*The tips in this article came from YOU, our community! Thank you to those who participated in our dating tips survey, we think you’re all amazing.
Tips for dating while trans
As a trans person, you’re already aware that you move through the world differently than cisgender people. You know that you have to have distinct conversations and engage with the world in a different way than people who aren’t trans or gender diverse. This can mean that for you, dating may have other challenges.
But being trans will not preclude you from finding love and having a meaningful and beautiful relationship (or a few)! There’s someone out there for everyone, it’s just a matter of finding them. Eventually, our presence as trans people will be completely normalized, but until then, here are some trans-specific tips for how to date.
Reasons why you’re a total CATCH as a trans person (and no, it has nothing to do with fetishizing your body)
As you start the journey of finding the perfect partnership, we want to make one thing clear; you are valuable, awesome, and worthy of love! We know that the right person is out there for you, and while they might be a little work to find, we know that your future ideal partner is going to love you for exactly the way you are.
As a trans person, you bring a lot of excellent qualities to the table that you may not even realize. As a general rule, trans people have a higher understanding of self, more resilience, better communication, and a deeper sense of compassion.
Just think of all the work you had to do as a trans person to decide on the body you’re presenting to the world today. It’s likely that you had to go through years of self-exploration and personal discovery. And a lot of us had to do that self-work in an unsupportive environment.
While for some of us that journey may have had hardships, never overlook the fact that growing into yourself made you stronger, more self-knowledgeable, interesting, and understanding. Those qualities are an invaluable foundation for building a lasting and healthy relationship. Any person would be lucky to date someone who’s done so much self-work.
How to find people to date when you’re trans
There are many ways to find someone, but we’re a huge advocate of starting your search through online dating. (Our founder Rae met their now “husbandwife” Dibs online and they both couldn’t be happier!) Online dating sites are an excellent option for one key reason- it allows you to safely weed out the people who have prejudices against you.
While we never want you to feel scared about embarking on this journey, choosing the right people to date does affect your safety. At this point in time, not everyone is supportive of trans people. Those people suck, and we don’t want them anywhere near you!
Online dating is a great option for trans people because you can get to know someone (and their potential prejudices) before you’re ever in their physical space. The best way to do that is by being open, honest, and having deep conversations about values before you meet someone in person.
Tips for online dating while trans
A great place to look is on dating apps that are queer-focused. That way you begin your journey by talking to people who already understand gender issues. It’s easier to feel safe being open when the other person is starting from a baseline of comprehension.
While there are several options out there, we’re promoting the HER app because it's an ethical, queer-run platform created for people like us. They welcome all lesbian, bi, queer, non-binary, trans, and gender non-conforming folks.
HER’s goal is to offer a judgment-free zone where you can find a community of people who like and respect you. They want you to have a safe space to share your story, make friends, and find your ideal partner. ”If you’re trans and looking for anyone – from cis to non-binary to trans to anywhere in between – HER is a place to be your authentic self and find someone who wants you for you.”
When to disclose the fact that you’re transgender
A big question when dating is when to start talking about your gender identity. It’s your choice when (or if) you disclose that you’re trans. However, being clear right from the get-go can make it easier to find someone who will be truly accepting of who you are (especially if you’re on an app like HER!)
If it's not safe for your gender identity to be public, online dating affords you some privacy. You can set up an account with an alternative email address without a photo of your face. That way you can disclose that you’re trans to your prospects without the fear of outing yourself in your life.
If you don’t want to disclose that you’re trans in your initial profile, you’ll need to find the best way to have that conversation with a potential date. The decision on when to do this is very personal, and it’s your right to decide when (if ever) you want to discuss your gender identity.
Being brave and having that chat online before you meet up has the advantage of getting the conversation started. It can also give you the time to think about the best way to tell your story. Then, if the person has a negative reaction you can easily and safely walk away.
We know it may sound old-fashioned, but another great way to chat is by phone or facetime. When you’re messaging online, the things that are said might be a little rehearsed and it can be hard to read the tone. A phone conversation allows you to disclose your gender identity and get a more accurate read of how that person responds.
It may feel gross if someone responds to you poorly, but remember, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. You are awesome and worthy of love. It’s not your fault that our society is prejudiced. And while some of your interactions may be hard, there is someone out there who will love you for who you are.
