[This post originally appeared on Bristlr’s blog.]

Bristlr has had a successful journey so far, and we’re always pushing that journey further. We’ll be bringing various updates and upgrades to the app over the coming months. Our first update is the option to select your gender when creating your profile. Also, you can filter your searches by gender.

We once said we wouldn’t be bringing gender options to Bristlr until we can do it right. We may not have cracked the code yet, but we’re making a start. As always we’re open to feedback. In fact, we’re actively encouraging it here! We’ll be adding more gender options; if your gender isn’t represented, let us know and we’ll make sure you are.

Why are we adding Gender to Bristlr?

Queer, Bi and Gay Beards on Bristlr

When Bristlr first arrived we had no gender options. Instead, we had the option to search for people with beards, people without beards, or both. We made no assumptions of gender based on whether or not someone has a beard.

According to John Kershaw, founder of Bristlr, this was “to make Bristlr as open as possible to everyone. I figured if you’re going to split people down a binary, why not make that about beards?”

In theory this was perfect; everyone is welcome regardless of gender or sexuality. In practice, it made searching and matching a little difficult for some of you. Couple that with a lot of press labeling us as an app for ‘bearded men and women that love beards’, Bristlr started to seem less inclusive than we wanted it to be.

So after much research, internal debate, feedback, and a chat with Robyn Exton, founder of the dating app for LGBTQ women ‘Her‘, we decided to make some changes.

As one example: previously men struggled to find other beardy men interested in men on Bristlr. With the gender filtering, you can identify as male and say they’re interested in other men. Bristlr will do the matching from there, ensuring you’ll only see people interested in you.

John again; “We’ve had nearly three years without gender, so the switch is going to be a little awkward. As a middle step, the new gender filtering is very broad; if you select you want to see men, we’ll show you everyone who didn’t select ‘woman’ on their profile.”

What’s next for Bristlr’s Journey of Inclusivity?

The LGBTQ Spectrum - all welcome on Bristlr!

Bristlr is for everyone, the only thing you really need to join us is a love of beards. Inclusivity is super important to us, and we want to make sure we get it right! Your feedback is going to play a big role in that.

For now you’re able to express your gender on Bristlr, and we’re including a functional text-box for custom fields. If your gender identity is missing from our app or it’s not working for you, let us know!

On the sexuality options, John said “we’re not adding a selection for sexuality. Instead we’re asking who you are (when it comes to gender), and who you’d like to meet.” You’re still able to write your sexuality in your profile and express your identity in that way if you like. And we’re working on  improving that too!

Got some feedback for us? Whether it’s adding in new gender options or any new features, we’re listening. Get in touch through our FAQ page