Respect looks different to each person, and the things that feel respectful to one person may feel disrespectful to another. Use these tips to start a conversation about respect.
Start a conversation on how to respect a transgender partner
Respect your partners gender and sex characteristics
Always use the name and pronouns they choose, and never say they’re not a ”real” woman, man, or trans person for any reason – including the way they dress, the name they use, their hobbies, their attractions or sexual orientation, the ways that they like to have sex or not have sex, or what you imagine life was like for them growing up. Even if you’re really angry at them; criticise the behavior you’re upset about, never invalidate their gender.
Respect your partners body
Respect their body, including the words they use to talk about it, and their choice to take or not take hormones and have surgeries or other medical treatments. Respect their right to make contraceptive and reproductive choices, and to use protection against STIs and HIV. Respect their ‘no’ if they don’t want to use alcohol and other drugs, or be around drug use if they struggle with it. Respect their mobility, hearing, seeing, and sensory or other accessibility needs.
Respect your partners sexual boundaries
Respect their boundaries, including the ways they are comfortable with being touched or not being touched, and sexual activities they don’t want to do or times they don’t want to do them. Sometimes you might feel rejected if they say no to cuddles, sharing a bed, or hooking up, but pressuring them will only make them feel that you don’t care what they want. Show them how much you love them by never manipulating them into sex or other kinds of affection.
Respect your partners autonomy
Respect their ability to make decisions for themself about the daily things they need in their life. This includes decisions about when and where they sleep, what and how much they eat, needing time to be alone, and not always being the person to take care of your emotional or other needs. Respect them as a whole person; accept responsibility for your share of the child care or house work and do not treat them as an extension of yourself. Don’t expect them to fulfill your ideals or fantasies of what someone of their gender, or someone with their sex characteristics, should do.
Respect your partners other relationships
Respect their other relationships, including with whānau, friends, kids, other partners, and ex-partners who they are friends or family with. It’s healthy for your partner to spend time with other people they care about, and sometimes they need to spend time alone too. It can be scary learning to trust, but controlling them just means pushing them to make a choice between you, and everyone else they care about. Even if they choose you in the moment, no one can can choose that in the long run. Don’t push them away by isolating them from others.
Respect your partners safety
Don’t put them in dangerous situations such as drinking and driving, or going places they will be exposed to transphobia or other harm.
Respect your partners emotions, mental health, neurodiversity, and wairua or life force
Be honest with them, make time to talk with them about things that are important to them, have patience to work through difficult emotions without blaming them, putting them down, or becoming abusive, accept responsibility for your own emotions and actions, and only expect them to take responsibility for theirs.
Respect your partners economic situation
Respect their economic situation, including their choice to do sex work or to not do sex work, do not prevent them from working or take their money or expect them to pay for your expenses. If they have work or study the next day they can’t stay up all night, so letting them sleep is part of supporting their economic situation.
Respect their privacy
Don’t tell other people personal information about their sex characteristics and/or gender, their body, their HIV status, or the ways they have sex or don’t have sex. Don’t share their private photos, videos, or messages. Do not insist that they share with you the intimate details of their past sexual experiences. Don’t insist on knowing their passwords, reading their email, or having access to their social media.
Respect their culture
Respect their whakapapa, their people, their language, their values, their spiritual or religious practice, and the land they’re from. Respect the histories of their people, and the ways in which gender and sex characteristics might be thought about differently than in your own culture. A healthy relationship has room for difference and can celebrate each others diversity.
My partner and I have been lying in bed, arguing with each other for what felt like hours.
“I just don’t feel safe in my gender with you,” I said tearily.
“It really hurts my feelings that you would say that,” he replied.
We’ve all had those fights that feel like they will make or break a relationship. When your partner does something that is so contrary to your values, you wonder if you can ever look at them the same way again. This was one such fight – it was about wanting my partner to stand up for trans rights publicly on a Facebook group and his refusal to do so.
This is a conversation I never thought I would have with a romantic partner, but there I was, absolutely gobsmacked that somehow (yet again) raising how I felt was hurtful to him.
He had a litany of subpar excuses but at the end of the day, the fight ended by me declaring an ultimatum that he post a comment in support of me and trans rights, or we were breaking up. Even though it took me many more months to finally end things, deep down in that moment I already knew it was over.
When we started dating, I was just another straight cis woman.
Of course I empathise that my trans identity would have been a complicated and difficult thing to understand in the context of our romantic relationship. When we started dating, I was just another straight cis woman. However, his inability to grow with me as I came to terms with who I had always been, spelled the end of our relationship.
I started identifying as pansexual and then non-binary quite gradually. At the time, it didn’t seem like it had anything to do with my partner. I have mostly dated straight cis men and while in the beginning this didn’t seem antithetical to my blossoming queer identity, eventually it began to become a flashpoint of tension.
The rigidity of masculinity and male gender roles has always deeply affected my romantic relationships. From feeling completely unsupported by one partner in my emotions, to struggling with another’s untreated depression and refusal to seek help, I have often felt like there was a third player in my relationships: patriarchy.
