Alex Blaze

Facebook will assign you a gender, and you'll like it!

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 15, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Facebook, mastectomy, photos, scaia, transgender

A Canadian trans man found in December that his Facebook account had been disabled because the admin found that he uploaded a photo of himself shirtless. He said he put it up because he was "proud of my new chest, and I wanted to show it off."

Dominic shirtless-man.jpgdominic-scaia.jpgScaia's motivations aren't different from any other reason a man might want to show off his chest on Facebook if he's been working out or has a new tattoo. Dominic's on the left in the photos; the other photo is a random shirtless guy I found in searching Facebook for about two seconds. They don't seem to have a problem with cissexual men going shirtless.

I don't really see the difference. Do they have an issue with breasts at Facebook? Dominic had his removed. Do they have an issue with women showing off their chests at all, since they prohibited (and then backed down) a breast cancer survivor last year posted a pic of her chest after a mastectomy? Well, they eventually backed down there, and it wouldn't matter either since Dominic isn't a woman.

Personally, I think they should just get over the whole "women's chests and breasts must be kept secret" thing and go equal on the topless pics, but that would probably just create trouble for Facebook as parents around the world ban their teen boys from visiting that site and it starts getting blocked as pornography. Seriously, though, seeing breasts isn't going to kill anyone, and all over the world women go topless at the beach and while working and the little boys and girls turn out just fine.

Scaia's account got reinstated, and here's the message he got from admin:

"Photo content that you uploaded has been removed for violating Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Photos containing nudity or other graphic or sexually suggestive content are not allowed. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, we are unable to provide further information about the removed content.

However, after reviewing your situation, we have reactivated your account, and you should now be able to log in. In order to prevent this from happening in the future, please refrain from posting photos of this kind and remove any that still exist on the site. For more information on conduct prohibited by Facebook, please read our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which can be accessed by clicking on the "Terms" link at the bottom of any Facebook page."

They're going to mess up every now and then, the Facebook people. But when they do, they should be willing to say why and explain that they are in fact judging the amount of skin trans men are allowed to show by the women's standards instead of giving the "unable to provide further information" line.

But it's a bit bizarre that they would. Dominic lists his gender as "male" on Facebook, looks male in that photo, and doesn't have breasts. There are cissexual men who are overweight who have bigger chests than Dominic does, and I haven't heard about their photos being pulled.

If there's any sort of reason for the "women can't show breasts/chests but men can" rule on Facebook, it wouldn't apply here. And if there is no reason and it's just applied across the board, it doesn't apply here either. Facebook owes its users an explanation.

I also find this sentiment troubling:

In the meantime, Scaia says he is lost without his Facebook account.

"I never logged out," he says, adding that it was his primary mode of communication with family and friends.

If Scaia is banned forever, he will lose access to three years worth of photos, notes, messages and more than 300 contacts, many of whom he can't get in touch with outside of Facebook.

"You don't really realize until your Facebook is gone just how important it is," says Scaia.

Why is a private corporation being shouldered with that sort of responsibility? And what's implied when our basic town square functions have been sold off to the highest, unaccountable bidder with rules that are arbitrary and unchallengeable? We're beginning to see the consequences of that. Perhaps this situation will serve as motivation for people to make a back-up of contact information and photos off Facebook. Facebook can kick you off for almost any reason tomorrow or just shut down entirely, so every one of its users should be prepared for that.


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Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | January 15, 2010 3:54 PM

A week doesn't pass by without a friend or family member sending me an invitation to join Facebook. Most of them still don't get why I won't. This specific case is a new one to me but it's the attitude that made it possible that I object to. There are a lot of insidious attempts to control people and they are almost always couched under the cloak of "family values". No thanks. Facebook is just another attempt to control people, in this case the content of what they put on the web. We have LAWS governing things like child porn, extortion, blackmail ,et cetera. I don't need rules from private citizens telling me how to behave.

" Seriously, though, seeing breasts isn't going to kill anyone, and all over the world women go topless at the beach and while working and the little boys and girls turn out just fine."

and for those of us who don't live in those places we have National Geographic in our school and public libraries.

The problem with anything cool or useful going mainstream is that it suddenly dives for the lowest common denominator.

And we have mirrors......

I never used Facebook probaly wont I have a My Space thats collecting dust.I have only found one site that lets you call your self Trans and thats Utherverses (RLC) Social Center pages.I also have a account on FUBAR.com I have to id myself as male or female I chose female but right up fron I say im Trans and have had no problems ther at all.Most sites do control what you can post in public aeras.Fubar will let you have NSFW folders and you can pretty much post what ever in those RLC is wide open on what you can post.

This post needs to be updated. Facebook has informed Dominic that he is free to repost the pics of his chest post-surgery: http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Facebook_reevaluates_decision_to_censor_trans_mans_postop_chest_pics-8127.aspx

Thanks. Saw that this morning.

Actually, since this post is kind of old, I'll just write another.