This post contains text below the jump that may not be safe for work.
For the most part, dating a transgender person is no different from dating a cisgender person (someone who identifies with the gender assigned to them at birth). But if you are a cis person dating a trans person, there are some things you should keep in mind that may not have come up in your previous relationships with other cis people.
I am a polyamorous queer cisgender woman, and nearly half of all the lovers I’ve had have been transgender. I take this as a compliment: like everyone I make mistakes, but I figure I’m doing something right if so many trans* people have chosen to welcome me into their hearts. Keeping in mind that I’ve by no means covered every topic, here’s what I’ve learned about being a good cis partner to trans people I date.
1. Recognize that your partner’s identity may change over time
This is important to keep in mind even if you’re dating a cis person, because anyone can discover something new about their gender identity. I’m dating a cis woman whose partner of nearly a year identified as a cis man for most of their relationship. Recently, though, they have started to identify as transgender. My girlfriend has struggled to adapt – in fact, I have been more consistent about her partner’s preferred gender-neutral pronouns than she has, because I met them after they came out as trans, while my girlfriend has known them as male for the majority of their relationship. But respecting your partner’s changing identity is key to maintaining a healthy relationship, and my girlfriend has been learning to embrace her partner’s feminine identity as it develops alongside their masculine identity.
2. Correct people who misgender your partner
I run into this issue a lot, because my partner uses they/their/them pronouns, and many people are not familiar with using the singular they as a gender-neutral pronoun for people they know. It can be awkward sometimes. I talk about my partner with the correct pronouns, but most everyone knows I’m queer and automatically uses “she” to refer to them because they think I only date female-identified people. Sometimes this happens with people I’ve only just met. Even so, no matter how awkward I feel, I always step up and tell people to use the correct pronouns to talk about them. If it’s awkward for me, I imagine how much worse it is for my partner to have to correct people about themself. As someone with the protection of cisgender privilege, it is my responsibility to help my partner be respected as the gender they are.
Comic by Bill Roundy