Transgender Dating: 8 Things You Need to Know Before the First Kiss

Rachel Brewson

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that something’s happened to gender over the last few years: it’s become a lot more complicated than the traditional male/female binary. More people are moving on from their biological gender, transitioning from one gender to another or even identifying as ‘non-gendered’. Recently we’ve seen more transgender personalities appearing in popular culture, Facebook added 58 gender options, and the Whitehouse created its first gender-neutral bathroom.

For many people, this is liberating, which is a great thing. For the rest of us who’ve been living in the old male/female, gay/straight binaries, there is a little catching up to do–all these new gender options can be a little confusing to navigate. If you’re interested in dating a transgender person or just curious about this brave new world, here are a few things to keep in mind.  




1. What Kind of Sites and Apps do Transgender People Use?

You’ll often find transgender people on mainstream dating sites, just like everyone else. However, many of these sites still have limited gender options and are not trans-friendly. There are also sites and apps specifically for the trans community like Thurst, while sites like Scruff and OKCupid provide non-binary gender options when creating a profile.  




2. Do Some Research

As I mentioned before, there are plenty transgender figures out there in popular culture, and plenty of books, movies and television shows that will give you insight into the transgender experience. A good place to start is the award winning television series, Transparent, which follows the adventures of Mort, a divorced Los Angeles dad, as he transitions from male to female. The subject is covered with a lot of love and humor as Mort and family navigate the new territory beyond traditional gender norms. There are also a number of biographies on the topic, including Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt, Trans by Juliet Jacques, or Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness.  



Photo Credit: GongTo /  


3. Be Sensitive to the Language

Language is important, and you don’t want to embarrass yourself or wind up with your foot in your mouth. Outdated terms like “trannies”, “transvestites”, and “shemales” are offensive, so avoid them. Transgender people often prefer to be called by a chosen pronoun, ie “he/his”, “she/hers”, “they/theirs” etc. If you’re not sure, it’s acceptable to ask. Another way is to check the person’s social media profiles as the chosen term will probably be prominently displayed there.  


4. Treat People with Respect

Going out on a date with a transgender person is no different to going out with any other man or woman, whether they are gay or straight. Whoever you’re dating, make sure you respect their boundaries and preferences. Transgender people aren’t any more or less sexual , and any of the stereotypes or generalizations you may have heard don’t apply. They are individuals, just like you. Go with an open mind and enjoy yourself.  




5. Surgery Can Be a Sensitive Topic

Transgender people who have had surgery may not be comfortable talking about it, and they may not want to discuss their life pre-transition—or they may not have even had surgery. Along with surgery, hormones and other aspects of a person’s transition can be a sensitive topic, so it’s best not to talk about it until you get to know the person and understand their boundaries adn what they might be comfortable discussing.  




6. Don’t Compliment Them on “Passing”

Being transgender is not about fooling people, or presenting as a ”passable” member of a chosen sex. It’s about being who you are. The person you are dating is comfortable with the way that they look, and if you find them attractive, tell them. Don’t compare them to idealized versions of masculinity or femininity.  




7. Don’t Ask If They’ve Been Sex Workers

We often see transgender people represented as sex workers in movies and television shows, but this is a stereotype. While some transgender people may be involved in sex work (just like many cisgendered men and women), chances are that the person you’re dating has a day job or is studying at college, and trying to get by just like you.  


8. Trans People Aren’t Fetish Objects

Transgender people are real people, not fetish objects or something ‘kinky’ to try. Chances are the person you’re dating wants a real relationship, just like you—not to be objectified as a sex object. Treat everyone with respect they deserve.  


Rachel Brewson
Editor, Dating

Rachel Brewson, Dating Editor, has played matchmaker and dating coach to friends and colleagues, as well as written for xoJane, Thought Catalog and a handful of online blogs. She loves craft beer, the beach, and warm LA nights.