How to Date a Transgender Person: 5 Essential Tips for Starting a Relationship With a Trans Woman or Trans Man

Updated on May 20, 2018
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Jorge is a bisexual guy who has mentored other LGBT people over the years. He likes to share his experience with others.

Love is love...but there might be a few things you need to know before you date a trans person.
Love is love...but there might be a few things you need to know before you date a trans person.

Dating a Transgender Person: How is it Different?

Dating a transgender person is just like dating anyone else.

No, seriously. Really. I promise. As someone who has dated my fair share of trans people, I can be honest and say that the gist of things are essentially the same as with a non-trans person.

Of course, if you zoom in a little to the specifics, then naturally there are some differences. This varies from person to person, though. For instance, let’s say you want to date a trans woman (MTF). Her preferences when it comes to what kind of man she likes, what she likes in bed, what kind of hobbies she has, her personal world view, and so on can vary from the next trans woman. You can’t really take anything for granted.

There are a handful of things that are nearly universal among trans people, though, and you should probably familiarize yourself with these tips before you jump into the dating pool:

1) Before You Start, Educate Yourself With the Basics

One of the things that will make a trans person roll their eyes at you or simply avoid you is if you didn’t take two seconds to do a tiny bit of research on Google and they find that they have to explain everything to you.

You may think you know what a trans person is, but if all your knowledge came from popular media, you might actually have no idea and not even realize it. This is only natural; we don’t know what we don’t know, and it’s not really your fault. Jerry Springer, your favorite adult films, or even the news are not good sources usually.

So pay Google and Wikipedia a visit and learn what you can about this medical condition where a person’s upstairs (brain) does not match the gender of their downstairs (naughty bits). Most trans people aren’t really in the mood to educate people when they’re out on a date. They’re trying to get into your pants, not put on a seminar!

Try to focus on resources that are objective and not politically charged one way or another.

We're all ignorant of something, but it's nothing a bit of Googlin' won't fix.
We're all ignorant of something, but it's nothing a bit of Googlin' won't fix.

2) Ask About What Your Date is Comfortable With and Respect That

This goes with non-trans people, too, of course, bit it’s important to not assume certain things when it comes to trans people. Ask them what pronouns (“he/him,” “she/her”) they use if you’re in any doubt, and always make sure the person is comfortable before you escalate physically with them.

Most trans people have body dysphoria, which means that they have an inherent discomfort with certain parts of their body, usually their primary and secondary sex characteristics. This goes beyond simply not liking a part of their body—it may feel absolutely alien to them. Which parts someone is uncomfortable with will vary from person to person.

For example, a trans man may be extremely uncomfortable with your touching his chest, and a trans woman may not want you to look at her you-know-what. (Yes, contrary to what random Internet videos of naked people doing naked things might indicate, most trans women do not like to use their natal anatomy.) Sometimes people can adapt a little as they become more familiar with you, but don’t count on it.

Crossing these boundaries can quickly turn the person off. For someone who doesn’t have this kind of dysphoria, it may be hard to understand, but if the trans person you’re dating says that a certain body part is off limits, respect that, even if it doesn’t fall in line with the fantasy situation that you hoped for. You can always try doing something else, or you can always simply date another person who has no such objection.

Holding hands is the easy part. When you get a little closer, though...make sure that you check to see that your partner is comfortable with what's going on.
Holding hands is the easy part. When you get a little closer, though...make sure that you check to see that your partner is comfortable with what's going on.

3) Remember That Your Date is More Than Just a Trans Person

If you have a strong preference for trans people or have an unfulfilled fantasy of some kind that has to do with them, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, this also makes it easy to fall into the trap of objectifying your date.

At the end of the day, this person doesn’t exist solely to date you or to give you some kind of gratification, so don’t be surprised if they run away from you the moment they suspect that you’re fetishizing them. Do your best to see them as what they are: human beings, with their own wants and agendas.

As with dating anyone else, if you acknowledge their needs, they are more likely to help fulfill yours. Unless your date is also looking to objectify you and they have no interest in anything deeper, try to get to know them and learn more about them. This will also help prepare you for the next trans person that you get together with.

Get to know your love interest beyond just the whole trans thing...unless, you know, it's just a one-off encounter.
Get to know your love interest beyond just the whole trans thing...unless, you know, it's just a one-off encounter.

4) Accept That You May Be Judged by Others for Dating a Transgender Person

If you date a trans person for long enough, unless the trans person is deeply “stealth” (meaning that they keep their trans status a secret from everyone), then people you know are bound to find out eventually.

Moreover, if you’re dating the same person for any length of time, eventually they’re going to want to meet your family and so on. To deny them this may give them the impression that you’re ashamed of them.

So be ready for the social consequences. Depending on where you live, these may be minimal. For instance, a few uneducated people might misunderstand and think you’re gay if you’re a man who is dating a trans woman. In such a case, who cares? Let them think that. Being attracted to a trans person is just part of who you are; have the courage to honor that part of yourself.

However, in some cultures around the world, the consequences could be more severe. Dating a trans person may put you at nearly the same risk of judgment and ostracization as the trans person that you’re dating, and maybe even physical danger. In this case, you may have to take steps to protect yourself and the person you’re with, and unfortunately this may involve a paranoid degree of discretion.

Weigh your options well, but try to avoid making the mistake of blaming the person you’re dating if people do find out someday and judge you for it. It’s not the trans person’s fault, and they don’t deserve to be thrown under the bus.

Some people might be surprised if they find out that the person you're dating is trans. They may even judge you for it.
Some people might be surprised if they find out that the person you're dating is trans. They may even judge you for it.

5) Accept That a Trans Person’s Body May Undergo Changes

Maybe you like the body of the person that you’re dating just the way it is, and you can’t imagine why they would want to change it. You may think that by telling them how wonderful you think their body is, they might decide to forgo surgery altogether. How nice!

Rarely does it work out this way, though. If you’re in a relationship with someone and subtly pressuring them to not alter a body that they are uncomfortable with, you may be unknowingly preventing the person from moving in a direction that is closer to who they truly are.

As I already mentioned, most trans people have body dysphoria, which means that most of them will seek to change their bodies one way or another. Hopefully, if you’ve gone so far as to get into a relationship with someone, you love them for more than just their body, but if you don’t, then learn to let them go so that they can be who they are.

Dating a Transgender Person is Just Like Dating Anyone Else

They’re not necessarily going to understand you better or worse than anyone else. They’re not necessarily extra easy to get into the sack. They’re not necessarily what you may have thought they would be.

Transgender people are just people. Keep that in mind, treat them with compassion as you would anyone else, and you should be fine!

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    © 2018 Jorge Vamos

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