Google+ is introducing “infinite” ways to define gender, letting users describe themselves using whichever terms they feel comfortable with rather than relying on the ternary ‘Male’, ‘Female’, or ‘Other’ system.

“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.” “Now the gender field on your profile will contain four entries, ‘Male,’ ‘Female,’ ‘Decline to state,’ and ‘Custom.’” writes Google software engineer Rachel Bennett.

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To many users these sorts of changes will go completely unnoticed, but to those individuals that don’t conform to the expected definitions, a slight tweak to a drop-down menu can make the difference between feeling rejected and welcomed. More than ever now, social networks play a powerful role in defining society’s norms: giving people the option to define their gender for themselves is the least we can do.

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