Petition to Facebook: Drop dangerous ‘real names’ policy

Drag queen Sister Roma campaigned successfully for a change in Facebook's "real names" policy. (Photo courtesy of Sister Roma via Twitter)
Drag queen Sister Roma campaigned successfully for a change in Facebook’s “real names” policy. (Photo courtesy of Sister Roma via Twitter)

An online petition urges Facebook to drop its policy of requiring users to use their authentic names.

Australian LGBTI activist Sally Golder organized the petition on the website Change.org in connection with a challenge to Facebook by drag queens in San Francisco, who lobbied for the right to use their stage names.

The drag queens won that battle, but LGBTI people in anti-gay countries did not win the right to hide their identities on Facebook in order to protect themselves from anti-gay attacks.

A Change.org petition supporting the drag queens, “Allow performers to use their stage names on their Facebook accounts,” gained the support of more than 36,000 people.

Goldner’s petition, “Allow flexibility regarding names,” which focuses on how the policy affects LGBTI people worldwide, so far has won support from 146 people.

For more information, see this blog’s commentary from earlier today: “Facebook will have blood on its hands if it demands real names.”

This is the text of Goldner’s petition:

Sally Goldner (Photo courtesy of Brisbane Times)
Sally Goldner (Photo courtesy of Brisbane Times)

There are many groups whose safety, health and wellbeing could be diminished and possibly their life put at risk by the “use your legally documented name” policy proposed by facebook.

Trans and gender diverse people – those whose sense of gender identity or expression differs from expectations given their sex assigned at birth – are just one such group. Here are just some of the issues for us.

The issues for trans could well be life-threatening. A trans person who is just at the start of the journey, especially so if starting younger, would be not able to set up a separate profile to find out information and would be highly likely lose potential connectedness, thereby increasing risk factors including self-harm.

Someone who does not permanently affirm their identity and occasionally presents as another would only be able to have one Facebook identity. So – to use the usual case of someone occasionally presenting as male and occasionally as female – they would have to out themselves. And in a group on Facebook, having someone presenting as femme with a name John Smith would just not be respectful or make sense.

While not a lawyer, FB’s policy has a significant probability of breaching anti-discrimination laws here in Australia regarding provision of goods and services. Also, I believe (emphasis) here, legally, people can have a name by usage or repute.

And of course for those countries beyond Australia where life is far worse for trans – and many similar others – doubly quadruply life-threatening.

I would also acknowledge another change.org petition re performers. I also acknowledge others affected by this proposed change .e.g those working in the sex industry, those who are experiencing/have experienced domestic violence. I cannot speak for these groups; I certainly empathise with their concerns.

Facebook’s changes are not in their own interests as well. I would think many people will leave thereby reducing customer numbers and damaging their reputation. I also cannot see how this sits compatibly with the introduction of more gender identity options that commenced recently.

So please sign this petition and create a win-win solution for all – most of all a win for in terms of saving lives.

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