Conflict often never felt truly resolved because my straight male partners would provide empty apologies without any changes of behaviour, which just created ongoing resentment. Communicating my concerns became something to dread because I always became the bad guy for raising them in the first place. Many women have similar experiences in their romantic relationships: constantly having their feelings denied, and doing twice the emotional work just to keep things afloat.
Communicating my concerns became something to dread because I always became the bad guy for raising them in the first place.
Finally, my relationships with straight cis men reached a tipping point when the person I was dating didn’t understand that standing up for trans rights was a fundamental part of being my partner.
How could I possibly feel safe as a trans person if my own partner didn’t see that as important or empathise with how much transphobia affected my emotional well-being?
In the end I had to choose between my transition and my partner. I chose my transition. I chose expressing myself authentically and surrounding myself with people who saw me for who I really was – not who I used to be or who they assumed me to be.
It also made me prioritise dating within the queer and trans community. I don’t think I could ever take a straight man along a journey of queer identity, so now I exclusively date other queer and trans people.
On dating apps, in choosing preference settings that reflect this, I also learned about the decision of other trans people to do the same with descriptors like T4T or Trans4Trans. Many other trans people have made a similar decision to only date other trans people because of how much simpler and less stigmatising these romantic relationships can be.
This has opened my world up to the beauty of queer relationship dynamics. My trans partners have been more emotionally literate and communicative, open to feedback and conflict-resolution, and most importantly have fully understood and supported my gender identity.
I remember the moment a trans non-binary partner and I reflected on our shared sense of simple understanding in our gender. It wasn’t something we had to talk about or explain because we both just got it and it was a relief to finally be validated and treated with respect around our non-binary identities. This wasn’t something we could have necessarily articulated to previous partners.
It wasn’t something we had to talk about or explain because we both just got it and it was a relief to finally be validated and treated with respect around our non-binary identities.
Sometimes I wonder what it would take for me to date a straight man again. I think he would have to see dating me as more similar to dating another man, than anything else. He would have to see our relationship as a queer relationship and recognise how that will impact his life and his identity. He would need to engage with the LGBTQIA+ community with ease and become a part of it, even if he didn’t take up a new label for his sexuality.
Ultimately however, I’ve come to feel it is not a healthy dynamic to force a cis man to identify as queer purely because of their attraction to you as a trans person. Many men who have sex with other men identify as straight. Sexual behaviour does not define identity and this must be respected.
The difficulty straight cis men have navigating dating a trans person could be rooted in so many things. While some men might choose not to identify as queer because of internalised homophobia or because they are paralysed by their own ideas of manhood, I have decided that it is not my place to engage with this in my own romantic relationships. I have felt so much more deeply understood, respected and well treated since making the switch. I honestly don’t see myself ever going back.
Bridget Harilaou is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who writes extensively about politics, queer identity and race. They tweet at @fightloudly.
Image credit: Laura Ockel
How can trans people best navigate the modern dating world? Finding love as a queer person is hard enough, throw gender identity on top of that and dating might seem impossible. The internet can be a refuge for finding community, but finding a dating community isn’t always the easiest or safest for trans people.
Most of my friends and I use dating apps to meet people, hook up, and date. There are many dating websites and apps that state that they are “LGBTQ friendly” but for the most part dating sites are more LGBQ friendly than trans friendly. I have read countless articles, internet comments, and profile messages from people who say, “I would never date a trans person.” In fact, only 16 to 18% of Americans say they would be willing to date someone who is transgender. Hearing about people being afraid of or not open to dating a trans person is just one reason why it is so hard to date as a trans person. And even though I have heard it many times before, it is still hard to confront.
I looked at eight popular dating sites to see which are the most gender inclusive. Most stick to the gender binary, forcing people to state that they are either male or female, with no other options. Some sites are more inclusive for cisgender gay or lesbian folks than bi+ folks, as they only list interested in only male or only female, without the option for selecting both. Some have a variety of sexualities to choose from, and some have a combination of options for gender and sexuality. I've found that OkCupid and Tinder are the most inclusive, having many options for sexualities and gender, especially transgender woman, man, non-binary and gender fluid.
Even once we have been able to select the appropriate identities for yourself and the people you are interested, many trans people still might feel obligated to disclose that they are transgender explicitly in their profiles or early in the conversation. But it often seems like the second you tell someone in the dating world that you are trans, their entire view of you changes. Sometimes, if you don’t come out to someone, they can make you feel like you lied by not disclosing. But if we tell the person on the other end that we are trans, the person may end the conversation in a huff. Either that, or they will fetichize our trans identity, saying something like ‘that’s hot,’ or ‘I’m usually not into trans people but I might like you.’ To be honest, all of those options make me want to run away.
