When it comes to online dating as a trans person, apps and sites still leave something to be desired. Tinder didn’t make it possible to specify gender identities like “trans woman”, “transgender,” “trans man,” and “gender queer” until 2016. Moreover, who could forget Transdr, the relatively well-known dating app that used terms like “shemale dating” both on its own platform and in advertisements for the app?
Getting past the hate and ignorance of dating apps isn’t even the worst of it for many trans people. Dating in real life is not without risk. Even in progressive countries like the US and Canada, there is a pervasive lack of awareness for trans issues.
Here are some common struggles trans people face.
Users Don’t Read Profiles
While a lot of people state that they are trans on their profiles, even more people don’t read profiles carefully or at all, which can lead to some awkward (at best) or painful (at worst) situations. It happens that a trans person will meet someone online and go on a date only to have the “match” shocked by their admission in real life. Sometimes, the reaction is so negative that a trans person will quite literally fear for their safety!
Another risk of being open is being approached mostly by the sexually curious.
Some people will not list their gender identity on their profile because they don’t want to get bombarded with comments like, “I’m not into shemale dating, thank you” or worse. However, the “don’t tell” policy has drawbacks too because it might seem like you were withholding when the person you’re seeing finally finds out.
Dating online can be easier and safer for particularly vulnerable groups like trans women of color. It’s still easier to come out by sharing this information on your profile.
A trans person who is dating online may ultimately have too many encounters with sexually curious men who fetishize them or have a certain kink they want to fulfill. It can be trying to find someone who is willing to look past gender and really wants to get to know you. It can help to go on dates in public, like a restaurant or the movies. This way, a transgender person won’t be seen only as a new sexual experience and there is a chance of building a relationship.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being sexually curious. Curiosity is a natural inclination of human beings. That said, gender identity is just one aspect of a person that merits curiosity.
On a final note, it’s important to read profiles and be respectful of the person you’re interested in meeting. Don’t ask them things you can google, like how many trans people there are in the world, or say something like, “I know a trans girl”, “I’ve dated a trans before,” or “I can’t believe you’re trans, you look so good that I would never have been able to tell.”