Dating is difficult enough as it is — throw in being a lesbian and dating can be a full blown dumpster fire of confusion. What’s the difference between getting coffee, going to a movie, and getting dinner? Does she like me as a girlfriend or a friend? Is she femme flagging or low-key appropriating queer culture? Is her rainbow bracelet an indicator that she’s gay or an ally? Or — and we pray not — maybe she thinks that the gays stole the rainbow from God and intentionally trying to re-appropriate it as a Christian sign of mercy. Like, this whole liking girls thing is all really complicated. But the absolute most difficult thing in the dating world is dating as transgender lesbian.
Here are some of the most difficult problems that every girl like us who likes girls will understand.
Your feminist bookstore bonding takes a wrong turn.
Bookshops are always such a great place to meet people and feminist bookstores are the absolute best. If you see someone cute, there is no shortage of things to talk about. If done politely, it is completely acceptable to start quiet conversations with beautiful strangers browsing the books, when you’re not too shy, and hide quietly reading, while you work up the strength. Most of the time, when you do talk, it’s a lovely conversation and you get some good reading recommendations, but once in a while you find someone who will mention that her favorite poet is Addrienne Rich, and you likely agree that “Diving into the Wreck” is a masterwork and a great title for your dating life too, and she will ask if you’ve read the The Transsexual Empire. When it happens, there is nothing you can do but walk away because that’s a key signifier she’s transphobic.
If you dress too femme, you’re “fetishizing” womanhood.
Who hasn’t put on a nice dress, a cute pair of shoes, and paired the perfect lipstick to pop, only to go out and be told that they are fetishizing womanhood? Cis women– that’s who.
But if you dress too butch you’re not actually a woman.
On the other hand, sometimes, you just want to go out in a nice polo and pair of pants. You don’t want to be bothered to wear make-up just because it’s expected of you. But if you go out with a bare face and aren’t one of us blessed by naturally feminine features, it’s only a matter of time until someone thinks you’re a man.
You are salty AF — literally.
It’s a proven fact that there is nothing a trans girl loves more than salt. At every date you go on, you find yourself resisting wiping the inside of the chip-bowl off with your tongue or putting a full mine’s worth of salt on your fries.
When you find out your date doesn’t like pickles.
You can’t be with someone who won’t understand buying gallon jars of pickles and eating them while watching movies.
Your girlfriend sucks at putting on mascara.
First off all, it is a total myth that transgender women didn’t have the childhood of their gender. It’s just that your girlhood looked a little different than it did for other girls and so there is a good chance that you will be asking your girlfriend to help you do mascara for the rest of your life.
The dreaded disclosure debate.
Disclosing to a female partner is usually less dangerous than to a male partner. But the disclosure debate is seldom easy, seldom safe, and never fun. Whether you decide to wear your gender identity on your sleeve or wait until it’s relevant, it comes up between your dates eventually.
“You’re so brave…”
Sometimes you want to hear your gal-pal say you’re so brave because you watched a scary movie and only spilled some popcorn. But you heard it when you came out the first time and you will hear it after every well received re-coming out for the rest of your life. It also just totally kills any romantic mood because there is nothing romantic about saying hey, you’re a stigmatized member of society and face incredible violence! Good for you!
“You’re so tall!”
Let’s face it, there are few things as beautiful as tall women, especially in heels, but if you are tall trans woman, you can bet how many times it will happen in a day… and it will happen a lot.
Sometimes, you will go on a date with a girl and everything will be going well, but you will find out afterwards that it was just an experiment for her. She didn’t like you despite your transgender identity, but because of it, and that is so much worse.
Overcoming the stigma and knowing that you do belong in lesbian spaces.
But the absolute hardest thing about being a transgender lesbian is overcoming the internalized shame, transphobia, and bias you hold against yourself and knowing that you do belong in lesbian spaces, because you are a woman who likes women.
Listen, I know that these things are never fun but at least acknowledging them and preparing for them gives you more to time to do the important things: like reading up on astrology, petting cats, and marching through the streets filled with beautiful indignation. The real fact is that trans lesbians have been around forever, are around right now, and while we face a lot of risks you will not have to do it alone! Now go pick out your best outfit for an over-heating world and make it just a little hotter.