Dating While Trans: Lessons Learned
words by Sophia Hernandez (she/her)
Listen in on the candid conversation with Sophia and Momotaro Apotheca CEO & CoFounder Lindsay Wynn (she/her) discussing lessons learned while dating while trans. Watch here.
After making the amazing leap to womanhood and slowly grasping our own idea of what it means to be a woman, we are faced with the perhaps the most emotionally draining process: dating while trans.
As trans women, we are taught that we have to raise ourselves. That we only have ourselves. It’s heartbreaking that we even have to question, Who will be there when we need somebody? As soon as we make the courageous decision to transition, we look for someone to be there for us in all the ways our friends and parents simply can’t. We search for someone — sometimes to our own detriment — on an intimate level to lessen those insecurities or feelings of abandonment, while also trying to fit into our society’s heterosexual normative. You truly feel that the missing piece that will finally complete you is a partner that will fully accept you for everything that you are.
We are constantly put through obstacles that challenge our womanhood and sanity. We as trans women already have a preconceived notion that we are hyper-sexual beings who are here for the mere idea of fulfilling a fantasy in the bedroom. Before you can even get to know someone’s favorite color, they’ve already asked you all of these super sexual questions. It makes you wonder if you are even seen as human. Once the deed is done, you’re probably told, “Don’t tell anybody about this.” You feel like a dirty secret, left alone and dreading the idea of opening up again.
Maybe you have decided to open up again, and you meet someone amazing, perhaps through a dating app or even social media. You start to think “maybe this one is different” because they’ve asked you about your hobbies, or tells you how courageous you are for your journey. Once you are together and forced to face it, it doesn’t feel quite as comfortable because they’re scared, for whatever reason, to be around you in public. They’re not quite sure of their own feelings, or can’t wrap their mind around openly dating a transgender woman.
You reach the fork in the road: do you stay to help them face every identity struggle and insecurity they’ve ever had about themselves? Or do you choose yourself and walk away to save your energy and peace?
Okay, so maybe you chose to walk away this time. Which is great, because why the hell not? You continue exploring and then you’re ready to get back on that old horse again! Though you’ve been draped across the bones of many and felt like tarnished goods, you decide to put yourself out there after everything you’ve been through because you want to just be a “normal woman” even if that feeling is fleeting.
After all these trials and tribulations, you finally find someone decent who isn’t overly interested in what’s between your legs. They aren’t scared to embrace who you are publicly. You find some solace in the fact that this is normal (whatever normal is), but you have this lingering fear that it’s temporary until proven otherwise and it’s too good to be true. Please don’t think that way.
Though you’ve been draped across the bones of many and felt like tarnished goods, you decide to put yourself out there after everything you’ve been through because you want to just be a “normal woman” even if that feeling is fleeting.
It’s amazing that you’ve made it this far in the dating world, so hold your head up high and believe that you deserve beautiful things and amazing energy around you. Yes, guard your heart, but don’t push the right ones away. Be patient with yourself and open up when you are ready to, not when you feel you need to.
I feel that we, as trans women, often feel that once we come out we have to dress feminine, get all of the operations, and mostly importantly “win” a cis-hetero man to prove we are “not like the rest.” But once you’ve discovered that your journey is for yourself and meant for you to reclaim your womanhood, all of the uncomfortable conversations and shame will feel worth it.
The biggest takeaway isn’t about finding that person. It’s diving into yourself and your own needs. Truly get to know who you are, what makes you happy, and know what gives you that sense of fulfillment without a partner. Experiment with your look, share special moments with close friends, and learn about the hobbies in life that bring you joy so that when the time comes that you feel ready to date, you’ve grown as an individual and found happiness within yourself first.
Dating is about finding someone that is your equal rather than your whole. Don’t be afraid to turn someone down, because when one goes, I promise you another one is right around the corner. That’s the fun part. Dating is an exciting process of sharing experiences with someone new, never quite knowing what will happen next.
Please stay safe. Statistically, trans women, and especially trans women of color, have a life expectancy of 35 due to several risk factors, so please be aware of who you are dating and prioritize your safety. Never rush yourself to meet someone because you feel they’re going to be the “one that got away.” Your life is more important than a silly date.
Always be Honest & Direct
If you’re comfortable, always be honest and direct about your transition to avoid any miscommunication, so that whoever you’re with is aware before meeting up. If for any reason you have a gut feeling that something is off, follow your instincts and keep it moving.
READ MORE Stuff You Should Know: Tips for Allies
Acquire Self Defense Skills & Tools
Always make sure to have self defense weapons. Even cis women are put in danger just from walking to get something from the bodega, and it’s the unfortunate truth that trans women (and, again, moreso trans women of color) are disproportionately affected by physical violence in their day-to-day lives.
Lastly, remember our community is always put in jeopardy with STDs. Practice safe sex, and get regularly tested so that you can live fun, fruitful lives so that you can pass on your wisdom to the next generation of history makers as trans women. Trans women are everything — we are already whole — and we deserve a seat at the table to laugh along with girls about it all.
Meet the Author
Sophia Hernandez (she/her)
Sophia is African American and Mexican and she also happens to be transgender. While her gender is not the only composition of her identity, it plays a huge role. Sophia is proud of coming out as trans and being fearlessly who she is. She uses her social media platforms (Instagram and YouTube) for activism and to build a community for her trans girls.