FILED IN: GLBT

Google now offering more choices for everyone

Gender-neutral language, catching on around the world.

Google is now offering a new choice that many seem thrilled about it.  The choices:  Male, Female, or Other.

Google may not have started the choice of “Other” as a transgender source, says The New York Times; but it sure has made those who support the “Preferred Gender Pronouns (P.G.P. as they are referred to) pleased.

For one Michigan high school junior, Katy Butler told the Times, the first time she came across the “other” choice was at a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Allies (LGBTQQA) meeting when she was in seventh grade.  “For those of us in the nonconforming gender community, it is great to see Google make the option more mainstream,” she said.

There are a growing number of high school and college students who question the gender roles society designates to individuals purely because they have been born male or female.

Teenagers by nature are inclined to rebel against adult rules, and as the movement for gender nonconformity continues to gain energy throughout young people, “it is about rejecting the boxes adults try to put kids in by assuming their sexual identity labels their personal identity,” said Dr. Ritch C. Savin-Williams, director of the Cornell University Sex and Gender Lab. “These teens are fighting the idea that your equipment defines what it means for you to be a boy or girl. They are saying: ‘You don’t know me by looking at me. Assume nothing.’ ”

Katy went on to say it has nothing to do with your sexuality but everything to do with who you feel like inside.

This is a worldwide phenomenon; a promising effort to find a neutral ground between male and female and starting with young age kids.  Last year in Sweden, when a preschool opened, it chose to use the word “friends” instead of “boys or girls.”

Passports in Australia now have a third choice for citizens.  They can choose:  male, female or indeterminate.  Britain is also considering a third choice for their passports as well.  And, there are now almost 5,000 Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs in U.S. high schools where teens registered with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, can find support.  The network is a national organization with the mission

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“to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression,” states the Times.

This movement is part of the college culture as well; students at Pomono College in California voted to have only gender –neutral language in their student constitution.  And the Times reported that in 2009 the University of Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution do away with gender-specific pronouns from the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

“Today more people are O.K. with the gay and lesbian community than the gender-neutral community, which feels more threatening, I suppose, because it impacts a greater portion of society,” said 16-year-old Loan Tran, student ambassador for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. “But the important thing is we have a safe meeting place as teens to express our P.G.P.’s and show our true selves to one another.”