The upside to the woeful situation I am presently to describe for you is that it provides infinite material for comedy, and in fact that is the first requirement for enduring survival. Being able to laugh at yourself, to see the funny side in your increasingly tragic odyssey, is a valuable skill. Its important to be able to employ a whole range of comedy skills to maximise the Lol factor; for example you may want to employ your deadpan irony when the joke is really just for your own benefit like "No I don't mind at all that you chose a meat restaurant, its actually a good choice because vegetarians love side salads".
There's also the heavily dripping sarcasm which I find best employed when even the entire jug of slushy margarita you have consumed is not enough to salvage the date "Yes I *AM* quite fat, it's really *VERY* generous of you to see past my ass to my personality". Of course classic British slapstick humour often comes into play; like when you lock yourself in the toilets at Starbucks with a 'stomach problem' telling your date how sorry you are to have to reschedule and he starts screaming "Is there a doctor in here!". Slapstick goes hand in hand with a sense of humour that appreciates the simply ridiculous. When you encounter situations that are ridiculous it really helps to be able to make them funny: like when I met my date on my way out of the cafe after waiting 90mins only to be told it was a good thing I was leaving since they don't date 'impatient people!'. I think they were surprised I started laughing in their face but for once it was nice to finish a date smiling.
The truth is that the situations I have described above could happen to anyone, you don't have to be trans* to feel like your dating life is limited to the bottom 20% of the population. However, I have noticed that when non-trans people go out with trans people they often seem to have the mentality that they are somehow doing a good deed. Even if they are intensely attracted to you, it's still them thats doing you the favour. This attitude means that they are more likely to put their worst foot forward, just like you're more likely to do a sloppy job if you're not getting paid to work, you're more likely to reveal your inner idiot if you think the person sitting opposite you is lucky to be there. This attitude gets even better when it comes to sex and you end up in a situation where your date is deciding whether or not they are prepared to have sex with you and just assume that you will be grateful if they decide in your favour. Then when you politely decline, shortly after your date insists on paying the bill because 'you're probably saving up for surgery', you will notice the violent rage at rejection quickly turns into a patronising sympathy based on the assumption that you can't bring yourself to have sex with a normal person because of your self-loathing at being 'trapped in the wrong body'. This is the point where I usually rediscover my sense of humour.
But these dilemmas only occur if you manage to actually go on a date, the reality is that getting a date in the first place is like finding a needle in a haystack blindfolded- you only realise you've found it when it stabs you in the hand. Again, non-trans folks also bemoan the difficulties of finding a date, but if the girls on Sex in The City- all tall, thin, wealthy and straight struggle to find a man in New York then just imagine how much more difficult it is for a short, chubby, under-employed transsexual to find one in Stockholm. First of all you have to try and sort through all of the 'chasers' and 'experimenters'.
Chasers are people who have a fetish for transsexuals, in a way it's kind of cool, I totally believe that sexuality is more than just an attraction to men or women (in the essentialist non-trans* sense) so the idea that someone's sexuality could be geared in some way towards people who are gender non-conforming sits fine with me, for the record I find trans* folk extra hot. However, a chaser is not generally someone who just likes trans folk, they are someone looking for a relationship that is exploitative in someway. More often than not a chaser is interested only in your physical attributes and has no desire to get to know you, only to get you into bed. Maybe some folks are into that but I fond it pretty soul destroying. Chasers almost always assume that you haven't had any surgery and generally seem very disappointed when they find out that you have. Spotting a chaser is quite easy, the conversations usually go like this; "hey what did you get up to today?" "I thought about getting you naked in my car" "oh that's nice, I went to the supermarket to buy some groceries" "I bet you did, did you get naked?"
"In the supermarket? No I didn't, that would be illegal" "that's a shame, bet you'd be so hot naked in the supermarket" "no I wouldn't I'd be arrested" "ooooh yeah handcuffs, I would visit you in prison baby". Yeah, I've got your number and that number is a big fat zero.
