Listing your pronouns in your social media or dating app bio may not have occurred to you if you’re not part of the LGBTQ+ community. And if you’re the gender you were assigned at birth (cisgender), you probably haven’t given the practice much thought. But take it from your local non-binary, Black baddie: Putting your pronouns in your dating app bio as a cis person can make all the difference for trans daters. Beyond the reassurance it gives me and other gender non-conforming (GNC) hotties, this simple act can be life-saving.
You’re not taking up space in a community you’re not a part of. Instead, you’re letting gender-fluid and trans people know you’re a safe person to swipe right on.
It’s hard to pin down exactly how many millennials or Gen Zers identify as GNC. According to 2018 data from the Pew Research Center, 25% of millennials and 35% of Gen Zers personally know someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns. Additionally, the data also showed that 50% of millennials and about 60% of Gen Zers believe forms and online profiles should offer more gender options than just "woman" and "man."
The tides are shifting in favor of greater trans inclusion, and normalizing the pronouns conversation during first encounters — romantic, sexual, and otherwise — is a simple, yet powerful way you can participate. Step into my perspective as a non-binary femme who often gets misgendered as a woman. Because of this, I see pronouns in your dating profile as a "green flag." (It’s the opposite of a bio that reads "I don’t kno what to write here hahaha" or a picture of you holding a dead fish in your photo gallery, for example.)
That "she/her" or "he/him" lets me know you’re going to respect my identity and use “they” when gushing about me in your group chat. I can show up to our date wearing whatever clothes make me feel comfortable, and you won’t blink. More importantly, seeing your pronouns lets me know I don’t have to be afraid for my safety, especially when being intimate. I know I won’t feel awkward telling you what alternate words to use in reference to my body when we’re hooking up, and I can say "yes" to being your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner with less hesitation because I know you’ll stick up for me, even when it’s hard.
Questions like, "Will my date respect me?", "Should I wear makeup to appear more feminine?", and "Should I go home with him?" can make any dater nervous, regardless of gender identity. But as a non-binary person, these questions are a matter of life and death. Non-cis people have to worry about "trans panic" — a violent reaction toward a trans person when they come out or are outed to a cis romantic or sexual partner — on the regular. This type of violence has been widely depicted in film and TV since the early 1900s — something the Laverne Cox-produced documentary Disclosure breaks down in detail. Violent transphobia is a very real threat that affects and ends trans people’s lives everyday.
The FBI’s 2018 Hate Crime Statistics Report found that one in five confirmed hate crimes committed in 2018 were motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias. Transphobic violence made up about 14% of the anti-LGBTQ incidents, and 2.4% of all hate crimes. If this isn’t harrowing enough, gay or trans panic is widely considered a legitimate legal defense to excuse cis violence against trans people. Only 11 states —California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington — have banned the use of trans panic defenses.
So you can see how meeting a straight crush at a swanky bar or a cute cis match at a GoKart track doesn’t always seem super fun when you’re trans or gender-fluid. Mix Thomas, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with trans and non-binary people, tells Elite Daily the threat of transphobia looms large enough for some clients — especially trans-feminine ones — that they just don’t date at all.
Some dating apps make being a cisgender ally easier than others. While Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble offer lengthy, inclusive lists of gender options, you have to manually add your pronouns to your bio. Lex — an app for women, trans, and GNC daters — offers a limited list of options for pronouns, but you can go back can customize that section once your profile is finished.
Grindr, which has historically been an app for gay men but has expanded to include trans and GNC daters, also offers a designated pronouns section. Alex Black, Grindr’s Head of Marketing, tells Elite Daily 15% of users include pronouns on their profile. You can choose "he/him," "she/her," "they/them," or custom pronouns.
When filling in this part of your Grindr profile, there’s a note explaining why it’s so important for trans and non-binary users. This includes a warning that cis people shouldn’t abuse this section with jokes. Similarly, profiles on HER, an app for lesbian, queer, and bisexual people, have a designated pronouns section. You can select "she/her," "he/him," and "they/them," along with "ze/hir," custom pronouns, or "prefer not to say."
If you click the "What does this mean?" link that’s displayed in this part of HER’s interface, an explainer on gender identity pops up for the presented pronoun options.
HER CEO Robyn Exton tells Elite Daily 49% of users have added pronouns to their profiles. In 2020, OkCupid announced it was opening its "Add Pronouns To Profile" feature to all users, regardless of whether they were LGBTQ+ or not.
Thomas agrees that cis folks adopting this pronoun practice can be helpful to trans and genderqueer people. "It stops any assumptions about gender at the first meeting. If someone asks my pronouns, I know they see me, they want to know me, and they’re not making any assumptions about who I am based on my appearance," Thomas says. "It sends the message that this person is in the know about trans and GNC folks, and understands how important it is to feel seen and to be accepted."
And God, when swiping through dating apps, I’d love to match with someone who’s going to make me feel seen and accepted. Along with displaying pronouns prominently, Thomas recommends educating yourself on gender identity. Ideally, they say, you should know enough to not make a trans or non-binary person feel like they have to explain themselves. (If you ask me what non-binary means while we’re on a date, I’m Venmo-requesting you for emotional labor.)
Maybe this conversation seems like it’s sucking the fun out of something as exciting as setting up your dating app profile. But these worries are constantly present for genderqueer people, even when we want to do something as simple as DM a cis crush on Instagram. Adding your pronouns to your bio (which takes 30 seconds at most) can help steer society toward greater acceptance and inclusion. Plus, you’re letting trans or GNC people know you’d be a wonderful match for them — one that respects all parts of their gender identity. What do you have to lose?
Mix Thomas, MSW, LICSW, psychotherapist who specializes in working with trans, non-binary, and GNC clients
Alex Black, Head of Marketing at Grindr
Robyn Exton, CEO at HER
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