Finding love is a big concern for trans people, and it’s not without its validation. A trans guy told me that when he came out to his mom, his mom said, “Who’s going to love you?”
I’ve heard from parents of trans kids that of all the concerns they have regarding their children’s future, dating and love is one of their biggest fears for their children. Who will love them? Will they be safe? What happens if they’re fetishized for their identity? Will they be loved despite being trans? And trans people ask themselves all these same questions.
These concerns and questions are valid. When trans people date, they are often tasked with deciding when and where to disclose their identity. Some trans people may feel like they are being fetishized for their identity. They may ask themselves, Am I only “dateable” because I appear trans? Will that person want to be seen with me in public as a couple? Will this person still like me when/if I appear cisgender?
These questions are not just rhetorical. The moment a trans person chooses to disclose their identity is the moment when violence is most likely to occur. I can’t talk about love without talking about the homicide rate of trans people, particularly trans women of color.
Some of these murders are the direct result of transphobia at the hands of acquaintances or partners. Many of the killings are the result of the intersection of homophobia, racism, sexism, and transphobia. Some of the killings are because circumstances force trans people into less than ideal situations – poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, economic insecurity, survival sex work and other underground economy work. Meeting new people, dating, putting yourself out there - it’s frightening, and a concern for trans people and the people who love us.
I am one of the lucky ones. When I first met my wife in August 2016, I was scared and I pushed her away. Even though I was really attracted to her physically and emotionally, I didn’t know if I wanted to be with a trans woman. I felt like if I was with a cisgender woman, it helped to solidify my identity as a heterosexual, cis-passing male; it affirmed my identity. If I was to be with a trans woman, did that mean that only trans people deserved other trans people? Was I not “male enough” to be with a cisgender woman? Plus, I was struggling with some internalized homophobia. What would people think? What did I think?
Ultimately, I moved out of the state and I didn’t know if we would continue to see each other. Luckily, neither of us could forget the other quite so easily. She said she saw something in me and knew I was a good person. I came to realize that she is what I want and fuck it to my own internalized homophobia and my own demons and whatever society says I should do or be. Now we have a love that is more than I ever thought I deserved.
She teaches me everyday to let go of my to-do lists and just live, she teaches me that I’m enough and I’m worthy and I’m deserving of all the good things in my life. Conversely, she’s told me that I’ve helped her be more open and forgiving and warm.
Worrying about when and where to disclose is a real and valid concern. Safety when dating should be taken seriously. Take proper precautions but don’t let it stop you from realizing that you are worthy of love, you are deserving of being with someone who validates you and makes you feel beautiful.