They say that lesbian dating is a lot like finding a job in 2015 – either you need to do it online, or you need to be referred by someone.
Dating is hard for everyone in this day and age. And it’s even harder if you’re trans.
I’m the first to admit that being “in transition” kinda complicates things. Of course, anyone else’s mileage may vary – I can speak only for my own experiences. But definitely, there was a time when I wasn’t entirely comfortable in my own identity, or my own body. That awkward “in between” phase where I was still keeping up certain appearances, and I didn’t really feel like I had the freedom to just be.
Of course, it’s a tricky concept. People often ask (and sometimes quite inappropriately) “how far along are you in your transition?” To which I answer that transition, for me at least, is a lifelong endeavour. It started 30 years ago, and it will never end. And trying to quantify it invalidates not just my own personal journey, but that of every other trans person out there. If my transition is, for example, regarded as complete, does that mean that someone else’s is incomplete? Of course, that’s not an idea I can ever get behind.
But, at the present moment, I am generally in a pretty good place with my body. And I’m in a very good place with my identity. It has been months since I purged my wardrobes of clothes that don’t fit (in more than one sense), months since I presented as anything other than who I am. My confidence and security in my sense of self is generally better than it has ever been before. And though my body continues to change, it’s much more closely aligned with that sense of self than it used to be. Things are still getting better, but I can look in the mirror now and see a body that looks like mine, and it makes me happy.
So, all told, for the past while, I think I’ve been in a relatively good place to look at dating again. It’s been more than a year since
I had my heart ripped out and crushed into tiny little pieces and scattered to the wind my last relationship came to an end, and I’ve had a chance to heal a bit. I know myself, I trust myself, and I think highly enough of myself to understand that I actually have the ability to be healthy in an individual capacity as well as to be a good partner. I don’t feel like I’m looking for someone to complete me, because I am complete. But I have a lot to share and to give. And, also, I’m actually me now… which should be a good prognostic indicator for future romantic endeavours.
So that’s good and well, except for one tiny little problem. I’m undateable.
Yeah, that’s right. Undateable. I am a walking, talking, living, breathing dealbreaker.
And now, some of you will rush to say “Oh nonsense, Anastacia!” as if I haven’t heard that a hundred times before. (Microagression much???)
Well I have. And do you know who I’ve heard it from? People who don’t want to date me.
Now remember, I’m a woman of science. So my conclusions are based on evidence that I’ve observed empirically, instead of just self-pity.
So you’ll suggest that I just haven’t tried. Well actually, yeah I have. And the degree of my trying is pretty fucking impressive, especially if you know me for the INFJ that I am.
OkCupid – been there, done that, got the fetishisation.
- “I get along famously with Transgenders, so if you would like to chat let me know.” (42/F) – Thanks, but I’m a person, not one of the “transgenders”
- “Hey there, would you like to chat?” (33/F) – That sounds great. Do you know what would’ve been cool? If you hadn’t totally ignored me after I replied to you.
- “I was filtering for sapiosexual, and there you are.” (36/M) – Maybe you should also have been filtering for people who are into dudes. Because I’m lesbian. Hella lesbian. And you are not going to cure me of that, no matter how attracted to my intellect you are.
- “Heya, do you want to chat?” (30/F) – That also sounds great. Do you know what would’ve also been cool? If you hadn’t also totally ignored me after I replied to you.
- “Hello sweetie” (29/M) – Yeah, still not looking for dudes, thanks.
- “You are gorgeous” (37/M) – Yup, totally not lesbian anymore, thanks to your ravishing conversation
- “Hello, how are you? what’s your name? you are so beautiful! can we chat? hope to hear you .” (33/M) – Right. Time to get a haircut because I’m obviously too pretty to be gay.
And that’s not even counting the people I messaged first, who unanimously just never replied.
Ok, that’s cool, I can deal. Maybe OkCupid’s not the right place, so let’s try…
Tinder – because I’ve always wanted to be a science experiment.
- “So I’ve never been with a trans before, and I don’t know how it would work in bed” – Right. And at this rate, you are not going to find out.