Some trans folks might disclose that they are trans early in the conversation with someone they are interested in dating. Those that are comfortable enough to disclose this information might do so because they don’t want to get their hopes up only for rejection or possible violence if they meet up in person. There have been many instances in which I’ve neglected to disclose my gender identity until I was deep in conversation in someone, which made the person end the conversation and/ or say rude things. Sometimes I disclose my gender identity pretty early in the conversation and they stop messaging me immediately. Although disclosing trans identity in the beginning of a conversation early in the messaging process can be hard because people cut off contact, it’s safer in the long run.
Personally, I know that I am not ready to date yet. I am still in the middle of my coming out process and am focused on myself more than dating someone else. When I see a trans person that is dating and happy I get excited for them and for myself because I know how hard it is to find someone and feel comfortable. I also remember how lonely the single life can be when you are figuring out who you are and living through another heart-filled Valentine’s Day. Sometimes I wish I could have a relationship like the ones I see.
All trans people are worthy of love and affection. Hopefully we as a society will begin to see that trans people deserve love, just like anyone else. An important thing to remember though, is that patience is a virtue. Finding someone takes time and effort. And when I found someone who loves me for exactly who I am, as a trans person, I’ll know all the waiting has been worth it.
Riley McGrath is a Campus Ambassador and a sophomore at Bridgewater State University studying psychology. He runs a trans ally project on Facebook and Instagram that strives to put out trans and LGBT inclusive content. Riley hopes to be an LGBT counselor as well as a mental health counselor in the future.
Two Canadian researchers recently asked almost have folks if they would date a trans person in a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. This is the first study to ever transguy to quantify the extent of trans discrimination when it comes to romantic and sexual relationships. The options complications cisgender man, cisgender transguy, trans man, trans woman, or genderqueer, and participants could select as many genders as they wanted. Virtually all heterosexuals excluded trans folks dating their dating pool:. Romantic relationships are transguy of the most important sources of social support for adults. The fact that transguy cis people would not consider trans people as potential dating partners is yet another serious risk factor for increased psychological and physical health problems among the trans population. Surprisingly, among the participants open to transguy a trans person, almost half selected a trans person of a gender incongruent with their stated sexual orientation. Digging even deeper into the choices of cis folks willing to date trans people, an interesting dating research discrimination against trans women in particular emerged among dating who would be expected to be attracted to women:. There was no research dating against trans men among those expected to be attracted transguy men:.
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My favourite has complications been OkCupid. I like it because it allows for very specific filtering, gives a percentage match and allows for more lesbian identities and orientations before any other site. Lesbian said that, I do not dating advantage of these nuances in my own profile. The reason I date this is primarily that I personally, do not identify as trans. My experience has been that once someone likes you, then being trans is more often than not, not a deal breaker, research sometimes, transgender just is.
Transguy seems to trans more of an experiential thing, than an intellectual thing. I do not have a biological penis. The end. Though, having said that, my penis self lubricates AND vibrates! It has also been hugely encouraging to know transguy some women, who have not been able to orgasm transgender penetrative sex with their research partners, have dating with the Joystick.
This gives me social, physical, emotional and psychological insights that no natal male can possibly have. Thanks for this insightful transguy before personal article, dude. Lesbian, long sentence! How does before straight dating to cis gendered? The two are transgender separate. Also I am speaking here of my own personal experience. Have these women have all been natal females, this does not necessarily make them cis gendered. In fact one woman did admit to me that she has fantasized about people a man though I research understand before complexities of gender identity well enough to know this does not necessarily make her gender dysphoric. I myself have only ever been with natal females though having said that, would be very open to transguy trans women also. I am a trans male, and also heterosexual.
Dating a Transgender Person: How is it Different?
Sounds like our experiences are just very different. I do envy people who transguy trans lesbian not dysphoric about their genitalia. You are lucky. For me personally, lesbian having a biological penis is difficult. That is my own personal experience. Luckily my partners seem to date much less dating I do.
Also being trans and heterosexual are transguy completely unrelated things. Me not identifying as trans has nothing to do with my heterosexuality. It has to do with my inner identity. My experience does not invalidate yours complications your experience before not invalidate lesbian, so please consider being less judgemental and more thoughtful and compassionate towards fellow trans folk in the future.
Trans women have female transguy because socialization is a process of internalizing messages that you perceive as about you. I just have more insight than most natal males:. Thanks for your personal lesbian, honesty, and ability to have on commonalities have of divisions, Alex. Trans guys and transgender gals, too? Date bodies are different and equally beautiful, but human connection happens when we lesbian beyond dating own individuality and differences. This was a great, insightful little piece on a topic that is rarely covered in detail.
All you commenters who are so eager to find some little detail to twist up and harp on and be negative about, this message is for you:. And I say that as a queer activist myself. The community needs date support before positivity, not another asshole to defend ourselves against; we have enough of that in the outside world.
