Dear Mark, End Facebook’s Restrictive Gender Labels


Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s first openly gay MP, has written a letter to Facebook founder and executive Mark Zuckerberg requesting that Facebook allow users the option to list their gender as “other” so as to better accommodate those who don’t fit the gender binary.

Currently, Facebook allows for a male or female designation, and users can opt to hide their response from their profile.

The letter in full appears below (via Pink News):

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
Member of Nepal Constituent Assembly

Trans users of Facebook have repeatedly called on the social media platform to allow for a range of gender categories so as to best express how users identify.

Last year Facebook added civil unions to its list of relationship categories.

Related Reading:

Digital Disconnect: ‘Day to Unplug’ Takes Off

Nepal’s Gay Community Faces Recriminalization Under Proposed Laws

Today’s GLBT History Month Icon: Politician Sunil Babu Pant


Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Andrew Feinberg.


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

wouldnt hurt anything. dont know why there is a controversy

Carol C.
Carol Cox4 years ago

why do we need to specify gender at all? in my case, only my family and i share FB info... and they already know what i am! LOL

colleen p.
colleen p.4 years ago

i suppose they could have a ftm and mtf option and both/other. I think dating sites need it more

and i think we need to spank the english language into 'no, gender and sex are not the same thing"

Carl Nielsen
Carl Nielsen4 years ago

And why would I need education Mari?
I am well aware of the existence of transsexuals and I can easily imagine how horrible it must be to feel one is caught in the wrong body.
However that does not change the FACT that in standard English gender and sex are synonyms - that a persons gender and gender identity can differ does not change the meaning of the word gender. You cannot just change the semantics of language at your whim and claiming that the words mean something different than the dictionary says is just plain stupid.

If a transsexual really viewed her/himself as having some other gender than male of female, then why would he/she need radical medication and to have parts of his/her body surgically removed to correct the situation?

Erica Cook
Erica Cook4 years ago

I'd like to see the third gender options made. the internet should be a place of inclusion not exclusion.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia4 years ago

Carl N, its easy to run your mouth when you dont have your mind feel one gender and your body not match. its easy to be ignorant when you dont have a friend who comes out as trans and open up about what its like and they pain they felt all their life until they stopped lying to themselves, stopped allowing society to and people like you shame them, and be honest and become who they are meant to be. gender is a lot more complicated for some people but it doesnt mean that since its a small group of people that it can be ignored and that it doesnt exist. you prove there needs to be more education on gender issues since everything you have said is out of ignorance.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia4 years ago

i hope he listens, sometimes the idea of gender can be complicated for some

Duane B.
.4 years ago

If that's what the customer wants, that's what the customer should get!

Duane B.
.4 years ago

If that's what the customer wants ... that's what the customer should get!

Carl Nielsen
Carl Nielsen4 years ago

Well according to several dictionaries I have consulted the word gender either means a gramatical construct used to categorize nouns or sex, so in this context "SEX" AND "GENDER" ARE SYNONYMS!.

So what is this BS claiming that gender and sex are two different things? Is it some politically correct slang made up by some lgbt community deciding they are unhappy with the English language as it is?

And what is the point of doing so?

And no - I dont think the existence of rare mutants warrants changing the language.