Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guilty of Dating While Trans

[In response to this Feministe post, responding to a "Dear Prudie" advice column about whether a relative should out her trans cousin to the man her cousin is dating.]

 I'm pretty sure I got rejected a week ago for being trans by someone on okcupid. And it was especially irksome because the woman was awesome: really into all kinds of different social justice, knew about cissexism, seemed really ambitious and compassionate. She was enthusiastic and engaged, and then she read that I was trans and she... wasn't. When I saw she'd answered that "trans people ought to disclose their status in messages before meeting" (coupled with a note about her "grappling with the cotton ceiling,") I knew that it wasn't going to work out.

 And sure, online dating sucks etc. But I think it was one of the first times someone else really made me feel directly ashamed and disgusting. I mean, certainly, trans women are repulsive on an existential level to a great many people. But this was a direct rejection from someone who really seemed like she ought to know better. It was the first time I'd ever even considered not being so out all the time, because if even the folks who are progressive social justice activists and sympathetic to the abstract cause of my rights feel, on a visceral level, that I'm really just a dude in disguise... How else am I even supposed to get the chance to show them I'm not?

 I won't hide it, of course; being trans is too much a part of my identity and my politics. But it reminded me of parts of Kiese Laymon's gawker essay TNC posted, and how this sort of prejudice sticks with you and poisons you. How everytime a character jokes about the obligatory "tranny hooker" being "really a dude" it stings me. How I still feel like it's charity when people are attracted to me. How being trans feels like a stain I just can't get out. And I wonder how the hell I'm supposed to find and keep that sense of self-worth when it's so frequently reinforced that I ought not to have it.

Because when trans issues are framed in any kind of mainstream discourse? It's all about protecting cis people. Bathroom panic about scary men-dressed-as-women molesting cis women on the toilet aside, I've frequently seen people compare having sex with a trans woman who's not out being akin to rape. (And, of course, the ones who have sex with us when we're out are primarily perverts). Not to mention that it doesn't occur to Prudie for one moment that if that woman's cousin outs her, it might result in a beating or murder. We're just "living in a dream world" in thinking we're real women like the rest of you, and everyone needs to be saved from our delusion.

It weighs on you. Eats at you. And it makes it all the more difficult to believe that anyone would truly want you. Because, at the end of the day, the stain remains. And, in the eyes of most people, no amount of scrubbing will ever remove it.

No comments:

Post a Comment