Facebook users can now choose their gender from over 50 different options including ‘transsexual’, ‘gender fluid’ and ‘two-spirit’.
The social networking site announced the update following consultations with homosexual and transgender rights groups.
The gender options, including ‘bigender’, ‘androgynous’, ‘pangender’ and ‘neither’, are only available to those using English (US) language settings.
The new settings also offer users the option of three preferred pronouns: him, her or them.
Facebook said the changes are aimed at giving more choice in how people describe themselves.
Brielle Harrison, the software engineer who worked on the project, is himself in the process of having a sex-change.
He said: “All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option, do you want to be male or female? What is your gender?”
Harrison said the change means that for the first time, “I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is”.
But an American family-support charity has criticised the move.
Jeff Johnston, an issues analyst for Focus on the Family said, “it’s impossible to deny the biological reality that humanity is divided into two halves – male and female”.
“Those petitioning for the change insist that there are an infinite number of genders, but just saying it doesn’t make it so. That said, we have a great deal of compassion for those who reject their biological sex and believe they are the opposite sex”, he added.
Currently, Facebook targets advertising according to the sex of the user – but for those who change their identity to something neutral, ads will be targeted based on the pronoun they select for themselves.
The site has 1.15 billion active monthly users around the world.