What's the purpose of the gender field?

@nolo, can you elaborate on why it’s problematic for the platform to tell other members that “this is the gender of this user” (if it has been agreed upon and clearly stated* that this is done for the purposes of safety)? Is the concern that the “Woman/Man/Non-binary” trio is not inclusive enough for all gender identities? Or are you finding another concern?

*with e.g. an informational message upon inputting one’s gender

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Yeah, I saw other threads on this topic also, the ones where people suggested options to clearly state if you are looking for dates. That sounds encouraging indeed and I’m very happy nobody really liked the idea. But is it the same for having all genders in search/preferences? Especially since they were already there on CS and it won’t come out as “wow, they gave us a new tool for dating!”

Idk, we might have different experiences, I didn’t find CS that bad as it was. And now there’s going to be an improved reference system, an option to hide your profile, and also the ways to eliminate flirtatious messages/users are discussed. I feel that could be enough.

Also, I wouldn’t be that keen on it if there was a good alternative. But what can it be? Remove any gender filters and preferences? That sounds much more harmful than helpful to me.
And I don’t really like the choice between “any” and “same gender”, not only because of non-binary folks being left out, but also because it still kinda sends you a message “men are creeps”. I mean, @nolo here already wants his gender to be “unicorn” instead of “male” because he feels “male” has too many negative connotations (Nolo, hope I didn’t get you wrong). Why make all the nice guys feel ashamed of themselves or annoyed? I believe they are still the majority.

added All that said, I kinda continue to discuss it with myself and also start wondering if “preferred gender” is worth the trouble :joy: I think we could ask the girls who used it if it actually worked. And maybe really give that option only to girls. But I think the search should be there by any means, and it can be all-gender.

Yeah, Jesse, sorry, I mixed up the topics by mistake.
Anyway, I’m not sure it’s non-essential. I can ask a girl who used it if she really was getting fewer requests from men. Maybe smb else has friends who enabled it. If it does help, I think it should be there.

Why not! But it shouldn’t be the only option to find girls in the search or to state your preferences, that’s my point.
I thought it would be “same gender only” as in women only see women, men - men, non-binary - non-binary. I mean, if “same gender” for women also includes NB people, won’t all the creepy men suddenly become non-binary?

I kinda feel building features upon it IS the whole idea of the field. There are pronouns for just statement.

I totally get that it’s a possibility, but would that actually be a widespread practice? If you can only change your gender by manually contacting admins, that would really reduce the chance of misuse. And I doubt that the majority of ill-intentioned men would be diligent enough to read the rules of the platform, understand that Non-Binary will allow them “access” to women-only events, and therefore sign up on the platform with a false gender. Plus, those who do end up doing that would be reported basically as early as they meet someone in person. For me, the benefits of not excluding NB individuals far outweigh that risk. But only time will tell.

Well, they are diligent enough to find girls and write hi to each of them… I wouldn’t underestimate them really😂

My understanding also is that the hiding option could be very useful for women where it’s just culturally inappropriate to interact with male strangers (Muslim, to some extent Asian). I guess they would want to hide their profiles from everyone who, well, looks male, even if they don’t define themselves as such.

I’m really sorry for advocating against non-binary folks! Just speaking out my mind, maybe I’m very wrong

I do wonder how comfortable nonbinary people would feel staying with a host who has the preference to only host women. Same goes for nonbinary people hosting surfers who only want to stay with women hosts. It seems like women who would use the feature would probably have set expectations for who they would want to be interacting with, so it could be uncomfortable for everyone involved if the person isn’t within those expectations. I know I’d feel uncomfortable if I went to stay with a host and it was clear that I wasn’t who she was expecting or was comfortable hosting lol!

Maybe it could be like check boxes, where in the settings area when women choose the option to hide their profile based on gender they can choose between [x]only show my profile to women
[x]only show my profile to women and nonbinary people

The profile hiding option is definitely separate from the gender filter feature. Should Couchers have just the profile hiding option or both?


Okay, but you could similarly argue that certain cis women, who have chosen to show their profile to only women, could feel uncomfortable with a non-passing trans woman interacting or surfing with them. That doesn’t mean that we should allow cis women to exclude trans women from their interaction circles. Similarly, we shouldn’t allow cis women to automatically exclude non-binary individuals (who may pass as more masculine or more feminine) when hosting or surfing. You can always take a deeper dive into a person’s profile and judge whether you would be comfortable with them.

My current personal preference (which is fluid given all these discussions) is:

  • separate the gender filter feature (for hosting and surfing), the gender filter feature for hangouts, and with the gender filter feature for who one shows their profile to. (i.e. 3 separate possibilities).
  • allow women to show their profile only to women (perhaps in that case excluding Non Binary individuals is okay as a checkbox option, since this will cater to a very specific population of women)
  • for the people who don’t use the Hide feature, allow the hosting status to be automated so that the “Request” button doesn’t appear for the populations that they are not comfortable staying with.
  • for that feature, don’t allow excluding non-binary individuals for hosting and surfing. Women can choose “Women an NB only” or “any gender” and men can choose “Men and NB only” or “any gender.” I believe that ill-intentioned people who try to abuse this situation by faking their gender would be quickly reported.
  • for searching on the map, anyone can filter for any gender. Yes, that can mean that certain individuals will selectively reach out and try to harass people of a certain sex, but there can be other measures in place (profile hiding, filtering low quality messages, and inclusively-designed preferred gender options for hosting) to prevent that.

