Ah, romantic love, the source of so much joy and so much misery. For many trans people, seeking a partner isn’t just hard–it’s completely baffling. I see this confusion crop up over and over in our community. As a trans dude who lucked into a great relationship, I thought I’d offer a few pointers for trans people trying to figure out where to even start.
1. Safety first. Sadly, this needs to be said, as I’m sure you’re aware. Dating can be dangerous for trans people. Be choosy about the who, how and when of disclosing your trans status. You may want to gauge their views on trans people, like by mentioning a trans celebrity or TV character (something we can actually do now!). Tell loved ones where you are going and when you’ll be back. Trust your gut. It’s a good idea to disclose as early as possible in a new relationship. Choose a place where you know you’ll be safe, like in a restaurant or at your place when your roommates or family are in the next room.
2. Consider other trans people. The late, great Matt Kailey used to say this often in his advice column. Many trans people find love with another trans person. Obviously, other trans people are a lot more likely than the average to be informed about your identity and experiences, open-minded about your body, and willing to see you as more than your trans status. Given our glorious diversity, whatever you’re into, there are probably some trans people who’ve got it. And you’re guaranteed to have something in common.
3. Bi and queer folks may be your best bet. I’ve noticed that a lot of trans people find partners who identify as bi or queer, including yours truly. It’s no coincidence. Bi and queer people, both trans and cis, are generally open to a range of body types and gender expressions. They’re therefore less likely to see trans people as a threat to their own identities. I also think there’s something about the shared experience of being oft-ignored members of the LGBTQ+ community. Of course, there are plenty of gay, lesbian, straight and other people who are not transphobic and would be happy to date you. Nonetheless, bi and queer people can be a good place to start.
4. Love yourself. Ok, not to get super corny here, but it’s true–loving yourself is so important. As trans people, self-acceptance and love are often challenging. Whether you’re partnered or single, loving yourself is the foundation of bliss, in relationships and every other part of life. Some ways to get started with self-love include surrounding yourself with supportive people and doing one thing each day just to be kind to yourself. When you’re getting ready in the morning, you can look at yourself in the mirror, smile, and say “I love you.” You will feel really silly, but seriously, it helps. When you’re rooted in self-love, you can enjoy the single life, and you’ll be equipped to know a good thing when it comes. Plus, the confidence and positivity that come with self-love are extremely attractive.
5. Hold out for the real thing. Don’t spend years of your life with someone just because they show you a minimum of decency and are willing to use the right pronouns (and don’t even get me started on people who don’t meet that low bar). You deserve a great relationship with someone who shares your values and really gets you–a mutual partnership where you can love and be loved, challenge and be challenged. It’s the real deal when you feel deeply respected and the relationship helps both people to grow. Don’t settle for less. You’re worth it.
Readers–what advice do you have for trans people who are seeking that special someone? Please also feel free to ask questions and share stories about dating while trans.