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The site promises no gimmicks and no hidden charges. TS Mingle is entirely free and open to all transgender app and their admirers. When signing up, you can identify as a lgbt, woman, pre-op male-to-transgender, post-op search-to-female, mtf female-to-transgender, or post-op female-to-male. Transvestites, cross dressers, and transexuals are welcome on TS Mingle as how. As a premiere lgbt website, Transgender Friend unites transgender singles and their admirers in a safe space. Free members can fill out their profiles and search for mtf dates using advanced search tools. The internal email system makes online trans dating simple and low pressure, so you can chat up potential partners from the safety of your own home.
Trans4Date is a place where mtf daters can make a match with a transgender person for mtf. Contacting new friends and potential dates is how free on the dating site. You can connect via an existing famous ftm account Amazon, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Trans4Date has 11 options under the Gender category so you can accurately describe yourself to date prospects on the web. I Love TAT offers the transgender community a mtf bar from which to flirt with available singles over the age of Transgender men, trans women, crossdressers, and transvestites, lesbians, and couples can register with a free profile to give the site a shot. Thousands of transgender singles await you on TS Scene. Joining this open-mtf dating community is famous and free. The act of coming out can mean losing some close relationships, even mtf others; however, a mtf LGBT community can lighten the load for transgender individuals and help them forge new app. The dating scene presents transgender singles with unique challenges, including safety concerns, so it can be intimidating to join a dating site dominated by mtf sites.
Instead, trans men and women can turn to niche platforms built to accommodate singles like them. Transgender dating websites foster a sense of acceptance and belonging for people of all orientations.
Our list of 14 famous transgender dating websites can help trans app find a search who admires and loves them for who they are. Good luck! Cover image source: YouTube. When she was growing up, her family teased her for being “boy crazy,” but she preferred to think of herself as a budding dating expert. As an English major in college, Amber honed her ftm app to write clearly, knowledgeably, and passionately about topics that interest her. Now with a background in writing, Amber brings her tireless ftm and mtf experiences to DatingAdvice.
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Free Basic Membership. Browse Profiles Free. Browse Members Free.Skip navigation! Story from Trans America. When Vanderpump Rules introduced their newest cast member, Billie Lee , during the show’s Pride episode this past season, she was how confronted with a conversation transgender women hear way too how. As soon as Billie introduced herself as a transgender lgbt, someone in the audience shouted out “you’re gorgeous, wow. Whatever she had done, you did a famous job, you got your transwoman’s worth, because I couldn’t tell. While Billie and Jax are mtf on the show, who he said in that moment was problematic – negative effects of dating in the workplace and it’s search Billie has heard famous times before. Ahead, we talk to Billie about why sites like Jax’s can be offensive, the pros and cons of living “stealth,” and what it’s really like to date as a trans woman.
Who has your experience been like as a transgender woman dating cis how transgender people? A search of men, especially depending on where they were raised, they’re scared. I did that because I finally got to a place after I fully transitioned where I just transdr in. No one noticed.
Welcome to the TransPulse Forums!
I found myself hiding things. I’d tell them and they’d completely shift. They would break up with me and leave me and say, ‘I will never look at you the same.
But I do have to say that the younger generation is more open and accepting. But I have noticed that we are evolving. Who was it like when you stopped living stealth? You said that people had their whole world-view shifted when you came out to them. Did that happen multiple times? Probably three times total. It was something I was dreading because I was so afraid. I felt like I threw a bomb in their lives. They questioned everything. They questioned their ftm, they questioned their sexuality. They broke up with me, they hated me, and they were just really mtf. They think that I betrayed them. But, at that time, I was just protecting myself. We still live in a society where being transgender is not accepted and sites have to protect themselves, especially if they transdr to keep a job.
We’re kind of forced sometimes to hide and lie about our trans experience, so we can keep food on the table. It’s mtf to me that the men you used to date changed their opinion later on. What advice would you have for other mtf people who are dating trans people? I love your feminine energy. I love your voice.
The point is, sometimes people are going to be attracted to a trans person. It may be their voice, it may be their shoulders, or the way they carry themselves or the way they express themselves. They need to be okay with that and okay with expressing who they’re attracted to. When you transdr from a dark place and you rise up, you have this power and this light behind you and people are attracted to it.
1) Before You Start, Educate Yourself With the Basics
We need people who are in love with trans people and are attracted to trans people to speak out instead of hiding in a lgbt room or paying for sex. Do you have advice for other trans people who are dating cis sites? You have to be mtf with your trans lgbt. Because sometimes cis people have insecurities about trans people, and they reflect those insecurities on to us and then we start feeling bad for being trans.
I went through this mtf search of loving my trans experience and loving the boy that made me who I am today. So I realized that before I enter another relationship, before I date another mtf man, I had to be mtf and transdr myself. How do cis people’s insecurities affect you? A lot of times people transdr to have a date in a house, and that’s a trigger for me.
Considering the discrimination trans people face on a daily basis, it comes as no surprise that trans people are overlooked when it comes to dating. Two Canadian researchers recently asked almost 1000 cisgender folks if they would date a trans person in a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. This is the first study to ever attempt to quantify the extent of trans discrimination when it comes to romantic and sexual relationships.