What do others think?


Because we will end up to tell some members “Hey, this is not your gender”, or “you can’t state this gender”, or even just “you have to state your gender”. That’s why I think we should stay clear of building automated features that are just based on the gender field.

Idk, for me personally stating my gender is a political statement: I want to live in a diverse society, be part of a diverse community. I don’t want society be organized by gender. That’s what I’d like to state and it’s not related to pronouns.

Though certainly the option to filter would also be a feature:

And I’d favor Couchers having only the filter option. Let users filter for gender, a field that can hold any value. Then look for different solutions to build safety features.

Because I think the option to hide profiles is in the end rather complex. To base it on one or two check-boxes, we’ll be making a bunch of implicit decisions on behalf of users. But there’s a design principle to build consensual software: don’t assume implicit consent, ask for explicit confirmation.

If we want to do that, to me something more like a group, based on explicit membership, seems to offer better options.


Should political statements go before safety on a hospex platform? After all, you have your profile text and blank field in pronouns to write anything you wish.

If everyone goes creative and puts unicorns and stuff there, how will the filter work? Show me unicorns and don’t show goblins?


No, and I’d say that’s not what I’ve been arguing. I’m very much for building safety features. But I gave a personal example why I wouldn’t want to state my gender as “Man”, but at the same time don’t think I should be part of a “Women only” feature. @tonga246 gave a different personal reason. So I guess there will be potentially more than these two.

Overall, I think we can’t embrace gender diversity on one hand - and then build a feature on top of it that basically works on a binary distinction. It’s like saying: “Ok, these diverse markers are all nice and fancy. But for the sake of safety, let’s please get real: are you in the women group, or in the men group?”

Yes, why not? For the same argument as above: I think gender is a good marker of and for diversity. But it’s a bad single metric to divide a community into functional groups. Better to do that with membership based groups in the first place. Like:

  • I want to be member of the group “women hosting and staying with women”
  • I want to exclusively engage on Couchers as member of this group

This is a valid point. I do see why you wouldn’t want to be included in a women-only feature. But no one would be forcing you to take part in an event that is designed for women only, even if you technologically have this capability. Other individuals who selected “nonbinary” could feel more comfortable being included in the women group (e.g. some people who use she/they pronouns).

I don’t agree that building a safety feature (especially one where NB individuals cannot be automatically filtered out, as I have been suggesting) sends out this message. Quite the opposite; it leaves it up to the non-binary individuals to decide which group they can most identify with. The one exception to that for me could be the option to “show my profile only to women,” which I personally see as an option targeted towards a very specific subset of women to ensure their safety. What aspect of the discussion/design that I am missing sends you that message?


In terms of the ability to arbitrarily describe your gender, I totally get that it must feel very restrictive to have to input “Non Binary” as your broadcast gender when that does not authentically represent you; I don’t think it’s as trivial as just a “political statement” to identify yourself.

One suggestion I have is possibly expand the drop-down list of available genders, so that people can more accurately describe their gender identity. Computationally, the safety features could treat all genders that are neither “man” or “woman” as one entity; however, users could filter for a specific gender. For example, the options could be:

Which of the following gender identities best represents you?

  • Woman
  • Man
  • Non-Binary
  • Genderfluid
  • Genderqueer
  • Agender

with a note saying “If your gender identity is not represented by this list, please contact so-and-so with your suggestions” - this way, we could keep expanding the list, but if someone wants to be a smarta*s and invent a gender identity just to be able to bypass the safety features, we can prevent that through a manual check.

I wonder if we should conduct a survey among individuals with diverse gender identities, to really find out what people need, because right now there’s like 4 of us trying to figure out a very multifaceted and complicated problem… :sweat_smile:

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There were suggestions to make it “other” or “non-binary/other” also

Well, I am not saying it should be that way. I think search filters should have checkboxes for every gender separately (so I can choose one or several), and hiding option should be literally same gender only, without secretly including anyone.

Before “search filter will be abused by men” starts - how, if you have, say, a spam filter? (as was discussed in another thread)

Actually, that way the third option could be other and a blank space. It won’t give any benefits anyway, so shouldn’t be abused.

I quite like the idea of changing the current “non-binary” to “non-binary/other” and then directing users to provide a more detailed description of their gender identity in their profile (if they want to). I think this change is rather easy and helps resolve at least part of the concern with the current way we display gender.

