When "lesbian" dating app HER launched in the U.S. three years ago, it was a game-changer for queer women. Before, there wasn't a successful dating app made specifically for women who love women (because, FYI, HER isn't just a lesbian dating app: Bisexual and queer women can use it, too). Gay men had Grindr, straight people had Tinder (and about 5,000 other dating apps), but queer women were forced to use apps made with other people in mind. Sure, we could (and still do) use Tinder, but as HER's co-founder Robyn Exton realized, queer women date differently. So Tinder isn't as useful to women who are swiping on women as it is for women swiping on men.
For cisgender (meaning, not transgender) lesbians, bisexual women, and otherwise queer women, the app breathed new life into our dating options. This was a space clearly built for us. But a lot has changed in the last few years: The LGBTQ+ community and the world at large has become more inclusive and understanding of fluid gender identities, gender expressions, and sexualities. So HER is changing with the times. The app launched a new look Thursday morning, getting rid of the hidden-undies logo (the 'E' looks like a woman wearing bikini-cut underwear) that was once funny but now seems a little too exclusive. Because, truthfully, many queer women would never wear bikini-cut underwear and many people who use the app don't even identify as women.
"The amazing thing about the queer community is that it's so wildly broad and people are now questioning, challenging, and thinking about their identity and then expressing it," Exton says. So, the new logo no longer makes assumptions about what a woman's body looks like, and instead uses an 'E' that has four bars instead of three to represent the idea of fluidity.
And it's not only the logo that's getting an upgrade. If you look at the images and words used to describe HER on their social media feeds, on app stores, or even in the app itself, you'll notice a change. Exton and the HER crew recruited 43 of the app's users for a photoshoot and are using those photos to promote the app. But they didn't just choose any 43 people, they specifically chose people who represent a vast spectrum of the LGBTQ+ people who use HER. In the new images you'll see people of many different races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and sizes.
This kind of inclusivity is a big change for an app that, when it originally launched under the name Dattch in 2014, didn't have space for trans men or non-binary people. And it's indicative of a change in the LGBTQ+ community at large. Not only are cisgender and monosexual (meaning, people who are interested in only one gender) people becoming more accepting of people who have fluid gender identities and sexual orientations, but LGBTQ+ people are more likely to claim a fluid identity. So, when Exton and her co-founders first made HER, it made sense to make an app specifically for women. "But over the last three years, that has changed dramatically," she says. "Not only because [queer women] do have a space now, but because now the people in our community identify differently." It's important to Exton for HER to be a space that all queer women and non-binary people feel is theirs. So, in addition to the logo change and the new photos, HER has been using the more-inclusive "womxn" (which includes trans women and feminine-identifying non-binary people as well as cisgender women) on their ads.
LGBTQ+ people who use the app can now also sign up for communities, a new feature released along with the rebrand. Right now, HER communities is opening with 11 groups, some of which specifically serve the populations that HER's new look is trying to bring in. "We wanted to specifically serve communities of people who don't necessarily have safe spaces for fearless exploration," says Noa Gutterman, HER's senior growth marketer. So they made sure to create groups for queer womxn of color and for transgender womxn because queer people need space to talk to each other and ask questions about identity, relationships, sex, and many other things that growing up in an assumed-straight-until-proven-gay world never teaches us.
Of course, the app is still called "HER" and made intentionally with queer women in mind, so some LGBTQ+ people, like masculine-identifying non-binary people and transgender men, might still feel uncomfortable using it. But that's totally fine, Exton says, because there's value in having an app made for womxn. "HER was created intentionally for queer womxn. We had zero products out there for us and that's who we were built for and who we think about when we design experiences," she says. But that doesn't mean that HER excludes any queer person who feels supported by the app. While some transgender men might feel that signing up for a dating app called HER isn't right for them, some might still enjoy using it to meet queer women. And that's wonderful, Exton says. "For people who feel supported by [HER] and allied by it, we say 'come on in.'"