As I mentioned last week, the dating site OKCupid is expanding the options for gender and orientation available to its members. The new option set (currently only available to a small set of users, as a test phase) allows users to pick up to five identifiers from lists of options that appear to be as follows (presented here in alphabetical order, though they aren’t presented that way on OKC):
So this list of “orientations” – I specifically describe it this way, though many places are reporting these changes at OKC as an expansion of “sexuality” options, because that’s how the category is defined on OKC (as orientation)… So the issue here is hopefully obvious? Because yes, that list above is a list entirely composed of sexual orientations, not orientations generally. And given that this is a dating site, I really think it should be obvious to the people who managed to put asexual and demisexual on that list that maybe the people who identify that way would also want to be able to state their romantic orientation. Y’know, for the purpose of dating? That would be nice. And also presumably not that hard to add in given that for matching purposes, romantic orientations can be mapped very similarly to sexual ones. So, here’s hoping that this change gets made before the final roll-out (though I’m not holding my breath…)
- Cis Man
- Cis Woman
- Gender Nonconforming
- Trans Man
- Trans Woman
- Two Spirit
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this, actually. I like that “woman”, “cis woman”, and “trans woman” are all options (so no one is forced to identify whether they were AFAB in order to identify as a “woman”, though they can is they want. Ditto for men. It is interesting to me that “Hijra” and “Two Spirit” are included, as the only culturally specific non-binary genders (although the category of “genderqueer” can also be seen as a primarily White, generally Western category, it’s not one thathas really acheived broad recognition or the kind of actual societal space that Two-Spirited people, for instance, can find within their cultures), whereas many other cultures have had third gender categories that aren’t represented here. I don’t know enough to take this analysis any further, though.
I have seen some trans folk concerned that these new options will open us up to more anti-trans harassment and violence on the site. It’s true that explicitly identifying as trans (or not doing so, for that matter) could result in a lot of trolling. But I’m not convinced it will really involve an increase in trolling. When I change my gender options, it will become easier for people with the explicit intent of trolling genderqueer folk to find and target me, it’s true. But at the same time, the straight-forward identification of my gender as it is will remove the need for the weird dance I sometimes have to do, where I try to figure out whether this new person messaging me actually understands that I’m not a woman. The last first date I went on (after having a perfectly pleasant conversation about gender on OKC) involved being called a “girl” the entire evening, so.
And personally, I’d rather deal with more open trolls in order to reduce the number of times I think I might be making a genuine connection with someone who turns out to be an ass who is only really concerned about what’s in my pants, and whether that’s acceptable to them (because seriously, if that’s a major concern for you, you’re not getting into my pants anyway.) Because it’s much harder for me to deal with ignorance from someone I think I might kinda like, than from some random.
Trolls are gonna troll, basically. But giving people more options for how they want to express and manage their identity on a doing site is always better than not doing so.