How we made our app 100% inclusive— especially to those from the LGBTQI+ community
Last year, Gorilla Arm had the pleasure to work with the unbelievably talented Erika Lust — the ethical and award-winning adult filmmaker. Erika, one of the most famous feminist porn directors in the world, and her team came to us with a challenge to build a mobile app to help strengthen and refresh the sex lives of couples around the world, and to achieve this we built a fun game that couples can play together to discover more about their shared sexual interests.
If you’re not familiar with the XConfessions app, the app suggests games that can be played, or toys that can be used, or places you can go to explore a more interesting side of your sex lifer. Using a Tinder-style interface the app lets you and your partner independently swipe the cards that interest you, and later you’ll be notified of those cards that you and your partner are both interested in.
It was during the design phase of the app that we quickly realised that not every card is suitable for every person. Some of the ideas we were suggesting were suitable for only heterosexual couples, and others required either male or female genitalia to be able performed. And this got us thinking — how can we make sure this app is not just relevant for all of our users, but also appropriate for everyone.
To start our journey, we needed to focus on what types of “couples” we could be dealing with — since the app works exclusively between two connected users. We identified that most cards in the app would be relevant for any type of couple — whether that is a heterosexual or homosexual couple. But some cards did have specific gender-based requirements, so we knew early on we would need to know the gender of our users.
So the next question is — what genders should we support? How can we make sure that every one of our users feels completely included and represented in our app? For this, we got in touch with our good friend Lucy Fizz who generously offered her time to help us get this right.
We started by narrowing down the list of genders to the following: male, female, trans-male, trans-female, non-binary, or “I’d rather not say”. This way, we have everyone covered — those who identify as a certain gender can make their choice, and those who don’t have a non-binary option. And of course, if you don’t want to go into details, you have that option too.
Next, we wanted to make sure the cards we show certain users were the right cards for their chosen gender. Take for example a card which talks about breasts — should we be showing this to a trans-woman when we don’t know if she has breasts or not. What about a card that refers to ovulation? Obviously a trans-woman doesn’t experience ovulation. Lucy was direct: “If you’re not sure if it’s relevant — don’t show the card. If you’re going to show me options which aren’t relevant to me, why did you bother asking my gender in the first place?”.
So that’s what we did. We mark all our cards with the genders which are relevant to them. And we make extra special effort to be sure that trans and non-binary users aren’t shown content which might not be relevant to them. All the while making sure that all our users have the option to select the gender which is most relevant to them, without forcing them to choose one if they don’t want to.
So — you’re building an app or a platform, and you’re not sure which genders you should be asking your users to choose from? Well — firstly, you should ONLY ever ask this question if it has some relevance to your service. If it makes no difference, don’t even bother asking the question. That’s just common sense. And if gender does make a difference? Make sure you provide at least an option for everyone, as well as an option for those who just don’t want to answer that question. And whatever you do, if you ask someone to answer the question of how they identify, make sure you use that information wisely and tailor their experience to show you have taken account of their information. There’s nothing worse than asking the question, then ignoring the answer completely.
Happy 🌈 Pride Month 🌈 everybody! From everyone on the Gorilla Arm team.