While we do want to enable self-expression on the platform, I think the main reason why we ask for gender is for the purpose of safety features, as others mentioned before. With that said, @nolo 's previous comment got me thinking: Could we get away with not displaying gender at all on the profile, but just store it on the backend for safety features? We would of course still show pronouns to everyone since people will need to know how to refer to the person. But I think the answer to that question is no, because of the following issues that would result in the disadvantages outweighing the advantages:

  1. It could cause a lot of confusion among a lot of users.
  2. People might select the wrong gender and not realize it because they wouldn’t see it unless they are reading their own profile
  3. I think many people (whether right or wrong) would be upset at the fact that they are unable to share their gender on their profile more clearly and would result in users using other ways to show they are a certain gender (eg: choosing a more masculine or feminine photo so that their gender is “clear” rather than just picking a “normal” photo of themselves, or writing a paragraph on their profile about how they are a woman or man, etc)

Political correctness will be the death of us. Here is the mindset of couchers,
couchsurfers, and other travel sites:

Women seeking women hosts/surfers - OK
Women seeking men hosts/surfers - OK
Men seeking men hostS/surfers - OK (but kind of homo)
Men seeking women hosts/surfers - CREEPS! RUN AWAY!


I’d find “women seeking men hosts/surfers” to be creepy too, but at least it is statistically no where near as likely to end in assault


What exactly is the point you are trying to make? Political correctness has nothing to do with this; in fact, this entire discussion about “women seeking women ok,” “men seeking men ok,” “men seeking women CREEPY” is the opposite of politically correct. It is heteronormative. We are all just trying to figure out how to solve a very existing safety problem that, unfortunately, has a high correlation with gender.


I would do the simple thing, sex: woman or man (would facilitate algorithm to filter, hide, show, by sex) and gender should be aside as an open text field (with no filter), used to write your gender, just informative. Easy.

In the text field aside the gender, you can type the unicorn, or type whatever your gender is. Couchers is a platform for host, so anybody who try to hangout with opposite sex, would find the algorithms that we need to work in and evict to try to date. The references are important and read my proposal too.

My proposal is create a balancing algorithm:

Woman and man will be able to host same sex or any sex (two options, easy). BUT if you choose any sex the algorithm will work: the algorithm should balance the quantity of women or men the host accepts according with a number X… and count from zero every time the user change their option, so evict trying to hack the control (always there will be people trying to take advantage of any platform in someway)…

So, if you are John Doe and want to accept “any sex”, % or counting difference should matter. (The second option (counter) will be better to create the algorithm than % for easy coding I guess)…

Example: if the difference is 3 (my number X) women hosted against 0 men, the next person that John Doe is able to accept will be a man. Period… if He accept 1 man, the counter will be 3-1 (able to host another woman), he will host later another woman counter will be 4-1. So if he tries to host and accept a request from a woman, he wont be able until he host a man again. In my example the counter difference is of 3.

The algorithm should be able to let this man, accept more men than women. So the counter could be women 5-15 men for example… and in a city full of men, the platform will be working.

The same would be for women, with the algorithm inverted. Take account that this is for who choose to host Both Sex. If user wants to hack the counter changing the option of host every 3 women, would be able to change this option after 1 year. Easy.

The gender field text would be just informative, so for example, John Doe is “man” (sex) that is “unicorn”(gender), is not comfortable accepting “straight” (gender) guys, will be able to decide to reject or accept a request. and obviously would be able to accept more than 3 man “unicorn” if he wants. Make sense? If John Doe is “man” (sex) and “unicorn”(gender), wont be able to accept more women than men with more than 3 count of difference. If he want to host women, he has to balance his counter.

The users doesnt need to see this counter, it is just a hidden thing,

Take into account that man or women being unicorn, or whatever gender is but straight, would be able to use the app for dating in any option. But I think that in this matter, doesn’t matter. Unicorns are not predators. Well, I don’t know.

Click on Like if you like my proposal.

@jcdelascasas I am intrigued by your algorithm idea, but I just want to interject because you are saying some inaccurate information (at least for the English language) that I wanted to clarify:

Sex = biological, so male, female, intersex. Has to do with what the doctor assigned you as when you came out of your mom :slight_smile:
Gender (identity/expression) = what you identify and express yourself as (man/woman/non-binary/other/etc.
Sexual orientation = who you are attracted to (gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, etc.)

Under these definitions, I don’t see how biological sex should play into the equation here, and in this situation it may be harmful. I think using math to try to analyze user’s behavior and prevent predatory actions is really interesting! I would just use gender and not sex in the equation.


My idea is to make the simple thing with 2 variables.

As you can see for example, in the profile of Facebook. I see this section as the image below:

Screen Shot 2021-08-12 at 23.44.35

They have 3 options, Sex: Woman, Man and Personalized where Personalized appears the option Gender with 10 options… But this matter will complicate the maths with the algorithm.

Gender would be as I post, a text, so any can express their indentity… That also doesnt complicate the algorithm.

I just used what is used in other platforms, where you chose sex, woman or man… but you are right, intersex should be the third option. The Intersex option you mentioned, will include one more variable to be inclusive with them. and that variable could be out of the algorithm, I dont see a Intersex as a predator. So intersex would be free of the algorithm :stuck_out_tongue: to host any one at any proportions.

The biological sex, or sex option plays all in the algorithm to decrease the intent of predators. Gender is many options and would be difficult algorithm to design.

I understand you want to find a solution to predatory users, but sex is not relevant in even guessing the behaviour of users. Biological sex is irrelevant for Couchers, we are not here to look out for our users’ reproductive health or medical situation.