In the Face of Harassment, Dating App Tinder Expands Gender Options Beyond "Male" and "Female" - Culture | MERRY JANE
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In the Face of Harassment, Dating App Tinder Expands Gender Options Beyond "Male" and "Female"

For the first time since the app launched in 2012, individuals who don’t subscribe as a male or female can now express their true selves on Tinder.

by Tyler Koslow

Launched back in 2012, the popular dating app Tinder has become one of the best ways for millennials to romantically connect with people in their local vicinity. Though the platform has helped conjure up love (at least for an instant) for a vast number of users, it has been quite limited as far as gender options go. That is, until now. In a country that has just been handed to the misogynistic and bigoted Donald Trump, it’s become increasingly important that individuals who identify outside of male and female feel safe and equally represented. 

To help with this, Tinder CEO Sean Rad recently integrated a “More” option underneath “Male” and “Female”, giving users free range to express their personal gender. Working with the media advocacy group GLAAD, the dating app provides over 40 auto-fill suggestions for genders outside of the traditional norm, from transgender to pangender. If none of these suggestion seem to suit the individual, they’re also free to input their own self-descriptive terminology. 

The decision to expand Tinder’s gender options came after reports of negative interactions between gender non-conforming users and straight men. These interactions included harassment, aggression, and claims that these transgender users were fake, which finally led Tinder to standup and provide a safe experience for all users. 

 

“Once we found out, we knew we had to make a change. Because we’re really committed to making sure Tinder is a place for everyone. We will do everything we can to make sure Tinder is a safe place,”  Tinder CEO Sean Rad said to TIME Magazine.  

 

In addition, the new update will allow users to display their gender “front and center” on their profiles, and also whether they want to show up in the results for men or women. To help develop this progressive update, Tinder recently hosted focus groups with transgender users in Los Angeles with the help of renowned consultant Andrea James. The general overhaul will also include training for customer service reps and a special channel for these users to get those profiles reinstated after being reported.

All in all, Rad acknowledges that there may be some backlash from more close-minded users who don’t believe in gender outside of male and female, or are just angry and insecure about having transgender individuals pop up in their feed. Nonetheless, the CEO is pushing forth with the update not because it will be good for business, but because it’s “the right thing to do”. To put it in terms Tinder users will understand, the company has decided to swipe left on bigotry and swipe right on progress, something we need in this world more than ever. 


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Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.



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