Grindr, the iPhone and BlackBerry “dating” app aimed at gay men, might have a trans problem on its hands. Already fighting off the notion that its app can be used by child molesters and murderers to find victims, Grindr now stands accused of deleting any mention of trans users transness. Scandal? Update: Grindr support says it doesn’t ban trans users, but evidence shows otherwise. Update: Grindr’s creator responds. And we’ve heard from more unhappy trans Grindr users.
According to an email sent to us, one trans user who found his profile being removed wrote in to Grindr:
“You say you wish to avoid inciting “racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind”? Then why in the hell do you prevent me from saying that I’m “FTM,” that I am “trans,” and that I am “transgender”? Do you think that’s something to be ashamed of? That it in any way prevents people from messaging me? That it is so hateful a state that it ought to be censored? Word to the wise, it’s not sexual. It’s not a reference to drugs. It’s certainly not profanity. It’s not a service or a massage or barebacking. It’s outright prejudice and bigotry on your part, and it’s wrong. I hope you get seriously sued for discrimination. But mostly I hope that whoever made that decision doesn’t get laid for at least 7 years. Because you suck.” Grrr.
Adds the user’s friend and Queerty reader Will:
I am a nontrans gay guy who uses the service to hook up with both nontrans men and transmen, and I’m completely disgusted with Grindr’s latest variety of gaystream discrimination. Myself and a number of my friends are boycotting the service by deleting our accounts until Grindr shapes up and ends transphobia against its trans users and their lovers.
We know Grindr actively monitors profile text and photos — because it has to. The app faced banishment from the app store before creator Joel Simkhai promised Apple it would police photos for anything sexual (or sexually suggestive). Which means it’s quite possible Grindr’s moderators are purposefully deleting trans profiles.
Which begs the question: Why? Because trans men are somehow not man enough for Grindr?
We’ve reached out to Grindr for comment and will share what we hear.
UPDATE: Additional emails between the above trans user and customer support have Grindr claiming it does not ban trans users:
Thank you for contacting us.
We do, from time to time, get requests from certain users to ban/remove girls/transexual/transgender/transmen from the application. Below is the response we give to the individuals requesting a ban.
Thanks for contacting us. While Grindr is primarily marketed towards Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning men, we do NOT discriminate on a basis of race, religion, orientation, or gender identity. All users are freely welcomed to use Grindr.
If you do not wish to see this user in your cascade, feel free to block this user as we would recommend you do with any user you do not wish to see.
So – if your friends(trans/non-trans) were banned, it was NOT due to the fact they are trans. It was due to the fact that they violated our terms of agreement and posted content(be it picture, or text) of an inappropriate nature. If they would like to contact our review team and provide us with their device ID information, we would be more than happy to advise them on the reason for their ban.
Grindr Customer Support
Customer Support Assistant Manager
But when the user tried changing his profile? Terms like “FTM,” trans,” “FTM/trans,” and “transgender man” were blocked. A list of each user profile edit he tried:
1. “Well mannered southern boy into some NSA fun. FTM/trans so best be hep to that or step.”
2. ““Well mannered southern boy with a penchant for oral linguistics. FTM/trans so best be hep to that or step.”
3. “Well mannered southern boy with a penchant for all kinds of fun. FTM/trans so best be hep to that or step.”
4. “FTM/trans so best be hip to that.”
5. “FTM, so be hip to that.”
6. “Trans, so be hip to that.”
7. “Transgender man, so be hip to that”.
NOTA BENE: Describing myself as a “transgender man” – ewww. So not a sexy identifier. It’s like saying “vagina” instead of “pussy” or “anal cavity” instead of “butt.” But I did it since you know you need to disclose the fact that you’re trans on there. It’’s not visible, and it’s not everybody’s thing – I get that. But still…. not sexy. But even that didn’t cut it, so I arrived at (hoping to confound the search terms they were using)…
8. “Trannytranstranstrans. Apparently Grindr doesn’t like profiles that use that word.” At the moment they still haven’t deleted that one yet.
UPDATE 2: Grindr’s Joel Simkhai responds: “Under no circumstances do we delete/ban/censor transgendered users. We have thousands of users who identify themselves as transgendered and they are welcome members of the Grindr community. I am disappointed that you would post an article like this based on what looks like an anecdotal and inaccurate report from one user. Did you investigate or ask any other users about their experiences with this issue before you ran this story? I would understand if you received several reports, but running a post like this based on one report seems presumptuous and is a disservice to the transgendered community. I ask that you revise the inaccurate headline ‘Grindr: No Trans Guys Allowed’ since Grindr welcomes everyone including transgendered users.”
Actually, since posting our original item we’ve heard from four trans Grindr users who report very similar experiences. “I’ve listed myself as ‘trans’ since installing Grindr about four months ago but after updating my profile about 3 wks ago, for some reason I wasn’t allowed to list myself as ‘trans’ or ‘transgender,'” writes one user. “I thought it was just a fluke until I read your item.” Adds another, from the Chicago area: “THANK YOU QUEERTY! Same thing happened to me. I have been banned for using ‘MTF’ and ‘trans’ in my profile.” Here’s one from outside Boston: “I didn’t try to change my profile as many times as the person in your article because I gave up after two or three times and now just list myself as ‘t*r*a*n*s.’ Somehow that worked.”