Archives for the month of: October, 2014

It’s easy to generalize, and stereotype people. We all do it, intentionally or otherwise. It doesn’t mean that these stereotypes are true of all people in that group, and I know this, having been stereotyped many times because of being a trans woman.
I think it’s important to state this, as inevitably, when I’m writing about personal experience, as I do, the people I interact with, will, on occasion, do shit that is classically stereotypical.
Let’s take men, for instance, because well, this is what this piece is going to be about…..

I find men attractive. Not all men, because there’s loads of them, and I am but one woman, but none the less, I am interested in them, in a sexual way.
It appears that they also are interested in me. Up to a point.
I know, I hear you, what is this point you speak off? Well friends, I think you know don’t you?
Men, in general, can’t deal with me being Transgender. They can deal with me being hot, and judging from the messages I get before they find out I’m trans, they deal with that just fine, thankyou very much.
But as soon as I disclose that I’m trans, everything changes.
So, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Why not just keep it to yourself, don’t tell them yeah?”

Here’s some reasons why that’s not an option for me…

  • I’m proud of who I am, and that I’m trans. Why should I hide that? I may be the reason people can’t deal, but ultimately the issue is with them, not me.
  • Sex. If it got to the point where there’s nakedness going on, we’d need to have a talk anyhow.
  • If we meet, and they realize I’m trans, then I don’t know what would happen. I have to ultimately put my personal safety first. Aside from anything else, it would be humiliating, even if they just walked out on the date.

So yeah, not an option.

Once a man finds out I’m trans, all bets are off. If I’m lucky they’ll just block me immediately. That’s the good option. The worse options include verbal abuse, objectifying language, and expectations that I’m up for anything, because y’know, all trans women are kinky nymphomaniacs right?

And then there’s another response. It nearly always starts with the phrase “I don’t have a problem with Trans women…” ,which if you type into Google translate* comes back as “I’m a ‘nice’ guy, I don’t have ‘problems’ with trans women, as long as you don’t actually want to sleep with me, or meet up, that is, although if asked I will now be adding you to my list of minority groups I’m okay with, just so everyone knows I’m a ‘cool’ guy, yeah?”

These guys, they, if anything are the worst. My latest interaction with a ‘nice’ guy involved him telling me that “I don’t have a problem with people like you, but I’d only be sleeping with you out of curiosity, so you’d only get hurt.”
Thanks friend, thanks for protecting my feelings so well. You’re a real gent, no mistake.
This was the same man, that previous to this, was waxing lyrical about how gorgeous I was, and that he didn’t even have to think about whether to message me or not. Bet you’re thinking now eh?

So, what’s a girl to do? I find myself thinking this a lot. I could just not date men, and stick to women, which is fine, but I do identify as bisexual, so why should I have to curb my identity to fit with society?

As I mentioned at the start, to a degree, the men I’ve interacted with so far have been stereotypes and extremes, I know not all men are like this, because well, I know some that aren’t. I do think that they are a minority though, and that many, many men can’t get their heads round what it means to be attracted to Trans women.

That though friends, is a post for another time….

*It doesn’t translate it as this, I’m being facetious to make a point, it’s like my super-power.

I think I’m fairly competent at this writing biz, I can string together sentences that are reasonable, occasionally funny, some might say even thoughtful.

So why is it that when it comes to my own personal dating life, I’m a total and utter fuckwit?

When I get a message from someone I should be able to be funny, charming and clever, but somehow all this goes right out the window and I just seem kind of a bit awkward and dare I say it, inexperienced.
Thing is, I’m actually good at this when it comes to my friends and their love lives. On occasion, I’m so good that it sometimes gets a bit Cyrano De Bergerac (or Roxanne, that Steve Martin/Daryl Hannah film if you want a more ‘modern’ interpretation).
I have a friend, and she gets a lot of messages from people on Tinder. I can not count the number of times I’ve received texts from her with a screenshot of a conversation where she’s reached a dead end and needs something to say.
She messages me for help with this because, when it comes to other people, I am on fire with sort of thing.

