Woman responsible for Facebook gender options kicked off for violating real names policy

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A trans woman who used to work for Facebook has been banned from the site for violating their real names policy.

The policy has come under attack from many people different who have fallen foul of it – drag artists and performers who want to use their stage name, trans people who have no legal recognition of their new name, people hiding from abusers who want to use a pseudonym and even some Native American people, whose names Facebook appears not to believe are real.

In a post for Medium.com, the woman said: “Facebook decided my name was not real enough and summarily cut me off from my friends, family and peers and left me with the stark choice between using my legal name or using a name people would know me by.

“With spectacular timing, it happened while I was at trans pride and on the day the Supreme Court made same sex marriage legal in the US.”

She said that it was an issue that many people had faced, but: “This time there’s a twist: I used to work there.

“In fact, I’m the trans woman who initiated the custom gender feature.

“And the name I go by on Facebook? That’s the name that was on my work badge.”

She explained how the policy hurt people: “It’s policy attempts to hammer the reality of names into a constrained model they end up having to make a trade-off in the edge cases.

“Some people are not allowed to use their names so that everyone else’s can be enforced.

“Worse still, they allow people to report each other for using “fake” names. People know this, and they use it as a mechanism to kick each other off the site.

“If you’re a marginalised person, such as a trans person, you may be left with no way to get back on.

“Facebook have handed an enormous hammer to those who would like to silence us, and time after time I see that hammer coming down on trans women who have just stepped out of line by suggesting that perhaps we’re being mistreated.”

Last month, a group of drag queen protested outside Facebook’s HQ over the policy.