Facebook is apologizing to members of the LGBT community, specifically drag queens and transgender individuals, over the way their name change policy has disproportionately targeted and affected their identities.
Facebook came under fire several weeks ago after forcing a large percentage of individuals operating personal profiles on Facebook under pseudonyms, stage names, or any name not matching their legal name to change their name on Facebook or risk having their profiles deactivated. A number of individuals spoke out on the issue, including RuPaul and Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence member Sister Roma, who orchestrated a face-to-face meeting with Facebook to discuss the implications of this policy.
Today, the company’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, apologized to “the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community" through a post on his personal profile.
Cox notes in his apology, "Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess. Part of what's been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook."
This is a victory not only for drag queens and transgender individuals, but every person who chooses to self-identify for whatever reasons while navigating the Internet.
Update: In a statement sent to The Huffington Post, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano responded to Facebook's decision:
“I applaud Facebook for having the courage to apologize and do the right thing,” Ammiano said. “I’m glad they came to understand that this issue was not just a question of creating a persona for drag performers. Having been a stand-up comic when I first was elected, I have seen how my stage work was used to disparage my political work. For these drag performers, it is worse: They can be subject to violence and job insecurity if they are forced to use a real name instead of a stage name. I lent my name to the campaign to convince Facebook, but I want to personally thank Supervisor David Campos for continuing to pursue this until the company listened to the community it is supposed to serve. From what I’ve read today, he deserves the credit for this important change.”