Portland’s Ariel Hawkins is just one of many women who alleges that the dating app Tinder deletes the profiles of trans women.
The Willamette Week reports that Hawkins is suing the Tinder app for just that, asking for a court order “prohibiting Tinder to continue discriminating against non-cisgender Oregon users.” She alleges the app deleted her profile after she included details about her legal sex work (“camgirl on the side”) and gender identity (“preop trans woman.”) Hours after doing so, she says that Tinder sent an email writing that her account violated the app’s terms of service and was deleted.
“I wanted to just find love like everybody else,” Hawkins told the paper. “I’m just looking to date. I was trying to find a boyfriend.”
In a statement to the Willamette Week, Tinder wrote: “While we do not comment on pending litigation, we can say, categorically, that we do not ban users from Tinder due to gender identity.”
Other trans women have spoken out before about how they believe Tinder might discriminate against their profiles. In December 2017, a user named Tahlia René posted a Tinder email she received telling her that her profile violated the terms of service. “Every trans woman knows this means I was auto banned based on volume of reports,” she wrote.
In 2015, after other trans users noticed their accounts were being deleted for no reason, Business Insider reported that it might be due to Tinder’s “guilty-until-proven-innocent” strategy when it comes to having your profile reported. If enough people report a trans woman’s profile, for no reason other than transphobia, it might lead to the profile being flagged for violating the terms of service. “There’s potential for users to be wrongfully banned, and the app doesn’t provide a way for transgender people to avoid being matched with people who might report them,” reporter Madison Malone Kircher wrote.
In 2016 Tinder allowed users to use more specific gender identities rather than man and woman, including trans identities, as a way to alleviate this problem. But the app is going to have to work harder to make sure its users aren’t being erroneously reported due to their gender identities.