Experimenters are much harder to pick out, these are the people who are looking for an experimental experience usually as part of a sexuality test. They are probably confused about their sexuality, maybe they think they are bisexual, and so they figure that sleeping with a trans person is a really good way to test it. So it's either straight people who think they might be gay, or gay people who are confused by their opposite sex attraction. Again, in theory there's nothing wrong with seeking out sexual experiences and experimenting with other people, the problem comes in when you reduce people to their parts and you use them for your own gain. Most of us can agree that it's pretty unethical for a man to pretend he likes a woman just so he can have sex with her and then never speak to her again- it's probably time to afford the same respect to trans people. We're not here to satisfy your curiosity. You can usually pick out the experimenters by their inappropriate questioning. Whereas the chaser simply assumes that whatever you have under your clothes conforms with their desires, the experimenter will be obsessively curious and it becomes vitally important for them to know exactly what you've got. The conversation usually goes just like this: "Ive never been with a trans person before but I'm really open to the experience if we like each other and get on" "oh great that's cool, it's really no different from dating anyone else" "well a few small differences maybe *wink*" "ummmmmm" "I mean I don't care if you've had the surgery or not, I'd just like to know" "yeah I don't really discuss my genitals on a first date" "oh come on I thought we were friends!" "Evidently not by the way you're acting!" "What!? I need to know this stuff- how am I supposed it have sex with you if I don't know what I'm working with!?". This is also a really good example of someone just assuming that because you're trans you wouldn't possibly have the audacity to turn down sex with 'a normal person', hmmmm somehow I think not.
Not everyone who is an Experimenter is also a 'Tourist' but there is a strong correlation. Tourists are the kind of people who really like the idea of dating a trans person but are actually quite freaked out by it. Perhaps it validates how cool and liberal they are to be able to say to their friends that 'I'm going out with this really sweet guy on Thursday, I mean he was born a girl but that's like totally no biggie to me'. Or perhaps they are a beginner chaser/experimenter who really wants to date a trans person but is still working up the courage.
Anyway- the defining characteristic of a Tourist is that they will start off really enthusiastic "you're just the kind of guy I would usually fall for!" And then on the day of your date they will become disgusted at you and themselves and back out, usually with a really lame excuse like 'I'm really tired from the gym' because they don't even respect you enough to make up a decent lie. If you care enough to call them on it they will immediately become aggressively defensive and make it all your fault; like don't you realise how needy and pathetic you are being by getting upset that you are already on the train on the way to the restaurant when they text you to cancel?
Very similar to the Tourist is the 'Plan B Person' (PBP), like the Tourist they will also cancel their date with you at the last minute with some lame excuse and get abusive if you don't take it like the second class citizen that you clearly are. The main difference with the PBP is that they only agreed to go out with you as a back up plan in case nothing better came up, then when they get a date with a 'normal person' or they realise there's a Simpsons episode on that they haven't seen before you become an unwanted nuisance.
So I haven't painted a very positive picture have I? Well that's because it's pretty darn hard for us trans* folks to cut a break. The truth is that for a non-trans person to have a relationship with a trans-person requires them to give up a lot of their privilege. Much of the stigma attached to their trans partner(s) will become attached to them. A friend of mine who is a well known and prominent member of the trans community told me that she chose not to take her husbands name when they got married so that people wouldn't associate her with his business, despite that he had lost many friends, clients and even family members because of his relationship with her. He had had his car sprayed painted with the words 'tranny fucker' and although he took it all on the chin like a total boss it certainly took an awful toll on her to see him targeted this way. The only thing I could think to say to her was "well, at least you know he must really love you, to go through all that and still be with you huh?". It's a pretty problematic thing to say like 'oh well the best thing about transphobia is that's its a great way to test our partners to see of they really love us huh!?'- not something I would usually come up with.
However, I think finding people like this guy, who are prepared to share the stigma and the loss of privilege *and not hold it against you or wield it over you* is the reason why I keep dating in the face of all the chasers and experimenters etc...
To find a partner or partners who are trans* allies as well as trans* appreciators is a pretty worthy goal.
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