As many of us experienced, the pandemic — and quarantine, specifically — proved to be a time of self exploration and discovery.
Some found labels that fit our sexual orientations better, while others began experimenting with new pronouns in safe living environments with loved ones for weeks on end.
But Josh Tint knew that there was still a group of people out there questioning their identities who didn’t have an outlet for that natural experimentation.
“It was such a time of self-reflection,” Tint shared with Good Good Good.
“I had several friends who started to transition or question their gender identity. It made me think of my own experience questioning my gender; it was so frustrating because there were really no good resources for questioning people. I wanted to create something that helped you figure out your name and pronouns for yourself, in a simple, discreet, stress-free environment.”
As a result, Tint developed the app Discover Me, and when he was a 19-year-old sophomore at Arizona State University, launched the app in Apple’s App Store.
Discover Me has a simple user interface; it lets users try on different names and pronouns, swiping left or right (like popular dating apps) to choose what feels right for them.
The app takes a chosen name and pronouns and puts it into sample text, like “Josh can speak three languages. He is very smart!” Users can play around with different options and determine whether they like a name or set of pronouns.
Tint used the app to come to his own conclusions about his gender identity and sexuality, validating that he is a cisgender bisexual man — and now he is a lot more conscious of his gender expression in everyday life.
Since its launch in 2022, the app has been downloaded and used by over 2,000 people.
“I’ve been so overjoyed to see the positive response to Discover Me since its launch,” Tint said.
“I’m glad that the first app I ever made is helping so many people. It’s always so wonderful each time someone leaves a comment about how it helped them personally. Not only that, but by making the project open-source, I’ve been able to interact and connect with other queer developers online, and that’s been an amazing experience.”
Tint’s efforts also led to him winning the Swift Student Challenge, a competition held by Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. This scholarship brought him the opportunity to meet Tim Cook and further grow his career in app development.
“I was able to give a demonstration of my app to Tim Cook, who is probably the most visible LGBTQ person in tech right now, and that experience was invaluable.”
Tint said Cook gave him some helpful suggestions and even connected him to LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like The Trevor Project.
Discover Me comes at an especially poignant time, where transgender and gender-nonconforming people are put especially at risk, through oppressive policies and bans on gender-affirming care nationwide. Now more than ever, they need resources to “express their pride,” Tint said.
“I wanted Discover Me to be a very private, and even comforting, experience,” he said. “I know many people that were scared to be open to their friends and family about their gender discovery, either because they did not have a supportive community, or simply because there is such a strong stigma against any form of gender questioning.”
Tint added that it was important to him to make sure that Discover Me keeps all users’ data private, while providing a positive and easy user experience.
“While politicians attempt to repress trans and gender-nonconforming people, technology like Discover Me gives us an avenue to discover ourselves and connect in spite of that,” he said.
As Tint continues his educational career at ASU, he maintains his technological ingenuity, seeking to constantly improve the app and develop others that provide support to folks who need it most.
He is currently working on adding more name samples to Discover Me, even generating “bespoke name samples” with the help of artificial intelligence.
Tint is also working on another app called Decompose Reader, which helps people with ADHD, dyslexia, or visual impairments read articles with improved reading speed and comprehension.
At the end of the day, Tint said, he just wants to help.
“I’m always looking for ways to give tools to marginalized people that tech has consistently ignored or left behind.”