Over the past few days, Sunil Babu Pant, a gay member of Nepal’s legislature, wrote open letters to Facebook’s cofounders requesting a gender-neutral option for user profiles on Facebook.
Facebook users who do not identify with either gender are currently forced to choose between male or female on their profile pages, Pant noted.
Pant, who is also the director of Nepal’s first first lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex rights group, posted a letter to Zuckerberg on the organization’s blog Thursday. On Monday, he repeated his plea to Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, who like Pant is gay.
“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,” Pant wrote.
While Facebook allows users to hide their gender on their profiles, the possessive pronouns “his” and “her” still disclose this information.
Facebook’s advertising programs are designed to target ads to specific demographics, including gender.
A video on Facebook that has received 65 shares shows how users can get around choosing gender by editing the HTML on their profile pages to trick the site into accepting their choice not to state a gender.
Google has recognized the problem of strict gender options, and allows users to select “other” as a third choice in its Google+ social network.