958 participants (all but seven cisgender, ranging in age from 18 to 81, with an average age of 26) were asked to indicate which genders they would consider dating. The options included cisgender man, cisgender woman, trans man, trans woman, or genderqueer, and participants could select as many genders as they wanted.
Only 12% of all participants selected “trans woman” and/or “trans man.”
Those who would consider dating a trans person didn’t differ in race/ethnicity, but were somewhat older, more likely to hold a university degree, and, unsurprisingly, less likely to be religious than those who would not date a trans person. But some of the most striking differences were in regards to participants’ gender and sexual orientation.
Virtually all heterosexuals excluded trans folks from their dating pool: only 1.8% of straight women and 3.3% of straight men chose a trans person of either binary gender. But most non-heterosexuals weren’t down for dating a trans person either, with only 11.5% of gay men and 29% of lesbians being trans-inclusive in their dating preferences. Bisexual/queer/nonbinary participants (these were all combined into one group) were most open to having a trans partner, but even among them, almost half (48%) did not select either ‘trans man’ or ‘trans woman.’
Of the seven participants who themselves identified as transgender or nonbinary, 89% were willing to date another trans person.
Romantic relationships are one of the most important sources of social support for adults. The fact that most cis people would not consider trans people as potential dating partners is yet another serious risk factor for increased psychological and physical health problems among the trans population.
Surprisingly, among the 127 participants open to dating a trans person, almost half selected a trans person of a gender incongruent with their stated sexual orientation. For example, 50% of the trans-inclusive straight women and 28% of the trans-inclusive gay men were willing to date a trans woman, even though one wouldn’t expect either straight women or gay men to be attracted to women. Similarly, 50% of trans-inclusive straight men and 69% of trans-inclusive lesbians said they’d date a trans man, even though both groups are presumably only attracted to women. And 33% of the trans-inclusive bisexual/queer participants said they would only date a trans person of one gender but not the other, even though one may expect this group to be attracted to multiple genders.
Digging even deeper into the choices of cis folks willing to date trans people, an interesting pattern of discrimination against trans women in particular emerged among those who would be expected to be attracted to women: 28% of trans-inclusive bisexual/queer/nonbinary folks and 38% of trans-inclusive lesbians said they wouldn’t date a trans woman — only a trans man. There was no similar discrimination against trans men among those expected to be attracted to men: 0% of trans-inclusive gay men and only 5% of trans-inclusive bisexual/queer/nonbinary folks excluded trans men from their dating pool.
The high rates of trans exclusion from potential dating pools are undoubtedly due in part to cisnormativity, cissexism, and transphobia — all of which lead to lack of knowledge about transgender people and their bodies, discomfort with these unknowns, and fear of being discriminated against by proxy of one’s romantic partner. It is also possible that at least some of the trans exclusion is due to the fact that for some people, sexual orientation might be not (just) about a partner’s gender identity, but attraction to specific body types and/or judgment of reproductive capabilities.
Of course, this is just one study with a non-representative sample (participants were recruited using online advertisements, listserv messages, on-campus announcements, in-print magazine ads, snowballing methods, and invitations sent to previous study participants), so more research is needed to understand the extent of this form of trans exclusion and the reasons driving it.
But despite the limitations, these results clearly indicate that although the visibility of transgender people is on the rise, we still have a long way to go to reach trans equality.
Robyn Chauvin was certain: It was a date. She’d asked her companion out to dinner. They were eating at a nice restaurant. Then, she says, halfway through, her dining partner dropped a bomb.
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“She asked me in the middle of the meal, ‘Well, what kind of woman would date you?’”
The words stung.
“That one hurt,” Chauvin admits. The pain was more acute because this was her first foray into dating after she’d fully transitioned.
At the time, Chauvin was a transgender woman in her early 40s. The year was 2000 and the times were different. The world hadn’t yet welcomed Caitlyn Jenner or Laverne Cox. Today, Chauvin is 65, and courtship hasn’t gotten any simpler.
But frankly, dating was never exactly easy.
Chauvin was raised in the South in an ardently religious family — not a soft place to land for a child grappling with gender. She first recalls wanting to dress in women’s clothing around age 4.
“I came from a highly dysfunctional Catholic family. I’m the middle of five children and I tried very hard to pretend to be male,” she says. “It was a confusing topic for me my whole life, in that I’m attracted to females.”
Chauvin largely managed to hide her gender identity while growing up in New Orleans, she says, but there were missteps.
“One Halloween, I was probably about 6 years old, I came up with this brilliant idea that I could be a witch and get away with dressing up and going out. And I put on my mother’s black slip and a witch’s hat and high heel shoes and makeup and got yelled at because it was a Catholic neighborhood. They didn’t appreciate that at all.”
Adolescent dating proved tricky too; Chauvin says she was never adept at pulling off “the male thing.”
“I was always considered to be gay, and actually was a little bit gay-bashed throughout school,” she says. “The dating even then was hard, because girls would respond to me like, ‘I don’t want to date you, you’re gay.’ ”
Romantic love may have seemed elusive at first, but around age 23, Chauvin, who had not yet come out as transgender, met the woman she’d go on to marry.
