Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

Facebook expanded its gender options, and your opinion is wrong

Facebook recently expanded its gender options to accommodate those who identify outside the gender binary, or those who identify as something other than simply “male” or “female.” As someone who happily identifies as female (and always has), this decision does not affect me in any way whatsoever. And I think this decision is wonderful. If you don’t, well…I think you’re wrong.

I am not going to talk about the fluidity of gender, and I am not going to try to convince you that gender identifications like “intersex” and “pangender” are just as valid as male or female (even though they are). Regardless of how you feel about this non-issue, there is absolutely no reason why you should care if someone prefers to present themselves as genderqueer on their personal online profile.

“In the beginning God made man and woman—but Facebook decided to improve on the original models,” Starnes wrote. “What if you identify as a pine cone or a chicken or a weed whacker?”

Aside from the ridiculous insinuation that Facebook spontaneously decided to create non-binary gender identities (people had, in fact, been identifying outside the binary for quite some time prior to this change) and the insulting comparison of weed whackers to people who identify as gender fluid, the post itself is just annoying. As a man who has (or at least claims to have) established security in his own gender, the changes do not affect Starnes. At all. They do not affect me. At all. There is no reason for me to care, there is no reason for him to care, and there is no reason for you to care unless you identify as transgender, neutrois, or anything other than simply male or female.

One of the wonderful things about the internet is the freedom of expression it offers. Technically, this freedom is guaranteed to anybody who lives in the US, but a lot of people seem to forget that. The same law that allows someone like Todd Starnes to post about the increasing pain in his middle-aged butt allows anybody else to identify as whatever gender they want—or no gender, as the case may be.

What ideally shouldn’t matter to someone like me, a secure and cisgendered person, matters a lot to someone who constantly has to deal with the world telling them that their gender does not exist. Yes, in American English, referring to a single person as “they” technically is grammatically incorrect. Still, such a small change that isn’t (or at least shouldn’t) be a big deal to cisgendered people can mean a lot to those who have been forced to check “male” or “female” on every major social media platform regardless of whether or not they feel comfortable identifying with either.

While the US continues to complain about governmental violations of privacy and expression, we really ought to take a step back and put things in perspective. If you absolutely cannot keep your mouth shut, at least yell about something important. There are full-scale rebellions taking place in Venezuela and the Ukraine right now. You don’t seem to care much about those because they don’t affect you—why do you care about this?

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  • Micheal Kennedy says:

    People care about this, because it represents religious silliness which is infiltrating our society and distorting peoples minds.

    The issue isn’t so much with the ‘genderfluid’ person, as it is with people who need to push social engineering and de construct the norms which annoy them.

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878