- “I’m still figuring out if I prefer girls or boys” – Now I’m not biphobic or panphobic. But if you think I’m some kind of middle ground, you can move right along.
- “Let’s meet up on Monday?” – I have a feeling our meeting would’ve gone better if you hadn’t just disappeared on me after we made plans. Or maybe not.
- “Wow, you don’t even look trans” – *facepalm*
- “You’re such an inspiration” – I get that a lot. Prepare for an in-depth rant on the subject.
Right, so that’s no good, how about…
Every other dating network ever – you know, because they aren’t cissexist, heteronormative, inherently transphobic etc. Oh wait, they are. I could go into more specifics, but I think you probably get the point by now.
So, of course, there is the constant dilemma when it comes to dating of how/when/if to disclose one’s transness. I’ve tried it both ways (ahem, no, not like that) and I’m pretty much just tired of the anxiety and anticipation of having to drop that particular bombshell. To be fair, I haven’t had any especially bad reactions – aside from the now-routine disappearing act that is so commonplace – but it’s just not worth the tsoris, especially for someone who is as publicly out as I am.
So nowadays I just plaster it on top of my profile, and that’s that.
Well, sort of. Because it means that some people see me as trans first and anything else second.
And transness, like it or not, is still a dealbreaker. I know some of these could have happened to anyone – taken in isolation. But there’s a whole lotta rejection there. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Some of it would’ve happened in any case. And it’s totes obvs that not everyone has chemistry or a connection with everyone else. But nonetheless, the epic string of dismal failures is pretty damning, and it’s probably not unreasonable to imagine that some of it has something to do with my identity (and lez-b-honest, it doesn’t help that I’m a feminist)
Now, not to stroke my ego or anything, but I do have a lot of positive attributes (or so I’m told). Apparently I’m relatively nice to look at, I’m hella compassionate and caring, I’m considered to be pretty smart, I’m a doctor (at least in theory), and I’m all kinds of brave and courageous and assorted whatnot.
But at the end of the day, it’s easier to just date cis.
You don’t have to deal with the transphobia-by-proxy.
You don’t have to answer questions from friends and families, or explain to them how dating a trans person doesn’t change your sexual orientation.
You don’t have to defend me to those people who call me an “it” or a “he-she” or a “insert-other-revolting-pejorative-here”.
You don’t have to watch me fight for the right to my identity with the Department of Home Affairs for months on end.
You don’t have to make allowances for the tablets I take, or for the mornings that I still have to shave, or for the anxiety that I get everytime I need to go to the bank, or get on a plane, or go see a doctor.
You never have to tell anyone “But she is a woman”.
You never have to remind yourself that finding me attractive doesn’t mean you have to question your own identity.
You don’t have to answer questions about how we have sex.
You don’t have to watch me struggle for acceptance in a world that would rather have me dead than see me for who I am.
I get it. Really I do. I mean, I wouldn’t date me either. Sure, I’m not without my positive attributes. But there’s a lot of sacrifice that goes into being with someone like me. And dating is hard enough without all that. So I don’t disagree. It’s easier to see me as inspiration than as someone you could actually date. And it’s easy to try to placate me, and tell me you’d date me if circumstances were different. But there is a chasm in between the idea and the reality of it all. It’s the reason why you’ll send me a message and then disappear. It’s the reason why you’ll make plans with me, and then stand me up. It’s the reason why we’ll go on that first date, and I’ll be charming and lovely, and I’ll make you laugh, and you’ll touch my arm and smile at me, and then I will never hear from you again afterwards. It’s why you’ll sit and chat with me at a party, when we finally meet after weeks of flirting, but you won’t say goodbye when you leave. It’s why you thought about it, and you have no problem dating a trans person in theory, but when it comes down to the reality of it, it’s just too much to bear.
It’s not your fault. And it isn’t mine either. I’d still rather be undateable than try to be someone I’m not. Just don’t tell me I’m making this stuff up. After all, I am a woman of science, and here is the evidence.