By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
When people are attracted to each other, usually dating follows and a relationship may begin. If things develop, there may very well be discussions on where the relationship is going. Will this become a steady relationship? Will it progress to eventually living together? When is it time to introduce this new person to their friends and family?
This may become tricky if one of the people in the relationship is a trans person.
Knowing a trans person and having a trans person as a friend is one thing, however, having a trans person as a significant other may be too big of a challenge for some folks. I have dated non-trans men for the past eight years and I am well aware of my dates’ apprehension of announcing to the world that they are dating me. The men are fine with being seen with me in public as long as the public is not in their hometown or in their circle of friends. I found this to be a very common practice on all of my dates.[pullquote] He asked me if I remember how I felt when I first began going out in public dressed in women’s clothing and how scared I was that someone I knew would see me and recognize me. I told him that I do remember that fear. He then told me that’s the same fear that he had when he was out with me.[/pullquote]
I did, however, have one man introduce me to a couple of his friends and invited me into his home several times. We even went grocery shopping in his hometown. This was wonderful. However, he did draw the line on introducing me to his family. When he was a teen, his parents caught him with some trans porn and he was told that this was very wrong and that they never wanted to see this again. Years later, he still heeded his parents warning. I was not happy about this, but I understood the root of his fears.
As all of my other dates, this man had admitted to me he had fears of being seen with me in public. He asked me if I remember how I felt when I first began going out in public dressed in women’s clothing and how scared I was that someone I knew would see me and recognize me. I told him that I do remember that fear. He then told me that’s the same fear that he had when he was out with me.
Yes, he was comfortable with being seen with me with a few of his friends, but he is not comfortable at all being seen with me with the majority of his friends. If someone he knew saw us together, the questioning might likely begin. Why is he going out with me? Why doesn’t he go out with a “real” woman? Is he gay? The questions are really quite unfair and daunting. If he stood up for our relationship, he would most likely be thought of in a negative fashion. Some may even turn their back on him just like some folks turned their back on me when they found out that I transitioned to living full time as female. I knew the sting of people turning their backs on me, so I understood his fears. [pullquote]Some folks might say that people who don’t own up to loving a trans person are not strong people. … These folks do have a good point.[/pullquote]
Some folks might say that people who don’t own up to loving a trans person are not strong people. These people might call that person weak and spineless for not choosing love over the fear of rejection from their friends and family. These folks do have a good point. However, I believe that there is a counterpoint, which is the “outing” aspect of the situation. Many people do not wish to be “outed” as loving a trans person. It really is quite similar to some trans people who do not wish to be “outed” as being a trans person. If you can respect and support the trans person’s wish not to be outed, then how can you deny the wish of a non-trans person the same wish? In my opinion, to out anyone against their wish is a very big faux pas. I simply cannot draw the line and exclude the outing of the person who loves a trans person.
Until society becomes comfortable with accepting that some people love a trans person, this will continue to be an issue. Yes, there are currently some folks who are very upfront about loving us, but they are very few. For the majority of people, I guess that they will have to wait until society’s views change.
In the meantime, many of us trans people are also waiting.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a trans woman who has 3 grown children and is retired from 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.