conversations and opinions about love have been historically led by cis women, who are seen as holding authority and ownership of the topic.
for this (late!) valentine’s day themed piece, we explore all things love, sex, dating and relationships by sharing three stories by three trans women covering topics ranging from disclosure to standards…
alex, podcaster and writer, aquarius
“oh my god, i never would have guessed! when did you trans?”
having to come out to the person you’re dating is exhausting any way you do it and at any time.
despite thinking i never pass in my head, the surprised response my dates usually have when i tell them i’m trans says otherwise.
“woe is me”, i cry and the tiniest violin is played by a chorus of my trans sisters, feeling oh so sorry that i suffer from the affliction of ‘looking cis”. but, with the privilege of passing, also comes the struggle of coming out.
i tried dating ‘out’ and only attracted the chasers seeing me as a fetish.
i tried telling the boys i matched with before our date and got swiftly rejected every time.
so, one day, i decided not to say anything. i started just rocking up to my dates as myself – without any caveats.
i, of course, worry that they will clock me straight away. some do, don’t know what to say and disappear to the loo to never be seen again.
most, however, don’t clock me and end up having a fun flirty date with a fun flirty girl who they fancy.
after different attempts and variations i have now only started to come out to my dates if i think we’re going to hook up. the response is a 50/50 split: some say “that’s cool, but not for me”, whereas others just “that’s cool”.
i have dated as a woman for five years now, and i have come to the conclusion that i do not owe my dates any information that i don’t want to share and that includes my transness.
it is up to my date to make me feel safe enough to share that part of me with them.
if you are attracted to women, you have the propensity to be attracted to all types of women – even trans women.
i have spent years being apologetic and nervous about coming out as trans on dates, as though it is something that a man will have to be okay with. for me to be okay with it. i was mistaken. there is nothing wrong, ugly or undesirable about being trans and we deserve dates (and love) just like everyone else.
nina, relentless dreamer and aspiring writer, gemini
so, when i met and fell in love with carl*, a white cis man, i thought the portal to a new better life had opened up for me.
it all went well for the first year. despite no exact words said, love was felt and seen in quiet evenings spent watching tv (lots of football), holidays taken together, intimate secrets shared without judgment and tender kisses given and received. even boring sex seemed exciting and incomparable.
however, that all began to shift when i had to ask for help with sending money back home after a family emergency. i was born on the other side of the world, where family means everything.
‘why do you have to send them money?’ he said.
‘why do they rely on you so much’ he said.
‘why can you not find a better paying job?’ he said.
according to him, i was an intelligent, capable, beautiful woman. most would probably feel elation at those words but all i got from it was a backhanded compliment. i wasn’t angry at him for throwing questions to my request for help but it was when i realised i was more than a trans woman. i was a poor, immigrant, trans woman of colour.
“why am i putting up with work way below what my university degree would make me qualified for?”
“why are my wages not commensurate to my capabilities and experience?”
“why am i even here on this side of the world in the first place, away from family?”
i wanted to ask him these questions back. instead i bought and borrowed books, sought out organisations and followed social media accounts that focused on race, migration and social justice issues. he inadvertently paved the way for my journey into decolonisation and, consequently, healing.
we lasted another couple of years after that but the kisses were no longer as warm and the sex even more boring. what initially seemed like a fairy tale didn’t have a happy ending. i ended up alone but for it i was, and am, the happiest ever.
*name changed to protect identity
liana, student and aspiring superstar, aries
the trans experience involves a lot of situations where we’re unfairly expected to accommodate others: relationships are a key area where we see this taking place.
men who date trans women usually expect their identity or relationship to be kept hidden.
and in the ‘rare case’ that a trans woman finds somebody who publicly loves her for who she is, the expectation is that she should be indebted with gratitude to the one who chose her.
it’s expected that we’ll settle for what and whoever is thrown our way, making the idea of a trans woman having standards or values when it comes to dating an outlandish thought to some.
because who could possibly do more than fantasise over our bodies? the unfair and unwarranted over-sexualization and objectification of trans women has removed the humanity for those that pursue us. often it is forgotten that we too are people! we too are individuals who have traits and values that we look for in partners. why should my identity mean that i can’t be selective with whom i date? shouldn’t i get to choose my perfect match rather than settle for anyone who’ll have me?
the assumption that i lack standards because of my identity has been evident in my own experiences. simply because of who i am, it’s expected that i’ll be down to do whatever with whoever which couldn’t be further from the truth.
even by cisgender standards, my dating standards are pretty high. but why shouldn’t they be? i know i have a lot more to offer than just my body, and i value myself too much to be told otherwise.
i refuse to settle for someone who isn’t right for me, physically or emotionally. it’s okay to want more for yourself than the bare minimum, despite what many may say. i know my worth and i firmly believe that i should be with someone who values me for me, and i reject the idea that i should just take whatever comes my way.
don’t let anybody tell you that you’re being unrealistic! they probably just aren’t up to standard.