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With Tinder Becoming More Gender-Inclusive, It’s Easier For Me To Express My Truth

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TinderEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #AllTypesAllSwipes, by Tinder and Youth Ki Awaaz to celebrate Transgender Awareness Week. Tinder now supports more ways to express gender identity by giving users the ability to add information about their gender outside the binary. Share your experiences of love, dating and authenticity here.

I sighed a breath of ultimate triumph when the supremo of online dating websites, Tinder, finally announced the news of making their platform more inclusive. Through the commencement of the campaign #AllTypesAllSwipes, they updated their function with the addition of more than two gender options, to offer space to people of diverse identities, allowing them to choose whatever they felt was most authentic to their experience. Users can now see this option by tapping on “I am” under the “About me” section. There’s a list of various “More” gender identities where people can fill in what represents them suitably (for example agender, transmasculine, Hijra, non-binary, and many more) or even choose to not show it altogether. After realising the need to build a space for the community of transgender and gender non-conforming users, this is the outcome of an effort to fixing this issue of exclusion.

This way, Tinder has brought a completely new wave of awareness and visibility for trans individuals. More people are talking about it, which strikes up a huge conversation in the country about gender equality for all identities. But especially for the queer youth, which has been pretty active and outspoken on social media and other platforms. This step will really increase awareness about every identity that is included in Tinder’s list, and urge people to learn about them.

So what are other trans and gender non-conforming people saying about it? Read on!

Randy Scarhol, Model And Drag Artist, Bengaluru:

“I think what they have done is great. Being inclusive is important. And a dating app needs to be welcoming of everyone. It makes me really happy to see that Tinder is taking an initiative to make dating safer for all queer bodies. I think what it will do is start a conversation. Which is very important. It’s going to be a slow change though. Because the stigma that people have towards trans bodies is a result of centuries of marginalized oppression and a lack of education. I changed my gender on the app just two days ago and yesterday someone messaged me inquiring about the same. But on the brighter side, we at least have a dialogue now. One in which trans people get to define themselves. So here’s to hoping Tinder and its new gender options will help queer bodies, make more healthy, human connections.”

Gunjan, College Graduate, Trans Girl, New Delhi:

“Tinder’s step is an ode to the ‘miniscule minority’ struggling for their individuality. Now I can finally be my authentic self without telling it to everybody and going through the phase of revealing it over and over. Sometimes, with having a healthy and flirtatious conversation, very indecent questions are asked after disclosure. I believe people will now come with actual acceptance for trans and non-binary individuals.”

Xen Aerat, Artist, Bangalore:

“It is now an even playing field, and everyone is available to everyone now. [I believe] identity is a collection of things one is perceived as. One does not have to invest in it.”

Shakti, Trans Woman, Mumbai:

“With full support of gender-queer people, it finally all makes sense. I authentically identify as female but I can’t deny the fact of being trans. It’s information that is important for people to know in order to develop deeper connection. Now it’s easier for me to express my truth. And this is for every person who’s involved in dating but does not fit in traditional ‘male’ and ‘female’ category. I’m sure they’re just as grateful as I am.”

Neysara Rai, Entrepreneur And Founder Of transgenderindia.com:

“It’s fantastic. Being a gender non-binary transwoman myself, I feel it’s time we look beyond the binary. Binary is for computers, most people I interact with today are somewhere in the spectrum.”

Tinder is welcoming back all those users on their platform whose accounts were taken down because another user reported them for freely expressing a non-cis gender identity. In a wide angle, this shows a great growth in the mainstream world regarding the acceptance of and affirmation for people who don’t fit in the general theory of gender binary system. With this campaign, trans people are finally leading towards the shattering of stigma and blemishes associated with the notion of anyone being romantically involved with a trans person.

It’s easy to connect with someone when you’re not expected to disclose your identity and go through ‘that conversation’ over and over again. Having an option to choose your identity, with all the freedom of expression―and without being force to fit in the gender binary structure―validates your truth and shares a message of recognition with a verified trademark that no one can legitimately argue against. Even the number of messages, catechising your looks, your gender, your genitals―stops to some extent and people can be enlightened and well-informed about the next person without feeling obligated to shoot indecorous questions.

I remember a time when I repeatedly had my account submitted for reviewing and eventually getting blocked. It brought on a lot of self-doubt, as I tried to figure out what possible violation had happened on my part. I never suspected that people would try to prevent me from using an application! Going through posts and claims of other trans people sharing the same difficulty exposed me to a harsh truth: They were reported due to their gender. Sadly, I lost contact with many potential friends.

Advancing towards progress, Tinder’s decision of taking this step, is an acknowledgement of a deed: smashing the construction of gender roles appointed by society. An effort to transform this platform into a more inclusive and diverse community. It reflects the emerging belief that trans-identifying people have always shared some portion of our regular life, that further escalates consciousness and understanding for people of all gender alignments. It spreads the message of integration and reception among trans community which has been, throughout history, the target of ostracism and expulsion from mainstream spaces. I remain optimistic; this will light a candle of hope for finding love in the midst of revulsion and encourage trans people to participate in this fun life of dating.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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