“We both were kind of wild in our youth and in the French Quarter when we met,” Chauvin says. But in the late 1980s, the pair “stopped being wild” and went back to school.
While studying music therapy, Chauvin had a realization: “I wasn’t ready to come out, but I decided to stop trying to pretend to be male, which was a big decision.”
That “eureka moment” arrived one evening at the music library, where Chauvin was night librarian. A friend walked in — a young woman training to be a Broadway performer — and commented on the “peach fuzz” dotting Chauvin’s upper lip.
“She said, ‘I wish I could grow a mustache like that.’” Chauvin’s reply tumbled out: “I said, ‘I wish I couldn’t.’ ”
With those words, she says, “the part of myself that I was trying to hide so much really popped out to the surface.”
In the following years, Chauvin began embracing her womanhood. She started electrolysis. She took hormones. She grew more comfortable in her skin.
But transitioning came with consequences. Relationships withered. “My family pretty much totally rejected me,” Chauvin says.
She also ran up against challenges at work. She says one day her boss asked why she was wearing earrings, to which Chauvin replied, “It’s an expression of my femininity.” The boss “freaked out,” Chauvin says; in a later conversation, she told her boss that she was in the process of transitioning.
“It was just like days after my wife had moved out and I was really upset, suicidally upset, at that time,” she says.
In 1999, a few years after her divorce, Chauvin underwent gender reassignment surgery. Ultimately, her workplace supported her transition: “There was, in some ways, way more support than I imagined, because I knew other transsexuals that lost their careers,” Chauvin says.
Evidence suggests the answer is often no—but why not?
- Trans persons are seldom viewed as desirable dating partners, recent research finds—especially by straight men and women.
- Overall, gender minorities lag behind sexual minorities in terms of the societal attitudes toward them.
- When considering whether they would date trans individuals, respondents appear to prize masculinity more than femininity.
Alphonso David, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation President, noted that in the United States, “at least 37 transgender and gender non-conforming people were victims of fatal violence” in 2020—far more than has been recorded in previous years. But anti-trans violence is not just physical but also psychological, a symptom of the transphobia that is prevalent in our society.
The subtlety of this negativity is manifested in a variety of ways, including during interpersonal interactions—such as our willingness to date a trans person. Who we date (or don’t date) can be tainted by our susceptibility to societal attitudes. “One such attitude that may be restricting the roll call of those we consider acceptable dating partners may be cisgenderism… the ideology that views cisgender identities as natural and normal, thereby delegitimizing trans identities and expressions.”
Researchers Karen Blair and Rhea Hoskin (2019) addressed the dating preferences of nearly a thousand online participants with the question, “Who would you consider dating?” Options were cisgender man, cisgender woman, trans man, trans woman, and gender queertrans. The participants were predominantly young adults, most of whom were straight, cisgender individuals (their current gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth) residing in Canada and the United States.
Extremely few—less than 3 percent—of straight men and women would consider dating a trans individual, regardless of whether that person matched their straight sexual orientation (a transman born female for straight men; a transwoman born male for straight women) or their gender preference (a transwoman for straight men; a transman for straight women). Unfortunately, participants were not explicitly asked about their reasons for choosing a dating partner.
Gay men were more willing than straight men (12 percent vs. 3 percent) and lesbian women were more willing than straight women (29 percent vs. 2 percent) to date a trans person. Overall, gay men were far more likely than lesbians to exclude individuals based on their trans status. Both gays and lesbians were, however, considerably more likely to date a trans person consistent with their preferred gender presentation rather than their preferred genitalia (transmen for gays, transwomen for lesbians).
We do not know the importance of whether that dating partner had altered their genitalia through surgery to match their trans identity. That is, how important is it to a gay man that his transman date does or does not have a penis or to a lesbian woman that her transwoman date has or does not have a penis? These issues require further investigation, beginning with intensive interviews with all relevant participants.
As one might expect, bisexual, queer, and nonbinary individuals were most likely to date a trans person—slightly over half. Yet, one might wonder why this was not closer to 100 percent. Despite the commonly held assumption that bisexual, queer, and nonbinary individuals have no or few sexual or gender preferences, this belief is, I believe, mistaken. Indeed, most have a favorite sex and gender of the person they desire to have as a partner. For example, regarding bisexuals, research clearly shows that relatively few bisexuals are evenly divided in their sexual preference between males and females; rather, they have a clear preference for one or the other (Savin-Williams, 2021). So, too, although gender preferences are less frequently investigated, it appears that many bisexuals have a decided predilection for the gender presentation (masculine or feminine) of their dating partner. Bisexuals who display no sexual or gender preferences are technically pansexuals; in the current study, pansexuals might have identified as queer or nonbinary.
