How to Choose the Right Partner as a Transgender Woman

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STYLECASTER | Trans Dating Tips
Photo: JEFF MUSOLINO/ART: ALLISON KAHLER/STYLECASTER

Your time on this earth is important, and many people start seeking a partner worth spending their lives with at a young age. Finding the right person is tough for any woman, but being transgender makes finding a lifetime mate a little more complicated.

In dating men of various ages, appearances, backgrounds, and personalities, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the qualities I need my partner to possess. This guide, based on my years of dating experience, will help you find your “unicorn”—someone who is respectful and open to developing a genuine connection—in a world filled with … donkeys.

With dating apps, social media, and chance encounters, there are countless ways you could meet a potential partner today. I’m no stranger to dating apps like Bumble, Tinder, Happn, Hinge, or the League. In my experience, my most successful connections have come from organic encounters, but I’ve learned the most about what I don’t want from apps. Every woman is different, and we have diverse preferences when it comes to our dream partners, but these tips on how to weed out the bad seeds are universal.

If you’re on a dating app and could see yourself meeting up with a prospect, follow these steps to make the process smoother.

Scope Their Social Profiles

My first suggestion is to always check a person’s profile for more personal information—their hobbies, job, full name, height, and sense of humor tend to be shown here. If the prospect seems private or less up-front in their bio, try to find them on social media (Facebook and Instagram work best, then try Twitter). If they have a Snapchat readily available to add, do it or ask for it.

You want to make sure that they’re real and not a “catfish.” Keep in mind that social media stalking is fine to a certain degree—this is for your own protection. If you have mutual friends, it’s an added bonus. Feel free to ask those friends about him or her—maybe they can give you some crucial insight. I’ve found this to be extremely helpful in filtering who I should even be spending time talking to.

Get Political

Although it’s controversial to talk politics before meeting or even on a first date, you’re transgender, and therefore you need answers sooner than most cisgender women. Don’t waste your time with societal niceties—a.k.a. not talking about politics or religion right away out of misguided diplomacy. To avoid being too blunt, you can ask how liberal-minded they are and what their religious identity is if you’re not able to gauge from your conversations, intuition, or their social profiles.

Stalk for Safety Reasons

If you’re still talking on an app after a few days, you should exchange phone numbers. Your detective work continues now: Put their number into Facebook or Google to see what comes up. You shouldn’t be looking for their family, friends, or address, but more to see if they’re a convicted felon or a completely different person than who they claim to be. Again, be concerned about your safety, always. I don’t think this practice is weird—in fact, I think it’s ingenious.

MORE: How Fashion Helped Me Figure out Who I Am as a Trans Woman

Plan Your Date Carefully

If your conversation flows naturally and you feel ready to meet this person, plan for a date in public. Under no circumstances should you plan a house/apartment visit for a first date, ever. I’ve made this mistake before (despite my mom’s advice) and have gotten into some shady situations I wish I hadn’t (although the lessons I’ve learned from them have now helped you, so it’s worth it). Please meet in a public space.

Although the idea of allowing him or her to pick you up may be appealing, I don’t recommend it unless you feel really comfortable getting into their car and relying on them for safe transportation to and from your date. Worst case scenario, there are multiple car service apps available for download on your phone, so use those no matter what the cost if you feel unsafe on your date, or go to the bathroom and call a friend/family member to help you.

Stay on High Alert on the Date

If you have met organically or are on your first date, here are a few tips:

  1. A macho personality is an automatic red flag for me. This usually means they have extra testosterone running through their body, and you never know how they’ll get that aggression out. Just because someone is hyper-masculine doesn’t mean they’re going to hurt you once they know you’re transgender, but it’s important to keep your wits about you at all times.
  2. Don’t be afraid to get personal. Ask about family, siblings, and values while growing up. If he or she has sisters or close female family members, this could be a great sign, as sometimes such men are more in touch with their emotions and tend to treat women really well. For me, it’s a major red flag if someone loves guns or violent activities or is extremely religious (unless you are as well, it just usually means they come from a conservative-minded family, which may make it harder for you to feel accepted and comfortable dating them due to their potentially conservative political values).
  3. Don’t shy away from talking politics or social views. If they voted for Trump, leave. I’ve done it before. If they didn’t vote, give them time to explain. A good way to start a political conversation is asking their opinion on marijuana legalization, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and gun control. Pay attention to their facial expressions, body language, and verbiage as they respond. If they seem uncomfortable talking about these subjects, you can change the conversation, disclose that you’re transgender, or just end the date if they’re reluctant to have positive, open, and honest communication.

MORE: The Transgender Woman’s Field Guide to Dating

Decoding Your Date After the Fact

You’ll know if someone is right for you if everything feels effortless. If you have to force anything, it’s not right, no matter how attractive, smart, or funny they are. I always advise to trust your gut. If you feel they could be open to dating a transgender woman, or if you’re not sure but feel comfortable telling them, go for it. If you do tell someone that you’re transgender and they don’t immediately back away, verbally offend you, and/or get aggressive, this is a good sign.

Potential indicators that they could be a great partner: They have friends that are LGBTQ+, have great manners, and show a genuine interest in learning more about you. If they ask deep-rooted questions about your transgender identification and transition, it could be a sign that this person is open to dating you or changing their mind-set even if they seem closed-minded at first. If he willingly shares parts of himself with you, that’s a huge plus; you don’t want it to feel like you’re solely the interviewer or the interviewee. You’ll be able to feel their genuine desire to understand you on a deeper level, including everything else that makes you who you are.

Be smart about you whom date and with whom you choose to spend your precious time. Remember that your safety comes first, regardless of the circumstance. If a date is polite and shows interest in getting to know you further, if your personal views align, if he possesses qualities you like and respect—then let your conversations go deep and move forward with seeing him again. Do not settle just for the sake of being with someone.

Being transgender doesn’t mean you should be desperate for any type of romantic attention. You don’t owe anyone anything. It’s OK if you end up not being into someone you’ve been out with or talking with for a while. You don’t have to continue seeing someone you don’t find attractive both inside and out, or who doesn’t pique your interest. Don’t consider failed dates a waste of time, either. I believe that everyone you come in contact with in life is for a reason, no matter for how long your paths cross. The right person for you will come into your life and sweep you off your feet with magnificent respect, seamless conversation, and unparalleled chemistry.

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