Saturday, June 22, 2013

Defining who we are pt. VI: The Complexities of Trans dating

 By Sabrina Samone, TMP

You don’t have to be a fan of the hit show ‘Sex and The City’ to know of the turmoil of single dating. The zoo of single dating at times may feel like being on a freeway with bumper to bumper traffic, several accidents and way too many road raggers. Regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, Trans or Cis people can agree that we’ve all had our share of trials and errors in the dating world. A ton of kissing of frogs may happen before you find that prince or princess. In our social media world, which was supposed to be making it easier, it only seems to make the zoo only more crowded.

Being Trans, unfortunately, our problems are usually magnified, and in the dating world its no exception. The pre-requisite to understanding Trans is knowing that Transgender is not sexuality. Trans, like Cis-people (those who have no gender dysphoria in their birth gender), can have any number of sexual orientations. Several Trans-men are gay and many Trans-women are lesbian. A Trans-man who has transitioned or transitioning from female to male is not a lesbian. He is perceived as a male and therefore if he has an attraction to men, he is considered Gay. Gay is a same sex attraction to everything masculine, therefore if one is perceived as a male Cis or Trans that find an attraction to those that are perceived similarly as male, they’re considered Gay. Likewise, Trans-women who has transitioned or transitioning from male to female are not a gay man. She is perceived as a female and therefore, if she has an attraction to women, she is considered Lesbian. Lesbian is same sex attraction to everything feminine, therefore, if one is perceived as female, Cis or Trans that find an attraction to those that are perceived similarly as female, they’re considered Lesbian.

There are also bi and pansexual people, Cis and Trans that have little or no preference between the two or three genders. Bi and Pansexual may actually be the majority of people in my opinion, but popular belief is that most people classify themselves as Heterosexual. Traditionally that would be perceived as any biological (Cis-gender) man’s attraction to a woman and vice versa. Also many Trans-women and men consider themselves Heterosexual. A Trans-woman who has transitioned or transitioning from male to female that is attracted to men, her opposite gender, is considered Heterosexual, straight. The same goes for a Trans-man who has transitioned or transitioning from female to male that is attracted to women, his opposite gender, is considered Heterosexual, straight. Regardless what is or was between a person’s legs, gender is not sexuality. When a man sees a woman he is attracted to, his mind responds to this and his genitals will react, that is considered heterosexual, regardless what the woman have or had between her legs. The same for a woman that sees a man she is attracted to, her mind responds in kind and is a heterosexual attraction, the attraction to the opposite gender you are or are perceived as.

