I say that early disclosure is the best policy. By “early,” I mean the second or third email so that the other person has time to ponder the information before responding. After all, time is precious, and neither of us should waste it if my being T is a problem.
Liz’s take on this is just the opposite. “You don’t owe anyone an explanation about your surgeries or prior life… yet. Genetic females don’t talk about their hysterectomies, breast implants, or original hair color in the second Match.com email,” she reasons. Instead, Liz says any potential suitor should get to know my heart and soul first. That way, all of the stereotypes and misinformation about transgenders gets filtered by a first hand impression of me, which hopefully is that of a relatively smart, engaging and (I pray) passable female, voice notwithstanding.
This debate with Liz has gone back and forth for a few months. In the meantime, I’ve been experimenting to see which approach works best. For starters, I don’t advertise my T status in my dating site profile. I’m not trying to be deceitful, but I don’t want to be pigeonholed. Not only am I a woman at this point (actually, I’ve been female in my head throughout my life, only now the outside matches the inside), but I’m a person with varied interests, goals and accomplishments. By reading my profile, you get an idea of Ellen as a person.
I’ve been lucky enough to afford the requisite facial surgery and to have a smaller frame, so my profile pictures look undeniably female and fairly attractive. Not drop-dead gorgeous, mind you, but someone who can honestly say “athletic and toned.” That helps, as it would for any genetic female.
When I disclose that I’m transgendered via email message, I usually start off along the lines of, “Okay now for something out of left field. You know the character Felicity Huffman played in TransAmerica? Well guess what…” I’m quick to explain that I’m “all girl” and quite willing to answer any questions. Surprisingly, I’d say that I’m batting about .500 in terms of going from that shocker to the all important first meeting in public. Not bad, if you ask me.
I’ve employed Liz’s approach a few times, always in public places with unobstructed exits, lest someone get irrational on me. On each of these mini-dates, we’ve sat talking for anywhere from a half hour to two hours before I’ve made the disclosure. I’m thrilled to report that not only did I live through each of these encounters, but in all of the instances where I’ve disclosed in person, my potential suitor was fine with it. On the other hand, none of them ever said, “Are you kidding, I would never have guessed,” so maybe I’m not as passable as I think. Still, all of these people have wanted to see me again. I’d like to think this reflects positively on me, but then again, maybe there are just a lot of hard up people looking for dates out there.
Complicating things is that I date both sexes. I’ve actually found people who have more of a problem with me being bisexual than with me being T. As one cute man said, “I just can’t wrap my head around you dating both men and women.” What? But you can wrap it around the fact that I used to look like a guy?
I’ve been lucky that women seem to identify with me for my journey. Still, for some lesbians, my fondness for skirts is a deal breaker. As one lesbian told me, “you’re way too femme for me. I need someone more butch.” By all means, please, call me too feminine. Even if it means we’ll never see each other again. Hon, I’ve paid good money to get that moniker, and it sounds like I may have gotten my money’s worth.
However, this dating thing has not been all wine and roses. I’ve figured out that some of these dating-site people actually talk to each other about who they’ve corresponded with. Maybe it’s a competition thing, I don’t know. What I do know, flowerlover65, is that I did not appreciate your message, “Who are you fooling? You’re not even a woman.” Thanks for the commentary, bitch. Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean that. Really.
Here’s the reality for me and all other post op Ts just trying to make our way in the dating world. We have a history and it’s not the usual thing associated with drama or bad manners or whatever. It’s more complicated than that. At one time, we physically presented as the other gender only to marry and have children and then accumulate memories and experiences that go with that gender. I mean hell, when I’m meeting someone and they ask about my high school years, I have to catch myself from talking about being a defensive end on the football team. If they want to know about my best friend, it’s a guy I’ve known since 8th grade; men in particular can’t understand how as a woman, I’m best friends with a guy going back so far.
Regardless of what method I use to disclose this history, here’s to hoping that my luck continues, and that eventually I meet someone who not only clears the transgender hurdle, but who has the spark and chemistry for us to take it forward. I’m just like everyone else, looking for someone who values me as a person, a human being.
Regardless of my present or past plumbing.