A 36 year-old transsexual woman has accused flatmate finder website Gay Share of ignoring the trans community after she was unable to indicate her trans identity when looking for accommodation.
Melbourne-based restaurant manager Raphael Thomson said she believes it is unfair of the site to exclude trans people in the online profile filled out by users, while other users are able indicate they are gay, lesbian or straight.
Thomson said when she contacted Gay Share she was told to register as a straight woman and then include the fact that she was transsexual in separate introductory notes.
“I am proud of who I am and I don’t see why I should have to misrepresent myself,” Thomson told the Star Observer.
“I’m one voice but I wonder how many other girls out there feel unwelcome and won’t use the site, knowing they have to cheat themselves and have this whole pretence in order to be heard.
“I chose the Gay Share website because I felt it would give me the easiest and most comfortable way to find somewhere to live in an environment of like-minded people.”
Gay Share spokesman Guy Mitchell said in the past the site did allow trans users the option to identify they were trans. However, this option was removed in 2009 because it proved unsuccessful.
“Because of the volume of our service, to help people narrow down the 4000 listings on our website to a manageable amount, they can go through [and] tick the box for what they’re looking for,” Mitchell told the Star Observer.
“Unfortunately for [trans people], because we used to have the tick the box if you want transgender, no one ticked it and what this meant was transgenders never got any matches.
“In fact, having the classification for transgender allowed everybody else to marginalise them, so we don’t ask questions that would allow too many people to exclude you.”
Mitchell said the reason Gay Share instructed Thomson to indicate she was a straight female was to help her find a place to live.
“It’s really a problem with society, we don’t create the rules,” Mitchell said.
“We have to deal with the harsh reality of practicality, our ideas of what we’d like the world to be are completely irrelevant, because we have to deal with what happens out there in the big wide world and matching people.”
TransGender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner said it was disappointing the site did not cater as well for trans people as it did for gay and lesbian users.
“You’d hope in 2012 that there were better relations between gay, lesbian and trans people, but you’d also hope Gay Share approached this more positively,” Goldner said.
“If trans people are receiving lesser treatment, there’s no reason for Gay Share to capitulate this point of view. I think Gay Share needs to look carefully at what their policy is.”
Goldner said trans people often face discrimination when trying to find housing.
“It’s a huge issue,” she said.