One thing most people in the GLBT community share is a coming out process. The challenges faced by each can be similar, but there are marked differences for trans folk and their sexuality.
Let’s look at a gay man for example. When you’re out, you’re out. Your family, friends and co-workers know that you prefer men. What type of men you prefer is up to you, but the men you’re hitting on generally know what you’re bringing to the table physically.
For a trans person, it is infinitely more complicated. There is considerable debate on when and whether it’s necessary to come out to a potential partner and tell them that you are or were physically a different gender.
Most agree at some point prior to intimacy that it’s probably going to be necessary. As good as the surgeries are today, there are some functional differences that need to be addressed prior to certain aspects of love making. For example—and this is a big one—what if you are presurgery, or not going to have the surgery? What if you prefer women and still have a penis? What if you prefer men and still have a vagina? What if you are bi, pan or fluid and have to worry about all of those factors?
Even in today’s more enlightened community, those physical issues can cause problems in potential relationships and sexual encounters. We certainly do not want to become objects of curiosity. We are, after all, people who have struggled greatly with our gender identity and sexuality. The fear and insecurity that most people face entering into something new is scary. For us, it can be both paralyzing and frustrating.
To bare one’s soul to every potential partner and face the serious risk of rejection because of a body part is heart breaking. If you meet someone in a bar and the rejection happens in private, it can also be dangerous.
Imagine coming out as a lesbian, only to be rejected by all women to which you are attracted because you had or still have a penis, in spite of everything else that makes for a good relationship? How would you cope?
People have been badly hurt and scarred by such rejection because many members of society still define things by what’s between someone’s legs and not what’s between their ears or in their heart.
As we learn more about sexuality and open ourselves to more of the world, barriers and labels fade away, and we are all simply people. All people desire and deserve to be loved, as they are, without expectation or judgment.
Shandy’s Top 10 Dating Tips
- be happy with who you are.
- be honest with yourself about what you expect from a relationship.
- be careful, accurate and honest on public dating sites.
- be prepared for the inevitable rejections involved with dating.
- come out when you are comfortable.
- surround yourself with friends as they will inevitably be part of the relationship.
- understand that sexuality is fluid. don’t limit yourself based on a label.
- meet in public places for your first dates.
- be considerate and patient.
- enjoy it! dating should be fun.
–Shandi Strong has been active in the community for many years. She is a past vice-president of the Oscar Wilde Memorial Society, sits on fundraising committees at the Rainbow Resource Centre and acts as Advocacy Coordinator for Pride Winnipeg. This past Pride she became the city’s rst trans Grand Marshall and hopes to do more to raise awareness of trans issues in Winnipeg.