“So, you’re going to tip her even though she refused us booze?” asked an amused me. My soon-to-be-partner and I were at our first date in Connaught Place for brunch. Kabir was a trans guy and I, a cishet girl. Both of us were under 25 which is why our waitress didn’t offer us any alcohol despite us having made our best puppy dog looks. In hindsight, making puppy faces while trying to look like adults seems a little counterproductive. That day, he tipped the waitress with what his broke college ass could offer – some 5 rupees in coins. I guess his generosity made me fall for him.
People often ask me how I came to dating Kabir, given the fact that I have primarily been attracted only to cishet (cisgendered heterosexual) guys. My answer: dating a trans guy or girl doesn’t make you any less straight, it doesn’t mean you’re gay (unless of course you’re gay and dating a trans guy). It definitely presents you with a peephole into the lives of gender non-conforming people and THAT definitely helps you grow as a person.
The American Psychiatric Association defines gender dysphoria as a conflict between one’s physical or assigned gender with the one they identify as. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or be uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender. It is essential to understand how dysphoria affects your trans friend/ partner in order to not trigger it or to help them cope with it.
It’s been 6 months since we have been together in a relationship and that definitely makes me a pundit on how to navigate your relationship with a trans guy or girl (kidding, I’m learning and growing myself!):
1. Ask their preferred pronouns:
They might not already know how they identify but your effort to know more about them is indicative of your willingness to accept and respect them the way they are. It takes a while to get used to a change in pronouns. You will falter but keep going.
2. Ask them what triggers them:
Avoid saying things/ doing actions that might make them uncomfortable. Ask if it’s okay for you to give them a hug. Ask if they are okay talking to you about their dysphoria. Don’t assume they are comfortable talking about it in the first place. Be respectful about their insecurities. We all have them. Don’t joke about things at their expense or about people in the LGBTQ+ community. Don’t invalidate their feelings.
3. Ask about their boundaries:
What boundaries do they want to maintain? Discuss if they want to be in a monogamous/ polyamorous relationship. Ask them if they are comfortable with other people knowing that you are dating them. Don’t EVER out anyone without their permission. Let them lead the way.
4. Talk sex:
Healthy communication is the key. Ask them if they are comfortable with it in the first place. Make a list of things you would like to do to them and things you want them to do to you. Ask them to make their list too. See what matches and get going with it! Be accepting of boundaries before you spice things up!
Folks, remember: physical intimacy may/ may not be as important to some as emotional intimacy is. Don’t equate your worth to how much your partner desires you. You are LIT AF.
5. Be supportive:
If your partner wants to medically transition, be there for them.
1: Get information from credible sources to expand your own awareness.
2: Try to help them see the benefits & risks to assist them in making an informed decision.
3: Don’t try to change their mind, hold their hand and walk with them.
4: Never press/plead them to get surgery or start HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). It’s their body, their decision. You can only aid them in the process.
If someone passes homophobic/ transphobic slurs at you or your partner, give them a piece of your mind AFTER you’ve ensured both of you are safe. Stand up for them and for humanity.
6. Understand mental health:
Neither your partner nor you are leaning towers. It’s GREAT and HEALTHY to be emotionally available and understanding – to help your partner cope with their problems, to listen to them and help them but it’s NOT okay if it’s taking an emotional toll on you and impacting your own well being. You were not trained to be their therapists but you can help them get professional help. This definitely goes both ways.
Kabir and I never fought once in 6 months. It got to the point where we were literally listing down issues we could potentially fight about as all healthy couples fight once in a while. We’re yet to cross that milestone. We disagreed on certain things but always allowed each other to have their own sense of self and understanding.
It’s important to have a sense of understanding & compatibility. However, compatibility is an achievement of love, it shouldn’t be a prerequisite.