Tinder is the most widely-used dating app in the world and millions of people have used this platform for dating and starting relationships. This convenient, easy-to-use app allows users to swipe right if they would like to connect with a profile, or swipe left to decline a profile. Many people like how easy it is to match with or turn down profiles and thoroughly enjoy their experience on this app. Transgender individuals, however, may not find this app as easy to use. Online dating can be quite challenging and even dangerous for many trans folks, and popular dating apps, like Tinder, don’t make it easier. Is Tinder safe for transgender people to use? Let’s talk about it.

Tinder has a long-standing history of discriminating against trans people

Since the very beginning of Tinder, many trans folks have had issues with the app. Online dating is difficult enough when you’re transexual, and apps like Tinder do little to help resolve these issues. We’re going to talk about the history of transgender people and Tinder. What has Tinder done right? What have they done wrong? Let’s get into it.

Lack of Inclusive Gender Options on Tinder

When Tinder first launched, there were only two gender boxes to choose from, male and female. This made many transgender people uncomfortable. While many transgender individuals identify as male or female, thousands do not. Some transgender individuals identify as male or female but would have preferred an option that allows them to specify that they are a transman or a transwoman.  Many identify as gender non-conforming, non-binary, genderfluid, or any other non-traditional gender identity. Asking a person to choose simply between male and female denies the existence of any other identity options and can cause a lot of harm and anxiety for transgender individuals

Tinder did fix this issue later by adding many more gender options to choose from including non-binary, genderfluid, transgender man, and transgender woman. They currently have several options available as well as allowing users to manually fill in how they identify. These changes are a step in the right direction for the popular dating app, but this does not fix all the problems transgender people face when using this platform.

Transgender Dating Profiles Disproportionately Getting Banned

To help remove catfish profiles and bots on the site, Tinder allows users to report profiles if they feel there is something wrong. Unfortunately, this feature has been used to disproportionally report transgender individuals. While this may not have been Tinder’s intention when adding this feature, they have not done much to help resolve the issue.

Tinder is designed to allow people to make fast decisions about a profile with little to no information about the person they choose to swipe on. When a profile appears on your screen, a picture is displayed, and very little text is available to read. This allows users to make a split-second decision as to whether they want to match or pass. To see more information, users must click on the profile. Since Tinder is known for allowing its users to make fast decisions, many people do not click on the profile to read further information. How does this affect transgender individuals? Great question, we’d love to tell you.

Cisgender persons and dating on Tinder

If a cisgender person is perusing through Tinder and they see a picture of a female-presenting transgender person, they may assume this is a cisgender woman and swipe right on the profile without reading any more information. If the cisgender person and the transgender woman match and begin chatting and the cisgender person realizes that the person they are talking with is transgender. They can report the profile for “inappropriate behavior” claiming that the information provided was not accurate. With thousands of profiles reported every day, Tinder does not have an adequate verification process to see whether a profile is being reported for legitimate reasons or based on discrimination, leading these profiles to be banned. While this may not have been Tinder’s intention when setting up this feature, the fact is that many transgender profiles are disproportionately banned, and Tinder has not yet come up with a viable solution for this problem.

Location Sharing is Potentially Dangerous for Transgender Users

One of the biggest features that Tinder has is allowing users to match with people who are in their general vicinity. When a profile is displayed, it will say something like “Tiffany – 12” meaning that Tiffany is 12 miles away from you. This feature is convenient for helping you match with people in your area. However, geolocation can be a dangerous thing. It’s been proven many times that geolocation systems can be hacked, allowing people to pinpoint exactly where someone is located. Geolocation hacking can be a problem for everyone, so why is it disproportionally more dangerous for trans people?

Transgender people are at a much higher risk of violence than other groups of people, and transgender women of color are the most likely to be the victims of violent crimes. Having location sharing as a default feature can make it difficult for transgender people to protect their safety. Tinder now allows members to turn off the location-sharing feature, but, in doing so, matches become more difficult to find since Tinder can no longer match you with people in your area, once again, discriminating against transgender people and making it more difficult to date.

