Paris Lees: Everything You Need to Know About Trans Dating
I’m like the British, transgender Carrie Bradshaw – and this is my dating guide.
Trans people seem to be everywhere right now – and if you’re lucky you might get to date one. You might even be lucky enough to be one. Like me.
I’m trans. And single. Again. I know right? I transitioned from male to female ten years ago so I know a thing or two about dating as a trans woman. I’ve no idea what it’s like for trans men or non-binary people so this is just my perspective. And I’m mainly straight. I like men. The way they look, the way they smell, the way they feel. I don’t always like the way they treat me – but welcome to being a woman I guess?
And don’t forget, trans people are as diverse at the rest of the population, so our dating experiences are going to be diverse too.
I asked some of my followers about the things they’d like to know/would like other people to know about dating trans folk and here’s what they came up with…
“Do you date gay guys?”
No. Gay men don’t fancy me. But sorry to break it to you, your straight brother probably does. You’ll get over it. Who do you think is watching all that trans porn online? Not The Gays. None of this stops me falling in love with about three gay men a week, mind you – but I’ve come to accept the fact that Olly Alexander probably isn’t going to marry me anytime soon. I know. Gutted.
I think this question comes up because some people perceive trans women as ‘men who become women’. I don’t really see it that way because I’ve always felt like a girl. But even so, if you think men who fancy me are gay because I ‘used to be a boy’ by that logic anyone who’s ever fancied a grown adult must be a paedophile – because everyone used to be a kid? I know. That’s ridiculous logic.
“So who DO you date, Paris?!?”
I don’t speak for all trans people, but for me the answer is: hot guys. Really. Frickin. Hot. Guys.
There are loads of men who like trans women. Many of them are open about it these days, but sadly some men still feel ashamed of their desires.On the other hand, there are men who have never even thought about dating a trans woman before but who are open-minded when they meet one they like. Especially younger people.
I’ve had three serious relationships in my 20s with men who had never dated a trans woman before. Their friends and families accepted me completely. For better or worse, more and more men seem happy to treat trans women with the same level of respect – or crap – as any other woman. Lucky us.
“I accept your sexuality”
I know you mean well, but being trans isn’t my “sexuality”. It’s my gender. Sexuality is who you want to go to bed with – gender is who you want to go to bed as. I want to go bed with Tom Hardy as Rihanna for the night, but that’s me.
“Have you had the op?”
OMFG. Why do guys on dating apps feel like it’s OK to just blurt this out? I mean, I get it. You want to know what you’re signing up for, but seriously, would a little decorum kill you? I don’t go around asking men how big their junk is, no matter how curious I might be – and if we’re chatting on Tinder, believe me, I’m curious. Just because I’m trans doesn’t mean you have to be rude tho. And anyway, in my experience, it’s always better to wait for these things to, well, pop up naturally.
“How do you avoid dating people who just see you as a fetish?”
Good question. I don’t know. I once fell in love with a very charming young man I met at a party. It took him weeks to get his head around the fact that I was trans. When we finally had sex, it was awesome. He loved me for me – and I loved him. It was great, while it lasted, but sadly it’s not always like this.
Many men have been introduced to trans people through porn – so for them, we’re these hyper sexual creatures, a naughty fantasy. Many guys who like trans women have done lots of sexual experimentation and that’s fine, but what if I just want a man who’s a bit boring? I’ll take the son of a preacher man next, please.
“I’m transitioning in my mid 30s, will I ever date again?”
When I transitioned as a teenager I was convinced I’d have to spend the rest of my life alone because I couldn’t imagine anyone in my hometown so much as going for a pint with a trans person, let along dating one. But I was wrong.
I can’t promise that you will find love – no one knows that. But I reckon you’re in with a good chance of getting some dates in. I won’t lie, as a trans person it’s going to be a lot more complicated. And tough. But look on the bright side. Some people are born without charisma – and there just isn’t an operation for that.
“I’m too scared to meet anyone new”
That said, I know it can still feel pretty hopeless for many of my friends, particular those who transitioned later in life. One woman contacted me to say:
“I've kinda given up on dating - no one treats me as date-able, either in person or online. Mainly because I'm 'visibly trans' ... and over 50. For me, there is no option about whether to disclose my trans history or not - my face, my body, is like a big ol' sign, and anyone that spares me more than a momentary glance can tell pretty rapidly what my background is. Also, having had a couple of horrid, violent, real-life experiences I'm now too scared to meet anyone new.”
It breaks my heart reading this and I’m truly sorry that you’ve had such an awful experience of dating. I don’t know what the solution is, but all I can say is I wish you all the happiness in the world. I honestly believe there is someone out there for everyone and that love has a funny way of striking right when you least expect it. But please know that you are whole and worthy as you are, right now.
“We’re not your dirty secret”
No. We’re not. If you don’t want to be seen out with a trans person, don’t date one. I’m certainly not going to be your dirty little secret and I hope my fellow trans people won’t put up with that sort of BS now either. Sadly some men are terrified their friends and families will discover they’re dating a trans person. They worry about stigma and I get that.
Trans people hate feeling stigmatised too, but a lot of the time we don’t have a choice. But here’s the thing: Grow up. Treat us right or stay away. And if you’re trans, demand some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
A trans guy’s perspective…
“You wouldn't believe the number of straight women who hit on me because they want a fella in the streets and a woman in the sheets. Vile. It goes the other way too, if you're a lesbian with a homophobic family: don't date a trans guy just to pacify your folks.”
“What if you only find out they’re trans when they take off their clothes?”
I honestly don’t think this has ever happened to anyone, anywhere in real life. OK, well maybe one time. A guy was feeling me up once when I first transitioned and I’d forgotten to tell him that I was, well, ‘more than a woman’, so he found out for himself. He was chill about it but that’s not always the case. Many trans women suffer violence when the men they’re dating discover their ‘fun fact’. Which leads me on to my next point…
“Should you tell someone you are trans before you date them?”
Oh God, don’t ask me. It’s up to you? I prefer to be upfront, but I’m sort of famous-ish. And if someone’s got a problem with me being trans, I’d rather find out straight away and avoid wasting everyone’s time. But you do you.
Dating is always complex and chaotic, but one thing I know is this: you need to treat people with kindness. No one is forcing you to date a trans person and, honestly, we may not even want to date you anyway, but if you are interested, just don’t be a dick. And that’s my dating advice for pretty much anyone, really.
But there’s a serious side to all this and that’s the fact that nearly half of trans kids in Britain have attempted to suicide. Because they don’t feel like their lives will be worth living. Many people you meet who are trans may be going through struggles you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy – getting abused in the street, finding it difficult to get work and the pain of family rejection. So just be nice OK?
See you on Tinder!
Words by Paris Lees
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