Realizing that you’ve just met someone amazing and you’d like to date them is a fantastic feeling. When you realize that they feel the same way about you, it becomes even better. But what if they tell you that they’re trans?
Dating a trans man can and should be a perfectly healthy, happy relationship, but there are some things that can be helpful for you to know in advance.
In this article, we’re going to look at what you need to understand before dating a trans man and tips for creating the best possible relationship with them.
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Trans people are exactly that; people. There’s no single template for what being a trans man means, any more than there’s a set prescription for what being a cis (non-trans) man means. You’re not dating “a trans man.” You’re dating him.
This article is going to give you as much help as possible for dating a trans man, but nothing substitutes for listening to him and trying to understand his personal experiences and mindset.
Try thinking back to guys who have treated you as “just a girl” in the past, or just imagining how it might work. They might choose a ‘chick flick’ and buy you chocolates because “that’s what women like,” even though you’ve told them you love action films and chocolate gives you migraines.
Treating the guy you’re dating as “a trans man” is just as insulting. He’s not. He’s his own person, and it’s essential that you treat him as such.
Of course, anyone can have bad experiences in their past. If we’re honest, many of us do. But there are some bad experiences that many trans men will have had that you probably haven’t.
One of the most obvious is that he might have had someone reject him or even sound disgusted when he explained that he was trans. This can make him insecure and nervous about letting people know1.
Alternatively, he might have been fetishized based on his gender identity. Some people see trans men as exotic or a novelty. They get excited about the idea of having sex with “a trans man” in a way that is degrading and dehumanizing2.
These specific experiences can lead to a trans man putting up emotional barriers to make sure he doesn’t get hurt in the same way again.
One of the first questions many people want to ask (and hopefully are too polite to actually ask) concerns the details of someone’s physical transition. People are especially curious about whether a trans man has, or is considering, surgery.
Even if you’re enlightened enough to know that not all trans men will ever want surgery, it’s common for people to assume that a trans man will always want some form of hormone therapy.
Remember that transitioning is a personal experience. It’s often as much personal and social as it is physical or medical. Not all trans men will want to have any medical aspect to their transition, while others will want top surgery, bottom surgery, and hormones3.
The important thing to understand is that either of these positions, or anything in between, is equally valid. Someone who has had surgery isn’t more trans than someone who hasn’t.
Trans men have the same insecurities and anxieties as the rest of us. They might have things about their body that they dislike, including things unrelated to their gender identity. They might worry about whether they’re good enough for you or whether they’re the kind of boyfriend you’re looking for.
As I’ve already mentioned, a trans man might have had bad experiences when they tell someone that they weren’t assigned male at birth. This is one of several reasons that he might not mention the fact that he’s trans straight away4.
Some trans people see being trans as a huge part of who they are but others don’t. Dating a trans person might be a big deal for you, but he might not consider it one of the biggest aspects of his identity. You probably didn’t mention that you were on the swim team in high school during the first few dates. If it’s not important to him, he might not mention it and that’s ok.
Being a trans man doesn’t make him less of a man. You might be surprised to find out that he wasn’t assigned male at birth, but he isn’t lying to you or being deceitful if he doesn’t tell you about it early.
This might seem like a subtle difference, but it’s really important. A trans man didn’t use to be a girl or a woman. He was always a trans man. He was just being treated as a girl or woman until he came out.
People who hear that you’re dating a trans man will often say that you must have the “best of both worlds.” They assume that you’re dating a man who also understands everything about being a woman. They’re wrong. More importantly, this assumption is insulting and denies the reality of their experiences.
This links well with the previous point. One of the aspects of the world that women sadly experience far more than men is the risk of public assault or violence based on their gender or sexuality. A trans man is also at increased risk of gender-based violence5.
Whilst this is awful, it can give him a little more insight into your experiences. He’ll probably understand when you prefer to meet up in a public place. He’s more likely to consider accessibility and safety when it comes to choosing locations for a date.
It might also make him nervous or anxious. Anyone you date needs to feel safe with you, but it’s especially important for a trans man.
The first, and most important, tip for dating a trans man is to date them for who they are, not because of (or even despite) their gender identity. Treat them as an individual and delight in all of his wonderful qualities. His gender isn’t more important than his kindness or his sexy, piercing gaze in your relationship.
Trans people are often fetishized. People they’re interested in, and who seem interested back, become more excited by their gender identity than by them. There’s something uniquely insulting about someone who wants to have sex with someone from your community, rather than you specifically.
Don’t be that person. Importantly, don’t let him wonder whether you might be that person. Compliment him on things you love about him specifically. Show him that he’s important to you for himself, rather than his identity.
When you find out that someone you’re attracted to is trans, this can feel like a big thing. You probably want to know everything about it to help you understand them. Unfortunately, that can leave them feeling as though you only see or acknowledge one aspect of their identity.
Make sure that you’re equally curious about everything that matters to him. This lets you see him as a full person, rather than just as a trans man.
