Difficulties of Dating as a Transgender Person
Dating as a trans person can seem intimidating. A trans person in the dating sphere will encounter a whole slew of difficulties not experienced by the heteronormative world:
- Limited options on dating sites. "Male" or "female;" "heterosexual," "homosexual" or "bisexual" - these terms are sometimes inadequate to describe the identities of trans people, especially people in the process of gender transition. Unfortunately, many dating sites limit users to constraining labels like these. A FtM man who prefers women, for example, may be limited to identifying as a "heterosexual male" on dating sites. This label not only poorly describes the FtM man's gender and sexuality, but also has the potential to bring unwanted attention from women with no interest in dating trans men.
- Feelings of hopelessness It is easy for a trans person to slip into believing that no one will ever love them or that they do not deserve love. Attention from "chasers," individuals who are specifically attracted to trans men and women, can make the trans person feel as if they are nothing more than an exotic fetish or a checkmark on someone's sexual bucket list.
- Confusion about when to Disclose When to disclose transgender identity is a decision that every trans person must make during the dating process. Being upfront and honest about being trans from the start might scare away potential dates, but waiting until intimacy can evoke anger or even violence from the other person.
Establishing Gender Identity through Dating
Despite the challenges, dating can actually be an enriching experience for the trans person. Online dating can be a safe place for the trans person to begin to develop and learn to express their gender identity. Many gestures that can be made on dates - getting dressed up, holding a door open, or pulling out a chair at the restaurant - are gendered by society. Trans people can actually use these stereotypes to their advantage, and in performing these gestures, feel validated by the public in their gender identities.
Disclosing as a Trans Person
A trans person typically has three options when deciding how to disclose their identity to a date:
- Disclosing right away, usually in an online dating profile.
- Waiting a few dates to develop chemistry, in hopes that the other person will be more open-minded.
- Waiting until intimacy.
This last option can be very dangerous for the trans person. Disclosing in a private space is unsafe in the event that the other person should become angry or violent. If a trans person chooses to disclose in person rather than online, it should always be in a public space with others present; with an escape route planned in case things turn sour.
Top 5 Routes for "Transgender Dating"
- Scarleteen Scarleteen is a valuable sex education resource for young and emerging adults. A library of advice for trans people and their partners is available here. Scarleteen's Trans Summer School series addresses transgender dating, sex, safety tips, coming out and more.
- LGBTQnation This article about disclosing in a trans relationship is worth a read. The dangers of waiting until intimacy to disclose are discussed in detail here.
- Trans.Cafe This is a plentiful source of dating advice and personal testimonies from trans people. Work, school, and social advice for trans people can be found here as well. Trans.Cafe author James Gardner's articles on dating, coming out, and transitioning at a later age are of particular interest.
- Trans Safe Dating Tips Chicago's LGBTQ Center on Halsted has put out this helpful guide to safe transgender dating. It's a must-read for any trans person entering the dating scene.
- OkCupid OkCupid is widely regarded by the transgender community as the most trans-friendly dating site. There are several options for gender, and OkCupid asks "would you date a trans person?" as part of an initial compatibility test.
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