In the area where I currently live, I didn't think that I would ever experience transphobia first hand. Phoenix is pretty progressive and most people who do know that I'm transgender are either supportive or don't comment too much about it. It actually wasn't until I started getting into the dating scene that I started experiencing transphobia first-hand. Before you read these experiences, I want you to understand that there are people in the world who simply don't understand what it is to be transgender, and quite often they don't intend to say transphobic things.
Sometimes Tinder can be tender.
When I decided to get back into the dating scene after about a 2 year hiatus, I wanted to try the most popular dating app that I had heard of. At the time, it was Tinder. Now; on any dating profile I make sure to put in my profile description that I'm transgender. I do this to be 100% fair and open to anyone who may be interested in me.
I know that I may not be everyone's cup of tea, and unless I put it out there first, I could potentially end up hurting someone's feelings and that's not anything that I want to do.
Sometimes people are on the fence
We've all been curious in the past. How did you explore your curiosity when it comes to who you date? Chances are you went on a dating app/site and started searching.
In this instance, I was on Tinder when I matched with this person. They were really cute and we had a lot in common. I messaged them first and we soon realized that we shared a lot of great conversation. It had gotten to the point in our conversation that I wanted to meet up to potentially get some coffee, a drink or some dinner with them, so we made plans on a Tuesday to get dinner that upcoming Sunday.
Friday came around and I had gotten no texts from them, which was strange considering how strong our connection and conversation had been in the days leading up to this.
I let it go though, I figured they were just really busy since the weekend was on it's way. Exactly as I suspected, Saturday night came around and they reached out to apologize for going off the grid and that they had been really busy. They also confirmed that we were still on for dinner.
Time to address the elephant in the room
Dinner had gone pretty okay, a little awkward but for a first date, it certainly wasn't my worst. As I was driving them back home they sat back in the front seat of my truck, looked at me and said "Sooooo...". I kind of knew what was coming next.
"Yes"? I glanced over at them to acknowledge the coming conversation. "I just want you to know that this is all new for me. I wanted to apologize for ghosting on you for a few days. I was busy, but I also got a little nervous". They went on to explain that they even reached out to their brother's girlfriend to ask her advice on seeing someone "like me".
"Mmhmm" I said, acknowledging again as I turned down their street. "And how did that go down"?
"Well, I showed her your photos and she said you are really handsome. Then I said 'would you believe that used to be a woman'? She said that your progress was really great and asked me how I felt about it all. I told her that it doesn't bother me, but it's new".
At this point, we had pulled up outside their house and were just sitting in the truck talking. I was REALLY taken back by what they had said. I didn't care that they had reached out to their brother's girlfriend, but I did care about the way they described me. I was flooded with so many emotions, but knew I needed to also keep calm and casually talk about how this made me feel.
I went on to explain that it's not okay to out someone as being transgender without their permission, but even more important to think about how you are referring to someone. I am not an item, I am not an experiment, I am a human being.
They apologized to me and said that they would like to see me again and enjoyed the evening. I agreed. After that I certainly gave it my best shot, but I couldn't get that conversation out of my head. They were super respectful, but I couldn't let myself continue to date someone who didn't understand me as a person, so I broke it off. I told them that we can still have a friendship and if they are willing to learn more about what it is to be transgender I'm down to teach them and educate, but once I broke it off we never spoke again.
Things like this will happen. Not too long after that, I had started to talk to someone else from Tinder. It was sort of the same thing, getting to know them, making plans to go get a drink or some food, but this situation became even worse than the last.
talk about a trigger
A few days into talking to this person, I felt like things were going pretty alright. I've learned not to get too invested into someone in the beginning stages, so I still had some pretty high walls up.
I got a text from them saying that I was really cute and they were really interested, but they "can't get past the fact that I have female breasts" and they're "not into women, so they don't know if they can handle it".
As you can imagine, my mind was going 100 miles a minute trying to process these comments. My first thought was to blow up, but I held back. I saw this as a time to educate and help them learn that you really shouldn't body shame like that.
Of course I was surprised and a bit triggered, but I pushed through it. I explained to them that they might not have the correct perception of someone who is transgender. We are real people and have real struggles and for some, if not most, being pre-op is one of them. Just because I was pre-op at the time didn't make me any less valid. They didn't realize that even though they wanted to be in a romantic relationship with me that they were still being transphobic.
It's all or nothing
I'm not Mr. Potato Head. You can't pick and choose the parts of me that you like and that you want. You either accept all of me or none of me. This is the mindset I've learned to adapt for my own mental health. I know my worth and I know that I am valid, that there is someone out there who will accept me for who I am. Dating is weird, and there will be times when you experience transphobic individuals. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it sucks. But it's not going to change unless we can educate.
That's the whole purpose of this blog. To educate. I share these stories to connect and enlighten. Do not settle just because someone shows interest in you. If you experience anything like this, I urge you to remove yourself from the situation. What is so important to keep in mind is that you are valid. At any stage in your transition, you are worth it.
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YOU CAN CALL ME DANISH
Writing about my life and experiences as a white, transgender, queer male.