The more bold friends of mine who are also trans and looking to find a male partner have taken a different approach to online dating
For weeks I had been consulting my girlfriendsa circle of eight other widows, all of them cisgender and straightwho agonized with me as I tried to make sense of my decision to hold off telling him I’m trans.
“I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself not telling,” said Donna. “I’m just curious why aren’t you saying in your profile or the minute you meet? I want to understand your thoughts and feelings in this.”
This issue of disclosure is controversial both inside and outside the transgender community. And as I explained this to my widow sisters, I knew that to someone who never questioned their gender, even these most sympathetic friends, it seems nonsensical to conceal the facts about my past.
In a nutshell, I was assigned male at birth but I knew by the age of five I was a girl, and at the age of 12 my mom helped me start living part-time as a girl. For all of my childhood, I was an actor and fashion model, and eventually modeled as a girl, too. I developed breasts, due in part to a hormonal imbalance and five years taking 1970’s-strength birth control pills.
But by my teens, my father tired of mocking my femininityhe’d call me “Mary” and direct me to “cut those nails, or paint ‘em!” and to stop fussing with my long hair. He told me to ignore taunts from other boys who also called me names, including “Tits.” He sent me to an all-boys high school and tutored me on how to date girls (or try to).
If Phil had played his cards right, we’d be having sex this weekend, but not until I told him the truth
Girls invariably told me, “I don’t know what it is, but I feel closer to you as a friend, than as a boyfriend.” One even said, “It’s like we’re sisters!” But I kept following the script my dad had written, and managed to put aside my feelings. A former girlfriend who is now one of my closest friends reminded me I was a raging homophobe, most likely the byproduct of denying who I really was. She said she liked that I was a “sensitive man,” unlike any other guy she’d known.
It was not until a decade later, following my father’s death and the birth of my youngest child that I finally considered that I did not have to keep pretending to be someone I wasn’t.
Fast-forward a dozen years and here I am, having more success in attracting men than I ever did any woman the last time I dated back in 1994, when we placed ads in a newspaper with a code and a phone number. To meet your prospective date, you’d first listen to them describe themselves, then leave them a voicemail.
They disclose right up front that they are trans women. And the result is an onslaught of hate from mean-spirited lonely men who punch down with hurtful messages, disgusting insults and anti-transgender bigotry. “Chicks with dicks,” “man in a dress,” and worse. My friends also must deal with “chasers:” those men who get their thrills dating and having sex with pre-op trans women. No thank you to both.
If I didn’t, he’d never guess just looking at my body, but I couldn’t be that intimate without sharing my secret. And he might complain that I was too tight and lacked proper depth, problems I’m having addressed in major surgery soon. Funnily enough, that’s one thing I did tell him on our last date.