A few weeks ago, Katy Butler, 16, updated her status on Facebook with an enthusiastic shout-out for Google+, the social network’s latest rival. “Oh my God Google! I love it! I was signing up for Google+ and they asked me my gender and the choices were male, female or OTHER!!!!! Oh ya Google!”
Katy, a high school junior in Ann Arbor, Mich., first encountered “other” as a gender option at a meeting of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Allies (LGBTQQA) 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.
Though Google created the “other” option for privacy reasons rather than as a transgender choice, young supporters of preferred gender pronouns (or P.G.P.’s as they are called) could not help but rejoice. Katy is one of a growing number of high school and college students who are questioning the gender roles society assigns individuals simply because they have been born male or female.
“You have to understand, this has nothing to do with your sexuality and everything to do with who you feel like inside,” Katy said, explaining that at the start of every LGBTQQA meeting, participants are first asked if they would like to share their P.G.P.’s. “Mine are ‘she,’ ‘her’ and ‘hers’ and sometimes ‘they,’ ‘them’ and ‘theirs.’”