I cannot speak for every transgender woman, but I know I’m not alone when I say: we do date! Just like anyone else, we want to love and be loved. Unfortunately, transgender women face incredible adversity when it comes to dating. As of 2016, only about 30% of Americans claimed to know someone that is transgender personally. The other 70% only know about transgender people through the lens of the media/internet, cultural stereotypes, and, more often than not, offensive jokes.
There is a great opportunity for humanization that comes with dating in the transgender community. However, there is a greater chance that it simply becomes a missed opportunity for connection. People who date transgender people can sometimes bring that ignorance and stereotyping mentioned earlier into these budding relationships.
”….Adult dating is complicated, especially because we’re trying to bridge this gap between trans women and cisgendered men. Obstacles I face are trying to remember my worth and not allowing men to control me for their own fantasies.”
– Aurora Lloyd (Artist / Transgender Woman)
From personal experience, this societal lack of awareness on what it means to be transgender – a lack of true and honest representation – has directly affected how open someone that I’m interested in would be to dating someone like me. When this disconnect sits squarely on top of the everyday obstacles dating entails, it becomes more of a daunting fantasy than any sort of reality.
Some transgender people opt out of dating altogether just knowing how many roadblocks can and will get in the way. I wanted to hear first-hand from folks, so I interviewed a few transgender women as well as trans-attracted men & women locally in different parts of the world to see what their viewpoints were on the topic of dating and how certain outside pressures affected dating for them.
When I interviewed the trans women, the first question I asked was “How did you feel about dating before transitioning & how do you feel about it now?” the contrast was very apparent. Most had envisioned that things would be a lot different now that they were finally living their truth, just to find out that this wasn’t the case. Some feared that dating could get them killed while others felt that they could only be themselves in the comfort of their home and opted to not be openly transgender.
Knowing that so many women around the world feel this weight saddens me and reminds me of how much progress we have made in the United States, knowing that we have far to go but celebrating how far we have come. The odds have always been stacked against us but we are pushing through and fighting gracefully just for the opportunity to live normal lives.
When I interviewed trans-attracted men and women, I found that they too faced societal pressure to be ashamed of their preferences. They face a different lash back for openly dating a transgender woman:
“As a trans-attracted man, I’ve faced many societal pressures. I’ve had to learn how to deal with getting more attention, which is both positive and negative. People tend to stare. That’s not so bad, but it gets worse when it gets verbal. When people verbally express their disapproval of my relationship, I have a hard time rationalizing it. I feel that it has nothing to do with them, and I can’t comprehend why they are offended.”
– Herbert Moore (cisgender man)
Trans-attracted men and women shouldn’t have to feel like something is wrong with them dating a transgender woman. They shouldn’t have to be faced with negative reactions when they tell their family and friends the nature of the woman they are dating. Nor should they face the same ignorance, if not worse, while out in public spaces and in social spaces.
Why is this the case? Why do people feel the need to stick their nose in something that is decidedly none of their business? Why is there such a lack of awareness and acceptance of transgender bodies? We need to push for more representation, more authentic accounts of what it means to not just be trans, but to be human and beautiful and unique. If we allow things to stay as they are, people will continue to form their own biases and thought processes around what it means to be trans and dating – it leaves room for prejudice and generalizations of us as women.
Dating in today’s world is already hard enough, and making it more difficult for the men and women that show trans women love is detrimental to the quality of dating for both parties and takes a significant toll on these relationships. Despite all of the challenges, I have a bright outlook on the future for all transgender people, the people that date us, the people that have taken the time to know us and adore us, and even the people that have not and do not understand us. The resolution to this problem is not an easy or a quick one. It will take time, willingness, representation, allies, support, changes of minds and hearts. Above all, it will take LOVE.