Part of me is tempted to say this is universal—that everyone kind of hates it. In any case, dating has sucked for me.
Looking back, it seems dating was much easier when I was a cis-gendered female, rather than it is now that I am an out trans guy. In my case and perhaps for many trans folks , going online for potential romance felt like a safe first step in cultivating my new, authentic self—in being able to reach out to others as the man that I was and am.
Most sites allow you to choose between only two genders, male and female. Furthermore, there tends not to be much flexibility when it comes to stating your sexual orientation. Since I identify as a trans male, and my sexual preference is for females, I have been left with only one option in the online dating world: My foray into the dating world began a couple of years ago while I was still fairly early in my transition.
After I came out as trans FTM , my lesbian relationship was ending, and my first instinct was to stick mainly to gay and lesbian dating sites. A little later on in my transition, once I began presenting as male, I set up profiles on two mainstream dating sites, one listing myself as male without stating that I was trans, and the other listing my trans status.
I tend to agree with the latter. Truth be told, there were no immediate sparks when we met up at our local coffee shop. But we had pleasant enough conversation, and got along. But on the day of the date I received an angry text. My work in the media and a couple of published articles must have tipped her off. The irony, of course, was that my trans identity was not really something I was trying to keep hidden—from her, or from anyone.
But obviously, the woman felt duped in some way, and she continued with her tirade. And, while I felt no need to explain myself, I replied. I was waiting until we had gotten to know each other better. Now I really felt the need to explain myself. Secondly, if you think sex is purely genital-to-genital, I feel sorry for you!
I recall planning a couple of potential dates in which the person explicitly acknowledged being comfortable about meeting a trans person, and then would politely back out before the date even happened. I planned to meet up with some trans guys who were members of a Facebook page I belonged to. I had not met any of them, but we are a very tight-knit group online, and I was excited about meeting.
I had also planned a date with a woman I had also met via Facebook, in a group for FTMs, butches and femmes. We had been flirting on Facebook for about a year and agreed that if either of us was ever traveling close enough to the other, we would meet. She drove down from New York and we had an enjoyable dinner in Philadelphia. There were definitely sparks flying, but she explained that she was just getting over a very difficult relationship and needed time to heal.
I was disappointed, but understood. We both agreed it was not our time and that there might be potential for some kind of connection at some point in the future. However, as I write this, it seems the tides may be turning in my favor. Just weeks ago, I received a message from a local woman on the dating site where I had revealed my trans status. As a writer, I guess I expect others to be able to write as freely and easily as I do.
But instinct guided me to respond. We agreed to meet at a nearby pub for some eats and to sample some of the local craft beer. Surprisingly, we had both recommended the same place. She had lived in the city where I had grown up, and was very active in the lesbian community there which I had been active in years ago. I felt very comfortable with her, and after two hours together we agreed we would like to see each other again We went on a second date and all is good so far.
I am happy, I feel understood and accepted by this person and I am very hopeful that this relationship will continue to blossom.
I guess my dating advice is the same for trans folks as for anyone else. We are all worthy of and deserve love in our lives. There is someone out there for us. But there are people out there who understand, who have open minds, and who will see you for you. Not because your gender identity aligns with your genitalia, not because of your bank account, not because of your job or the size of your home.
There is power in patience. James is a newscaster in British Columbia who made a very public transition while working at a radio station in Victoria. He simply signed on one day as James. When listeners asked what happened to Sheila they were told that Sheila is now James. James says the support he received was overwhelmingly positive. You can learn more about James at the transgenderproject.