Tinder adds sexual orientation feature

Tinder wants to make it easier for everyone to express their sexuality.

The dating app announced Tuesday that people will be able to select up to three terms that best describe their sexual orientation within an “orientation” tab in its app. Previously, people were limited to selecting a preference of “men,” “women,” or “both.”

In collaboration with GLAAD, Tinder said it has selected nine initial terms from which people can choose, including Straight, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Asexual, Demisexual, Pansexual, Queer and Questioning. For new users, the option to select from these terms will be part of the sign-up process.

While initially designed for more heteronormative dating, the company has worked in recent years to address the growing calls for inclusivity within its community. Tinder, owned by IAC’s Match Group, says the decision to add the sexual orientation options comes in response to feedback from users and an internal survey. Among the findings: about 56% of the 1,000 individuals surveyed said they’d be interested in dating apps or websites that give them more options in how to express sexual orientation.

The user selections will be taken into account for surfacing potential matches. People can also choose to display the terms on their profile.

“We want all of our users to feel empowered expressing who they are while connecting with new people — and we’re always working to make that easier for our users on Tinder,” said Tinder CEO Elie Seidman in a statement.

Tinder said the orientation terms may evolve over time and that it is open to receiving feedback from users.

While dating apps such as Bumble — which lets women make the first move — and gay dating app Grindr have more specific premises to attract users, Tinder appeals broadly to singles looking to quickly and simply find matches nearby.

Tinder revamped its approach to gender identity in 2016 in response to harassment against transgender people on its platform. Transgender women, for example, were being wrongfully reported as “fake” on the platform by other users over selecting “female’ as their gender; the app, at the time, only had a “male” or “female” identity option.

To address this, Tinder partnered with GLAAD to add 37 gender options that allow for people to identify as a “trans man,” “trans woman” or “transgender.” The sexual orientation roll-out is the next step.

“I think this change is a pretty simple one, but the impact is going to be felt most by the people who felt they couldn’t be who they were on the platform,” GLAAD’s chief communications officer, Rich Ferraro, told CNN Business.

Tinder says it will allow users to opt to see people of their same orientation first, but won’t let people filter out by sexual orientation. For example, if a user identifies as a straight man, they may be matched with a trans woman who is interested in men.

The new feature will initially be available in English-speaking markets.

Tinder is taking a page from something OKCupid did years ago: The dating service, which is also owned by IAC’s Match Group, has 22 genders available and 13 sexual orientations. Unlike Tinder, OKCupid has an option for people who identify as “gay” or “bisexual” to opt to not see or be seen by straight people within the app. This preference can be set in OKCupid’s “orientation” tab.