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News @ Minnesota State University Moorhead

Women’s and Gender Studies professor, Kandace Creel Falcon, talks with WDAY on recent change to Facebook

Posted on February 19, 2014

Facebook users have a few more options to identify themselves
By: Becky Parker, WDAY
www.wday.com

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -For many, a social networking profile is an online identity.

And today, Facebook took a step to allow people to identify themselves the way they want.

Users can now choose from 58 different gender options.

The change from Facebook was announced and implemented this afternoon.

A software engineer for Facebook, who is going through a gender transformation, says, for many, the change will mean nothing.

But for the few it does impact, it means the world.

Kandace Creel Falcon, Women’s and Gender Studies professor: “I am excited there are so many more options.”

You no longer have to be just male or female on Facebook, more than 50 customized gender options have been added to the site.

Kandace Creel Falcon, a Women’s and Gender Studies professor at MSUM, says her Facebook feed was full of posts about the change today.

Creel Falcon: “Oftentimes, we think about gender as only male and female. And that can be really limiting to people.”

While some of the terms are commonly known, transgender, intersex, androgynous, others are more obscure.

Like Cisgender, a term meaning you identify as your biological sex, or “Two-Spirit,” a native term.

Creel Falcon: “It allows for people who have gender identities that are somewhere in between or outside of those two identities to really be claimed and for people to be proud of that identity and live that identity in a digital space as well as real life.”

In addition, users can change how they are referred to in the third-person with three pronoun choices – him, her or them.

Dylan Furst, Facebook user: “At first I thought, wow 58, sounds like a lot. But as you read them, some of them make a lot of sense.”

But the change doesn’t come without criticism.

The national organization, “Focus on the Family,” released a statement saying, “It’s impossible to deny the biological reality that humanity is divided into two halves- male and female.”

For most Facebook users, the change won’t make a difference.

Dylan Furst: “It helps the people that need it or want to make that choice. If you want to stick with the traditional male and female, that’s still an option it’s not taking that away from anyone.”

Dr. Falcone says Facebook is often on the cutting edge of these issues, and expects other social networks will follow suit.


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