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Tinder CEO Sean Rad.
Tinder CEO Sean Rad.

Tinder CEO Sean Rad.

In an effort to be more inclusive, Tinder is implementing an update (available November 22) that will allow users space to describe their genders and offer protection for trans users against harassment and unjust banishment from the service.

At June’s Code Conference, Tinder CEO Sean Rad promised the company would improve the experience for transgender daters.

The app still starts off mostly binary with “male” or “female,” but if the user chooses “more,” they receive a a box to further describe their gender. From there, they have the option as to which search (male or female) they wish to appear within.

While gender is a much more complicated thing, Tinder relies on extreme minimalism and simplicity for its model. The app itself leaves little room for nuance.

“This was definitely a challenge, given the complexities of the issues and the simplicity of Tinder,” Rad told Recode in an interview on Monday. “We had to keep it simple; if we didn’t keep it simple, no one would use these features.”

Tinder plans to implement changes to protect trans users from harassment.

“No one, no one, no one should be reported or harassed on the merits of who they are,” Rad said. “That is going to end.”

Related: Introducing Her: The New Dating App for Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women

Previously, transgender users were running into issues like being reported and banned by other users simply because of their gender. In response, the company spent three months testing within transgender focus groups in an effort to improve the experience for trans users of all genders. The changes were supposed to be implemented by the end of the summer, but the project was pushed back.

“No. 1, we had to get it right,” Rad said. “The deeper we got into it, it is a complex issue, and not everyone agrees on the best way to approach this issue.”

“This is the first in a bunch of things we are going to do to end harassment on the platform,” Rad said. “We have dedicated a significant amount of resources, and I would say focus, on ending ‘locker-room talk.’”

Nick Adams, who runs the transgender project at GLAAD, was one of the advisors for Tinder. Adams says he hopes it will lead to “many, many more trans people finding their match on Tinder.”

“What is critical is that companies make this a priority,” Rad said. “Every platform of Tinder’s size and greater has a responsibility to its users not just to deliver on its mission.”


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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