Photo illustration of popular dating website Tinder logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Tinder “only caters to cis people” and its attempts to be inclusive of the trans community are “virtue signalling”, say trans folks who’ve been banned from the dating app.
Despite having more than 50 gender options, and nine sexualities, trans people told PinkNews that Tinder condones “discrimination” against trans people using the app, partly because of poor customer support for trans people who have been banned.
Trans people say that they’ve been banned two hours after changing their gender on the app to trans, and after being invasively questioned by cis men about their genitals – and all the trans people PinkNews spoke to knew multiple other trans people who’d been banned, too.
it’s astonishing how every single reply from @TinderSupport is an apology for banning someone for being upfront about being trans
— Rev. Poppy Haze (@poppy_haze) October 16, 2019
One trans woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she has a public profile as an artist, says that she assumes trans people are banned when others users report their accounts – and that Tinder isn’t doing anything to stop that from happening.
“I get that some people are not wanting to connect with trans people, which is their life, but I don’t deserve to be banned because of that and there are people who are interested in me,” she says, adding that she’d messaged Tinder after being banned but only received “really vague answers – they couldn’t ever explain exactly why”.
I don’t deserve to be banned.
“I responded that it was sickening and irresponsible for them to exclude a wide range of people. I didn’t do anything wrong or outside of their policy,” she says. “And I knew I wasn’t the only one.”
Tinder expanded its gender options in June 2019, with a new rollout that means users are able to choose from more than 50 genders and nine sexualities.
“Honestly, I feel like it’s a cheap move and not forthcoming at all,” she said of the gender options. “I think they did that for damage control to be like ‘Hey, look we’re inclusive don’t sue us for excluding an entire community,’ when really they made the app only catering to cis people.”
She’s not the only trans woman to struggle with Tinder. In September 2019, Hustlers star Trace Lysette was abruptly banned. And Peppermint, from RuPaul’s Drag Race, also reported being banned in May 2019.
— Peppermint (@Peppermint247) March 8, 2019
A non-binary trans person, who asked to be referred to by their Twitter handle, @SortaWhatever, says that they’d been using Tinder on and off for about a year for hookups, dating and attempting to meet sugar daddies. But they uninstalled the app this summer after “not getting any luck, dating wise or sex work wise”.
I could have been banned for my gender identity or I could have been banned for doing sex work – or both.
“I went back a month later and I couldn’t log in to my account,” they say. “As a theory, I could have been banned for my gender identity or I could have been banned for doing sex work – or both. I believe I was [banned for being trans] because I had had friends (mostly trans women) who said they got banned due to their gender identity by men who reported them.”
“And because the language I used in my bio did not blatantly say I was looking for a sugar daddy, I assumed one of the cis men I spoke to who had grilled me about my genitalia and gender (which has happened to me alot) had reported me,” they add.
They contacted Tinder about being banned, but aside from an acknowledgement of their email have not received a response.
And, they say, “Tinder only recently added that drop down [with 50 genders]. I think it’s an attempt at virtue signalling so that they appear inclusive. If they really cared about queer folks – especially black and brown ones – wouldn’t they make an effort to have better customer support in place?
“It makes me angry. Among the bullshit I deal with in real life and in my love life it would nice if they didn’t condone this discrimination.
I have seen people selling weed who have not been reported, but I can’t be trans in peace.
“I have seen people selling weed etc using that app who have not been reported, but I can’t be trans in peace there.”
A trans woman called Valeri was also banned by Tinder, just hours after changing her gender from “woman” to “trans woman”.
“I noticed the varied [gender] options were available again, so I chose ‘Trans Woman’ as it is more accurate,” Valeri says. “Less than two hours after changing it, I opened the app to find myself banned.”
She says that she didn’t break any of Tinder’s rules or community guidelines – she read through them all, to check – and that “banning was way too close to my editing of my profile to be coincidence. I also have trans friends who have been banned without breaking rules, as well.”
Valeri tweeted Tinder Support, which responded by asking her to fill in a form. She filled in the form and is yet to receive a response.
“Reporting dangerous people is important, as well as scams and other problems,” she says. “However, the fact that the system can be abused in such a way just shows, yet again, that they [Tinder] don’t really care about the trans and non-binary people using their app.”
Replies from the Tinder Support account are almost exclusively to trans people complaining that they’ve been banned from the app.
A Tinder spokesperson told PinkNews in a statement: “Tinder has been at the forefront of pioneering inclusive features that ensure our members can be their authentic selves on our platform. We recognise the transgender community faces challenges on Tinder, including being unfairly reported by potential matches more often than our cisgender members. This is a multifaceted, complex issue and we are working to continuously improve their experience.”