Nepalese politician Sunil Babu Pant has sent a request to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg asking for the inclusion of a third gender option on the social networking site. But Facebook is not going to accept the request, at least for some time.
Facebook, with 845 million monthly active users, only provides "male" or "female" gender options as a sign of identification to its users. There is no option for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people.
For Pant, its not just about ignoring LGBTI people, it’s also about not “celebrating diversity.”
In his letter to Zuckerberg, Pant writes, “people who do not identify as male or female continue to be sidelined by Facebook’s options.”
There is no data as to how many people from this third gender classification use social networking sites like Facebook. However, Facebook is a great tool for Nepal-based LGBTI rights activists, to disseminate information and to gather support for in their campaign. Pant himself is an admirer and avid user of Facebook.
According to insideFacebook.com, 51.2% of users are male where as 48.8% of users are female. Socialbakers says there are 1.4 million Facebook users in Nepal and out of them 31% are female and 69% are male.
Pant might think that it will be easy to fight with Facebook, as fighting with Nepal’s legal system would be. But Facebook is more than a country, much bigger than Nepal’s population.
A Nepalese court has given a verdict saying LGBTI people are equal, and that gender identity should be based only on self-identification.
For Facebook it may be about changing their codes and adding an option, but for LGBTI people it will mean a lot more. It’s still not clear if Facebook will respond to the queries of the Nepali lawmaker.
Zuckerberg knows Nepal very clearly; it’s on the list of countries that he has travelled so far. But that won’t be the reason for Facebook to listen to the request and respond to it.
In my opinion Facebook will definitely not accept the request, unless it sees a great benefit for itself. What Pant needs to do a still magnify the campaign, maybe start a signature campaign, make a page or group on Facebook itself to demand third gender identity on Facebook. Maybe then Zuckerberg will listen to it and hopefully have a “third” or “other” option on Facebook.