Trans women are women. Period.
And, as with dating any woman, there are many DOs and DON’Ts. Transgender writer Leila Blake recently sat down to school cisgender on people on how to have an amazing relationship with a transgender woman.
Here’s what she said:
1. Don’t use the word “tranny.”
That is a derogatory term used in porn and it turns transgender women into objects.
2. Don’t expect her to teach you.
Leila says that too many cisgender people ask her questions that they could just Google themselves, such as “What’s the difference between a cross-dresser and a transgender person?” She’s not a textbook. Ask Jeeves.
3. Don’t expect her to roll right into bed.
Society frames transgender women in terms of what they’re able to do sexually – who can forget the awful Crying Game scene that demonized a sexy woman who dared to have a penis? In real life, don’t expect a transgender woman to want to move straight into the bedroom.
4. Don’t hide her away.
Leila says that for many people, “We’re ‘good enough’ for sex but not to be taken out in public.” Don’t be the idiot who tries to hide your relationship.
5. Steer clear of stereotypes.
You know that it’s bad to stereotype – not all black people are rappers, not all Asian people are math geniuses, and not all white people are trailer trash. But when it comes to transgender people, you might be holding stereotypes you didn’t even know you had, especially if you haven’t met a transgender person before. Don’t assume that all transgender women have penises (or don’t), that they’re all sex workers or criminals (like on Orange is the New Black), that they envy cisgender women (trans women are women) or that they want to look stereotypically feminine (butch trans women exist). Don’t excuse your ignorance by saying, “Sorry, I didn’t know.”
6. Don’t bring up sexual intercourse on the first date.
This is one of Leila’s personal rules. Not all transgender people are comfortable with their bodies, so they may not be comfortable discussing sex. Some are. Some aren’t. Tread lightly and wait for her to bring it up first.
7. Talk about sex before you do it.
Open communication is important in any sexual relationship, especially queer sexual relationships, cisgender or not. Before you sleep with her, ask her what she’s comfortable with.
8. Support her transition.
If you’re in a relationship with a transgender woman for a long period of time, especially a woman at the beginning of her transition, then be prepared for a lot of changes. Transitioning is difficult, emotionally and physically and financially. Support her.
For more of Leila’s tips, read this recent piece.