MY FRIENDS IN THE LGBT COMMUNITY of Tallahassee, Florida frequently ask about my life in Los Angeles. I lived there during most of my adulthood, and moving to LA has helped me to feel like a beacon of hope for that most resilient minority in Florida, my brothers and sisters in pride. The biggest questions inevitably allude to my love life: Meet any hot guys at the VMAs after-party? or How long did you make out with Jared Leto when you met him? Clearly, they jest. Jokes aside, dating a transgender woman comes across as foreign, extremist, and invasive to many heterosexual, cisgender men out there. Here are some key points of advice I’ve gleaned on the hunt for Mr. Big you might just find useful. Listen up, sisters:
Verbiage is a Traffic Signal
Through the mazes of apps and dating profiles – yes, she’s guilty – consider their vocab a metaphorical traffic signal. Here is where I’m putting my Creative Writing degree to use: “green light” means he uses words like “transgender” and “transwomen”, and is up-to-date on the North Carolina bathroom situation, the Orlando Pulse massacre, and other human rights issues. I’m not saying you should be going on a date with the dude just because he took Gender Studies in college. I’m just saying: date a man who is aware of the reality of the situation. I have to date someone awake to the issues, that can admit his knowledge on some stuff is touchy yet is comfortable enough to invest time into learning the lingo that makes me feel the most comfortable. No, I don’t expect him to call me “Leia the Transgender Women,” but if he comes at me with “shemale,” “lady boy,” “transvestite,” or yes, even “tranny”… I’m out. That is definitely a red light for me. Don’t settle for a man who doesn’t know his history (or is unwilling to learn), who doesn’t know how special you are, and doesn’t know what movement you belong to.
You’re Not a Blow-Up Doll
It has to be said. Transgender women have been oversexualized from the beginning — not unlike ciswomen in general. But I’m talking about how most men have seen the porn version of me before they actually meet me! The expectation for a lot of transwomen is for them to adhere to this doll-like, hyper-feminine, sexual aesthetic. Some men are looking for just that: the transwoman they’ve seen in porn. That’s all you are to them — a realization of their computer screen. It’s also a prevalent issue in LGBT clubs or transgender events that pull “admirers.” Admirers are usually guys who would never approach you in public, have some sort of fetish for what you are not who you are, and plan on treating you like a prostitute. You’ll be discarded that week, or night, or in twenty minutes for someone else who meets the next ideal “whatever.” You’re not a novelty, you’re a human being. Don’t get sucked into the dark patches of an otherwise-thriving culture that wants the best for its transgender women.
Honesty is Everything
I‘m new to the West Coast, and all I can say is some of these transgender women are spoiled, honey. In the South, if a man finds out you’re going stealth — AKA not honest about being transgender — you can end up dead real quick. When I hear about girls going home with guys and just casually disclosing in the Uber ride, or dating for months without bringing it up… Be proud, ladies. No relationship based off a lie is made for success. If he can’t deal with it, good-bye. If he can accept it, then high-five! You’re not bound by your gender identification, and only you can decide when you feel it’s appropriate and safe for you to do it. But from my perspective, I look too good to be hiding behind some smoke and mirrors. That’s not cockiness — that’s pride in how far I’ve come in my transition. You should be proud too. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had SRS or you’re only rocking false eyelashes. Worth comes from within. At the very least, bring that to the table, ladies.