We (Alt Crit) asked some questions of Rye Silverman (chicklikemeblog on tumblr) after viewing the original post above and some of the responses. Here’s the followup:
What was the official response from OKCupid like? How did you feel about it?
The first response I got from them was slightly dismissive feeling, it was literally a message that just said “Thanks for your feedback” and I was like, oh so they don’t care at all. Without my responding again, however, one of their representatives wrote me another message the next day and assured me that they also felt that there was a need for nonbinary identifications on their site, but that they wanted to perfect it and do it right rather than just adding “Trans” as a third option and leave it at that. I agree that doing so would not benefit anyone, so if they truly are working on it, and are committed to doing it right, then I’m feeling pretty good about it. We’ll have to wait and see.
What was the response like from sharing your letter on tumblr and other places?
Like anything of substance there was good and bad. The post I shared on Tumblr took off like wildfire. Most of my posts cap out at best at a few hundred notes, but as of this interview this one has gotten 10,920 notes. So that’s the good. The bad is that I discovered that there’s a Reddit page called “Tumblr in Action” that acts like a watchdog group for what they decide is all that is wrong with social justice on Tumblr. So despite the fact that the vast majority of posts on my blog are outfit of the day shots, fashion inspirations, or reblogs of stuff like Doctor Who fandom, I became for a moment an example of all that is wrong with social justice activism. But even though several people seemed to break that page’s own rule and engaged with me directly and attacked me in my comments, it was still pretty manageable compared to the positive support I got.
What did make me bummed about the response though were the other trans people, or allies speaking on behalf of trans people, who presumed a position that I wasn’t taking. A few responses said “But trans isn’t a gender,” or attacked me for suggesting that people should have to identify as trans. I wasn’t saying either of those things. In no way do I think anyone should have to self identify at any time unless they want to. But people like myself don’t have a choice in the matter, and all I was asking from OkCupid was a way for me to not only list myself as trans, which like my critics rightly pointed out, can be done in the profile, but also to search for others who might also identify similarly, or to find people who are attracted to or open to a relationship with people like myself.
Is there anything else you’d like to comment on about the trans/gender struggle and how it relates to the gay/sexuality struggle?
I mean it’s all kind of part of the same struggle, in my mind. It’s the struggle to find a place in a world whose recorded history tries to hide us. Naturally people love simple patterns, matched pairs of twos, but trans and gay people don’t fit that dichotomy.
Is there anything you’d be comfortable talking about re: your personal experience outside heteronormativity using a site like OkCupid?
I suppose it’s not all that different from my experience outside heteronormativity in dating outside of online dating. I rarely come across other trans people, let alone “nonbinary” trans people, let alone “nonbinary’ trans people who I have a mutual attraction with, so my dating pool tends to still mostly be cis women or men. So whether it’s online dating or in real life it’s pretty complicated. So just like in real life, my only real successes at finding a date are with someone who is willing to take a step outside of their own comfort zone, which is a rarity in dating.
I live in L.A. where people think the dating landscape is much more liberal, but in response to my letter, OkCupid gave me one week of free “A-List” service which allowed me to narrow down my search to people who said “Yes” to a question in the match questions list that they would be open to dating a transgender person. When I chose this option, my potential matches went from several hundred, to 8. So the truth is, that even if OkCupid updates their algorithm, I’m hardly optimistic that it’ll be much of a solution for me.