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Dating site OkCupid is now giving queer and transgender users greater visibility with a change that allows users many more options in listing their gender and sexuality.
The new sexuality options include queer, asexual, demisexual, heteroflexible, homoflexible, pansexual and questioning. New gender options include genderqueer, agender, intersex, transgender, pangender, transmasculine, transfeminine and two spirit, among others. These are only available to some users, and OkCupid has not yet responded to a request for comment on when they will be open to everyone.
Previously, OkCupid’s over 3.5 million users were limited to choosing between a male or female gender and a sexuality of straight, gay or bisexual. This left some individuals without an option that accurately described their gender or sexual identity.
Benn Kessler, one such user, said he left OkCupid because it did not give him the option to properly describe his gender as transmasculine.
“A lot of people would make assumptions about me, if I listed myself as a man, that were incorrect,” he said. “The first line of my profile would basically say ‘Hi, I’m a trans guy,’ but people would just completely ignore that.”
Jamie Flez, who identifies as fluid agender and uses the pronoun “they,” said they were discouraged from using the site for the same reason. “This is the number one reason I disabled my account,” they said in a Facebook message. “It’s frustrating looking at my profile each time I log in and seeing that I’m a ‘man.’ according to OkCupid.”
The new options will “greatly improve the online dating experience for many,” they said.
The change could also help prevent violence against transgender people by partners who were not previously aware of their gender identity, Kessler said. Statistics show LGBTQ individuals experience violence, particularly sexual assault, at higher rates than many communities of non-LGBT people. And the gap is especially wide for transgender people; 64 percent of transgender people have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.
The transgender community has been increasingly visible in the media in the past several years, with several transgender celebrities such as Laverne Cox and Janet Mock publicly advocating for the community. This may have helped encourage the change, Kessler said. Online users also petitioned for more gender and sexuality options on a Change.org petition that received 1,300 signatures.
OkCupid is not the only social network to recently change its policies on gender and sexuality. Facebook recently rolled out new gender options, with over 70 options now available to users. Those options include agender, cisgender female or male, genderfluid and bigender, among others. Users can select more than one option at once as well as specify their preferred gender pronouns (currently limited to “he,” “she” or “they”).
Corinne is the Senior Multimedia Web Editor for NewsHour Weekend. She serves on the advisory board for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.
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