The social network’s gender options confuse some and please others, but here’s what they really mean, in layman terms

Kashika Saxena , Bombay Times, Feb 18, 2014

Social networks and websites only offer the ‘male’and ‘female’gender options currently. However, Facebook has gone ahead and is now offering 56 more gender options! Here’s a brief summary for your understanding.Many options are variations of a single theme….
1. Agender: Neither man nor woman. A person who doesn’t identify with any gender. Also referred to, as Neutrois.
2. Androgyne:A person who has both male and female gender characteristics. Androgynes may express more femininity or masculinity depending on their mood and other factors, but an androgyne is a single gender that combines femininity with masculinity.
3. Androgynous: Same as androgyne. 4. Bigender: While androgynes combine the traits of both male and female genders, bigenders switch between male and female at different times. Bigenders are two distinct genders that are expressed separately. 5. Cis: Short for cisgender. 6. Cisgender:The opposite of transgender. People whose gender aligns with their birth sex, which is also their societallyrecognised sex. 7. Cis Female: A woman who is born as a woman and identifies herself as a female gender in a female body. 8. Cis Male: A man born as a man and identifies himself as a male gender in a male body. 9. Cis Man: Same as Cis Male. 10. Cis Woman: Same as Cis Female. 11.Cisgender Female:Same as Cis Female. 12. Cisgender Male: Same as Cis Male. 13. Cisgender Man: Same as Cis Male. 14.Cisgender Woman:Same as Cis Female. 15. Female to Male: A person who is born as female but identifies as male, and is transitioning/has transitioned from female to male gender identity, either socially or medically. 16. FTM: Short for Female To Male. 17. Gender FluidThe idea is that gender is not fixed but fluid. Gender fluid people may believe that neither male nor female describes them accurately, and feel free to act like a male or female at different times. 18. Gender Nonconforming: People who do not behave according to the societal expectations for their gender. 19. Gender Questioning: Still trying to figure out one’s gender and sexual identity. 20. Gender Variant: Same thing as gender fluid or gender nonconforming, but some people believe that the term variant implies that there is a ‘normal’ standard for gender. 21. Genderqueer: This category covers all gender nonconforming identities. 22. Intersex: A person born with sex chromosomes or sexual anatomy that isn’t entirely male or female. They may also have biological characteristics of both male and female. This term has replaced hermaphrodite, which is considered derogatory or problematic. 23. Male to Female: A person who is born as male but identifies as female, and is transitioning/has transitioned from male to female gender identity, either socially or medically. 24. MTF: Short for Male To Female.25. Neither: Someone who doesn’t identify as male or female. 26. Neutrois:Same as Agender. 27. Non-binary – People who identify as non-binary disregard the idea of male and female dichotomy. It’s an umbrella term, much like Genderqueer. 28. Other: Same as Neither. 29. Pangender: An inclusive term for all genders. 30. Trans: Short for Transgender. The opposite of cisgender. Someone whose gender identity is the opposite of their birth sex. Since these definitions vary with locations and individuals, also see Transsexual31. Trans*:Some people believe that trans (without the asterisk) is applied to trans men and trans women, while the asterisk makes an effort to include all non-cisgender gender identities32. Trans Female: Assigned male at birth, but identifies as female. 33. Trans* Female: Same as Trans Female. 34. Trans MaleAssigned female at birth, but identifies as male. 35. Trans* Male: Same as Trans Male. 36. Trans Man: Same as Trans Male. 37. Trans* Man: Same as Trans Male. 38. Trans Person: A person who doesn’t identify with their birth-assigned gender. 39. Trans* Person: Same as Trans Person. 40. Trans Woman: Same as Trans Female. 41. Trans* Woman: Same as Trans Female. 42. Transfeminine: A spectrum of gender identities dominated by female identity. 43. Transgender:Same as Trans. 44. Transgender Female: Same as Trans Female. 45. Transgender Male: Same as Trans Male. 46. Transgender Man: Same as Trans Male. 47. Transgender Person: Same as Trans Person. 48. Transgender Woman: Same as Trans Female. 49. Transmasculine: A spectrum of gender identities dominated by male identity. 50. Transsexual: An older term originating from medical and psychological communities referring to transgender. Some people prefer the term Transgender to Transsexual, while some definitions make a distinction between the two. While the term transsexual implies that the person almost always wishes to undergo a gender-affirmative surgery, some use transgender as just an umbrella term. 51. Transsexual Female: Since a medical assessment is required to give surgical assistance to transsexual people, transsexual females’ birthassigned sex is male, but they’re medically assessed as female. 52. Transsexual Male: A person whose birthassigned sex is female, but they’re medically assessed as male. 53. Transsexual Man: Same as Transsexual Male.54. Transsexual Person: Same as Transsexual. 55. Transsexual Woman:Same as Transsexual Female. 56. Two-Spirit: A Native American term for gender fluid people.
It’s a big boost when a website as big as this recognises the transgender community. Self-expression is a major life goal and even a small thing — being addressed the way we want to, on social media — has a positive impact on everyone in the community. I definitely think this will be adopted in the Indian context, too. I know people who were active online in the past, whether under hidden identities or otherwise. This move encourages them to come forward and accept who they are in front of their loved ones.
– Kalki Subramaniam, founder, Sahodari Foundation, that works for transgenders
Social media is such a major part of everyone’s life right now. All the people in the community desire to be able to express themselves the way they want and not get tied down to accepted codes. With the new options, the people get to be themselves, and the neutral terms give them more respect. At the end of the day, it’s all about one’s identity, and small things like these go a long way in making a person of the community feel positive about their own self.
– Rituparna Borah, Qashti LBT India 
It’s extremely important to be able to accept transgenders in the social space. The Ministry of Social Welfare in the country has also been trying to introduce a third sex — which is still in debate. It is fantastic that this social network has taken this step. So many transgenders are on the site and it’s a small lesson for this country, where laws are so skewed. We can’t depend on the state to acknowledge genders apart from male and female — but at the global level, if such steps are being taken, India needs to learn from them. – Ina Goel (doing a PhD in Social Medicine and Community Health on Transgender and Intersex people from JNU)Queer people have always been on this site. Transgenders, gays, lesbians — all of us have used social networking to interact with others. I feel this step has been taken to attract more people from the queer community. It is definitely a progressive move. We can cite this as an example, of how the world is reacting to LGBT issues, in our movement here, too. Given the inhuman behaviour that transgenders face in India, this move will help people accept them a bit more. – Gourab Ghosh (gay rights activist and PhD scholar, JNU)

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