Even before I came out at Transgender, I was incompetent in the dating department. Yes I was married twice to two amazing women but to be honest I had NO dating game at all and surprised I was even married one of those times. I was filled with self doubt, insecurities and other limiting beliefs of myself that when it came to love I was always in my own way.
Funny how thing don’t change very much.
I think we as a transgender person have this belief that if we change our face, our name, and our physical future that it is all going to miraculously change how we are accepted in society and that everything will be better. Now this isn’t a poor me and negative post it is more of a reflection. A reflection on where I have been and how my life has changed it’s direction multiple times but at the end of the day I am still so much the same person at my core. Now mind you I have become stronger mentally. I have developed my communication skills which are growing weekly. Confidence to hold my own when to hundreds of people in a room or to those with a position of power in a workplace. But struggle with intimacy an knowing how to hold back, and what relationships may look like.
Since the split from my second marriage I have observed this overwhelming desire by the wider LGBTIQ+ communities, more so in the transgender community, to be in a relationship. Now everyone needs connection with another human being and that disconnection contributes to many health issues including depression and according to the World Health Organization, one in five people are clinically depressed. Our most basic primal desires are tied to two things: survival and reproduction. When those are both compromised how would you respond. We almost become desperate which means we end up attracting the wrong partner for our needs.
Now you have to understand I don’t follow or like the things that I want to surround myself with. I seek out the conflict and push back to know how to help make sense of where the hate and misunderstanding come from. So taking a chance to understand why we don’t receive much attention for potential partners I put myself into situations I wouldn’t normally go into.
I noticed while speaking in these spaces to many in either one on one or publicly in these group sessions that there is a lack of general knowledge among non transgender people (cisgender) still when it comes to transgender people and dating. The majority still have still have a stereotype of what an ideal human body should look like because of what we have seen in porn eg. abs on either men or women, no body fat, asymmetrical facial feature and the list goes on including things like no “baggage” or drama, good luck. There is the fetish of trans people that has been created from porn that isn’t real AND that then spills over into spaces of potential employment and kills any hope of seeking a meaningful relationship because of extreme misunderstandings. At one point ads part of a dating series I was working on I found the boldness of people requesting their needs was almost too much. At one point being told they are in a relationship but prefer “Trans Women” over “Real Women”. When I was able to get a conversation going i did discover there are actually people who are seeking relationships with transgender women and ask me where can they go to meet someone for a relationship… Now you can see why going into these spaces and unearthed a real need to connect trans women with real relationships apart from sexual ones. Now I don’t think sex is being ruined, IF that is all you are after. What is wrong, sadly, is any sort of attachment or relationship with another human being here . Everyone needs someone and that is what the transgender community is desperate for, and really what I am hearing from people who aren’t transgender as well.
So I had a long drawn out debate with one person once on what a relationship would look like if i was dating someone. Now some people like “boxes” or “labels” some people don’t, I do find those easy when writing these pieces and when trying to help explain and educate others.
When speaking to this person they assumed I was going to have lower surgery (get the chop as they said, but it is currently known as sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or Genital Reconstructive Surgery (GCS)) and they assumed that now that I was a woman that I was going to be dating men immediately. Most people seem to think in Black & White and forget about those who identify and either Bisexual or Pansexual.
Bisexual mean you are sexually attracted to both men and women. Pansexuality is a much broader form of sexual orientation, in which the pansexual individual experiences sexual attraction towards members of ALL genders, or if you will “hearts not parts“. Trust me there is so much to learn when it comes to identities and feelings which i am sure I will cover in time.
I explained to them that NO I was not having SRS/GCS and NO I am not strictly interested in dating just women but that I identified as Bi/Pan. Which immediately strikes up old fashioned thoughts that being Bisexual means you’re just gays with one foot in the closet or that we are more likely to cheat, are always looking for sex, and that we carry sexually transmitted diseases. Sorry to disappoint. But the thing that made me so damn confused was he argument about my sexuality. I said that i was interested primarily in women but if the right guy came along I would definitely be interested. lets say 70/30 on the spectrum (this actually confused some of my Gay/Lesbian friends). They told me that I could never be a Lesbian ( lesbian is a homosexual woman who is romantically or sexually attracted to other women) because I still have a penis. Then I threw the question back out and asked “What if I dated a man then would that be a hetero presenting relationship or a gay relationship?” they immediately said that since I am a woman and not a man it wouldn’t be a gay relationship.
So you have to understand I have lived such a Heterosexual life that was so binary that my head was spinning by the lack of understanding there was in these conversations. Imagine how absolutely confused I was! it was surprising how there was a resistance to identify it as a homosexual relationship either way.
Now I know the first response I hear from others “Michelle how trans-phobic of them!!
They’re TERF’s!! Don’t you have more respect for yourself?!” I am not going to go there because there was much more to the conversation and found that abusive finger blame pointing is not winning the war, it is dragging us backward. But the point is that the conversation highlighted that there really is a lack of education among the dating world about our identities as Transgender people. Ok what? A “TERF”? This is an acronym for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.
We have even started to see other transgender women who have had SRS/GCS surgery join these groups creating a have’s versus have not’s attitude within these communities as well. Yes it is really this damn confusing and I think you get an idea of why there is that much isolation when there is that much attitude and discrimination.
Now the reason I am writing this is came after watching a few of my fellow trans sisters who are struggling with loneliness and isolation and the mental health issues that have resulted. I heard life experiences of feeling overwhelmed anxiety when it comes to potential or lack of relationships. Coming out as transgender for the majority of us isn’t due to a mental health issue. Trust me I have had YEARS (10+) of mental health support to try and figure this all out. The more I forced it to hide the more I struggled. The more I relaxed and let things take their course I soared.
But really, what are my issues? Why are you single Michelle if you have a better understanding of this? Many people think I have developing a healthy mind through positive attitude. But It is multiple things, I am judged for what i am and not who I am. I am contacted by potential relationship opportunities but really I tend to try to control potential relationships through self-sabotage or avoid them all together. I try to control them because of my life situation. Being a speaker and a radio show host who is trying to build transgender visibility in a different way with a different tone. Being a parent and wanting only specific people around who can handle me having baggage, despite managing it insanely well. So I have this desire to control who and what is around. But then I realize I avoid anything because… well because I am scared like any other person out there, scared that I will face rejection when they get to know me on a deeper level. So it isn’t all about trans issues, it isn’t all about culture and expectations it is also about our own personal walls and barriers we create ourselves.