Your shopping cart is empty!
This article is intended to provide advice for cis-gendered people taking their first steps towards trans* dating/sex. The language used is not intended to convey any one gender or sexual orientation.
* used to refer to all trans people including but not limited to transmen and transwomen.
This is part 2 of 3 chronicling advice when approaching this situation. It is important to note that this advice is subjective, and everyone’s experience is unique. For part 1 click here
Am I Still Gay/Straight/Etc.?
Take a moment to think about this, this isn’t a question that can be solved via outside commentary. Ask yourself how you feel. Sexuality is a grey zone with plenty of exceptions, exclusions, changes, and amendments.
If liking/dating a trans* person has you questioning your sexuality and how you previously thought of yourself, start with simple yes or no questions.
“Does it matter?”
Whether or not your sexual identity changes because of this, does it really matter to you? Do you feel you need a concise label for your sexuality? If no, then there we go! Time to move on! If yes, then it’s time to think deeper.
“Have my attractions changed?”
Take a moment and think on whether or not noticing your attraction to a trans* person has changed any of your other attractions. From there, you can work on reassessing how you identify with your sexuality, and when/what changes need to be made.
Let’s be clear with this – it won’t be easy. Re-assessing and changing a core part of yourself is difficult and, to make this clear, needs to be done with as little external input as possible. Only you can ever truly know yourself, and it is not the job of someone else to figure things out for you. Of course, ask for advice, talk with someone close to you about your thoughts and, if you have one, talking to a therapist can be helpful. But ultimately, this is all on you. But, hey, this is the age of the internet, and there are forums online you can post your situation to with complete anonymity (just make sure not to include any information that could identify people involved – this means more than just changing names). There will be plenty of people who have been in this situation and hearing their experiences could be an excellent way to see how your thought process matches or is dissimilar to that of others.
Remember that change is human. Growing is human. Learning is human. The most glorious part of being human is the ability to educate yourself, discover more about yourself, and the ability to adapt. Just because a part of you feels different than it did before, doesn’t necessarily mean the previous version is gone. This is an update - and acknowledging that you are a person who will continue to absorb new information, and develop in different ways, is an important step in figuring this specific conundrum out.
What Should I Do?
It’s not so simple as giving clear advice on what to do next, however, we can give a clear idea of what not to do.
Don’t act on whatever feelings you may be having, sexual or romantic, until you are absolutely certain of what you want. Rejection hurts, sure, but having hope taken away hurts more. If you’re not sure you can commit, then avoid moving forward.
“What if I don’t know what I want?”
Then take a moment to really think about it, pause and do some self-reflection and consider how this decision makes you feel. However, be careful not to force that on someone else. If you don’t know what you want, then you need to spend the time and energy figuring it out - don’t pull someone else along for the ride.
No one is perfect. This tired old expression rings true especially in the world of dating. Not knowing what you want is fine, expressing that you don’t know what you want is fine. But, at the other end of the line may be another person waiting and wondering with poisonous anticipation for you to choose them. If you really cannot come to a decision, you owe it to them to cut the line. Then they can begin to heal before becoming corroded to the core.
Keep in mind there is nothing wrong with just saying “Look, I don’t know if I’m ready for this or if I want this, but I want to find out” – where you go from there is up to you and them. Just be sure to remember that trans* people hear this a lot, and for some that might simply be a deal-breaker – and that’s okay! It’s fine for things to not work out.
Think about what you do want. Do you want to try a date, assess your feelings in motion? Do you want to dive straight into sex without restraint to see if you can (sex=with consent, no consent=not sex)? There’s nothing wrong with experimenting so long as the other person knows what the situation is and has agreed to it. Let them know that you want to do this because you’re attracted to them and want to see if this is something you are into/want. If they’re 100% okay with that and lights are green across the board – go for it.
“What if we’re about to have sex and I don’t think I can go through with it?”
Say that. Apologize and explain that you don’t think this is what you want. It’s going to suck that’s for sure, but it’s better to rip the band-aid off beforehand than tackle this after hooking up. In the long-run, being upfront with your feelings will be best for yourself and your partner.
Being honest is the key to any healthy relationship – alongside communication. By being honest with your emotions, your thought process, and yourself you create a bridge of trust that can lead to a more positive experience. Even if, at the end of the day, this is simply an experiment to you to see if it will work – by being honest with this person about your intentions, they in turn may feel more comfortable being honest as well.
Again, remember the other person involved in this is a person. They have their own thoughts, feelings, wants, needs. Try not to get too focused on only what you want, this should be mutually beneficial.
When Things Start Getting Serious
If things start to develop, and you have come to the conclusion that you wanted to be in a committed relationship with the person in question – amazing! But what happens next?
“Should I tell everyone?”
Discuss this with your partner, set some boundaries on who you want to let into your personal lives and what information is okay to share. For some couples talking open and freely about their sex life is the norm, whilst others prefer to keep bedroom activities exclusively in the bedroom. Talking about this early on helps to prevent any misunderstandings or actions that could hurt the other person.
Remember, not every trans* person is completely open about being trans*, you’ll need to discuss who your partner is okay with you telling this to (there are a few reasons for a person not to disclose their status as a trans* person, many including safety. If a trans* person does not wish to disclose their identity it does not mean they are ashamed for that they aren’t *really* trans*).
“We decided to tell people! What do I say?”
If you’re in a situation where your partner is happy for you to introduce them as trans* to new people, then go ahead. Just remember that this person is now your partner and them being trans* isn’t the only thing you should have to say about them. Maintain using correct pronouns, that will never change, introduce them accordingly as your boyfriend/girlfriend/person your dating – and better yet ask them how they want to be identified in the relationship.
Should it be that they don’t want you to immediately disclose the fact their trans* to new people, then it’s as easy as just leaving that out. You’ve already discussed what you will label your relationship and you know what their pronouns are so the conversation should go the same as any of your previous relationships.
“Hey, it’s great to see you it’s been a while! This is my girlfriend/boyfriend/partner [insert name here]”
It really is as easy as simply not mentioning the trans* part.
“Someone approached me and asked if the person I’m dating is trans*… Help!”
This is a topic that again should be discussed early in the relationship. Ask your partner how they would best like you to handle this situation. People are inherently gossipy and nosey, so there absolutely will be people who do this and it’s best to be prepared.
If your partner has said they’re comfortable with it, you can tell the person to go ask them. People often want information without confrontation but try your best to be kind. For some this can be your chance to take on the role of educator and give trans* people a break from constantly explaining what `being trans* means`.
Should your partner say they would prefer you don’t answer them, but also does not want the question redirected and them, then communicate a good response together. Find a solution that doesn’t actively deny their trans* status, whilst maintaining their safety.
This concludes part 2 of `What to do When Dating Trans`. We hope you’ll check back next week for the conclusion to this series! As always, we want to remind you that everyone is different, and the advice offered in this post is subjective. Please note that gender identity is different for everyone and to be respectful of that.