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Like OKCupid, Mesh has an algorithm that helps determine compatibility. If you specify characteristics or preferences you don’t want potential dates to have (Republican, vegan, straight), Mesh will block those people from seeing your profile.On Mesh, people only see a trans person’s profile if they’ve already indicated they’re open to dating transgender people.Categories for sexual orientation are straight, gay, bisexual, or queer.Users can also tell Mesh if they are interested in meeting men, women, or everyone.But not every transgender person wants to be this open.For those who don’t disclose their trans identity online, safety and rejection are big concerns.Most people who meet Colleen don’t know she’s transgender.
Grabbing my phone, I tapped over to Google Play and set about downloading Thurst, the long-anticipated “dating app for queer people of all genders,” which I’d been waiting for since its announcement in 2015.
La Mon prefers to be out about his gender with potential dates.
He thinks people will figure it out anyway when they meet him.
In both profiles he makes it clear that he is “a trans guy” and that people should “only message me if you’re cool with that.” Part of the need for this complicated negotiation is that OKCupid doesn’t allow users to identify as “transgender”—just “male” or “female.” The site has been in the news this week after cofounder Christian Rudder announced that developers secretly changed some people's compatibility ratings and removed profile photos to learn more about behavior on the site.
While some have criticized OKCupid for showing people false or manipulated content as an experiment, the site's failure to accommodate transgender users may be a larger and more long-standing ethical dilemma.