Here is a copy of what I wrote in the OKCupid feedback form in response to their proposed policy change that would require real first names instead of custom usernames by the end of 2017.
Dear OKC team,
I’ve been a user since 2004, I met my spouse here, and I’ve had many relationships ranging from casual to long term that started on your site. I love a lot about your site and I am usually a fan of your changes, especially those to reduce unwanted and harassing messages. I’m not the type to complain every time someone releases a new feature, even if I’m not a fan.
However, I sincerely hope that by “real name policy” you don’t mean to police that like Facebook has done to the detriment and harm of transgender people. For many people, the name that everyone knows them by is not the name on their government issued ID. And forcing someone to use a real name not only violates their privacy but can cause extreme emotional harm and potential violence towards them. It has driven many trans people off of Facebook and I truly hope that you won’t undo the great work you put in with your expanded gender options by forcing us to use our “birth names” which many of us call our dead names.
As a nonmonogamous person, I also know that many people are not “out” about their identity to family and coworkers because we have no workplace protections or laws to protect us from societal harm. Almost every polyamorous person I know is on OKC but a LOT of them will be leaving soon if you enforce this rule.
Then there’s the safety concern in general, especially for women, who are opening themselves up to stalkers by having a profile with their real name. Being on OKC and revealing the kinds of personal details we do already contains a huge amount of risk, especially for queer, feminine, transgender, nonbinary, nonmonogamous people like me. And having that data attached to our real name is not only going to drive a large portion of your loyal users away, but it will likely cause a lot of those who stay to be more cautious about what they share, harming their potential for building successful relationships.
People have a lot of options for dating sites these days and most of us are here because right now you are the best, particularly around nonmonogamy, gender, and sexuality. Please don’t ruin a good thing by forcing real names.
If you are an OKCupid user and you have opinions about the change, please take a moment to speak up on Twitter, use their feedback form, or comment on their blog post.
Update: They seem to have clarified on their Twitter:
We love our members. You do not need to use your government name or even your full first name. Use the name, nickname, or initials you’d like your date to call you on OkCupid.
3 thoughts on “An open letter to OKCupid about the proposed “Real Name” policy”
Reblogged this on Valprehension and commented:
I just heard about this new OKC policy shortly before this post popped into my feed. OKCupid is planning to replace usernames with people’s first names (presumably to be more like Tinder?) There’s a whole pile of reasons why this is a shitty idea, and the Bearded Genderqueer makes the point very clearly here.
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Holy heck, their post about the policy change is fucking condescending and antagonistic, too. I am straight-up *pissed* right now.
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Hell’s bells, if “real name” is what they were talking about, that’s no clarification, it’s an out-and-out retraction! I’m glad they did it, but jeez! (I’m not on OKC, and I’m cis-het, but I try to be a helpful ally, and the GLTBQ groups in my congregation are glad to have me in their events.)