Don’t Settle (things to watch out for when dating while trans)
Did we mention that you’re amazing and worthy of love!? So much of the dialogue around trans dating revolves around finding someone who accepts YOU. But don’t forget that you’re on this journey to find the person who’s right for you. Don’t settle for less just because you feel afraid that you won’t find true love because of your gender identity.
Take some time to think about what you really want, and what is a total NO. Sit down and write a list of things you desire in a partner. What are their values, lifestyle habits, hopes, dreams, etc? If you’re clear about what you want, you’ll already weed through so many people who wouldn’t be a good match.
Be clear about what you’re looking for, but leave room to be surprised. Remember, you don’t want people to judge you, so leave your own assumptions at the door. Be open to finding love in a way you may not have expected.
With that being said, don’t say yes to people who aren’t supportive or you think are there for the wrong reasons. You’re worth more than dating someone who doesn’t value you or who eroticizes trans people in a non-respectful way. You deserve someone who will be a F**K YES to dating YOU, just the way you are.
As you start to get to know potential partners, remember that people’s values will come out in their dialogue. Being fetishized/ told that you need to pass/ complimented on passing is not actually supportive. And it's nobody’s right to comment on your gender journey. Everyone’s journey is unique and valid!
It’s also not your job to educate cis people. Communicating about your personal story is integral to getting to know someone, but that’s vastly different than having to do the work to teach someone how to understand trans people. It’s everyone’s job to be educated about minority issues. And if you find that you’re becoming exhausted by having to educate someone on trans issues, you’re allowed to walk away from that interaction.
How to feel good dating in your trans body
Yeah, we know that we’re a fashion company, so we’re going to tout our products here. But we make these products because we really believe that they can help! We want you to show up for your date presenting on the outside the way you are on the inside.
Your trans journey might include the experience of body dysmorphia and/or dysphoria. That’s why we make comfortable daily-wear gender-affirming gear. Our products can be worn underneath your clothes to help you get the silhouette that feels the most like yourself. (And your undergarments will still be sexy and fun if the clothes happen to come off!)
Our products safely camouflage the body parts that don’t feel quite like you, so you can wear that perfect adorable outfit out on your date. We think that fashion can help you feel like yourself, and we want you to play and have the confidence to wear whatever you want for that first meeting!
Our binders help people with breasts achieve a flatter chest. We’ve focused on making our binders safe for long-term and daily wear. They don’t constrict breathing, pinch, or cause back pain. (See how here) We want you to be comfortable all day long, especially when you’re putting yourself out there! We also have packing harnesses in case adding that bulge helps you with the confidence you need for your date!
Likewise, our gaffs help people with penises achieve a flattened front. They can be worn with or without tucking, and like the binders, are made for all-day-long comfort. If you’re not worried about that flattened silhouette but want something cute and sexy, we can now make ANY piece of our underwear fit for you. (See how here)
If you’re a trans person that loves your bits, that’s rad too! We make undies for people with penises that don’t compress at all. You certainly don’t have to tuck or bind to be valid.
As always, we make products for any and every body, and our custom sizing is always free!
You’ve got this!
We know that starting dating while trans may seem daunting. But there's a whole community of trans people who've found lasting and fulfilling relationships. You are not alone, and we promise that there’s someone out there who will love you for the beautiful human you are.
Taking a step like setting up a profile online is a great way to test the waters and start making connections. It’s okay to start slow, but you may be surprised by how kind people can be when you start out on an affirming platform! Remember, you are worthy of love and we’ve got your back.
Is there any tip that’s helped you that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
*A little extra
We also got a bunch of good tips from you folks on things to know if you want to date a trans person.
So here are some quick tips-
- Avoid making assumptions (in general) but especially about how people feel about being trans. You won’t know a person’s story until they tell it.
- There’s no script and everyone's needs around their gender identity are specific to them. Be clear, and communicative, and check in to make sure certain actions are okay.
- Words of affirmation go a long way, even when they aren’t your love language. Let the person you’re interested in know that you support them and that they’re awesome the way they are.
- Trans people notice the way you gender strangers. As a cis person, you’ve likely been able to go through life with more defined genders because you’ve never questioned your own. Learning the skills of checking in about someone’s gender and pronouns instead of making assumptions will help your date (and others!) feel more accepted.
- For anyone- you’ll have to do a lot of unpacking since experiences are not universal. The complexities of being trans can come with a lot of good and of bad. Approach your date with compassion, joyful curiosity, and a desire to understand.