Need to say thanks, with a dash of wit, to a compliment about your hair? Send it my way.
(That’s really lovely of you to notice, it comes complete with my head)

Want to meet up but don’t know how to suggest it? BOOM
(We seem to be getting on as well as two random strangers talking on an Internet dating site can. Want to see if we could replicate, or maybe even surpass this, in real life?)

I’m telling you, I am your woman when it comes to dating sidekicks. I’ve got your back when words fail you.
And yet, somehow, all this vanishes when it gets personal. Maybe subconsciously I’m sabotaging myself, because I don’t think I deserve a happy relationship, maybe when it gets too personal to me, I can’t take the pressure because it’s so loaded with potential success, or disaster.

Or maybe I’m looking at it wrong, maybe the reason I’m alright at writing, funny, romantic things for my friends is because the pressure is off, as it’s not for me, it’s for them and the altruistic part of me is less with the worry, more with the do nice things.
Who really knows, it’s most likely some of both, but, given the choice, I think I prefer altruistic brain over self-loathing brain.

There’s this thing, and it keeps coming up, and it’s kind of a problem. It affects us all, and is expected of us all, at various points of our lives, despite it being virtually unobtainable.
I am of course talking about perfection.

It’s almost a cliche, the perfect relationship, the perfect date, the perfect job, the perfect body. There are countless guides, books, websites and gurus out there vying for our attention, all with the solution to how we could achieve this divine goal, and countless people reading, absorbing and devouring this information.

I could go on about why they do this, why we do this. We could get all analytical, break it down, and think how lucky we are not to be fooled by this perfection scam. We could do this dear readers, but we’re not going to.

Instead, let’s look at the perfect body. (Shush now at the back, don’t think I can’t hear you…)
Say you could change something about your body. It wouldn’t cost anything, it would be painless, quick and have no risk of fucking up. What would you change?

If you say nothing then I would have to ask, have you genuinely never felt the desire to change something about your body in your entire life?
Is it possible for someone to never, even slightly, ever feel any pressure in regards to their personal body shape, from the countless glossy magazines, airbrushed photos and brutal put-downs of anything different?
I honestly don’t think it is.
I am a strong person. I love my body, its shape, its quirks, its scars, and the way it is so definitely my body, with my experience, and my life, written all over it.
But I still feel that pressure. If it was easy, I’d get a nose job, I’d have smaller feet, maybe I’d do something about my brow, even though it’s only me that notices it.

This pressure is there, and I feel it. I don’t conform, I am a woman, and I am something more besides, yet I’m made to feel like something less.
Our expectations of what someone should look like is based on this perfect image that we’re spoon feed through everything around us, and it erodes us, and makes us fear imperfection.

Here’s what I know. The things I’d change about myself are the things people have said they love about me. I see my face and see all its flaws, I see scars, I see a nose that’s too big, and eyes that are too squishy. (My mouth, that’s pretty fine, just so you know).
The people that have loved me though, they don’t see that. My friends that love me now, they don’t see it either. What they see, as far as they’re concerned, is perfection.
I know, beauty, beholder, eye, you’ve heard it all before, but thing is, it’s true. It’s why we have this problem in the first place. What we judge as beauty, what we judge as perfection is so unique, and it’s also so easily influenced, both in a good and bad way.

So this is my mantra. This is what I try and say every time I feel my perception of beauty and perfection becoming tainted by something I don’t want to taint it.

Perfection isn’t something to be strived for, the very idea of perfection is flawed and broken, no, perfection is something to be ran from with all our might.

We need to grab each others hands, and run headlong into those so called flaws, those supposed imperfections, because they are very often the things that make us unique, the things that make people fall in love with us, the things that will, given time, make us mighty and proud.

I’ve been using various dating sites for a while now, and experienced the many aspects of this new frontier.
Often however these aspects are kind of bad, and it’s led me to thinking, what could be done to make things better for Trans people, when it comes to online dating.
From my own experiences, I’ve come up with six things people can do that might just make the experience a better one for everyone.

1. Read people’s profiles if you find them attractive and want to message them.
(Actually this goes for everyone, Trans or otherwise). Not every Trans person wants to be visible, but some do, and if they do it’ll be in their profiles. I make a point of putting it there, and honestly it blows my mind how few people bother to read my profile and then freak out when I have to double check they know.

