Facebook doesn't add third sex, gay activist disables account

Facebook doesn't add third sex, gay activist disables account

Summary: A prominent lawmaker and gay rights activist in Nepal asked Facebook to add a third sex option for people who identify as neither male nor female. The company didn't, so he disabled his account.

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Yesterday I wrote an article about how Sunil Babu Pant, a prominent lawmaker and gay rights activist in Nepal, sent a letter to Facebook asking if the social network could add a third sex option for people who identify as neither male nor female. Pant asked Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for to an option called "third gender" or "other."

Facebook got back to me a few hours later with a statement implying there were currently no plans to add such an option, and that individuals can instead opt out of showing their sex on their profile. I updated my story with the statement and said the company is clearly still weighing its options.

This morning I received a tip (thanks Kathmandu Observer!) informing me that Pant saw my story and the statement. He was very displeased. In fact, he was so displeased that he disabled his Facebook account in protest (as you can see in the screenshot above). Here's what he wrote in a blog post titled "Sunil Babu Pant Deactivates Facebook Account In Protest:

On March 22nd, I wrote an open letter to one of the most powerful businessmen the world has ever known, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of facebook, the world’s most popular website. My request was simple: allow people who do not identify as male or female equal opportunity to express themselves by adding an "other" option under sex on facebook profiles.

I have received no reply, which is really disappointing. Many journalists have written to facebook as well, and looking at the blog below, reading Facebook's irresponsible remarks saying "People can already opt out of showing their sex on their profile," shows Facebook is not respecting human diversity and still forcing third genders and gender variant people to be invisible. This is outrageous and unacceptable. And like to say to the Facebook that "Yes we also have a choice to opt out from the Facebook altogether".

Until Facebook changes its position I am deactivating my Facebook account for now and if the genuine demand is not considered I will leave Facebook for good.

Thank you everyone for your support and solidarity.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/nepal-asks-facebook-for-third-sex-option/11117

Pant has historically protected the rights of individuals who consider themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI). In this case he wants to protect the rights of those who don't want to list their sex as male or female. Unfortunately, I don't think disabling his account will help him reach that goal.

Facebook has received complaints about this issue before and it looks like the company just isn't ready yet to offer a solution (internal conversations about the issue are still ongoing). This is because adding a third sex option would require a substantial amount of work involving highly complex systems, or so I'm told.

I have contacted Facebook again and will update you if I hear back.

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Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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Talkback

18 comments
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  • Seriously?

    You don't "identify" as male or female, you "ARE" male or female.

    Get over it people, seriously. I am tired of having to explain this nonsense. People who are trying to identify with something that biologically they are not need counseling.
    SGalbincea
    • What if you're biologically both?

      It does happen, ya know. Granted, most get surgery and get to choose which gender they want to be.
      Aerowind
      • You're not. You are either xx or xy

        in rare cases you will be xxy or xyy. xxy is female. xyy causes all sorts of physical disabilities.

        Sex is based on your DNA, not your mental attitude.
        baggins_z
    • These days

      People want to be biologically one and yet claim the benefits of the other. These persons want more rights that everyone else. They seem to believe they are "entitled" to have everything they want. I was brought up to believe that a marriage was between a man and a woman. Now it's being challenged. If successful, they will destroy the sanctity of marriage. Which may be the underlying aim of their agenda. It's a real slippery slope when you change something as fundamental as marriage. /first it's two men (women), then it's a man and a monkey, then it's a woman and a dog. Where does it end? The illogical, and insane people are trying to ruin the world. They are all lead by that Illegal Alien in the White House
      Jumpin Jack Flash
    • there are both

      i suppose you have been shielded through out your life, but there are some people that are born with both genitalia's. these are examples when god shows us that we don't know as much as we think we do.
      databaseben
      • I believe they're called

        Hermaphrodites. They're a freak of nature, and not all that common. The larger trend of raising children to believe they are the opposite gender is more alarming.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
  • Bahahahahaha

    Bahahahahahaha
    Sqrly
  • Good riddence...

    Now if they would all follow his lead, the world would be a much better place :D You will notice it's not the normal people looking for the world to bend to their whims. It's like that "Gay Pride nonsense" I've never see a "Heterosexual Pride" parade. You'll never see straight people looking to change the definition of terms that have been used for thousands of year to suit their demented agenda. If someone wants to be gay, they need to keep it in the bedroom. I don't have sex with my wife in public (Even though I could get people that would pay to see it), so why can't the gay society do the same? They don't want equal rights, they want preferential right. I say tough luck, and deal with it.
    Jumpin Jack Flash
  • Non-human?

    And what about folks with SERIOUS mental problems who believe they are non-human animals? Shouldn't Facebook include a checkbox for Human [] Other []?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_lycanthropy

    Seriously .... The guy needs to "get a life".

    ... Better yet, become a cat. Then he'll have nine!
    Rick_R
  • Oh-Kay...

    I say good riddance to the poor, confused, deluded soul.
    Seronac
  • Really?

    Look, I'm more than willing to accept that people have differing beliefs. I know that many of them will conflict with mine. But:

    A) This person believes [i]it[/i] is neither man nor woman, fine. Then why is the option of not selecting a gender not enough? That is EXACTLY what [i]it[/i] is claiming.

