Facebook profile is an easy choice. But for those who identify differently, Facebook now provides 56 gender selections.
Last week, Sterling Waldman of Chesterfield turned 17 and received a perfect birthday present: the option to identify as “genderqueer” on Facebook.
On Friday, Facebook expanded its drop-down menu to offer a “custom” selection of genders that provides more than four dozen options, a cause for celebration for many who identify in a nontraditional way.
“It was very exciting to have that happen,” Waldman told St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon.
Fifty-six Choices Not Enough?
Born and raised female, Waldman always felt different from friends and schoolmates.
“I didn’t really fit in with the girls and I didn’t fit in with the boys,” Waldman said. “I wanted to be both.”
For years, Waldman struggled with the feelings but lacked the language to describe them.
“I didn’t have the words, but I learned the terminology at the end of my freshman year,” Waldman remembered.
Waldman, who prefers the pronouns “them” and “they” to “him, his, her or hers,” has parental support and a community of like-minded people, outside of school and within Parkway Central High.
“In my grade, there are two others who identify as gender-non-binary,” Waldman said.
Facebook's menu also includes "transgender," "trans," "androgynous" and "cisgender," which is another way of saying you identify as the gender you were assigned at birth.
But are 56 choices enough? When it comes to politics and religion, Facebook users don’t have to pick from a list. They can write in their beliefs using words of their choosing. The profile form looks as though you could write in what you want, but it only accepts one of the 56 terms.
Despite the glee over being able to identify as “genderqueer” on Facebook, Waldman knows that not everyone will find the right term to describe such a personal and integral part of themselves.
"I have some friends whose identities are not on that list," Waldman said.