2. Don’t assume that everything you think you know about Trans people is right.
 Here’s the thing, the stuff you read in Newspapers about Trans people is quite often not true. I know, sounds far fetched right? After all the media are renowned for their honest and non sensationalist reporting amiright?

There’s a narrative that all Trans people are messed up, deviant, sexually repressed freakshows. If someone where to say that about everyone with blue eyes you’d know it was bullshit right? So why believe it about us? In the immortal words of Biff Tannen, “Think McFly Think!”

3.When you find out someone is Trans, Don’t be a dick.
 Examples of being a dick include

  • blocking me without a word
  • insulting me
  • sharing my profile among your friends like it’s a godamn circus show
  • saying it’s cool and then not ever messaging again
  • using the wrong pronouns
  • basically showing absolutely no respect for another human being.

4. Don’t agree to meet and then not show up, or ever get in touch again. 
This one kinda goes for everyone if I’m honest.

5.Don’t sleep with a Trans person just because you were curious/wanted to tick it off some sex bucket list, unless it’s consensual.
There’s two ways to approach this.

Way one is sleep with me, and then the next morning let me know it was only to see what it was like. This way is BAD. It makes me feel like shit, and makes you look like a shallow jerk.

Way two is to message me, say you’ve never been with a Trans person and don’t know what to expect, but that you find me attractive and you’d like to sleep with me.

It’s okay to be curious, sleeping with new people is always going to involve an element of exploration, and this is very much okay. The Key things here are consent and full disclosure. If I choose to sleep with you, I know what I’m getting myself into, and you’re being honest with me. Everybody Wins.

6. Open your mind a little. 
I’m not asking you to exclusively date trans people, I’m asking you to stop, and think about this one simple thing. I find this person attractive.  You’re messaging me because you’ve looked at my face, you’ve (hopefully) read some stuff about me, and you’ve thought I’d like to get to know this person. Just because someone happens to be trans and you find them attractive it doesn’t make you weird, it doesn’t make you gay, straight or anything you don’t want to be. It just makes you one person who finds another person attractive enough to want to get to know a little better.

That is all. (Unless you can think of anything else, in which case, that is nearly all)….

So, I’ve been using online dating services. You know the ones, Tinder, Okcupid, those guys, and their friends.

Thing is, I’ve not been having a huge amount of success, and I think it’s me, or at least a major aspect of me, that’s putting people off.

Now, I’m not unattractive (and I realise that by writing that I’m immediately putting myself in the firing line regarding said attractiveness), I’m pretty funny (again with the firing line) and I’m a good person with an only slightly dubious moral compass. All good things, yes? So what could it be that isn’t what everyone is looking for, what terrible thing could be so off-putting?

Well, thing is, I’m also Trans.

I know, plot twist.

How do I know it’s to do with me being transgender though? Lets run though the things I’ve discovered to back my theory up shall we…..

I get way more interest when I don’t mention the Trans thing.

When it comes to making a profile on a dating site, we’re all faced with a decision as to how much information to give. In my case, the major question is shall I put that I’m a trans woman?

In the photos I have of myself it’s hard to tell. In fact, from personal experience, most people don’t realise at all. I’m blessed with a photogenic face, and an androgynous figure, so unless I let you know, chances are you won’t realise. (and once again, ready your metaphorical guns for the firing line I seem so fond of putting myself in front of)

When I don’t mention that I’m trans, I get a fair amount of interest. It’s all hey, how you doing, you’re hot, sit on my face, (no, really. Some people have like no boundaries) you know, the standard really.

However, when I put that I’m trans in my profile things really change. People still look, but that’s it. To make sure it’s not anything else, I’ve even used the same writing, the only difference being that I mention that I’m trans in one.

When I do mention the trans thing people can’t deal.

So what happens when I mention that I’m trans after we’ve been chatting for a while? Normally two things. Firstly people always say that it’s not a problem, or that they don’t care about it, because hey, it’s only gender right?

Secondly, they then never message me again.

There could be a few things going on here.

Firstly, maybe people feel tricked, or deceived. Generally people don’t like to feel this, so maybe they’re all “fuck you, don’t need this shit”. However I take issue with this, in that everyone has something they don’t tell immediately, because it could be seen as a negative. If we all ran once we discovered that people are complicated then there would be a lot less of us than there are now.

