Yesterday marked yet another major victory for those fighting for human rights and LGBTQ equality in Argentina. Never one to rest on its laurels, the country that garnered fame and acclaim for its regional leadership in promoting civil and human rights has done it yet again – this time, through Facebook.
Yesterday, Facebook Argentina announced that users within the country will now have the option to specify their gender expression, making the local branch of the popular social network the first in Latin America to offer “personalized gender settings.”
Now before we start freaking out about pinkwashing and other fabulous forms of government-sanctioned distraction, let’s remember that this move is the result of a collaboration between Facebook Argentina (the Argentine branch of a publicly-traded company based in the US) and various Argentine NGOs that focus on LGBTQ rights.
The launch appears to have been a relative “who’s who” in the world of LQBTQ badassery, with major players like César Cigliutti, president of Comunidad Homosexual Argentina, Marcela Romero of the ATTTA, the Argentine Association of Transvestites, Transgendered and Transexuals, and Alba Rueda of 100% Diversidad y Derechos joining Facebook Argentina’s director, Alejandro Zuzenberg, to celebrate the occasion.
Argentina may be the second country in the hemisphere (behind the United States) to adopt these progressive settings, but it has made great strides when it comes to making gender identity a legal and cultural right. There are now 54 gender options for users to chose from in Argentina, and they do not match up with the ones available in the United States.
Not to go all “guerrilla anti-imperialista” on you guys, but in addition to making Catholic Argentines squirm in their pews, providing Argentine-specific gender expressions to users also represents the very real way societies and people can make fight cultural imperialism by deciding for themselves what words best encapsulate the identities being formed and expressed on the ground.
Take the word travesti, for example. It sounds pretty offensive to most of us bleeding-heart liberals from other G-20 countries, but it is actually totally accepted in many pro-trans circles.
Who knew, right? For further reading on the pro-trans movement, check out this great piece from BBC Mundo. While the growing list of adjectives and letters associated with the LGBTQ movement may annoy people both in and outside of the community, it also speaks to the reality that forming and expressing an identity can be a real bitch sometimes, and we ought to recognize that by allowing people to be creative in their self-identification.
Alba Rueda, of Trans de 100% Diversidad y Derechos, said it best when she chose the tag “trans woman” on Facebook, saying: “Okay, you all can stop asking me questions on Facebook about whether I’m a woman or not. Now you know: I’m an Argentine, trans woman.”