SXSW: Tinder aims for an all-inclusive future


Tinder’s Founder and Chairman made a bold statement when it came to brands, gender inclusivity and how the app is helping in his opening statements at SXSW this year.

Sean Rad took the stage alongside other panelists on day one of the conference to discuss his company’s shift to becoming a more inclusive organisation. This change comes at a poignant time – as political turmoil with a concentration on gender as well as hate speech continues to plague our ecosystem.

Back in November, Tinder made huge strides by allowing its users to select from any gender or identity they wish, extending beyond just two options – a major win for the trans community. This ability to display their identity on their page now offers Tinder users the comfort in knowing that the transparency of their gender identity will offer less confusion to potential matches, lessening any possible harassment.

Throughout the session, Rad was accompanied by other speakers including Nick Adams, the director of Transgender Media of LGBTQ media advocacy group, GLAAD and Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s CEO. Zachary Drucker, a transgender female activist and producer of the hit show, Transparent also joined the discussion, collectively highlighting the key issues the marginalised trans communities face, and how huge of a step swiping right for inclusivity truly is. Here’s what they had to say:

“Tinder is about everyone, and everyone is welcome and everyone deserves to meet someone special,” said Rad. “Since we launched, there have been 250k matches with transgender people on Tinder,” – a great achievement in a short amount of time. “For us, it is about inclusivity,” said Rad.

“We are in a culture that is trying to send trans progress back in time rather than forward,” says Adams – a statement that is deeply troubling considering the nation-wide debate on the public accommodations of trans people. “I think that visibility for trans people is 20-25 years behind the LGB progress” continues Adams.

The stigmatised idea of dating a transgender person and meeting them via dating apps like Tinder must be dismantled. Tinder’s move to transparency and inclusivity is helping to educate and evoke change and in turn, reduce the online harassment of these individuals. “Anything that helps our users particularly when it comes to safety and harassment is a priority- it’s the number 1 priority,” says Rad.

How people define their gender and how they define who they are attracted to are not mutually exclusive. “They are two separate things,” says Adams. “The further we can untangle the difference [between gender and sexual identity], the more it may undue that stigma.”

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