"I don’t want them to not know": Investigating decisions to disclose transgender identity on dating platforms

Julia R. Fernandez, Jeremy Birnholtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Dating platform research often focuses on people’s decisions about when to reveal certain aspects of themselves to others, or self-disclosure. One example is deciding what to include in one’s profile and what to reveal in chat conversations or in person. Transgender people face a particularly acute challenge in self-disclosure, but we know little about how they experience it on dating platforms. Revealing trans status can result in physical or emotional harm, but is also often considered necessary for a successful relationship and for self-fulfillment. To better understand disclosure of sensitive information, we interviewed 20 transgender dating platform users in the U.S. We find that direct, proactive disclosure of trans status was motivated by desires for safety and certainty, though this could involve tension. Physical separation and one-to-many communication surface as key affordances that facilitated disclosure. These results help us better understand motivations behind disclosure decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number226
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2019



  • Gender identity
  • Online dating
  • Privacy
  • self-disclosure
  • Self-presentation
  • Stigma
  • Transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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