So you have found a new guy that is showing interest in you. That is great, but don’t let the euphoria cloud your judgement when determining if this person is right for you. Unfortunately when you are a trans woman not all potential partners are what they seem. There are men out there who will let you hang around socially, but still be hyper-focused on your gender. There are ‘nice’ chasers out there who will enjoy being with you for a moment, but already have it in their minds to end up making a life with a cis woman. For a short fling or a one-night thing, these guys may be fine. But if you’re looking for a partner, how do you evaluate whether or not your new guy is long term material and not a chaser?
The Trans Chaser And How To Spot Them
Honestly, it’s easy to spot the chaser on the street. They will literally pursue you down the sidewalk with harassment in a sweet voice, cold asking for your number, or brazenly proposing something sexual. It’s not much more difficult to spot the chaser in the bar too. They usually can’t stop talking about your gender and how much they are into trans people.
When I first started transitioning, it wasn’t a loss to shrug these advances and move on with my night. As I started posting photos of my transition on social media, and filling out profiles on dating sites, I had a more difficult time identifying chasers who I met online.
I think this is because the online chasers wooed me a little more. They didn’t come out the gate talking about gender, or asking about my genitals. They called me beautiful, they were able to engage me in conversation, and as things started to get sexual, they were interested in making sure I was into it, at least at first. However, it started to become clear in many of my online connections that to them I was a different kind of woman than cis women, or in a special category all on my own. Even though they may have been looking specifically for that difference, it was always a let-down to discover that my new guy wasn’t interested in me, but interested in their particular fetish.
Unfortunately, society tends to press trans women into believing that they should take whatever they can get. But this is no longer the reality of today’s world. There are many people who don’t hold trans prejudices when dating, who treat us like full persons, and know how to approach our bodies with respect and love. Below, I’d like to offer a few suggestions for evaluating a new romantic connection to determine whether or not your new date is looking at you or at your gender identity.
When your gender is not just a conversation, it becomes a theme
The best first date I’ve been on with a guy I met online didn’t mention my gender once. He didn’t flinch when he first saw me or get a greedy look in his eye. He looked at me like I was just a person, and was open to seeing if we connected as persons. While we didn’t work out beyond a few drinks, he set an important tone for me when I’m evaluating the way my date treats me.
Though I don’t mind actually holding a conversation about gender on a first date—especially if I’m with someone femme or gender non-conforming—if it becomes a theme of conversation during a date or through our relationship, then I know something is off. Especially if my date is the one bringing it up. My transition is just a facet of my person, and when a potential partner fixates on it, I can be almost certain that other parts of me are going to be ignored. If a date keeps circling back to my gender over and over throughout the night, it becomes clear that they’re actually talking about themselves, not me. I’m just the unlucky prop for them to talk about their fetish. In my experience, it’s worth walking away from these encounters instead of letting them play out.
When they don’t want you to move towards certain body or transition goals
Whoever you end up with, you deserve a partner who supports your individual goals. If your partner is directly opposing specific aspects of your transition, or pushing you toward a certain expression of your identity, proceed with caution. This likely indicates a larger issue relating to how they see your identity. Do they express negative emotions or discourage you when you talk about particular surgeries? Are they pressuring you to act in certain ways to tailor your presentation to their interests? Are they making comments about how well you pass, or about ways they don’t think you are passing? These are huge red flags. Your transition is your own, and your partner should celebrate it as they get to watch your development and growth.
When they expect sexual acts that aren’t necessarily in line with your identity
One of the most obvious tells for a chaser comes when things start getting a little sexual. A lot of guys have this interesting quality of dropping their social mask the moment things move toward sex. Sometimes this reveals a sweet, caring, fascinating person. Sometimes it’s a little scary or just plain alienating.
I remember connecting with one guy online, and finding our conversation quickly turning into sexting (this is also a huge red flag). A little fast for me typically, but he caught my interest, so I went with it. A few conversations in, our sexy talk turned into a sexy Skype. Halfway through, however, it was like I wasn’t even there. He kept focusing on aspects of my body that were complicated for me, and he kept wanting me to say I would top him. I am exceedingly not interested in topping men. I wasn’t able to deflect his focus, and all of the consideration he had for my perspective earlier just vanished. Interest was lost pretty quickly, but he didn’t seem to care so much. In the end, we didn’t speak again.
If things turn sexual and start to feel like I’m in a porn, then I’m out. If my partner is starting to hyper focus on my genitals for themselves, and not as a way of connecting with me or giving me pleasure, I’m out. Did they let a slur or misgendering term slip out? Yeah, definitely out. All of these might seem permissible in a passionate moment, but they are huge red flags, and do not bode well for a relationship.
Could I be a friend with this person if we don’t become romantic?
Not everyone wants to be friends with their partners, especially their one-night stands. But it is a question that I have started asking nonetheless, because the answer suggests something important about the kind of connection that is happening. Even a one-night stand is improved with respect, individual interest, and more facets of connection than just sexual. Could I sit down with this person and fall into a conversation at a café? Is there chemistry happening beyond sexual arousal?
One important indicator of this is in myself. After the initial first date excitement and anxiety of meeting someone new wears off, I begin to watch myself to see if I am acting like me around this person or if I am overperforming my gender for them. If I feel like I have to overperform my gender for them to stay interested, then I know that any relationship that follows is going to be primarily oriented on my gender, and that I will carry the stress it produces. But if I feel like I am generally acting like I would when hanging out with friends, then things are probably worth continuing to explore.
It’s always hard to let a connection go. But, it gets harder the longer you stay together, so don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve. It often takes exploration, practice, and ultimately, self-care and self-development before we start to find our ideal partners. Being aware of warning signs up front can save you a lot of time and trouble in the end, and leave you ready to keep going out and meeting new people.
Sophia Cy is a writer, an artist, and a dancer. She can be found on Instagram and twitter @soheressophie.