We can all agree that dating in general is hard enough. Dating while transitioning adds so many different levels of complexity to the equation. Some of the issues that trans* people face when dating include: coming out to every person who is potentially interested in them, being rejected just for being transgender, as well as facing stigma, discrimination and possibly even violence due to being transgender. Unfortunately, dating while transitioning can significantly increase the challenges that trans people face.
Plenty of Fish in the Pool
First off, it can be said that living as a trans person shrinks one’s dating pool in a rather considerable way. Studies have shown that people’s attitudes towards dating a transgender person are still rather poor. This means that the majority of cisgender people would outrightly refuse to date someone on the basis of their transness. This does not only apply to heterosexual cisgender people.
Many trans people have reported difficulties with dating and experiences of transphobia even from other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Some have cited that the reason for this may be due to people’s difficulty to see beyond conventional beauty standards, as well as due to the fact that transphobia has become so normalised in our society.
Tips for Dating
There are several things that a person who is transitioning needs to consider while dating. First of these is one’s decision of coming out to other people as trans. This can be particularly significant to a person who is transitioning because they might not necessarily be read as their correct gender. Coming out to anyone is a very personal choice and therefore, choosing whether or not to disclose your gender is completely up to you.
That being said, being authentic to your own self may help you attract people who respect and understand your gender, and who are more likely to be sensitive to issues that you as a trans person may face. In choosing to come out to others, you may wish to think about whether you want to have this conversation instantly, or whether you want to leave it until you establish some sort of connection with a person.
Prepare Yourself for the Conversation
Having the above-mentioned conversation can likely lead to what may be considered awkward and uncomfortable conversations surrounding genitals and sex. Trans people often need to endure the added stress of explaining to partners how they may experience sexual pleasure differently when compared to a cisgender person. It is important to communicate what you are and are not comfortable with when it comes to sexual activity. This may include conversations such as which body parts create the most dysphoria, and stereotypical gender roles surrounding sex.
Make Sure You Feel Safe
Another salient point that transitioning people may face during dating includes the issue of safety. It is a known fact that trans people experience higher levels of discrimination and violence on the basis of their gender identity. This may include verbal, physical or even sexual harassment from potential dates. It is important to be careful when it comes to dating, particularly when it comes to people that you may have met online. You may wish to notify a family member or friend about your whereabouts or take other measures to keep yourself safe.
Take Care of Yourself
With all the above points considered, this is a gentle reminder to take care of yourself physically and emotionally when it comes to dating. Transitioning can be a challenging period in your life, and therefore it is important to evaluate whether you feel ready to date during this time. It is also important to remind yourself that you can take a break from dating whenever you feel the need to and that no one is ever 100% ready to date because we are all a work in progress.
Keep Good Company
Remember to surround yourself with people who respect your decision to transition and encourage you to be the person you want to be. Dating while transitioning can be difficult, but not impossible. Many transgender people go on to have meaningful and fulfilling relationships with partners who are loving, and supportive and who respect them for who they are.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Pamela Borg is a counsellor who enjoys working therapeutically with adults experiencing various issues. These include general mental health and wellbeing, gender, sexuality, relationship issues.
Dr Nerdlove (2018). Ask Dr. NerdLove: How Do I Date When I’m Transitioning? Retrieved from: https://www.doctornerdlove.com/ask-dr-nerdlove-date-im-transitioning/
Factora, J. (2021). Trans Youth Face Unique Difficulties While Dating, Reveals First-of-Its-Kind Study. Retrieved from: https://www.them.us/story/trans-youth-dating-difficulties-study
Rebekah, A. (2019). Dating while trans feminine: The troubling, often demoralizing reality. Retrieved from: https://transandcaffeinated.com/troubling-reality-dating-while-trans/