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Facebook's 56 gender options and what they mean

Published on Feb 14, 2014 7:59 PM
 
Facebook has expanded its gender options to a mindboggling array of terms encompassing trans and gender-nonconforming users. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

Facebook has expanded its gender options to a mindboggling array of terms encompassing trans and gender-nonconforming users.

The social media company said the change offers its 159 million monthly users in the United States more choices in the way they describe themselves.

Users have lobbied Facebook for years to offer alternative gender choices. The company has also been publicly supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, and founder Mark Zuckerberg, along with employees, took part in San Francisco's gay pride parade last year.

Facebook's move has been welcomed by the LGBT community in the US. Sarah Kate Ellis, president of American gay rights organisation GLAAD, wrote in a blog post (http://www.glaad.org/blog/facebook-introduces-custom-gender-field-allow-...): "This new feature is a step forward in recognising transgender people and allows them to tell their authentic story in their own words."

So far reaction from the conservative right in the US has been relatively muted, although a spokesman for Focus On The Family, an influential religious organisation based in Denver, told Associated Press: "Of course Facebook is entitled to manage its wildly popular site as it sees fit, but here is the bottom line: It's impossible to deny the biological reality that humanity is divided into two halves - male and female."

Here is a glossary of the gender definitions and what they mean.

Agender: Someone who does not have an internal sense of gender.

Androgyne/Androgynous: A person in whom both feminine and masculine traits are integrated in his/her sense of gender.

Bigender: A gender which switches between what is traditionally considered "female" and "male" genders in society. Bigenders can switch between identifying with each gender, versus androgynes who combine both gender traits

Cis/Cisgender: Cis is a prefix to describe people whose gender identity and physical bodies match, for example, a female gender in a female body or a male gender in a male body.

Cis Female/Cis Woman/Cisgender Female/Cisgender Woman: A woman who identifies as a female gender in a female body and presents herself in feminine terms.

Cis Male/Cis Man/Cisgender Male/Cisgender Man: A man who identifies as a male gender in a male body and presents himself in masculine terms.

Female to Male/FTM/Trans Male/Trans Man/Transgender Male/Transsexual Male: Usually used to refer to the men who were born with female bodies but who transition to their real gender identity via social (i.e. living as a male) or medical (sex change operation) means.

Gender Fluid/Gender Variant: A person who may identify more as male one day and female another day, regardless of physical traits. Fluid is preferred to Variant as the latter implies there is a "normal" standard for gender.

Gender Nonconforming: A person who behaves and/or presents in ways society considers to be atypical for one's gender.

Gender Questioning: A person who is still in the process of discovering one's gender, sexual identity or sexual orientation.

Genderqueer/Neutrois/Non-binary: A person who identifies as neither man nor woman, is between or beyond genders, or a combination of genders.

Intersex: A person born with both male and female reproductive and sexual organs.

Male to Female/MTF/Trans Female/Trans Woman/Transgender Female/Transsexual Female: Usually used to refer to women who were born with male bodies but who transition to their real gender identity via social (i.e. living as a female) or medical (sex change operation) means.

Neither/Other: A person who does not identify as male or female.

Pangender: A person whose gender identity spans a range of gender expressions.

Trans/Trans Person/Transgender/Transgender Person: A prefix denoting crossing borders. Hence a trans person or transgender means a person whose gender identity is opposite to one's biological sex.

Transfeminine: Refers to a spectrum of gender identities dominated by female identity and femininity.

Transmasculine: Refers to a spectrum of gender identities dominated by male identity and masculinity.

Transsexual: An older term originating from medical and psychological communities referring to transgender.

Two-spirit: A Native American term referring to a person whose gender identity encompasses both genders.

Sources: geneq.berkeley.edu/lgbt_resources_definition_of_terms, kinseyconfidential.org/, transwhat.org/glossary, www.glaad/org/reference, itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2013/01/a-comprehensive-list-of-lgbtq-term-definitions, urbandictionary.com

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