Since safety is such a big issue for transgender people, they are more likely to be the ones disabling the location feature and therefore less likely to find matches and experience full use of this app. Once again, Tinder has fixed some parts of the issue but has not exactly leveled the playing field for transgender people.

Safe Ways for Transgender People to Date Online

So far we’ve talked about a lot of the negative things about online dating for trans people, let’s get to the positive stuff and talk about safe ways for transgender people to get into the world of online dating.

The Best Time to Come Out When Online Dating

Some transgender people are out and proud and have the privilege of living authentically as themselves. Other transgender people are not as fortunate. When it comes to dating, especially online dating as a trans person, it can be difficult to decide when to come out as trans to the person you’re dating. Some people prefer to be upfront from the beginning. Other people prefer to be “passing” (a term that refers to a transgender person living as their preferred gender as if they were cisgender instead of transgender) in every area of their life, including dating. This can make coming out difficult as there is often not a convenient place to disclose that information, especially given the fact that trans people are more likely to be victims of violent crimes.

  • Before you meet in person – Coming out to someone before you meet them in person is a good option for a lot of transgender people. This allows the person you are dating to process the information while they are alone instead of possibly in a public place where they may be more uncomfortable. This can also protect the safety of a transgender individual because they are in a place where they are comfortable when disclosing this information and can decide if their dating prospect is a safe person to meet in person.
  • Before you disclose personal information – Transgender people should heavily consider coming out to someone before they give away any personal information such as their address, phone number, or social media information. This can help protect them if their dating prospect does not take the information well. Since many people have a bias against transgender individuals, keeping your personal information private until coming out will help protect your safety and prevent someone from outing you before you are ready.
  • Before being intimate with a new person – Intimacy is one of the scariest and most exciting parts of dating. When it comes to being intimate with a trans person, this can look a bit different than with a cisgender person. A transgender woman may not be comfortable with the genitalia she has, and the same with transgender men, and gender non-conforming people. It can be difficult to know what to expect when being intimate with a transgender person and it can be even more shocking if you do not know the person you are about to be intimate with is trans. Having a conversation before intimacy can save you both some confusion and surprise by discussing boundaries, preferred names for genitalia, and things that may be offensive or harmful to the transgender person you are dating.

Protecting Your Information When Online Dating

Protecting your information when online dating is essential for everyone, but especially for transgender individuals. Until you are comfortable and certain that the person you are dating is safe, you should not give away any information such as your phone number, address, or social media information. If you are not out to your friends or family, by giving away your information, you risk being outed before you are ready. By giving away your address or even your phone number, you take the risk of being physically harmed. There are hundreds of search engines that can provide people with your personal information by simply entering a phone number, which is why keeping this information private until you know you can trust the person you’re talking to is so important. Prioritizing your safety is something transgender folks must do to protect themselves, and this can make online dating difficult. But there are platforms designed for transgender people to make online dating easier.

Use a Transgender-Friendly Online Dating Platform

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself during online dating as a trans person is to use sites that are safe places for queer people. Our site, TS Dating site MyTransgenderCupid, is designed to help transgender women connect with decent men. By using a site like ours, you can already be more at ease in knowing that it is a space designed for trans people! Anyone signing up for a site like MyTransgenderCupid is likely already comfortable with transgender people. And for the few that sign up and are not comfortable with trans people, our site already has features designed to weed out these people and ban them from use on the platform. Using a trans-friendly dating app solves a lot of the problems trans people encounter on apps like Tinder such as extensive gender options, not discriminating against transgender profiles, and connecting transgender women with men who are excited to date them. Tinder has made decent steps towards inclusion for queer people, but at the end of the day, these apps are designed by cisgender people for cisgender people. If you are frustrated by these platforms, give MyTransgenderCupid a try. You might just find that an inclusive dating app is what you’ve been needing to make online dating safe, fun, and exciting.