A lesbian dating app is under fire after it appeared to frame female homosexuality as a “hurdle” that needed to be “overcome” by trans-identified males.
On March 31, lesbian activist and TikToker Shay Woulahan posted screenshots originally circulated by HER, a dating app intended to cater to the lesbian community. The app offers searchable profiles in a similar fashion to Tinder and Bumble.
“@HERSocialApp is celebrating Trans Day of Visibility by framing lesbians sexual boundaries as “hurdles” that need to be overcome,” Shay wrote on her Twitter, posting a screenshot showing the results of a survey conducted by HER which apparently had sought user feedback on “trans-specific hurdles” experienced on dating apps.
Of the options, “trans-exlusionary preferences” took the lead with 35.2% of responses.
She later posted a second screenshot showing HER announcing it was taking steps to accommodate transgender users, with two new features in particular targeting “transphobia” on the app. One was called “Improved TERF control” which promised “severe penalties for transphobic language and behavior on the app.”
Shay’s posts quickly gained traction amongst women on Twitter, most expressing outrage at the apparent policing of lesbian women’s sexuality. Within a few hours, the app’s official social media mockingly responded.
But HER’s attempt at writing off Shay’s concerns weren’t received well, with many social media users piling under their tweet to make their voices heard.
As of the publication of this article, HER’s post has just 38 likes, but over 207 primarily furious replies. HER rapidly began blocking users criticizing their handling of the situation, and shortly after posted other tweets on their page condemning those disappointed with their responses as “TERFs.”
Speaking to Reduxx, Shay Woulahan said she was “disgusted” at how HER had framed female homosexuality as a “hurdle” to overcome, or “trans-exclusionary” preference.
Shay expressed concern that the “penalties” promised by HER for “transphobic behavior” would disproportionately impact lesbians who simply didn’t want to date trans-identified males. She pointed to her own experience being written off by the app’s official Twitter as an example.
“My tweet made no mention of trans people but instead stated that lesbians are allowed to have their sexual boundaries … if this what a ‘TERF’ is in their eyes, I am worried about how lesbians exerting their boundaries on the app will be treated.”
TERF is an acronym standing for ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist,’ but in recent years it has shifted to encompass almost any feminist who takes issue with the impact of gender ideology on women’s rights, as well as lesbians who establish sexual boundaries.
“The word … to me is a lesbophobic slur,” Shay explained, “I’ve been called it by trans-identified males for stating I am not interested in dating men.”
While Shay hasn’t used the app since entering a relationship, she says she’s seen similar behavior from HER in the past.
“I’m aware that some of the application’s moderators are trans-identified males, and I had noticed on social media [HER] had moved away from using the word lesbian and now uses the word ‘queer,’ which is most likely because of the exclusionary nature of lesbianism.”
The Thursday survey wasn’t the first time HER has come under fire for isolating lesbians in favor of males who identify as women.
In 2021, Australian Twitter user @shehersona tweeted out screenshots of four profiles she had found on HER in order to draw attention to the amount of males utilizing the app. But shortly afterward, her followers began to notify her that one of the profiles belonged to a violent criminal and pedophile.
Brandy Lee Gwyer, a biological male, had previously been arrested as recently as October of 2019 after going on a knife rampage on Hindley Street in Adelaide, Australia. Gwyer was tased and dropped by police after terrorizing patrons at the businesses along the street, ranting threats at them while wielding a large knife.
Gwyer was known for going on unhinged social media rants, including lashing out at Sky News Australia for “misgendering” him, suggesting all people of color were “homophobic,” using racial slurs, and claiming the 2019 knife-wielding incident was self-defense against transphobia.
More disturbingly, Gwyer had promoted child sexual abuse on his Facebook, where he wrote an extended post condemning the belief that pedophiles were rapists, while stating he didn’t “get off on penetrating kids,” and explicitly describing other ways he preferred to molest them instead.
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