Following a successful launch in the US earlier this year, Facebook has announced a new custom gender option to help people better express their own identity on the site.

After collaborating with LGBT advocacy organisations in the US earlier this year, Facebook teamed up with UK experts Press For Change and Gendered Intelligence to update the list of ways people can choose to describe themselves, making sure it’s relevant to people in the UK.

In addition, people who select a custom gender will now have the ability to choose the pronoun they’d like to be referred to publicly — male (he/his), female (she/her) or neutral (they/their). People can also control the audience with whom they want to share their custom gender. Because some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way.

Simon Milner, Policy Director, UK Middle East & Africa at Facebook, said: ‘When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organisations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true self. An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just “male” or “female”. Today’s announcement provides significantly more options for people in the UK.’

Jay Stewart, Co-founder and Director at Gendered Intelligence, added: ‘The comprehensive range reflects the diversity of identity among trans people in the UK. We welcome the inclusion of non-binary identities that are so often overlooked or erased. Facebook’s decision to better reflect trans lives online sends a message to young trans people that their identities and concerns are legitimate and that their voices have been listened to.’

Professor Stephen Whittle, Vice-President at Press for Change, said: ‘Gender identities are complex and for many people, describing themselves as just a man or just a woman has always been inadequate. The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the right to develop our gender identity, as key to our personal autonomy. By challenging the gender binary, Facebook will finally allow thousands of people to describe themselves as they are now and it will allow future generation of kids to become truly comfortable in their own skins.’

The new custom gender option is now available to everyone who uses Facebook in UK English. To learn more, visit the Facebook help page.

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Elliot Herman is So So Gay's news editor. He is a journalist, magazine editor and now PR manager who splits his time between London and Berlin. He also edits DiscoDamaged Berlin, a website for gay English speaking visitors to Berlin.