Trans-love or Trans relationships are rarely discussed and are often just perceived by the transgender persons as another form of Heterosexual relationship. The only, yet,  unique additive are that both share gender dysphoria and have transitioned or transitioning from the gender they were born with. This sometimes, maybe the basic attraction; a shared view of being transgender but yet opposite genders. Many who are in such relationships prefer and are perceived to be just another heterosexual couple. For opponents of Transgender people, they have little argument because either way the opponent views it, it is a heterosexual relationship. Not all Transgender people are willing to partner with someone who is going through similar struggles but for a growing number of Transgender people it’s an additional option in the dating scene which can be a remedy to living a life alone. Transgender people are also considered two-spirited people, having the spirit of both male and female and many who have experienced such relationships, myself included, have often referred to the coming together sexually, of Trans-lovers, is that its like having a foursome with one and considered the ultimate duality of the transgender spirit.
 Now navigating through all the different orientations of members of the transgender community, given the fact that mainstream dating sites don’t give us options for transgender categories and your average trans-woman or man is not going to be in your neighborhood bar with a ‘T’, on their forehead, may make finding your future Trans significant other, and some do specifically choose to date only trans people, a little difficult, or if you are the average person that is just open to dating someone, Cis or Trans. Society makes it difficult beyond social media for the majority of us to live so visibly and open outside of our peers. If you are someone who is open to dating a transgender person, you should start by casting a wider social network of friends that you socialize with. I’m not talking about the average “trans chaser”, who is looking for an “experiment”, which most Tran’s people abhor. If that is what you’re looking for there are many places online that provides “lab experiments” for a price. Many though, are looking for something more serious and for those that don’t come into contact with Transgender people may want to do some homework and find local Trans support groups to participate and show your support as a Trans ally. Your input as an ally would be welcomed in most circles and no one would turn you away from joining in any advocacy for transgender rights, but again for those who are interested in serious meetings only, “chasers” are extremely screened by most Tran’s organizations and groups and every maneuver is taken to weed through potential “chasers” from reaching them. Another option are local bars that are known to be frequented by those witin the Transgender Community. In smaller towns and cities these may actually be gay and lesbian bars, larger cities have Trans bars and parties to socialize with Trans people. Do some homework and search online for any of the mentioned in your area.
For the Trans-man and woman seeking someone, we are faced with many obstacles. The first is in knowing the difference between the “chasers” and people who are genuinely interested in us as a person and not a fetish. It’s why I’d advise any Transperson dating a Cis-gender person to take intimacy slowly. This is wise for many reasons, as Trans women, we may not be experienced in the maneuvers of our male suitors.  Your new opposite gender may provide more heartaches than needed if level heads don’t prevail. The same can be said for Trans-men, as some feel, a growing fetish among gay men is to “try” a vagina on a Trans-man and also a few women who are looking for an experiment.  That’s why; weeding through fetish seekers is the number one issue most of us face. Trans-men may also find themselves learning new ways in communicating with females and learning to be aware of what is  appropriate as their new identified gender.
Another is when to let someone you know your dating, that you are Trans. This is an issue for many who don’t rely solely on online dating, those of us that meet someone in life, sparks fly, a few dates later and we are now faced with the question when or should I let them know I’m Transgender. First of all you should let someone you get serious with, know the truth. Sure we all want to just be considered the new sex we are, but there comes a time, particularly in a relationship, that the truth must be revealed. It’s best done sooner than later for many reasons. Never reveal yourself alone. There are countless stories of where this has gone wrong and not in the favor of the Trans person. For your own safety, reveal your truth in a public place, like a restaurant or at your friends or families dinner party. Don’t put this off for too long or wait six months to a year when emotional attachments have been established. This is not respectful and can be emotionally damaging to your date and can be very dangerous for you as well.
When do you exactly reveal the truth? That is a decision everyone has to make on their own, though I prefer what I call a third date rule. Your first date is about meeting and seeing if there is chemistry. If there is, a second date comes and this is when you will begin to relax and get to know the other person. Some may say a third date is too soon, but this is 2013 and usually by the third date good girls have kissed already and bad girls have probably given it up. This means emotions and feelings are starting to build and I choose between a third and fourth date to meet my potential partner and make sure they are aware of my situation. Honestly, sometimes you will be disappointed, but often you’ll be surprised. In my experience those who “couldn’t deal with it” often call back with questions and with some Trans 101 eventually you make it on a fourth or more dates anyway.
As far as Trans-love dating goes, I have little experience. The only Trans-man I dated  was for nearly six months but went rather well with only one major glitch. He was always self conscious of the fact he was 5’7 and I was 5’9. I’m not a stiletto heel type of girl; two inches max unless the occasion calls for higher. Regardless, this was an issue for him and often complained of feeling less of a man because of his height. From what I do know, this is not a common problem and there are many success stories out there.  For any of these topics I brought up, there are tons of material on the internet from blogs, to videos with more insight and maybe even more experience than what I can provide. If you’re faced with any of these issues, talk to friends, online friends, research on line and think with your head and not your heart lol.
At the end of the day, if you’re a Trans person feeling you’ll never find someone, there is hope. Love comes when you least expect it. My previous relationship was six years and we’ve remained the best of friends and there are even more successful, success stories. Give love a chance, dating and relationships can and are more emotionally fulfilling and rewarding than one night stands and letting someone disrespect your body. You are the duality of being Trans, the two-spirited person, you are special and you deserve to be treated special by someone in your life. Good luck in the dating world.

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