    B) While I realize in this "look at me" society, the grand gesture of disabling your Facebook account in protest should be big news.... it really isn't.
    Badgered
  • he'll get over it

    i think that whenever there are questions asked by some entity, it should always include a "other" and "not applicable" choices.

    but unfortunately, the guy in nepal doesn't understand the hell that would be unleashed by the righteous right wing, if facebook added the option he wants.

    i'm pretty sure he will incur withdrawals pains and subsequently get back on to face book to satisfy the addiction.
    databaseben
  • Dear Everyone

    I'm an absolute freak, I do everything differently because I can. But I don't like to be left out so please add a way for me to identify with something so I feel right about myself.

    A check box would help.

    Thanks
    TGGR
  • It's the gear, not how you use it.

    Gender is a derivation of what equipment you were born with, not how you use it.

    This is almost as funny as Dan Rather obliviously asking Rachel Maddow if she knew of any women who didn't use birth control.
    epobirs
  • change the question

    Instead of asking if they are Male of Female they just need to ask "Do you have a Penis?" This one is really simple and it covers those that have both.
    ryanmc
  • Dicks

    Dicks: the comments are full of them.

    Facebook is software. A legitimate user (as indeed anyone with internet access is) has reported a defect in the software. Instead of permitting users to report their sex as they do in real life, it is forcing them into a false binary, and also forcing them into a US cultural view that obviously doesn't match their own.

    Sorry folks, but sex is not a binary, and it certainly isn't whether you have a Y chromosome. (By the way, if a man has had penile cancer, or has experienced something called warfare, he may not have a penis either. That doesn't make him female.). People who have ambiguous or mixed genitalia are called intersex (not hermaphrodites). While some will identify as male or female, some do not choose. People who are born with genitals that do not match their brains are transgender. Some people are not described by any of the above, but do not feel male or female. Why should they have to choose?

    Software that forces a male/female choice on users is defective. A third "other" category is required, and such users could be referred to as "they/them/their" instead of "he/him/his" or "she/her/hers". The grammar police may not like it, but it is commonly accepted usage in the real world.
    rgcustomer@...
  • Ignorance & hatred ...

    I realize some people won't relinquish their hatred and/or ignorance,
    but post the following for those who might/will ...

    People (almost) universally have either an XY or XX chromosome
    and so have a genetic sex of either male or female.
    Thanks to our (mindless) Stone-Age religions & Medieval traditions,
    people (almost) universally (still) think that genetic sex must/should specify
    someone's "gender identity" & "sexual orientation"; i.e.,
    XY should be a masculine lumberjack & like/want XX ... but medical science
    (see these essays» http://www.avitale.com/Essaylist.htm)
    has established that "gender" & "orientation" are independent
    not only of each other but also of genetic sex ...

    In our "modern" world "sex is everything" (pun intended),
    but in reality genetic sex is irrelevant/meaningless;
    it only determines what your reproductive role will/would be ...

    =====================================================
    Contrary to some of the comments/opinions posted here by some others ...
    ... There are people whose "gender" and/or orientation do not conform
    to the Stone Age / Medieval expectations of our "modern" world.
    These people are a numerical minority but do exist.
    ... These people do not want "more" rights - simply recognition & equal rights ...
    =========================================================
    Because there are 3 elements: genetic sex, gender-identity & sexual orientation»
    SEX:
    A 3rd-sex option is, however, not really an appropriate/universal solution/approach.
    (Neither is disabling your facebook account instead of constructively using it ...)
    3rd-sex would be appropriate for the (chromosomally) intersexed population.
    People are born with either XY, XX or an intersexed chromosomes, and
    it is (until the next medical science "miracle") impossible to change that.

    GENDER
    The human race (& facebook) should acknowledge & create a gender specification.
    The "straight-world" universally uses gender instead of sex, because they want
    to use a "more polite" word than sex ... but this totally ignorant & incorrect.
    There are XY people who do not want to be called Mr/Sir/he/him & etc ...

    ORIENTATION
    This element is (already) fairly well defined but could be given better handling.
    An improvement would be to specify not what you "are"
    (straight/gay/bi - which is based on your "sex" & the "sex" or what you like/want)
    but to specify what you like/want: XY, XX or doesn't matter ...
    AENwww
  • Retarded joke ...

    Quoting from Emil Protalinski above» "Facebook got back to
    me a few hours later with a statement implying there were
    currently no plans to add such an option, & that individuals
    can instead opt out of showing their sex on their profile."

    I never had a FaceBook (FB) account/profile
    before last week.

    1) FB REQUIRES members to specify GENDER
    and gives M/F as options ...
    That is illiterate/incomplete/incorrect & "sexist" ...

    FB is not requiring members to specify GENDER.
    M/F are genetic-sex specifications.
    Gender is neither a more polite
    nor a substitute word for genetic-sex.

    If FB will continue to insist that members
    specify a genetic-sex, then
    FB should change GENDER to genetic-sex AND
    give three (3) options» male/female/inter-sexed.

    However, (imo) FB (& everyone else in general!) should
    discontinue requiring someone to specify a genetic-sex.
    (imo) Requiring someone to specify a genetic-sex
    should be as taboo as requiring someone to specify a race.

    Requiring someone to specify a race is "racist".
    Requiring someone to specify a genetic-sex is "sexist".

    2) FB does allow members to hide their "GENDER"
    but SO WHAT ... FB refers to your profile everywhere
    as either HIS or HERS over & over ... everywhere ...

    Hiding your genetic-sex (M/F) is TOTALLY POINTLESS ... WORTHLESS ... what a retarded joke!!!
    AENwww