Pinterest Adds 'Custom' Gender Button Because It's Not Just Males And Females Who Are Pinning

The logo of mobile app 'Pinterest' is displayed on a tablet on January 2, 2014 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

Big news, everyone: Pinterest now has a "custom" gender button. The social media network just announced on its blog that its settings now allow users to not only select "male" or "female" on their profiles, but also to fill in whatever term they prefer. Though Pinterest users' genders are not displayed publicly on profiles, this new feature will allow them to properly identify themselves for its own sake. Pinterest spokesperson Jamie Favazza told The Daily Dot that the decision was "symbolic — letting gender-marginalized folks self-identify however they would like to is important even if we don't display that information on a profile for privacy reasons." The announcement on Pinterest's blog from "Software Engiqueer" Tilde Pier reads:

Pinterest is all about helping people discover and save creative ideas. And everyone — lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex, ally, straight — is included in that mission.

I'll admit that I'm wondering at least a little bit whether "symbolic" might at least partially be a euphemism for "for marketing purposes." The option for users to self-identify as they choose is a plus, but the image-sharing company did roll out personalized search results by gender earlier this year, so... do with that what you will. There's no problem with showing people results tailored to them, but it's possible that the move might have been calculated to beneficial to the company as well.

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Another issue with Pinterest's settings is that "male" and "female" are not actually genders. They're usually considered sexes. Your sex has to do with your biological equipment (male or female), while your gender is how you identify (man or woman). If you are a transgender woman who has not had surgery, for example, you can be male while still identifying as a woman. So, asking a transgender person if they're male or female can actually be a very personal question. OKCupid has caught on to this, letting users identify as "man," "woman," or a number of other genders. In addition, it seems a little exclusionary to make "male" or "female" the default and lump together everything else as "custom." However, Favazza mentioned that an LGBT employee group at Pinterest weighs in on decisions like these, so maybe I'm the one who is out of the loop.

If Pinterest is planning to use this custom field for personalized search results, it had better be braced to deal with some pretty crazy attempts to break its algorithms. "I, for one, can't wait to see what Pinterest shows me now that I've entered my custom gender as 'horrifying she-beast,'" writes Mary Emily O'Hara at The Daily Dot. As for myself, I'm thinking "feline."

In all seriousness, people who aren't just trolling might enter the following custom genders:

1. Agender

This term usually describes people who don't identify as men or women, either because they're opposed to these concepts in general or because they're just not useful for them. They might go by gender-neutral pronouns like "they," "ze," or "phe."

2. Bigender

Bigender people may consider themselves somewhere between men and women or embody different gender identities including but not limited to "man" and "woman" at different times, during which they may prefer different pronouns.  

3. Two-spirit

This is an old Native American concept for someone who feels they encompass both masculine and feminine genders. Since this is specific to indigenous cultures, non-indigenous people would be expected to use a less culturally specific term, like "bigender."

4. Genderqueer

"Genderqueer" can be an umbrella term for non-binary identities or a term for someone who knows they're not a man or a woman but doesn't want to use a specific alternative. 

5. Pangender

This term refers to someone who identifies with more than two genders. Like bigender people, they may prefer a gender-neutral pronoun at all times or different pronouns when presenting differently.

These are just a few of the countless terms that exist for people of non-binary gender identities. You can read a more extensive list of gender and sex terms on the non-binary Wiki.

Images: Giphy

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