Transgender people are using social media to complain that they appear to be getting kicked off of Tinder because of their transgender identity.
The users are finding themselves reported, then banned, and they assume it’s because they’re transgender.
We asked Tinder to explain why this might be happening, and it seems to be because of two reasons: there’s potential for users to be wrongfully banned, and the app doesn’t provide a way for transgender people to avoid being matched with people who might report them.
Tinder has a guilty-until-proven-innocent strategy when it comes to being reported and banned. Tinder does not disclose the number of times a user must be reported before being banned — but Tinder doesn’t intervene to determine whether any rules have been broken until after the ban takes place.
“Everyone is welcome on Tinder,” the company told Business Insider. “Each banned account is individually assessed. If we find that a user has been wrongfully banned, then we unban their account. This includes instances when transgender users are reported by others, but haven’t violated any of our community standards.”
This means that even though a Tinder ban can be lifted retroactively, it is possible for app users to be reported and banned for being transgender. So although Tinder allows transgender users on its platform, there don’t appear to be any safeguards in place ensuring that those users aren’t banned because of others reporting them.
Also, Tinder relies on gender to sort users and offers two options male and female. A user selects his or her own gender, and then selects which genders he or she would like to be matched with — male, female, or both.
Because of this, transgender people have no way of filtering out people who don’t want to match with them. This is what leads to the erroneous reporting.
Tinder says it’s working to change this. A spokesperson provided this statement:
“The system currently does not permit users to be more specific than ‘male’ or ‘female’ when selecting gender and is similarly limited in discovery preferences. Unfortunately, this can lead to some users reporting other users when they unexpectedly appear in their recommendations. Tinder recognises and believes in the importance of being inclusive of all gender identities and is working towards optimising the experience for everyone. “
Sol Solomon, a 20-year-old transgender woman and college student, posted on her Tumblr about an experience she had using Tinder.
“I matched with a dude right before I got on a subway, and as I climbed out of the subway to go to work, I discovered that the app was missing [from my phone] and I had been reported,” Solomon told Business Insider.
Solomon believes she was reported after this male user realised she was a transgender woman by looking more closely at her profile description.
“I have my pronouns on my Tinder, so I assumed he was just being transphobic,” she said. “Right after he matched me, I was reported, which is why I would assume the connection happened.”
As seen above, there is no explicit option for reporting a transgender person. A user would have to select “other” and type an explanation to accompany the report.
Solomon received an alert from Tinder that her account had been reported and a warning to be careful of her behaviour on the app going forward. She had to press a button “promising” to abide by Tinder’s rules and guidelines before she could start swiping again, she said.
“We notify users that they have been reported, the reason(s) why they were reported, and that they run the risk of having their account locked and put under review. Reported users will receive up to three warnings from us letting them know that their account will be locked and put under review if they keep being reported. Essentially, this presents the user with community-based feedback.”
This was the only time Solomon has been reported, but it is not the first time she has encountered pushback as a trans user. Solomon frequently gets messages in which men on Tinder reproach her.
“Often the comments are filled with trans-misogyny and homophobia, ” Solomon explained to BI. “I got two messages the other day from some person saying, ‘Well you’re very misleading.'”
Interestingly, Tinder pulls most of its information and photos from a user’s Facebook profile — except when it comes to his or her gender identity.
“It’s bizarre because Tinder [profile information] comes from Facebook and Facebook has over 50 options [for gender],” noted Solomon.
She’s right. Facebook offers 58 gender options.
If there was an option to identify herself as a transgender woman on Tinder, Solomon says she would be interested in using it. However, she doesn’t know if the app, in its current form, is ready to move beyond a gender binary.
“Because of the format of Tinder and how it’s right, left and male, female, it’s meant to be simple,” Solomon said. “Tinder would have to change things about their medium in order to really accommodate.”
Solomon also explained that adding more gender options probably wouldn’t impact the majority of Tinder users.
“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” Solomon told BI.
For now, Solomon continues to use Tinder, though not as frequently as before the incident. Very few of her transgender friends use the app, she said, because “they know better.”
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