In a rule change quietly implemented at the end of the year, Facebook announced it now forbids “denying [the] existence” of various sexual identities.
The Silicon Valley-based company announced the change in a December update to its Community Standards. In the post, Facebook described “protected characteristics” as “race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.”
By classifying the denial of certain sexual orientations as a form of “hate speech,” Facebook is potentially barring users from posting any content critical of the more than 50 gender identities preloaded into the networking site or the innumerable markers people can come up with by using the “custom” option.
Facebook’s decision comes more than a year after Twitter similarly banned users from “misgendering” or “deadnaming” people in the transgender community.
“Misgendering” is the practice of referring to an individual by the pronouns — “he” or “she” — that do not correlate with said person’s selected gender or sexual identity. For example, it would be “misgendering” to refer to Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner as “he.”
“Deadnaming,” on the other hand, is when someone uses a transgender person’s former name, such as “Bruce” instead of “Caitlyn.”
Twitter, much like Facebook, described such practices as “hateful.”