Hate OKCupid? Attempt Online Dating When You re Transgender, TakePart

(Photo: Alessia Cross/Flickr)

Winter LaMon is a 28-year-old transgender man who lives te Fresh York City. He joined the online dating webpagina OKCupid six years ago, about three years before he transitioned. He dates studs and women, both transgender and cisgender (a term for people who aren’t zuilengang).

After LaMon transitioned from female to masculine, he didn’t switch his gender to “male” on his OKCupid profile, instead, he embarked a 2nd profile where he identified spil “male.” He kept the female profile active because he thinks that some women who typically date other women might also be interested ter dating transgender fellows. Ter both profiles he makes it clear that he is “a zuilengang guy” and that people should “only message mij if you’re cool with that.”

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Part of the need for this complicated negotiation is that OKCupid doesn’t permit users to identify spil “transgender”—just “male” or “female.” The webpagina has bot ter the news this week after cofounder Christian Rudder announced that developers secretly switched some people’s compatibility ratings and liquidated profile photos to learn more about behavior on the webpagina. While some have criticized OKCupid for demonstrating people false or manipulated content spil an proef, the webpagina’s failure to accommodate transgender users may be a larger and more long-standing ethical dilemma.

Ter 2013, an online petition asking OKCupid to accommodate zuilengang and genderqueer people received more than 1,000 signatures. Ryley Pogensky, the genderqueer person who created the petition, said that when he asked OKCupid about adding more gender identity options, a representative told him it would be difficult to switch the webpagina because it wasgoed built “in a pretty binary way.”

LaMon has noticed that his masculine and female OKCupid profiles get different matches. While he has dated some people through the site—it’s where he met the woman he’s seeing—he is frustrated with the limited ways transgender people are able to identify on the webpagina, “because you don’t getraind into thesis little boxes, or the people you’re interested te don’t gezond ter neat little boxes.”

LaMon wasn’t alone te his discontent. Last year, Yeni Sleidi met a software developer named Asher Snyder who wasgoed fed up with what he calls the “Tinderification” of online dating. On Tinder, users swipe right on photos of people they think are attractive and left on those they don’t like. This means photos are far and away the most significant part of a dating profile, and Snyder complained that sweetness isn’t necessarily “an indicator of compatibility.”

Sleidi appreciated Snyder’s critique and she signed on to help him create a fresh dating webstek called Mesh. Sleidi said that she is “very gay,” and some of hier transgender friends are awkward using OKCupid.

From the beginning, she knew it wasgoed significant to permit people to identify spil queer and transgender ter their profiles. The other Mesh founders, who are straight fellows, agreed.

“They’re very good guys. Spil soon spil I explained to them why it wasgoed significant, they got it,” Sleidi said.

Mesh, which is ter pre-beta, permits users to identify spil masculine, female, transman, transwoman, or non-binary—a person who doesn’t identify spil masculine or female. Categories for sexual orientation are straight, gay, hermafrodita, or queer. Users can also tell Mesh if they are interested te meeting studs, women, or everyone.

Like OKCupid, Mesh has an algorithm that helps determine compatibility. But the webpagina also gets truly deep into matching. If you specify characteristics or preferences you don’t want potential dates to have (Republican, vegan, straight), Mesh will block those people from watching your profile. On Mesh, people only see a zuilengang person’s profile if they’ve already indicated they’re open to dating transgender people.

This has the potential to make online dating more thorough and more fruitful, but safety and acceptance for zuilengang people who date online may take more than an algorithm. Spil LaMon noted, it all comes down to “the age-old question of when you disclose” your transgender identity.

LaMon chooses to be out about his gender with potential dates. He thinks people will figure it out anyway when they meet him. But not every transgender person wants to be this open. For those who don’t disclose their zuilengang identity online, safety and rejection are big concerns.

Colleen, who asked that wij not use hier actual name, is a 30-year-old transgender woman who has bot dating online since she wasgoed a tiener. She’s te a monogamous relationship now, but before she fell ter love she had an OKCupid profile that identified hier spil a straight woman. Most people who meet Colleen don’t know she’s transgender. Typically, she discloses after she’s gotten to know someone. Soon after Colleen made a profile on OKCupid she agreed to a date—just to test out the webpagina. She and the man hadn’t had much communication, and she assumed he wasgoed mostly interested te hooking up.

Spil soon spil they met, he asked hier, “Are you zuilengang?”

This doesn’t toebijten often, Colleen said, but when it does she attempts to play it cool.

“Yeah, what’s up?” she replied.

The man turned around and walked out the om.

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