Beyond Male And Female: Google Profiles Now Offer Unlimited Gender Options

CREDIT: GOOGLE/RACHAEL BENNETT
CREDIT: GOOGLE/RACHAEL BENNETT

Google announced plans to roll out a new feature Tuesday that lets Google Plus users choose their gender in their profile. But instead of creating a long list of gender options, Google Plus profiles have a fill-in feature so users can define themselves.

Google Plus profiles, which are linked to Gmail accounts, replaced its former gender options with “male,” “female,” “decline to state” and “custom.” The custom setting opens a free-space text field and cues a drop-down menu where Google users can select the appropriate pronoun with which they want to be identified: feminine, masculine or non-specific. Google users can also choose who sees their gender identity.

The feature isn’t yet available for all users but should be in the coming days, according to Google software engineer Rachael Bennett’s post announcing the changes.

Tech companies have been slowly adopting more gender-inclusive policies after bouts of controversy and years of protest against social networks’ strict identification policies. Facebook unveiled dozens of custom gender identity choices earlier this year. But months later, the social network had to apologize for forcing drag queens, transgender and other LGBT community members to use their “real names” under a new policy. Facebook didn’t notice that hundreds of legitimate accounts belonging to LGBT members were being targeted as spam.

Google had a similar controversy where it once required Google Plus users to list their real names. The policy allowed the use of nicknames or pseudonyms only if the user could prove that online identity was valid and had a strong following.