There was a time when your social networking application was a unique and innovative way for people to connect and communicate with their peers. It allowed for personal expression, updates, and networking in ways that were previously unavailable to the masses. This was the source of your widespread appeal and the reason so many people signed up.
Now, five years and millions of followers later, you have deviated too far from what gave Facebook its original appeal – the ability to express oneself freely to one’s peers. Some of the changes over the years have been good, some not so good; the real matter here is the level of discrimination put forth via the basic profile.
People are forced to choose a gender – not even a biological sex (which would only be mildly better) but a gender. There is the option to hide it from the public profile, but one must choose male or female. While this does encompass the majority of the world population, it does not allow for all options. What option is a transgendered individual supposed to choose? Or a hermaphrodite? By forcing them to choose between “male” and “female” they are being directly and unjustly discriminated against. To begin with, forcing anyone to define their gender is unfair, but if you feel that is necessary, then allow for the definition of all genders. Given the current set-up of the Facebook profile, this would not be a challenge; at the very lease, add the option for “other” or “prefer not to say” to the drop-down menu.
Every other part of the Facebook profile is fully customizable. There are endless options for activities, religious and political beliefs, sports, interests, etc. But when it comes to one’s gender or sexual orientation, the limits are clearly defined. For gender they are limited to the TWO options in a drop-down menu – one is not even capable of choosing both. As for sexual orientation, one can choose to be interested in males and/or females. The rest of society is blatantly absent from this, though. Transgendered and hermaphrodite individuals exist. They are people, just like everyone else, and should have the same ability to express themselves on social networking sites as everyone else. To disallow this – an act of blatant discrimination – goes against the very tenants that made Facebook so popular in the beginning. Even more so, they contribute immensely to the problems faced by such individuals. To directly quote the American Psychological Association on transgendered individuals,
Transgender people experience the same kinds of mental health problems that nontransgender people do. However, the stigma, discrimination, and internal conflict that many transgender people experience may place them at increased risk for certain mental health problems. Discrimination, lack of social support, and inadequate access to care can exacerbate mental health problems in transgender people, while support from peers, family, and helping professionals may act as protective factors. (Answers to Your Questions About Transgender Individuals and Gender Identity, American Psychological Association)
Do you see my point? Forcing them to conform to antiquated social norms only exasperates the problems these individuals face, along with putting forth the image of Facebook as a discriminatory social network.
I am not alone in questioning your actions and decisions to discriminate, nor am I alone in speaking out against it. If you truly want to be a forum for the masses, why ban people this way? And what of the many people who have quit Facebook since this discriminatory policy was put in place? As a business, you are failing to cater to your audience. As an outlet for the people, you have failed us all.