Crushing While Trans—This Is What It's Really Like

Trans pop recording artist Mila Jam talks about her dating experiences.

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Pop recording artist Mila Jam
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About a year ago, I went on a date with a guy I met on Tinder. He was in town visiting, and our schedules aligned. As we were having dinner, everything was great—the conversation was smooth, and he and I seemed to get along very well. We hung out for about three hours, and then we left our relationship open-ended since he was just visiting. I never got around to telling him that I was trans, and I had so much anxiety the whole date: I should tell him, I need to tell him. If I don't tell him, what if he finds out or notices?

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I don't know if I'll ever speak to or see him again. It was just one of those times when I had a nice date with a nice guy and being trans wasn't a topic or issue. But I also didn't feel completely comfortable, because I like to believe that in order for someone to really embrace you, you have to let them know who you are.

I personally believe in disclosing my trans-ness as soon as possible, but it also depends on the circumstances. I've had many occasions where I wasn't able to get around to telling someone because it wasn't the right time or place. Every situation is relative, so as much as you try to picture one way of doing things, it doesn't always work out that way.

It's still not popular for guys to say, "My girlfriend is trans and this is cool."

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There was another case where I was at a party and dancing with a guy and we just started making out, and the chemistry was there and everything felt light and great. Then it came to a moment where we went to the side to talk and get to know each other and I said, "You should probably know that I'm trans." Then he literally froze and was like, "I have to go meet my friends now," and ran off. That sort of thing is never fun, and it's not something that most guys in general take well to.

It's hard because there are a lot of guys out there who are okay with and are interested in trans women, but they also don't know the protocol. I've also met many guys who didn't previously know they were into trans women and we've talked about it and they say, "I never would've pursued you or talked to you further if I had known right away." But they got to know me and then thought, "This is not what I was expecting, but maybe I'm okay with it."

Online dating does make it easier for trans people to initially enter the dating world and disclose your identity, but it still doesn't always pan out. There's still a taboo, misinformation, confusion, and misunderstanding about what it means to date someone who's trans. Even though trans identities are on people's radars now, it's still not popular for guys to be running around and saying, "My girlfriend is trans and this is cool"—so that's difficult. It's very hard to date that way. But I also think we're now in a time where a lot more guys are feeling more adventurous and wanting to step out and say, "Let me see what this is all about."

My girlfriends and I want to be women who are respected and worthy of having men show up for us. We want to have boyfriends, husbands.

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It's all about being up-front and honest. But it's kind of nerve-racking. When you have something special that's a very big part of your life, and you have to disclose it to someone, it's really difficult. It's a different journey for trans women that are not easily discerned as trans, but it doesn't make it easier. You have to find the courage to be honest and open with someone to have something serious.

I have far fewer opportunities to really be with someone. The quantity goes down, but the quality goes up. I may get turned away 50 times, and then I'll have one guy that'll be awesome. When I meet with someone and we actually work together, it helps me know that it's purposeful and meaningful. It doesn't feel superficial, like, "I'm just dating this guy because he's cute and I'm cute." I know when a guy steps up to the plate for me, knowing that I'm me and I'm different, he really cares about me. Any woman would want that.

I think more and more guys are opening up to the idea that trans women are more than just sexual objects.

I do think there is a fetishization about dating a trans woman. The construct of our society revolves around being set up and put into place. Cisgender women are part of the fabric of society that has basically been set up for men to look at and say, "I can have her. I want her, and that's that." When they're discovering another type of woman that they may have never been told about, or been told not to have, or watch out for, they have to question all of those things.

It has to be very challenging and difficult for men to embrace that, so there's a lot of conflict. The way that they try to deal with that is to fetishize us. They become interested in having experiences like being friends with benefits or having a side fling—it's very one-sided because there's this thrill involved. But I think more and more guys are opening up to the idea that trans women are more than just sexual objects.

Dating while trans is extremely hard, but trans people have a lot of resilience and strength.

A lot of my girlfriends and I want to break that mold. We want to be women who are respected and worthy of having men show up for us. We want to have boyfriends, husbands, or someone who says, "I am with her, and I do love her. She's amazing." It's slowly progressing and getting to that point, and I think that it's changing a little bit more with the younger, more fluid guys and going in a positive direction.

Dating while trans is extremely hard, but trans people have a lot of resilience and strength. We've been up against a lot of things in our lives, yet we still keep hope and we keep plugging along. I've kissed so many frogs, and I've had so many guys who were interested but were just too scared. I really hope to see the day where they learn to get over their fear and actually stand up for themselves (just like my song "Faces" says). That's the direction we're heading in, and I hope we can get there faster than we already are.

Follow Mila on Instagram at @themilajam, and check out her new song "Faces," on iTunes.

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