Dating isn’t half as simple as it used to be. In the olden days, a man would hold open the door of the soda fountain and a woman would curtsy her polka-dot sundress in a polite thank you. The couple would share a chocolate milkshake and then make out in the back of a Chevy impala. When necking turned into heavy petting, there were no hidden surprises beneath the clothes of either partner.
But the days of old have come and gone. Today, gender isn’t confined to just men and women. If you ask Tinder, there’s 35 different alternatives from the typical gender binary. What’s more, if you still can’t identify with the wide array of options, a fill-in-the-blank feature allows you to describe yourself in terms that truly reflect who you are.
The update is more than just progress for the trans community. The change has a profound effect on the heteronormative, too. Men and women who fall into your standard gender assignments now face a question of who they’re open to dating.
Many users likely believe their sexuality is cut-and-dry. But Tinder can now call that into question by providing humanizing experiences with trans people that allow users to overcome their underlying biases.
Zackary Drucker, one of the transgender public figures behind Tinder’s expansion, told Broadly, “I often meet men who are interested in me, and maybe wouldn't have considered it until meeting me; having trans people mixed into the larger dating pool will create more of those opportunities.”
Tinder ensures these opportunities by not allowing users to hyper-specify the type of gender they want to see. For example, men can’t choose to see only cisgender women. Trans users can choose whether they would like to show up in results for women or for men. Tinder is deliberately choosing not to be the authority on which sex best suits someone who identifies as genderqueer. They allow that answer to vary from person to person.
Before Tinder’s expansion, transgender daters were frequently berated with invasive questions. It wasn’t uncommon for a transgender woman to be consistently asked, “Do you have a penis?” This type of exchange often led to transgender users getting their profiles blocked, after the inquiring party reported them for being fraudulent or deceptive. To limit these wrongful blockages, Tinder has set up a special customer service department to get those users’ profiles reactivated.
Time magazine estimates that 3 million Tinder users are transgendered. The update offers optimism to millions of trans users that hope to normalize their role in the dating scene. As Liz Busillo, an agender (they neither identify as a man or a woman) graphic designer, explained to Time, “Once people start to see in a very real way that those are not the only two ways people identify, that might make it more real to them, that might get them to reevaluate things.”
Tinder connects 50 million users around the world, with more than 1 billion swipes occurring each day. And as Tinder adapts to this changing worldview, we’ll need to adapt to our changing dating pool. Because in this progressive age, gender and sexuality aren’t as straightforward as swiping left or right.