I take a second to swoon over the fact that he’s a total dreamboat. A dreamboat with a really cute dog, I might add, and an appreciation for hard cider and angsty pop music.
A man after my own heart, really.
But as reality sets in, I do with this message what I’ve done with the others like it this last month: I delete it.
A few months prior, gay men didn’t seem to notice that I existed, much less inquire about keeping me company. But once I began my hormonal transition, I started appearing on the gaydars of very cute and very available gay guys.
This was exciting.
This was also very terrifying.
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Terrifying because I’m not sure if he realises I’m transgender. Sure, I’ve put it all over my profile, but maybe he just looked at my picture and didn’t give it a second thought? And then when we meet up for drinks, he’ll take one look at me and bolt for the back door, and I’ll be that loser at the bar who got stood up.
Dating while trans is scary, especially when you’re starting to “pass.” What are his expectations for my body, if any, and what if I’m not what he had in mind and he rejects me outright?
And can he jive with the fact that I’m genderqueer, too, and that I’ve got an interesting and playful mix of masculinity, femininity, and androgyny?
Not quite being comfortable in my body yet, nor having been on testosterone for too long, I also worry about those guys who will go out of their way to “affirm” my gender — which involves trying a little too hard with insincere compliments and exaggerations.
The truth, though, is more complicated than this. It’s not just him — it’s me.
What scares me most about dating gay men (and really, cisgender gay men in particular) isn’t just their own attitudes towards me — it’s the fear that, deep down, maybe no one will see me or acknowledge me for who I really am.
Rejection hurts. But to be rejected by a gay man — someone who I both identify with and am attracted to — would confirm my worst fear: the fear that, no matter what I do with my body, I am still, underneath it all, inferior or incomplete.
It’s not an unfounded fear that exists only in my mind. The number of horror stories I’ve heard from other trans guys who have been on the receiving end of a cis gay guy’s transphobia has terrified me enough to swear off dating altogether.
The last thing I want to be told is that I am an imposter, especially when trans people are subjected to this kind of transphobic implication repeatedly. We are told, not just by first dates but by politicians and parents and even friends, that we are fakes.
It has seemed easier, then, to let the gay dreamboats of OkCupid go unanswered than venture into the depths of that pain and insecurity.
The truth is that there are probably a good number of gay men out there who are ready for me, in all my queer and androgynous glory. But the bigger question is if I’m ready to work through the fear and rejection to find them.
And truthfully, I’m not sure yet. But I think I’m getting there.