Nepal asks Facebook for third sex option

Nepal asks Facebook for third sex option

Summary: A prominent lawmaker and gay rights activist in Nepal has 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.


Update: Facebook doesn’t add third sex, gay activist disables account

Sunil Babu Pant, a prominent lawmaker and gay rights activist in Nepal, has asked Facebook to include a third gender option for people who identify themselves as neither male nor female. He has written to Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg with the hopes to get the social network to an option called "third gender" or "other." He is looking to protect the rights of individuals who consider themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI).

Pant worries that intersex people can feel outcast by Facebook's options. He said he has not received a response from Facebook but is still hopeful he will. Pant is the only openly gay parliament member in Nepal, and he happens to be the founder and director of the Blue Diamond Society, which describes itself as "Nepal's first LGBTI rights organization." The supreme court in Nepal has backed a move to recognise LGBTI people as equal and that "gender identity should be based on self-identification," according to IBTimes.

Here is the full letter:

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook, Inc. 1 Hacker Way Menlo Park, CA 94025

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

My name is Sunil Babu Pant. I am the founder and director of Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s first LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) rights organization.

In just eleven years, Blue Diamond Society has achieved incredible success advocating for the rights of LGBTI people. This is due, in part, to the fact that Nepal is a country that celebrates diversity, and, in part, to the bravery and tenacity of Blue Diamond Society staff and volunteers.

In 2007, the Supreme Court of Nepal responded positively to a case Blue Diamond Society brought before it. We asked the Court to find that LGBTI people are equal, and that gender identity should be based only on self-identification. They decided positively on both counts – and now we are working to implement the policies.

I write today as an avid user and admirer of Facebook. Your product has revolutionized the way we communicate and express ourselves around the world. It has brought communities together which were otherwise thousands of miles apart, and resulted in collaboration and partnerships which have improved the world.

However people who do not identify as male or female continue to be sidelined by Facebook’s options. As you allow users to identify only as male or female, many in the LGBTI community feel as if they are hidden on the site, unable to identify as their true selves.

In Nepal, we have been working with the government to improve this identity-based access to documentation and civic participation. The Government of Nepal is working to implement a third gender option, labeled “other,” on all official forms and registers.

I encourage you to do the same, for the sake of respect for gender-variant people around the world who want to socialize, organize, and be a part of your 21st century internet revolution. I encourage Facebook to celebrate diversity.

Please let me know if I can help in the process.

Kind regards, Sunil B. Pant Executive Director Blue Diamond Society

In February 2011, Facebook added two new gay relationship status options: "in a civil union" and "in a domestic partnership." Will the company take it a step further?

I have contacted Facebook about this issue and will update you if I hear back.

Update at 6:00 PM PST: It appears Facebook won't be adding this option any time soon and is still looking at its options. "People can already opt out of showing their sex on their profile," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We're constantly innovating on our products and features and we welcome input from everyone as we explore ways to improve the Facebook experience."

Update: Facebook doesn’t add third sex, gay activist disables account

See also:

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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  • Why Not ?

    Thankfully, the world is becoming much more open minded about and understanding of the variety in the human species. It would be very forward thinking of Facebook to add a 3rd option - if the demand is there. Would be interesting to see what other LGBTI groups think.
  • Simple solution

    Sometimes people make things more complicated than they need to be.

    This person just needs to look at a copy of his/her birth certificate. Whatever it says, select that. Problem solved.
    • No...

      No. Intersex individuals may have been labeled as male or female on the birth certificate, but due to certain genetic factors such as puberty and general aging, they may develop physically and/or mentally towards the opposite sex listed in the birth certificate. It is difficult to tell with the infant.

      For transgendered individuals, identity may not be so clear. Be it chromosomal, hormonal, or even simply a lifestyle choice, they do not identify with what is on their birth certificate. It certainly isn't an easy choice, either, as it affects all aspects of one's life; not to mention the stigma associated with transgendered people.

      For something as important as identity which, I presume, is what Facebook is all about, it would take little effort on Facebook's part to add a 3rd option.
  • (snicker snicker)

    |__| Male
    |__| Female
    |__| It
    and if you still don't know...
    |__| Don't know. (I haven't looked lately)