Boundaries are essential in any good relationship, and you should always respect your partner’s. When you’re dating a trans man, there might be a few more boundaries that you’re not expecting.
The first thing to explain is that you should never, ever ‘out’ someone without their consent. If he hasn’t told someone that he’s a trans man, it’s not your place to tell them unless you have permission. Ask your partner what he’s comfortable with and respect his wishes.
Be aware that other people will inevitably ask questions. These are yours to field (passing them on to your partner just increases the burden on him), but you need to respect his boundaries as you do so.
Prepare some stock answers to use if someone asks about your partner’s gender identity. It’s often helpful to turn the question back onto the person asking. You could say “I’m interested to know why that’s important to you” or “that’s not really an ok question to ask about someone.”
Introducing your trans partner to your friends and family can be scary, especially if you’re not sure how well-educated they are about trans issues. It’s not fair to expect your partner to just put up with hurtful or transphobic comments. Your role is to set and enforce boundaries around how you expect your partner to be treated.
This might include explaining that you won’t tolerate questions about his transition or discussing pronoun use before they meet him.
Although it’s your job to ensure that your friends and family treat your partner with respect, it’s important that you include him in your planning. Ask him what boundaries he wants in place and discuss what does and doesn’t feel ok to him.
If you do have family members who simply won’t change their behavior, ask your partner how he wants to deal with this. Work as a team to find a solution that works for both of you.
Being trans is far from easy. This isn’t because there’s something “wrong” with trans people. There isn’t. They’re not faulty or broken or damaged. Being trans is difficult because society makes it difficult.
If you’re going to be in a long-term relationship with a trans man, you should really understand at least some of the hurdles they’re going to face. This will help you to support them and even advocate for them when they’ve had enough.
Try to understand as much as you can about the challenges they are likely to face. Look into how easy (or not) it is to get hold of any hormones and medication they might need. Research options for changing names and gender on official records.
They might want to do any of those things or they might not. Try to understand the challenges ahead of them and various factors that could influence their decisions. This will help you to understand them better.
When you start dating a trans man, you need to be aware that you’re likely to face at least some prejudice. Preparing yourself is helpful to allow you to deal with this well.
Obviously, it’s impossible to fully prepare yourself for hateful comments or violence. They’re always going to be traumatic and awful. Try to have support systems in place ready for you to rant or ask for comfort.
Lots of people are fascinated by a trans person’s past, especially their childhood. They want to know about their deadname (the name their parents gave them at birth, which they no longer use) or want to see pictures of them as young children.
This is often deeply uncomfortable for trans people, especially early on in a relationship or shortly after transitioning. It might bring up particularly painful memories if their family isn’t supportive of their transition.
Treat this as you would any other deeply personal information. Be delicate and let him know that you’re happy to talk about it, but only as much as he feels comfortable with. Never push him to disclose more than he wants to.
Trans people are often called courageous for having the strength to live authentically in a world that makes this difficult for them. Many never wanted to be courageous. They just wanted to be themselves.
Constantly being called courageous for something you didn’t choose is frustrating, especially when it only takes courage because other people make it more difficult than it needs to be. Instead, talk about how much you love their authenticity or how genuine they are.
Words are important to all of us. Show that you love and respect your trans man by using the words that he prefers. This is just basic good manners and courtesy. Expect others to use them as well.
A trans man is a man. If you’re dating or having sex with a trans man, you’re having sex with a man. Asking whether sex with them makes you a lesbian tells your partner that you don’t see them as a real or genuine man.
This question is usually asked by people who assume that trans people are the product of abuse or mistreatment. There isn’t some magical moment or traumatic event that “makes” someone trans. It’s like asking what makes you blonde.
Trans people are often asked to speak for their entire community. Although lots of people in the trans community do know each other and share some values, your partner is their own person. Don’t ask them to be a spokesperson for all trans people.
This type of question isn’t acceptable, especially early in your dating or relationship. If you haven’t been invited to experience their genitals firsthand, it’s not ok to ask about them.
If you’re a woman dating a trans man, you’re dating a man. Even if they have a vagina, it doesn’t change your sexuality. Remember that you’re dating a person, not their genitalia, chromosomes, or hormone levels.
Trans men can be straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, or any other sexual preference. Although trans people are included under the LGBTQ+ banner, gender identity and sexuality are unrelated. A trans man who dates men is gay and one who dates women is straight.
Being trans doesn’t affect how someone behaves in a relationship. Whether your relationship works in the long term depends on your personalities, values, and communication, rather than your specific gender identities.
Trans men can be wonderful lovers, boyfriends, and husbands. The key to a great relationship with a trans man is the same as for any relationship. You need mutual love, trust, and respect. There might be a few more things to work through in the early stages of your relationship, but they are easily solved with plenty of communication.
What are your experiences of dating a trans man? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to share this article if you found it helpful.