Tinder is set to unveil a new experience for transgender users within the next couple of months.
Thus far, the app has never accounted for the non-gender-conforming demographic, instead exclusively serving cisgender users through filters for male and female only, both to self-identify and to search.
In a talk with Recode, Tinder CEO Sean Rad didn’t go into specifics on how Tinder might integrate this new filter, but he did say that the feature will help users more accurately specify what they’re looking for and “be who they are.”
This comes at a time when the debate around civil rights for the transgender community is front-and-center, with the Obama administration directing schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that they choose. More than a dozen states have sued the administration to block the directive, which President Obama says is based on the law and the best interests of the children.
But Tinder hasn’t historically been transgender friendly, Rad admits.
“For a long time we haven’t done enough to give them a good experience,” Rad said. “It’s harder for them to get what they are looking for. We have to modify our experience to address that.”
Almost exactly a year ago, BI reported that a transgender user named Solomon was banned after matching with a male user who reported her for being trans. At the time, Tinder responded by saying that “the app doesn’t provide a way for transgender people to avoid being matched with people who might report them.”
Oddly enough, Tinder pulls a lot of user information from Facebook, which has dozens of gender options. Gender is one of the only data points that Tinder doesn’t pull directly from Facebook, leaving only options for male and female.
Tinder has made a name for itself by offering the simplest way possible to meet someone new, boiled down to simply swiping right. But that same simplicity doesn’t always translate when it comes to love, sexuality and gender.
“Because of the format of Tinder and how it’s right, left, and male, female, it’s meant to be simple,” said Solomon a year ago. “Tinder would have to change things about their medium in order to really accommodate. If you could select different genders, then people who aren’t aware or are transphobic could just pick one gender, as opposed to the 58 available options.”
The company is working with GLAAD and activist Andrea James to ensure that the update considers all the nuances involved. I spoke to Rad, who said that even if the transgender community is a small part of the Tinder population, he and Tinder employees feel like it’s the right thing to do for the world and sends the right message.
He also explained they are working with these advisors and taking their time so they get it right the first time.