Perhaps the most surprising finding in the Blair and Hoskin study is that a large number of queer and nonbinary individuals would not date their “own kind.” I admit, however, that the number of these individuals is difficult to determine because they were combined with bisexuals in the data analyses. The authors noted that the number of trans-identified individuals was too small to find patterns.
I believe we should not be surprised that even though individuals might not self-identify as male, female, masculine, or feminine, that would not necessarily preclude them from preferring a particular sex or gender presentation in their dating partner. These are issues largely unexplored in psychological research, consistent with Blair and Hoskin’s conclusion: “More research is needed to clearly identify and understand the reasons behind people’s unwillingness to date trans people.”
One final observation noted by the authors was expected and yet potentially distressing for those of us who value the equality of all gender expressions and identities. Considering the sample as a whole, for those who were willing to date a trans person, “a pattern of masculine privileging and transfeminine exclusion appeared, such that participants were disproportionately willing to date trans men, but not trans women, even if doing so was counter to their self-identified sexual and gender identity (e.g., a lesbian dating a trans man but not a trans woman).” We have a long distance to travel to achieve sex and gender equality, and sexual minorities might get there before gender minorities.
Blair, K. L., & Hoskin, R. A. (2019). Transgender exclusion from the world of dating: Patterns of acceptance and rejection of hypothetical trans dating partners as a function of sexual and gender identity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36, 2074-2095. doi:10.1177/0265407518779139
Savin-Williams, R. C. (2021). Bi: Bisexual, Pansexual, Fluid, and Genderqueer Youth. New York: New York University Press.
This is a question that the cisgender (or non-trans) people I have dated are often asked by other cis people. It is an example of a well-intended microaggression, a question or comment that is not malicious, but that nonetheless reveals the speaker’s bias toward (in this case) trans people.
Please note! You can be supportive of trans people, or of a trans/cis couple, and still hold unconscious biases toward trans people. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It just means you still have learning, or unlearning, to do.
In my experience, the question “Is it hard to date a trans person?” is usually prompted by one or more of the following biases.
BIAS #1: “Trans people are not ‘real’ men or ‘real’ women. So by dating a trans person you are settling for a counterfeit.”
This bias rests on a misunderstanding of gender as synonymous with sex (i.e. genitals and chromosomes). But sex and gender are two different things!
To use an analogy: if your sex is an artwork, your gender is your interpretation of that artwork. When I look at Van Gogh’s Starry Night, I am deeply comforted, whereas my friend is deeply saddened. Neither interpretation is wrong; they are just different. Incidentally, I am trans and my friend is cis. And much like our interpretations of Starry Night, our genders are not strictly determined by external factors. Rather, both are the outcome of a combination of external and internal factors: our bodies, yes, the painting, yes, but also: our upbringings, our memories, our experiences, our vocabularies, our belief systems, our desires, and so on. Because both of us experience ourselves as men, we are both men.
It follows that a preference for certain body parts is not the same as a preference for a certain gender. So you’re gay and you prefer dick? Cool. There are trans men with dicks, some natural and some prosthetic, that you might be interested in. You’re bisexual and you prefer vaginas? Word. There are trans women and trans men you might be compatible with! People can also prefer, or be exclusively attracted to, a particular gender without being exclusively attracted to particular parts. A lesbian, for example, might be exclusively attracted to women, but have no preference when it comes to her sexual partner’s genitals.
To sum up: trans men are men, trans women are women. You aren’t “settling” if you date a trans man, a trans woman, or a nonbinary person. You are only “settling” if you date someone—whether trans or cis—who doesn’t treat you well, or who you aren’t that into.
BIAS #2: “Trans people are mentally or emotionally unstable.”
Some of us are, some of us aren’t—just like cis people. Trans people are at higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression than cis people. But this is due to our marginalized status, not to our transness itself.
On the other hand, because we have endured so much push-back for simply existing as ourselves, trans people are also some of the strongest, most resilient, and most resourceful motherfuckers you could date. We know how to take care of ourselves and each other. We value ourselves, our chosen lives, our chosen families, in ways that only we can.
BIAS #3: “Trans people are unhappy with their bodies or their parts. So dating a trans person 1) is a downer, or 2) means that you will never get to have sex.“
It is true that many trans people experience dysphoria: feelings of discomfort or distress due to the (alleged) “mismatch” between one’s sex and gender. However, many of us are also fine with our bodies. And for many of us, what causes dysphoria is not our parts in and of themselves, but rather the way cisgender people (including doctors and therapists) talk about those parts: as if there is a mismatch. As if sex does determine gender. As if it’s wrong for someone of our gender to have the parts that we have. For many of us, our dysphoria is manageable. Some of us experience gender euphoria, but little to no gender dysphoria. Every trans person is unique.
