Even as we head into 2020, lesbians must still battle in order to have their voices heard

BY LINDA RILEY

Working on the launch of DIVA’s 2020 strategy, which includes increasing our role within Lesbian Visibility Day, I was horrified to see that my attempt at using “@LesbianVisibility” as a username on Facebook was refused. 

We are looking to extend our one day of visibility into a whole Lesbian Visibility Week, yet Facebook’s policy stopped the word “lesbian” from being visible within its usernames. 

I was in shock and tried again, this time using just the word “lesbian”. However, it became clear that the word lesbian as a username is not allowed on Facebook. 

This is a flagrant breach of my basic human rights. Apparently the word “gay” is fine to use and even “gay woman”. The word “lesbian” is also allowed within Facebook page names. Yet, as an out and proud lesbian, I am unable to use the word I most identify with, the term I label myself as, in a username.

I should be allowed to label myself as a lesbian and open a Facebook page, including that word in the username, and so should anyone else who identifies in this way. 

This is almost 2020. We are no longer living in the days where shame and hiding goes hand in hand with our sexuality. We have fought time and time again in order to hear ourselves and see ourselves, shining a light on the incredible people who deserve to be visible. 

It comes as a harsh reminder that all too often lesbians are silenced within the LGBTQI community, and often unfairly associated with being Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. 

To be clear, my own personal narrative is that there are not many of these Trans Exclusionary Lesbians. Unfortunately, they shout loudly and I would like to dispel the myth currently being created that cis-gender lesbians are somehow associated with transphobia. 

Our aim is to show the world that those of us who choose the label “lesbian” are still just as inclusive as the rest of the LGBTQI community.

My work is in inclusivity and showing that many lesbians within the community are inclusive of everyone. They are not all transphobic or people with views which do not align with the wider LGBTQI community. All we want is a voice and to be visible, which Facebook simply will not allow.

I write this as publisher of DIVA, Europe’s best known and number one magazine for LBT women and I will not rest until Facebook allow the word lesbian as a username on their pages. Please join me in the call for helping to give lesbians our visibility back. 

If Facebook’s mission really is “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”, then why has the power been stripped away from lesbians? 

Come on Facebook, you can do so much better. 

#No2FBLesbianPolicy 

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3 thoughts on “OPINION: Does Facebook have a problem with lesbians?”

  1. Pls tell us wat u want us to do eg. Email address to complain to FB. Altho u may have to write letters snail mail. My FB been hacked months ago,a cannot recover it tried literally everything they suggest. They got no customer service email/phone/Anything so I’ve got to write to them in California one day when I can b arsed. Except ion even like the site or use it rlly blah. Maybe start a petition on change.org ? FB also bad cuz allows white supremacists etc etc

  2. Oh yeh and also it important to save the word cuz many older lgbt ppl hate “queer” because 1. It’s a derogatory slur and 2. It can literally mean anything including straight. Wat is point of a word that can mean anything. But I understand young ppl mostly love it or don’t want Any label which is fine. But got to include older ppl as well as younger ppl.

  3. It’s not a breach of your human rights, Linda. Have a look at the guidelines for creating a Facebook username and follow it through to the Terms, where it specifies that you must use the name you use in daily life. (https://www.facebook.com/terms.php) Clearly “Lesbian” is not a name, whereas “Gay” may well be. (I interviewed a woman called Gay for Diva once, in fact!) You can’t use @ either, as the only symbol allowed is a period (.). As you note, you ARE allowed to use the word lesbian in Facebook page names (groups, events and campaigns, in other words), so this isn’t lesbophobia – it’s entirely consistent with their own clearly stated rules and regs. You’re welcome.

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