Dear OkCupid,

A few weeks ago I started a petition asking OkCupid to extend both their gender and sexuality options. https://www.change.org/petitions/okcupid-extend-the-gender-and-sexuality-options

OkCupid has a vast amount of trans*, gender queer, and gender neutral folks using their site. On top of that it also hosts an extremely large amount of: poly, queer, and pansexual users. Yet OkCupid has failed to take note of these people. The only options one has when creating an account are M and F for gender, and Straight, Bisexual, or Gay for sexual orientation.

I appeared on Huffington Post Live to discuss why this was important to the queer community:

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/okcupid-online-dating-lgbtq-gender-sexuality/51a7801f02a7606ddd00031d

*Note that OkCupid did not offer a statement

So I wrote them a letter (well email because who really has time for letter writing – and stamp prices? What is this?) and by them I mean one of the email addresses that they have listed in their “contact” section. So essentially what they make their interns read. Anyway this is what I sent:

OkCupid is a great resource for LGBTQ folks to not only date but find like minded people. The only problem is your current options for gender and sexuality make some of us put ourselves into categories that we are not comfortable with.

After many friends had come to me with their stories – and their tales of reaching out to the powers at be on OkCupid (to no response) I figured some form of action needed to be taken. So I started this petition. 

I also attached the Huff Post Live interview and link to change.org

This is the response I got:

Hi, 

Thanks for your message. We absolutely want to add more gender and orientation options in the future- it’s something we’re working towards. Unfortunately, it involves a lot of reworking of the site, because we built it in a pretty binary way. I’ll definitely pass along your comments to our developers.

Thanks, 
Adam

Which. What?!?
Unfortunately, it involves a lot of reworking of the site, because we built it in a pretty binary way.
I. Don’t. Even. Know. What. To. Say. To. You. Sir.

Now I know that reworking a site is not child’s play. But I am also no stranger to HTML and web design. So like I’m going to need for you to not act as if this is some huge task for your developers to take on. OkCupid somehow managed to launch the fuck out of “Blind Date” aka the creepiest dating app ever and kept it alive even though approximately no one in the history of ever has used it. *Save for a few curious bloggers. I know that change does not happen instantly, but honestly this strikes me more as a “we actually just don’t know how to handle this”. Or “we don’t actually want to handle this”.

Am I overreacting? Something about the use of the words “pretty binary way” made my head spin a bit. Because it made it seem like OkCupid’s developers never intended for the site to be a home to the trans* or queer community. To which you may be saying BUT WAIT they happily allow gay people. To which I will say YES BUT A TON OF GAY PEOPLE HAVE SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH THE TRANS* COMMUNITY. Take Dan Savage for instance. Nobutreally he is the worst: http://fucknodansavage.tumblr.com/
I just.
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9 thoughts on “Dear OkCupid,

  1. TheSnarkyB says:

    Wtf? I don’t think you’re way out of line, but I think that you’re vastly underestimating the ability of most people to even say “binary” in this context, let alone admit it. To me, this is a sentence that is recognizing privilege and implicitly apologizing for its effects. I’d personally be much more pissed if they said “we built the site for the general public” or “we built the site for the majority of our audience” or – lord help the douche that says “we built the site for our normal users”
    The last one is a little extreme, but I feel like those would all convey a complete ignorance of what’s really the issue, while this one acknowledges it, uses the word that I ascribe to the problem as well, and says they’re working to fix it.
    Now, it would have been much better for them to acknowledge your letter and petition in public and say “Yes. We will do this. We are committed.” but I think you are perceiving this sentence differently than I am, so I thought I’d share my own perspective on it.

    Separately, one of the really cool things about OKC is that there’s tons and tons of math behind it. So I’m actually not surprised that it would take them a while to fix the cis privilege that they shouldn’t have built in in the first place.

    Also: yes. fuck dan savage.
    No… fucking someone is a gift. Something bad. Can’t think. Brain is Monday fried.

    As always, love the site.

  2. caitlyn_xpress says:

    I support the spirit of this petition, but I have to take some issue with the proposed options. Speaking for myself, and presumably a lot of others, I prefer to identify as Female with my trans status being an “oh, and by the way” thing. At the very least, I think the options should be expanded to include Transgender and Genderqueer, with the ability to also select male or female.

    Many times, that ability to choose between F and M is an important thing in the eyes of trans* people. I know it makes me feel good, even though I don’t hide the fact that I am trans*.

    As for the response from OK Cupid, you have to remember that that the surge of trans* advocacy is a relatively new phenomenon. I don’t fault them for not being all-inclusive to begin with, and it sounds like they are willing to make the effort. That’s a pretty big step. Web systems like this are many times built on content management systems that, out of the box, do limit options like these and it does take a huge effort to code them differently.

    Just my 2 cents.

  3. you can call me beth i suppose says:

    I agree with Snarky up there, their response seems far more level-headed and accepting than I would expect in this world. Saying that you are ‘no stranger to HTML’ suggests that you really don’t know what this would entail. We’re not talking about HTML, that’s just the end result that you see. I don’t know if they run on PHP or Python or Ruby or what, but we’re talking real programming, and certainly very complex programs. It is entirely feasible that it was built in ‘a binary way,’ and that no matter how high of a priority changing this is, doing so will be a major overhaul. Nothing comparable to launching and maintaining their bizarre little app. I also think it may be a little unfair to call them out on ‘never intend[ing] for the site to be a home to the trans* or queer community.’ It’s entirely possible they didn’t intend that. And it’s entirely possible this was simply out of a lack of awareness. Awareness about genderqueer (etc.) issues has blown up a bit recently (and it seems moreso for those of us directly affected), but for cis folks to have thought this through a few years ago? Not necessarily out of malice. More importantly than the past, however, is that they (claim they) are working to fix it now. We’ll see — maybe these issues will never get resolved. Then we can raise a mighty stink over it. For now, I’m willing to trust the,…

  4. Ivy says:

    OKC should definitely have a non-binary gender option (or options), but please don’t ask them to have gender options of M/F/T. Trans is broader than non-binary. Suggesting that trans is something separate and exclusive of male or female is really insulting to us binary-identified trans people.

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