Last year, I had this exchange on with my friend Laurie on Twitter. It's the kind of topic that straddles two of the worlds I live in in San Francisco: one fabulous queer world that acknowledges and celebrates the sexuality and gender diversity in the world, and a more normative world that's looking to quantify and measure people for better product development and marketing -- or more cynically, better advertising.
You know it's a survey from San Francisco because the gender question is "What gender do you identify with?" #iheartsf— Laurie Voss (@seldo) February 14, 2013
@polexa Also the options were "male", "female" and "other", and there were separate questions for sexual orientation and trans status. #win— Laurie Voss (@seldo) February 14, 2013
So it was a really awesome surprise when Facebook announced custom gender options for user profiles, almost exactly a year after that conversation.
But I'm the really cynical one these days, because I never expected a big company Facebook to do something like this and acknowledge different gender identities. Even more surprising is that Facebook added around 50 custom options, several of which I wasn't familiar with (and I try to keep up on these things). If you're wondering what all of the different identities mean, The Daily Beast did a pretty good job of explaining the options as well as the difference between sex and gender, if you want to brush up on that.
Well, sex and gender are not sexuality, and Facebook has never given an option to identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or any other sexual orientation. I just checked on my own profile, and there are still only two checkbox in the "interested in" section: men and women. Either we get to list our sexual orientation, or there should be 50 new options for the "interested in" section. Which will it be, Facebook?