Thursday, December 04, 2014

What Relationships? Or Getting Hit By Lighting

Every time I get asked either in an outreach or by a healthcare provider about sexual relationships I get a chuckle and answer what relationships. Relationships in the trans-community is like getting hit by lighten, it happens but it is not that common and this article Bilerico hits the nail on the head,
What It's Really Like Dating as a Transgender Woman
Filed By Brynn Tannehill
December 03, 2014

Almost everyone interviewed about the topic was younger and lives in large metropolitan areas with significant queer communities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago). The reality of trying to date while transgender is far more difficult and complicated, however.
She goes on to list eleven common themes that she found…
1.) Marriages that do survive are irrevocably changed.
The episode quotes a statistic that only 7% of marriages survive transition. While I cannot find the origin of this statistic, I do believe it is accurate. However, even if a marriage doesn't end, the statistic doesn't tell the whole story.
I know of a couple of marriages that did survive and they have greatly changed. One couple that I know I believe that their marriage is more platonic from the fragments of conversation that I hear and another couple that I know the wife comments that it is hard now that they are identified as a lesbian couple and conversely a former lesbian couple that I know the partner says it is hard to be identified as a straight couple. A third couple that I know divorced but still are friends.

The author goes on to next theme, “2.) Queer culture is an urban phenomenon” and she has three comments from people she interviewed…
"On OKC [OkCupid] some days I get upward of 30 messages. And some men just do not take no for an answer." - E, a 40-year-old queer transgender woman in NYC.

"I've had a fully filled out OKC profile for 18 months, and updated it regularly. I've listed myself as both bi and lesbian, but don't hide the fact that I'm trans. I haven't had a single unsolicited message in that time regardless." - J, a 38-year-old queer trans woman in rural Ohio.

"I turned to online dating (OKC), but in over a year now I've never actually gone on a date with anyone from the site. Overall, I don't get messages. Occasionally, I get a few responses when I contact someone, and then they disappear. It's a huge source of frustration." - N, a 31-year-old queer transgender woman in rural Wisconsin.
I found that I am accepted most by women in their 20s and 30s but I’m not attracted to them, I’m looking for someone closer to my age.

She goes on to her next themes, “3.) Dating in conservative areas is almost not worth it ” and “4.) Dating men has unique (icky) challenges.” I know a couple of trans-women who date men and they had different results but what the author said I think has a ring of truth.
Transgender women are often fetishized by straight men, resulting in a very skeezy-feeling experience.
"I find a lot of men fetishize trans women in a way that they don't other women. I often hear statements that no man would ever say to a ciswoman. For example: "I've always been curious about sex with a transsexual. Can you tell me what your penis is like?"" - E, a 40-year-old queer transgender woman in NYC.

"After reassignment surgery, it seems that the chaser pool dried up and I haven't had much luck with dating. The one time where I almost had a date post-surgery, after disclosing to him he of course had an existential crisis and cancelled." - J, a 30-year-old straight transgender woman in East Lansing, Michigan.
I have been it hit-up by a couple of men and I think they had some type fetishisms and it did make me want to run away as fast as I could… ick!

She goes on to write,
5.) Dating women has its own challenges as well.Transgender women often have trouble finding safe spaces or acceptance in both gay and lesbian circles.
I found this to be very true. Sometimes I felt “tolerated” and other times I felt fully accepted especially once they got to know me. I was more accepted in “gay” space than “lesbian” but I not interested in “gay” space. When we went to go into a lesbian bar up in Ogunquit the woman at the door at first she said we couldn’t enter but after a stare down she relented, however, there was a space that formed around our table until our lesbian friends arrived and it was like a signal… “oh, they’re cool” and the tables around us filled back in.

When you go out with a woman she also has a hard time fitting into trans-space. It is also a struggle for her when she is with you and a number of your trans-friends.

And in themes 7 and 8, “Transgender people often end up dating other transgender people” and “Dating other transgender people also poses significant challenges” is so true. In #7 she quotes one trans-woman,
"Thankfully, the love of my life is a transman with who I would trust with my life." - Anonymous
I know a number of couples of trans-men and trans-women and also trans-women couples. But as she says in #8,
"It takes a strength that on many days can be too great for us. Days when we've been mispronouned, misgendered, harassed, ridiculed for our appearance, it can be hard to come home and see those same things in your partner. Some days though, coming home to someone who knows what it is like to go through those things can be a source of strength.
I can imagine that this is so true.

In number ten she talks about the BSDM community and finding acceptance there, I know of a couple that this true for them and in the last theme, #11 she sums it all up comments from two people that she interviewed,
"So, really if you are older than 30 let's say, and your current relationship fails when you come out as trans your prospects are dim at best. You also seem to have diminishing returns the older you get. A life of dysphoria, then rejection, then loneliness ... great." - A, a 39-year-old lesbian transgender woman in Southwick, MA.

"At this rate, I do not hold out much hope for finding my love. I've tried all the dating sites with not much success. I do actually feel at this point that it is highly likely I will live out my remaining days alone despite being 'amazing' as my friends describe me. What I feel is amazingly lonely." - M, a 43-year-old lesbian transgender woman in Florida.
But people do get hit by lighting every day, so don’t give up hope and the more people that you meet the getter the chance of getting hit by lighting.

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