Dating can be an amazing, but also harrowing experience. The LGBTQ+ community in particular is at greater risk for negative, even violent, dating experiences. A lot of this greater risk comes from the fact that members of this community still face discrimination, prejudice, bullying, abuse, and violence in school, on the job, and on the street. And given the fact that there are not always strong support systems in place for them, LGBTQ+ members are much more vulnerable to physical and emotional harm.
These dangers may apply even more to the trans community. Members of this population are more often misunderstood, even by their own LGBTQ+ comrades and certainly by straight society as a whole. Just consider some of the ridiculous laws being passed right now that show this ignorance, some of which border on attempts at nothing more than humiliation.
Safety, both physical and emotional, then, is up to you, especially in dating situations. And it’s important to take critical precautions, certainly when dating someone new. Here are some safety rules everyone should follow.
Remember there are “trolls” out there
Especially when using online dating and matching sites, members must remember that a lot of hateful people will set up fake profiles and begin relationships. Once they gain a bit of trust, they will want to meet in person. But their motives are anything but genuine. Use reputable dating apps that fully vet their members and where you can find the specific dating match you seek.
How do you identify likely scam artists and catfishers? Keep your guard up and be aware of these red flags.
They don’t have many pictures
The pictures they show seem too polished - could be stock photos
Their conversations are full of mistakes and difficult to follow
They use their profile to send you links to sketchy products or referrals
They claim to be some sort of celebrity
They refuse to video chat
They claim to be in the military or have a government job that doesn’t allow them to reveal certain information about themselves or meet in person
Also, be wary of requests for money and inconsistent stories about work and relationships. If you are able to connect with someone on social media, be cautious if you see what appears to be an excessive amount of followers, especially ones that appear to be fake. Conversely, a new profile with no followers is also suspect.
Most scammers are interested in your money, or simply enjoy toying with people on dating apps. That said, there are also people who are truly violent and predatory. Be careful and report scam profiles immediately.
Follow Your Instincts
If something doesn’t “feel” right; if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, follow your “gut.” If you are on a date, call a friend, an Uber, or ask the bartender to do it for you. You owe no one an apology or an explanation.
Take Your Time
You may have completed your transition as a trans man or woman. If you are totally identifying as a “straight,” then you will be looking for a cis or trans member of the opposite sex. Suppose you are a trans man looking for a gay relationship with a cis-male. In either case, you are ready to “get out there” and be who you really are.
Just don’t say “yes” to a private meeting too soon. Take your time to chat and get to know this other person. If they are pushing to hook up with you alone, especially at their place or some remote location, this should be a red flag. And if you have revealed that you are trans, you are more vulnerable to a troll whose motives are anything but a true dating relationship. The first few meetups should always be in a public place, even as a group date with other friends around. If your cis match is comfortable around your trans friends, and those friends are giving you positive feedback, it’s a good sign. If not, move on.
Watch the Alcohol and Drugs
Repeat this loudly to yourself. A bar or club is a good meetup place because it is so public. And if you are a transman looking for a gay relationship or a translesbian looking for a lesbian match, there are “friendly” bars where you will feel safer and more comfortable.
But never let your guard down during those first few dates. There are gays and lesbians who can be hateful and abusive too. Never consume enough alcohol that you lose your inhibitions and go off alone with your new date. And never let your drink out of your sight.
No one deserves to be physically assaulted because they are drunk and incapacitated. But it happens all the time. If you keep your head clear, you will avoid getting into risky situations.
Remember this: dating abuse is the fault of the perpetrator, never the victim. And if you are a victim, it must be reported. You don’t have to reveal to the authorities that you are trans.
In general, the best advice is to move slowly. If you “wear your heart on your sleeve,” it is far more likely to be abused. For a trans person, this is sometimes hard to do. You want a love relationship, but you can be more vulnerable than cisgenders and even other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Here are some tips that will keep you more emotionally safe.
Manage Your Expectations
You may be a transgay dating another transgay or a cis gay. You may be a trans female dating a cis male. There are so many combinations with the transgender community. But you have found a dating match and are longing for a true romantic relationship. You will need to keep your emotions in check and your expectations reasonable. The person you are dating may not be ready for such a relationship and may only be looking for sex. If you pour your emotions into this dating situation, your partner may be pushed away. Then you are hurt and confused. And if you have fallen hard, that hurt will last a while.
Amazing Dates Don’t Equal Amazing Relationships
You may have a few dates with your choice of a partner (straight, bi, trans, cis, etc.), and they have been rock solid great. You have fun together; the conversation is super; they seem to move well in your social circle. You’re falling hard. Then, you discover that your new playmate has other playmates too. And here you were contemplating a monogamous thing. What a blow.
The best defense against this risk of emotional pain is to continue to date others from the very beginning of this new dating relationship. It may turn into a long-term monogamous one eventually, but don’t let a few amazing dates bring down your emotional guard and cause you to pour everything into this person. Keep it light and fun until you see how things progress.
Rely on Your Experience and Your Friends
If you’ve been hurt in the past, you may have two reactions. One, you may be very resistant to dating for anything other than sex and fun. And that’s fine for now. Two, you may let that hurt push you to jump into a new relationship right away. You can end up getting hurt all over again. If you see this as your pattern, and your friends are telling you this, then check yourself and maybe get some professional help.
Take some time between dating relationships to just re-group. Being alone with yourself is not the same as being lonely. And you can still go out with friends and have a good time. When your head is clear and rational, then you can return to the dating scene.
Yes, the trans community is more vulnerable to physical and emotional risk, especially those who are in the early phases of their new identities as straight, gay, lesbian, or bi.
These cautions and tips are not meant to make you fearful of dating. They are meant to give you insight into the potential hazards you face as you move in and through the dating thing. Planning ahead to keep yourself safe is just a smart move.
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