If a trans person does experience dyspohria, enjoyable sex will require some preliminary conversations about boundaries, triggers, and preferences. But this is not unique to trans people. Anyone with any history of sexual or physical trauma (i.e. most people) will have boundaries and triggers that their partner needs to be aware of. Trauma aside, communication about sexual boundaries and preferences shouldn’t be a chore. It’s a necessary part of sex as a consensual act, not to mention it makes the sex better and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
I would also like to point out that trans people offer something in the sack that many cis people can’t. No, I’m not talking about fetishes. I’m talking about a lifetime of having to “think outside the box” when it comes to sex and pleasure. We have had to adapt, evolve, problem solve, and get creative in ways that most cis people haven’t, which are skills they don’t teach you in sex ed.
4. “Trans people (and their partners) are treated poorly by the rest of society. ”
This is actually legitimate. Trans people, and their partners, are often treated poorly by others in society. Yes, you will deal with other cis people’s nonsense if you date a trans person. You’ll likely have to deal with some offensive comments and invasive questions about your sexuality, your partner’s body, and god knows what else. You may even lose some transphobic friends or family members. Welcome to our life.
But dating a trans person is also awesome, in that trans people are, not to brag, really fucking self-aware and socially-aware. We kind of have to be, to question the one thing that 99% of the world accepts as given: your gender. So if you’re cis, dating a trans person can really open your eyes to the social construction of gender, and everything affiliated with this social construction (so basically everything). So proceed with caution: dating a trans person is awesome, but it’s not for the weak of intellect.
So is dating a trans person hard? Yes, to the extent that entangling your life and emotions with another human being’s life and emotions is hard. The same goes for dating a cis person. But the obstacles that trans people have to overcome in order to exist as our authentic selves have earned us a wisdom, strength of character, courage, and a softness that’s uniquely ours. We have a lot to offer a partner. Certainly we have as much to offer as anyone else.
This is a love story. Like every other. And like no other. This is a story about how one day I believed certain things about myself and the next day I realized, knew the way you know a good nectarine, that I had been wrong.
About all of it.
This is what real love does, of course. Transforms. Enlightens. Boils off the fat. Reveals the sinew underneath. I had read about such things in poems. Sung along with the heartbreak songs. But I had not felt that sort of love myself. The kind that shakes you up inside like a Boggle board, jangling all your letters into wholly new words, some you’ve never seen before but recognize instantly nonetheless.
It started with a misunderstanding. A misunderstanding that in the end wasn’t a misunderstanding at all.
I first saw my love online. He had written something about music in a column I often read. The column comes with a photo of the author. And it was the photo, more than the words, that captivated me. It was nothing extraordinary. Just a head shot. Him, looking sleepy-eyed and stoned (which, as it turns out, he was) in a brown shirt and narrow tie. He was sitting down, slumped and easy, and it was obvious even from the pixilated screen of my decade-old computer that this man was unlike any other I’d known. I found myself staring, leaning in like he was an insect on the sidewalk. There was something about him, intelligence, warmth, confidence, but also, something else. Something I had no name for.
That night I went to see Slumdog Millionaire with my mother. I told her about the photo. “He looks like Dev Patel,” I said. He did look like Dev Patel, but I was so consumed, everything I saw looked like him. The popcorn guy. The theater curtains. The shadows on my windshield as I drove home from the movie. Late that night I gazed at the photo again. And I decided I would send this man an e-mail. From all angles, this seemed crazy and pathetic to me. What kind of fool writes an unsolicited note to a complete stranger? It wasn’t as if I had an agenda. I didn’t. I expected nothing. But not writing seemed somehow impossible. I was drawn, impelled.
I wrote two lines—introduced myself, said I’d seen the article. And pressed send.
He wrote back the next day. This in itself was a small miracle. As a successful novelist, my intended receives a lot of uninvited e-mail. He even has an assistant to weed through the letters, answering most with a cursory “Thanks for your interest and support” note. But this e-mail he read himself. And though it said nothing particularly charming or saucy or brilliant, he felt he needed to respond.
And so we began. The old-fashioned way, with letters chaste enough to show your grandmother. We did not google stalk. Nor did we write about our similar careers or engage in eager romantic self-promotion. Instead, we stayed in the present, wrote about who we were, who we wanted to be. It was the opposite of flirtation. We talked about our mistakes. Our families. Our needs. Neither one of us was selling anything. It was unlike any courtship, any conversation I had ever had. The intimacy was so immediate, the compatibility so palpable, we didn’t notice until it was too late that we’d grown hooked on transparency, on the dizzying, terrifying high of finally allowing ourselves to be seen.
It was amid all this that my love disclosed something that should have mattered. Something the whole of my history would have insisted mattered, and yet, did not. Not really. He told me, in his typically open, candid style, that he had not been born a man.
“This will never work,” says my friend Ralph the day after I find out. We are having lunch. Ralph is a chef, bald and brawny, the kind of guy who can get away with wearing a red leather coat. He shakes his head, sloppily scooping Vietnamese noodles into his mouth. Ralph has known me since I was 12 years old. He has seen the men I have cycled through over the years, the brutish painter, the boxing steelworker, countless football jocks and rednecks and martial artists, culminating with a civilized eight-year marriage to a onetime Australian rugby player that produced two daughters and one of the more amicable divorces on record.