The dating scene for transgender women offers a unique set of challenges that cisgender — someone whose gender identity matches their biological sex — women don’t have to deal with. Fetishization, discrimination, harassment, and even homicide aren’t unheard of for us, but it doesn’t have to be this way. In order to spare our fellow trans women from the often harsh reality of human attempts at finding love, we wish that the people who dated transgender women would keep these 15 things in mind:
1. SAVE THE BEDROOM TALK FOR THE BEDROOM
Christine Jorgenson was a World War II veteran, but ask anyone familiar with Jorgenson and they’ll be surprised. No one knows anything about her other than the fact that she was the first trans woman to receive genital reconstruction surgery. The preoccupation with trans women’s genitals has been lengthy and disturbing. Trans women are tired of being objectified over what’s in their pants, and genital reconstruction surgery is often a deeply personal topic. Besides, should the topic of discussion on your first date really be a woman’s vag? Creepy. There’s a time and place for everything. Know when it’s appropriate or necessary.
2. THE BEST WAY TO FIND AN ANSWER FOR YOUR QUESTIONS REMAINS A QUICK GOOGLE SEARCH...
If you treat the date like a dictionary, you're most probably already shuffling in your purse for your car keys and telling your date you'd need to run to the bathroom. Know what trans means and don’t expect trans women to be your professor on gender studies, because who wants heavy discussions on a date when you could be drinking wine and sharing a laugh? We've googled anything and everything we've ever wanted to know about the gender identity of trans women, so spare the textbook talk with a Google search, a book, or an actual classroom. There are vast amounts of tools for knowledge — don’t be afraid to use them. In fact, consider being educated your own responsibility.
3. DON'T LET WATCHING SEX ONLINE/PORN BE YOUR STUDY GUIDE
The job market is a huge barrier for trans women and poverty is high among this demographic. In fact, a whopping 57 percent of trans people have faced some form of discrimination in the workplace. As a result, researchers say that trans women are the highest demographic to turn to the sex trade to find meaningful work. If nothing else, trans women in the adult sex movies and the sex trade remain a top-seller among straight men. According to the sex site P*rnhub, the “shemale” category ranks 22nd in most searched — that’s a lot of sex on the internet. Let’s not forget, however, that the adult sex movie industry is often unrealistic. Know what labels are respectful to trans women and which ones aren’t.
4. BACKHANDED COMPLIMENTS AREN'T CUTE
“Wow, I would have never known you were a man — you look just like a woman!” or something similar isn’t a compliment — it’s just rude and you should avoid it. The message that is being conveyed to trans women with this type of exchange is that we’re engaging in a form of trickery, a disguise to pass as something we’re not. As Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness put it: “I am a woman. I live my life as a woman and that’s how I should be perceived. I’m not passing as anything — I’m being. Being myself.”
5. TRANS WOMEN HAVEN'T TRANSITIONED JUST TO DATE STRAIGHT MEN
This is a terrible yet too often perpetuated myth. Trans women don’t transition to fool straight men into sleeping with them. This disgusting form of ignorance has been sensationalized in both television and film. It’s one of the many reasons why we would encourage all the trans women out there to openly state that they're trans on their Tinder accounts, per se. And what about Trans lesbians? Trans women aren’t likely to change our sexual orientation after transitioning. Those of us who were attracted to women before transitioning are still likely to remain attracted to women. The numbers show that between 40 and 60 percent of trans women identify as bisexual or lesbian, so whether it’s men, women, both or none, trans women can date whoever they want.
6. GENDER AND SEXUALITY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS
Dating trans women doesn’t mean a person is gay. Dating trans women doesn’t even mean someone's bisexual. If you’re attracted to trans women then you’re attracted to women. Trans women are women — end of story, fin de l'histoire, punto final. Many people confuse gender and sex or don’t understand the difference between the two. Gender is fluid while sex is biological and rigid. Sexual orientation is shaped by your attraction to a person’s gender identity. If you’re a cis man or woman attracted to someone who’s trans, it doesn’t change your sexual identity.
7. WE ARE NO LONGER LIVING IN A SECRET SOCIETY
When Tyga allegedly cheated on Kylie Jenner with trans model Mia Isabella, the media went crazy. Tyga’s sexual orientation was called into question and he was shamed by virtually the entirety of the hip hop community. Society shames men who are attracted to trans women by attacking their masculinity, labeling them as gay, or accusing them of having a fetish. Trans women are taught that we only deserve companionship through secrecy. Being open about your relationship with a trans women conveys the message to society that we deserve to be seen. That trans visibility deserves a safe space to exist which can then foster easier acceptance from others.
