There were many things I prepared myself for on the eve of my transition. The expectations that come with womanhood, the wide knowledge of gender politics and endocrinology to explain my being, and the reality that many will be confused or even disgusted because of who I am. I went into this strange new world prepared for the worst. And while my time as a trans woman has certainly had its difficult moments, I’ve found myself most surprised by the amount of affection I’ve received by people of all genders, cis or trans.
By no means am I an expert when it comes to dating in general, but I can definitely say I have a firm grasp on the culture surrounding trans women in the dating world. My experiences have been mostly positive, I am happy to report. Still, there are certain questions that specifically cisgender people feel compelled to ask me. While these questions have never felt purposefully hurtful or disrespectful, they can sour my perception of how the date is going, something that I’m sure both parties on either side of the table would want to avoid.
I have gathered the three most common ones here, a short list of uncomfortable questions I have been asked by the cis people who have been interested in me. I hope by reading this, to all our lovely cis readers out there, you will better understand that I am not trying to lecture you, but rather help you avoid an uncomfortable situation, whether it be in a dating context or otherwise.
1. What Was Your Name Before You Transitioned?
Stop right there, Jay from PSU. There is a reason we refer to our birth names as “deadnames,” and the act of referring to us by those names as “deadnaming.” That which is dead shall stay dead. Being deadnamed is like someone trying to breath life into a long-dead corpse. Are you trying to make a zombie of me, Jay? Is that why you seek the name I haven’t gone by in 6 years? In all seriousness, this is a matter of varying offense depending on who you’re talking to. Some trans women may be incredibly angry at being asked for their deadname, as their new identity is what is important, not who they once were. Some may politely refuse, not wanting to cause a big scene over this but still getting their point across. You might even run into a trans woman who IS willing to share their old name, but even in this scenario, it would be much more appropriate for her to share on her own terms, not because someone asked for it.
2. Have You Had…The Surgery?
I am unsurprised yet still curious about the fascination that some people have with the genitalia of trans women. I think it’s because many don’t really think of trans women as “real” women until we’ve had vaginoplasty. To all the lovely cis women who may be reading this article, I must ask: what makes you a woman? Would you not feel disrespected to have someone reduce your being to what’s between your legs? You and I are both fully aware that there is so much more to being a woman than just the biological. Those attracted to me are likely the same ones attracted to you, and yet, I am constantly asked about the ever-elusive Surgery.
There is nothing wrong with not being attracted to a woman lacking a vagina. Preferences are preferences, and one shouldn’t feel ashamed for having them. But if you are aware, going into a date with a trans woman, that you aren’t comfortable being with someone who might have a penis then perhaps you should rethink if dating a trans woman is right for you. Vaginoplasty is expensive and, unsurprisingly, emotionally difficult to go through. Many of us will not have vaginoplasty for many years into our transition, some even learning to become comfortable with what we are given. If you cannot fathom the possibility of being with us pre-op, then we might not feel comfortable being with you at all, knowing there is or was something about us you find impossible to love.
3. Why Did You Decide To Become Trans?
Again, I could tell that the woman who asked me this did not mean to be offensive. I do hope the fault in this sentence is apparent. Gender is not something you choose, but something you feel internally. I did not “choose” to change my gender; it was something I had no choice but to do in order to match my body with the feminine identity I felt inside. Cis men do not choose to become men, cis women do not choose to become women. If you wouldn’t ask a cis woman why she became a woman, then you should treat a trans woman with the same respect. I am myself, and that should be good enough.
I understand the motivation behind all these questions. Trans people are a rarity on this earth. We are not the norm; something we are, unfortunately, constantly reminded of at any given moment. As such, I am aware that the only reason these questions are so common is because of this rarity. You come upon one of the 3% of trans people that make up the planet, and you want to understand. You want to know, “Who are you? Why do you live like this when so many do not?” And I will tell you the truth: I do not know why I exist this way. All I know is that I am because I am, and that’s good enough for me. It’s enough to make me feel immense joy that I get to be the way that I am. I hope that is enough for all of you as well. May you recognize and admire the pure elation that emanates from us like rays of sunshine, and that our light nourishes you even half as much as it does for us.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mae. You can follow her story on Instagram. Submit your stories here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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