In 2016, Tinder launched operations in India to help men and women find love, relationships and everything in between. Now, the dating app is trying to make this matchmaking effort more gender-inclusive. So far, it has allowed users to identify only as men or women. But on Tuesday, Tinder rolled out a 23 gender identity options to include a range of non-binary identities that are usually clubbed under the umbrella of transgender.
Tinder first rolled out this feature with 37 gender options in the US, UK and Canada in 2016. Since then, similar updates have followed in France, Spain, Germany and Australia.
For its India edition, Tinder set up an advisory panel comprising representatives from LGBTQ organisation Humsafar Trust and gay rights activist Parmesh Shahani. The team helped whittle down the 37 international categories to 23, adding options specific to the Indian context and dropping terms that overlapped or would have little resonance locally.
For instance, the Indian programme includes a “hijra” category, a community of transgender people unique to the subcontinent. “When you talk about transgender in India, everyone’s mind automatically goes to the hijra culture,” said Koninika Roy, Advocacy Manager at the Humsafar Trust. “Hijra is a cultural identity and community which has existed in India for years together. There are certain rules and regulations that go into being in the hijra community. They were given an exalted status in society in ancient India that was completely done away with after the British came in. But they are still very much a part of our culture and it was very important for us to include them in this process
Here’s the list of 23 gender options and explanations for each, with inputs from the Humsafar Trust. How an individual chooses to self-identify using any of these terms is crucial. An important distinction to understand, when talking about identities, is that between sex and gender. While sex refers to one’s classification as male or female based on biology or anatomy, the word gender refers to several identity markers that are determined based on various socio-cultural norms.
- Agender: Someone who does not identify with any gender, as either male or female. They may also call themselves genderless.
- Androgynous: A person whose gender expression combines aspects of typically masculine as well as feminine characteristics.
- Bigender: Someone who experiences two distinct gender identities either simultaneously or one at a time.
- Gender fluid: A person who rejects the binary of man and woman to describe their gender. They may feel more like a man one day, more like a woman on another, or neither or both on other days.
- Gender nonconforming: A gender identity that does not fit the typical cultural masculine or feminine gender norms.
- Gender questioning: A person who is questioning their gender identity or is in the process of exploring it.
- Genderqueer: Someone who queers gender – for instance, may express a combination of typical masculine and feminine traits, or neither. It’s different from gender fluid in that the person may not experience a change in their identity from day to day.
- Non-binary: A person who rejects the binary of man and woman. Their gender identity expresses a combination of masculinity and femininity or neither.
- Female to Male: A person who is assigned female at birth and transitions to male by undergoing masculinisation surgeries.
- Male to Female: A person who is assigned male at birth and transitions to female through surgery.
- Other: Someone whose gender identity does not fit into any of the existing/available classifications.
- Pangender: Someone who identifies as having more than one gender or all genders.
- Trans*: An umbrella term covering a range of identities that transgress socially defined gender norms. Trans with an asterisk is often used in written forms (not spoken) to indicate that one is referring to the larger definition of the term, which includes but is not limited to transgender men and women.
- Trans Man: A person who is assigned female at birth but identifies as a man
- Trans Person: A person who identifies as a member of a gender other than that assigned at birth based on anatomical sex.
- Trans Woman: A person who assigned sex at birth is male but identifies as a woman.
- Transfeminine: A broad term to describe various identities for people assigned male at birth who do not identify as man. They may have some conventionally feminine characteristics, but may not identify as transwomen.
- Transgender: A person who identifies as a member of a gender other than that assigned at birth based on anatomical sex.
- Transmasculine: A broad term to describe various identities for people assigned female at birth who do not identify as woman. They may have some conventionally masculine characteristics, but may not identify as transmen.
- Transsexual: A person who is undergoing or has undergone surgery from the sex they were assigned at birth to the one that matches their gender identity. (Distinct in that a transgender person may chose not to undergo surgery).
- Hijra: A cultural identity and community referring to people assigned male at birth and who identify as Hijra. The community is complex and diverse with numerous rituals, customs and rules. The community works under a gharana (ritual houses or families) system with a hierarchy of gurus and chelas (loosely meaning teacher-students).
- Intersex: Refers to a variety of biological conditions in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy or hormone levels that do not fit the typical definitions of male or female. It is important to note that intersex and transgender are not interchangeable terms.
- Kothi: Indigenous Indian identity broadly used for the effeminate (according to typical cultural gender roles) partner in a same- gender relationship between men. The expected sexual role of the kothi is of a receptive partner, but this is not necessary.
In an email interview to Scroll.in, Taru Kapoor, the General Manager of Tinder India, said that the update was rolled out in India because they strongly felt that the platform should “reflect the reality of the time” given the recent strides in the country with regard to LGTBQ rights, including the Supreme Court’s September verdict decriminalising gay sex.
On how the company expects the update to change user experience on Tinder, she said, “We have received a lot of user feedback on how Tinder wasn’t providing the most positive experience for our community of transgender and gender non-conforming users. It was time for us to begin fixing that. We want Tinder users to be able to express their gender and represent their authentic selves...We hope this makes Tinder a more comfortable and authentic place for users of all genders and identities.”