8. YOU SHOULD TREAT TRANS WOMEN WITH THE RESPECT YOU'D GIVE ANY OTHER WOMAN
One of my favorite interviews to date is when Janet Mock turned the tables on Fusion reporter Alicia Menendez, asking her the kind of inappropriate questions that Mock is constantly subjected to by interviewers. Menendez was overwhelmed with questions such as, “Do you have a vagina? Do you use tampons? When did you begin to feel your breasts budding?” If you find these questions alarming, take note that trans women are the subject of this type of questioning all the time. A rule of thumb to ask yourself is, “Would I ask or expect this of a cisgender woman?” If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t ask trans women either.
9. DATING A TRANS WOMAN IS A CATCH
Did you know that trans women face some of the highest risks of becoming victims of domestic violence? An underlying issue is the idea that trans women have nowhere else to go, as if abusive men are the only ones who will ever truly love them. We've been witness of too many trans women in abusive relationships at the hands of men. A common response when these women choose to leave them is, “Where will you go? Who’s going to be attracted to you like I am?” Don’t ever assume trans women are below the bar. Know that you’re not the only fish in the sea. Trans women have standards too.
10. GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN AND TRANS WOMEN ARE NO EXCEPTION
So take us to a movie, a concert — hell, even a rodeo. Being trans doesn’t mean trans women are miserable — they just want to have a good time like anybody else. Take your trans woman on a date to the Grand Teton National Park, treat her to the outside pool of Amangani Resort.
11. BE SECURE WITH YOURSELF AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH A TRANS WOMAN
If you are only comfortable with a trans woman in the bedroom, then you are not comfortable with yourself. You should be able to be secure at the beach, coffee shop, and anywhere else. Trans women can sense when individuals are insecure about dating them because they don't show affection like they would behind closed doors. A friend of mine told me that a guy she was seeing would intentionally walk ahead of her and not show any form of public display of affection, and only wanted to do takeout from restaurants. She asked him why he kept doing this and he said he didn't want anyone to know they were together because she was not very "passable." This, my friends, is the definition of a true asshole. Avoid like the plague, ladies!
12. DON'T YOU DARE STEREOTYPE TRANS WOMEN
Yes, there are some trans women who are escorts; however, that is not the case for everyone. Way too often, people will throw around some equally bigoted remark and then say, "Don't be offended, I don't know much about this stuff," as if ignorance makes it OK for you to imply that trans women are always sex workers.
13. NO, HECK NO! NOT ALL TRANS WOMEN ARE PORNSTARS
If you came into the relationship thinking you were about to have the wildest, best sex that makes you pop like warm French champagne, you might need to reconsider. Porn is fantasy; not every girl is going to give you Mia Bella in sexy lingerie and serve you a platter of the raunchiest sex you've had. Don't let porn and porn fantasies overshadow the your trans lady.
14. ACCEPT AND SUPPORT THE TRANSITION OF TRANS WOMEN
There are so many steps within the transition of trans women, and more than likely each of them costs a substantial amount of money. From hormones and laser hair removal to breast augmentations and gender confirmation surgery. You have to be patient because it truly costs a whopping amount of cash for the trans woman to be the woman you'd see every day. Don't be the person to lose out on a great girl because she hasn't had her breasts done yet.
15. TREAT YOUR TRANS LADY AS A HUMAN, NOT AS A SEX DOLL
Men that I've dated tend to over-sexualize transgender women as these rare, mystical beings who are always horny and ready to have sex. Trans women can walk into a bar or a restaurant and still have a bangin' good time talking with folks of all sorts. Once people ask a trans woman out and the trans woman informs them of their gender, however, a total 360 happens. Once, a prominent trans girl was at a lounge with a few friends, she had gone to the bar to grab some drinks and met this guy. After about 10 minutes of conversation he had asked if he could take her out the following night. The trans lady had leaned forward and whispered in his ear, "I'm a transgender female." The facial expression of the guy had been a portrayal of utter dismay, but then he had grabbed her thigh and had asked, "Can I see your cock?" Sadly, this is not uncommon territory; trans people are often violated like this. To many guys, trans women are only "good enough" for sex but not to be seen out with in public.