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01/26/2016 03:06 pm ET Updated Jan 26, 2017

The Truth About Dating Transexual Women

I"m attracted to transsexual women. How can I go about being in a relationship? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Jae Alexis Lee, Professional Jill Of All Trades, on Quora.

Hi, I'm a trans woman. I understand that there exist people who, based on what they've seen in porn are specifically interested in dating women like me. Let's talk about why that happens and what that can feel like for the trans woman in question.

Why do people want to date trans women after seeing them in porn?

Trans women are presented as an exotic fetish in porn. Porn does a really good job of making any given fetish look super sexy because... that sells more porn. Trans porn? Sexy. Milf porn? Sexy. Feeder porn? Sure, why not. If you can name it, there's porn for it. Porn's job is to make those things sexy and alluring... because that sells more porn.

Porn is not a documentary. It's a presented fantasy. If you enjoy that fantasy... good for you! By all means, enjoy that fantasy. But you have to understand that porn isn't a documentary. Even the trans women you're seeing in porn don't necessarily act in real life like they do on camera.

It's easy to get caught up in fantasy but reality isn't like what you see on film most of the time.

But what about trans escorts?

When you're paying for time with a trans escort you are a customer and she is providing good customer service. That doesn't mean that the way she behaves around you is a genuine reflection of her personality, or that you see 100% of her personality. Very likely you don't. But you're getting what you're paying for which is an opportunity to engage in your fantasy. Dating trans women is no more like paying for time with a trans escort than dating a cisgender woman is like paying for time with a cisgender escort.

Just like porn, you have to separate the fantasy from the reality.

So how do I date a trans woman?

Here's the thing... trans women are people. While we all share a unifying trait of having been assigned male at birth (AMAB) after that, we get pretty different pretty quickly. There are some stereotypes that if you expect them, you may be in for a rude awakening.

  • Stereotype: Transwomen are extra feminine, even more feminine than cis women
  • Reality: Trans women are just like ciswomen. Some of us are really feminine (and by that I mean exhibiting traditional social expectations of femininity) and some of us aren't. There are pressures that trans women face to perform gender roles in the ways that society expects that cis women don't experience. Some times doctors deny treatment to trans women who "aren't feminine enough." Some times, conformity to those expectations is a way to avoid violence targeted at people who are visibly gender variant. Some of us are just kind of girly and some of us are women without the need of trappings of traditional femininity... just like cis women can be women without needing skirts and makeup and other traditional trappings of femininity. If you're looking to date a trans woman because you expect them to be "more girly than girls" ... reality may not match your expectations, and even when it does, there may be some issues beneath the surface that aren't what you're expecting. After all, if I have to perform stereotypical gender roles just to avoid violence when I'm out in public, I usually don't want to have to 'keep up the act' when I'm trying to relax around a partner or loved ones.
  • What that can feel like: On one hand, being appreciated for your femininity can feel positive and gender affirming. On the other hand, it can feel restricting as though you have to not just be feminine enough to pass in the outside world, but that your partner won't love you if you don't perform gender well enough for them. The stress that you carry in the outside world, being afraid of failing to pass, becomes stress that you can't escape from with your partner. Worse, living with someone who expects that level of femininity from you all the tame can impose some serious self doubts about whether the real you can ever be loved and accepted.
  • Stereotype: Trans women are really into [insert name of sex act here]
  • Reality: We're all different and we all relate to sexuality differently... just like cis women. Some trans women experience exceptional dysphoria related to their genitals and don't want them involved in sex. Some are fine with it. Some trans women have incredibly low sex drives as a result of HRT... some aren't affected that way (or that extremely.) Believe it or not, some trans women aren't interested in men and are no more inclined to perform oral sex on a penis than the average straight cis man is. If you're expecting an exotic or highly erotic sexual encounter just because a given woman is trans, reality may not match your expectations.
  • What that can feel like: Intimacy can bring us head on to places where we have to confront our dysphoria. There's no padded bra, no artful makeup, no foundation garments... just two (or more) people and everything out in the open. Heaping a pressure on that to perform specific sexual activities that may be outside a person's comfort zone at a time when they're vulnerable... can go a little bit beyond uncomfortable. Not every trans person is still dealing with dysphoria and we all relate to our bodies differently, but intimate situations can be a place where going slowly and respecting boundaries goes a long way to building a relationship. Pushing those boundaries may get you what you want, but at the risk of damaging your relationship and your partner.
  • Stereotype: Trans women are easy because they're desperate
  • Reality: We're just like everyone else. Some of us have suitors beating down our doors and some of us have gone years without a second date. While it's true that being trans can be a tremendous obstacle to building relationships, many of us have been able to build deep and lasting relationships despite the social bias against trans people. We don't need a pity fuck, thanks.
  • What that can feel like: Having someone in your life who tells you "you should be lucky anyone even wants you" is beyond terrible. Worse is believing that it's true and sadly, many of us are worn down enough to believe it when we hear it. Good relationships build your partner up and make them feel like they've found the best partner in the world. Bad relationships tear people down and make them afraid that what they have is better than they deserve.

There's got to be a silver lining here somewhere, right?

Absolutely, there's a huge one. If you've made it through everything above then I hope you've gotten the idea that first and foremost, trans women are women, every bit as diverse as cis women. Life has thrown a few curve balls at us to be sure, and the world works hard to beat us down but... we're still here. Still out there, dating, loving and living life.

For people who are interested in dating trans women there's only one thing you really need to know: Date trans women like you date cis women. Don't make a big deal out of our transness and instead quietly affirm that we're the kind of woman you want to date. Not because you like trans women, but because you like our smiles or our laughs or the way we play video games or... Whatever makes us unique and precious individuals. Show that you see us as women, as people, and as someone you want in your life because being together is better than being apart. Do that and you may just find someone who will feel that life with you is better than without you too.

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