It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like transgender Tinder users could be about to get some of the options they’ve been waiting – and asking – for. So is it bye-bye binary Tinder, hello inclusive ‘Transder’? Perhaps…
Just two weeks ago, here at Collectively we discussed some of the issues faced by transgender daters on online dating sites. So it’s refreshing to see that barely days later, the CEO of the world’s most popular dating app announced new steps to make dating better for its transgender members.
Speaking at Code Conference in California last week, Tinder CEO Sean Rad acknowledged the dating app’s previous oversights. “There’s a transgender community on Tinder, and we haven’t done enough to give them a good experience.”
These oversights have been two-fold. Firstly, the app is limited to binary gender selection. It’s interesting because most data on Tinder is scraped from the user’s Facebook profile, and Facebook currently offers 71 different gender options. But, as Tinder explained in a statement to Business Insider in June of last year, “The system currently does not permit users to be more specific than ‘male’ or ‘female’ when selecting gender and is similarly limited in discovery preferences. Unfortunately, this can lead to some users reporting other users when they unexpectedly appear in their recommendations.”
This issue is one which the trans community has been particularly vocal about on social media.
More problems arise because of a second issue. Tinder has a guilty-until-proven-innocent strategy in banning users from the app who have been reported as breaking the rules of conduct – as a result, we’ve seen countless stories of trans users matching with someone, only to be immediately banned from the app when their match realises they’re transgender and reports them.
Sadly, the app doesn’t currently provide a way for transgender people to avoid being matched with people who might report them, and the reporting system isn’t sophisticated enough to allow users to continue ‘playing’ (as Tinder likes to call it) until it has been determined whether any rules have been broken.
It has taken Tinder a long time to react to the issues faced by transgender users. Trans daters have been complaining about the discriminatory behaviour of other users for over a year now. Now that the app has both acknowledged the problem and announced upcoming changes, it will be interesting to see how effective these new moves are.
At the Code Conference, Rad explained that “We have to modify the experience” and that he had been working with LGBTQ advisors, including the transgender activist Andrea James and GLAAD, to help address the needs of the demographic.
“One challenge we face at Tinder is making sure our tens of millions of users around the world have the same user experience. No matter who you are, no matter what you’re looking for, you should get quality matches through the Tinder experience. There’s an important transgender (and gender nonconforming) community on Tinder who haven’t had that experience… yet. We haven’t delivered for them.”
Rad explained that in a “month or two” the Tinder algorithm will offer “more designations beyond male or female”. It is hoped that these designations will ensure that daters are better matched with one another, and therefore avoid members being wrongfully banned from the app.
I guess we’ll have to keep an eye our for feedback on Twitter when the changes go live, to see if they make dating any easier for the thousands of trans daters using the app. Let’s hope so.