AllOut.org, a global campaign organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality, this week launched a campaign asking Facebook to stop limiting its users' choice of gender identity to only male or female, while urging the social networking giant to add transgender options to its user profiles. With Google+ now offering its growing membership a third option for gender, AllOut.org is encouraging Facebook, the world’s second most popular website, to keep up with its newest competitor, Google+.
As part of the campaign, five AllOut.org members from around the world explain why Facebooks current sign up choices aren’t fully inclusive or respectful of their gender identity: See www.allout.org/facebook
"The right to an online identity is something that most of us have come to take for granted, yet there are millions of people in every part of the world who are denied the right to be themselves simply because they don’t fit into the “male” or “female” checkboxes,” said Andre Banks of AllOut.org. “The change we’re asking for is easy, and it’s the right thing to do."In recent years, millions of transgender people around the world have gained increased respect and recognition. Countries such as Nepal, India and Pakistan have even expanded gender options on state documents to officially recognize transgender identities.
“I am proud to say that the highest court of Nepal has recognized the rights of transgender people to identity documents,” said Sunil Pant, the first openly gay member of Nepal’s Parliament. “Now, it’s time for Facebook, one of the most influential companies in the world, to become a vehicle, not a roadblock to the worldwide recognition of transgender people.”Facebook's extraordinary global reach, spanning 750 million members and cutting across every country and culture in the world, puts it in a unique position to influence attitudes and promote acceptance.
"What people love about Facebook is the ability it offers us to create and customize our online identities to reflect our lives," Banks added. "Gender is a vital part of who we are and most trans people struggle to have their gender identities recognized and respected. Facebook can become an important tool in fighting for visibility and furthering the right of all people to be accepted for who they are.”AllOut.org, in collaboration with a team of designers and User Experience (UX) specialists, recently presented Facebook with a suite of simple design recommendations that, if implemented, would open Facebook to members whose identities go beyond “male” and “female”. After an initial conversation with Facebook, the social networking giant declined to commit to a timeline for making this minor, but important, adjustment to its sign up process.
Banks described Facebook as a progressive organization and pointed to other instances where it made a difference by changing perceptions. "When pushed," he said, "Facebook moved quickly to recognize same sex domestic partnerships and marriages, and even recorded an ‘It Gets Better’ video directed at gay and lesbian youth who face bullying. It’s time Facebook opened its door to people of all gender identities."