Karine Jean-Pierre
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Google+ Now Lets You Define Your Gender

Following on the heels of social networking sites like Facebook and OKCupid, users of Google+ will soon be able to set their own gender, reports TechCrunch

Among a cascade of updates rolled out on Tuesday, the tech giant announced it will let users list their gender as more than just “Male” or “Female. In fact, according to Google software engineer Rachael Bennett’s post, Google+ users will now have access to an “infinite number of ways to express your gender identity.” 

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Prior to Tuesday’s update — which began its rollout on December 9 and should now be available to all users — Google allowed users to list their gender as “Male,” “Female,” or “Other” to account for those whose identities didn’t fit within a rigid gender binary. 

“Now, the gender field on your profile will contain four entries, ‘Male,’ ‘Female,’ ‘Decline to state,’ and ‘Custom,’” explains Bennett. “When ‘Custom’ is selected, a freeform text field and a pronoun field will appear. You can still limit who can see your gender, just like you can now.”

These latest updates reflect similar changes recently embraced at Facebook — which in February expanded its available list of gender identities available for users to select to more than 70 different options, depending on where users live — and online dating site OKCupid, which in November announced it would allow users to choose from a wide range of gender identities and sexual orientations. 

The updates to Google+, however, seem to be the most user-driven implementation of the trend to expand gender and sexuality listings on social networking sites. By allowing users to write their own identities under the “Custom” gender listing, Google has given users total freedom to self-identify however feels accurate to them. Users can also decide what pronouns they’d like the service to refer to them using, selecting male (he/him/his), female (she/her/hers), or other, using the gender-neutral singular they/their/theirs. 

Most users with a Gmail, Google Hangouts, or YouTube account were required to set up a Google+ account if they signed up after September 2012. Although that requirement has now been lifted, according to BusinessInsider, users wanting to get the full functionality of Google products will need to sign up for a Google+ account, which can be done via a drop-down menu under the “account” settings. 

Once users have set up and logged into their Google+ profile, they will be able to update their gender by clicking “edit” on the “basic information” section of their profile. In the pop-up window that appears to edit that basic informations, users will see a drop-down menu available to select their gender, and can select the appropriate option from there. Users can also set the privacy level — who can see the user’s gender identity — via a drop-down menu to the right of the gender listing.

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