The other thing that happens is that people think about it. I know right? Unbelievable!

By think about it, what I mean is they think about what it means, and what they think they know about trans people, and what the people around them think they know about trans people.

I’ve been in a few relationships with Cis people, and when they told their friends they were dating a Trans person the response was pretty much the same.

“Trans people have a lot of mental health issues ( or as one person put it, Trans people are fucked up), do you really want to take that on?”

“But if you go out with a Trans person what does that make you?”

“Are you really a lesbian then if you’re dating a trans woman?”

“What are you going to tell your family?”

and of course the old classic, “So how do you fuck/what bits does she have?”

As you can see from these responses, there’s not much in the way of positive there. As you can also imagine, its sort of hard to stay upbeat about dating in the wake of all this negativity.

So, Whats a girl to do? At some point I have to mention it, because a relationship built on a lie is never going to work, and also, more importantly, I’ll be damned if I’m going to hide who I am for the sake of a relationship.

On the other side though, until I do mention that I’m trans things often seem to be going pretty well. Is it possible for a trans woman to find someone who isn’t bothered by it? More importantly is it possible for this trans woman to achieve that?

 I know it’s a battle, and it’s a battle where the odds are stacked against me, because I think that if the majority of people were honest with themselves, they’d have to think about whether they’d date a trans person or not.

So really, I don’t know, can I have a relationship? Am I too complex for other people? Are other people just not complex enough for me?

All I do know is that when things are against you, and it looks unlikely that you’ll get what you’d like, a victory is all the more sweeter for it.

I’m going to level with you here, I make bad decisions when it comes to relationships. I know, we ALL make bad decisions when it comes to relationships, but honestly, I’m really, really good at it.

Now I’m bi, so you’d think that this would give me more options, and thus less chance to make terrible choices, but sadly the opposite is true, in that it just gives me greater scope to make bigger mistakes. Oh yes dear reader, give me all the choice, and I will chose the worst possible option for myself.

I’m probably painting a picture that’s a little doomy. You’re no doubt thinking Just stop making bad decisions!  and, lets be honest, you’d be right. Thing is though, it’s really hard to not do this.

One of my weak spots is people who are in some way broken. I say broken but that’s not really the word I mean. What I actually mean to say are people who leave a trail of broken hearts and emotional destruction behind them. I mean people who have issues with “being tied down”, I mean people that I want to try and fix.

And that’s the crux of it. I want to mend people who are ‘broken’. I want to be that person that makes a difference, that they’ll change for, because I’m that good. Except I’m actually not that good.

In my head, because I myself am broken, the only way I can make someone love me, make someone need me, is by making myself indispensable to them, by being that rock, that person, the only one that can save them from themselves. As you can imagine this never ends well.

By understanding this process I am making better choices, but I still sometimes wonder if being in bad relationships is better than not being in any at all, because the thing is, once I start deciding not to fix people, then I’m also deciding to not to date the people I fall for most easily.

Relationships are tough, and making good choices is tougher again, even if it is exactly that, a good decision.

Writing is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, because it is.

Of course hard doesn’t mean not fun, writing can be fun, and it can be interesting and often mind expanding. I write to solve problems, to share thoughts, and to receive feedback, (oh my god, you’re like the new Shakespeare/Russell T Davis/Jenette Winterson/and so on, that sort of feedback really) but what writing really wants, and deserves, is consistency.

As it may be obvious from the last time I wrote here, this is not one of my strong points.

I fully intend to change this, (and I can’t even remember how many times I’ve thought this) because I really need to change this.

Thing is, you reach a point in your life where you start to consider what you’ve achieved, and what you’ve left behind. I’ve achieved a lot, and I am proud of this, but I can do better. So much better.

I’m held back by myself, and my fears, and that’s not a good enough reason not to try and do more now. It was, for a long period of my life, for many, many reasons, which I may well write about in the future, but it’s time for a change. It’s time to try consistency. (It’s also time to learn how to spell consistency. Every time I write that word the little red underline appears.)


Freiya Benson

Writer & Photographer.

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