“Being male feels more natural to me than being female, and I’m considering transitioning. However, I’m not sure what I want to do, and I don’t want to make any decisions right now. Because I have a very feminine face and body, however, I don’t have much chance of passing as male. Because of that, sometimes I feel like a fraud.
“I haven’t dated much, and I haven’t dated at all since I started to acknowledge my gender dysphoria more. I would like to date more and have sexual relationships, but I’m in a difficult position. For one thing, I don’t know how to tell people about my gender identity. I mostly look for people in LGBT-friendly environments, but it’s still tough.
“I worry that telling people that I’m a trans guy will give them the impression that I’ve transitioned more than I have (especially on dating sites, where people haven’t actually talked to me or seen me up close). But letting people assume I’m female feels dishonest (and frankly, I don’t know if I’d be happy being with someone who saw me as a cis woman).
“I also feel like I won’t be able to find anyone who finds me attractive as I am, and that I’m selfish for wanting that. I’m bisexual, and for some reason I’m particularly concerned that no men will be happy with me. I can’t believe that a gay/bi man would see me as a guy, but I also don’t think that many straight men would find me attractive as a woman. I have similar concerns about finding female partners, but I’ve known more women who were in relationships with trans people, so I guess it’s a little easier for me to accept that it’s possible.
“If I knew that I was going to transition in the near future, maybe I’d be more inclined to wait a bit. But as it is, there’s no guarantee. I know that things could change down the road if/when I transition, but I want to try dating more now. Do you think there’s a way for me to navigate this while being relatively true to myself?”
I think there is a way, because I know a lot of people who identify as trans and genderqueer (at the same time), and who might or might not medically transition at some future time, and they are dating and/or have partners, and it has been no problem. It depends on where you look and who you look for.
I agree with you that you will probably have better luck in LGBT-friendly environments. I also agree that, in some cases, identifying yourself as a trans man might cause some people to make assumptions about your physical appearance, medical status, legal status, and so on. But those are their assumptions, and you can put them right when and if you become involved.
If you identify as a trans man, then that’s what you identify as. There are many trans men who have not medically transitioned and have no intention of doing so. Once again, other people’s assumptions are their own, and as you get to know them, you can let them know how your identity works for you in the context of your life. If that’s not what they’re looking for, they can move on.
If trans man doesn’t quite fit the way you see yourself, you might want to think of trans masculine instead. It could be more in line with how you see yourself and/or how you want other people to see you. But that would be your decision.
I think you will find people who find you attractive as you are, and you are absolutely not selfish for wanting that. That’s what anybody wants in a relationship. You say you are bisexual, so I’m wondering if you yourself would not find a genderqueer, androgynous, trans masculine, or trans feminine person attractive and would want someone more binary in nature. If that’s the case, it could be why you think that no one will want you the way that you are.
While I do agree with you that many traditional gay men, straight men, and lesbians might not be interested in you because of your more non-traditional identity and appearance, that’s probably not true of all of them. There are many, many people out there with a wide range of tastes and attractions.
For that reason, I would encourage you to focus less on who might want to date you and more on who you might want to date. Don’t choose someone just because that person wants you. Decide the type or types of people who you want to date and then target those people online and in person.
You are not being a “fraud,” as you say, by being honest about who you are and who you are interested in. I imagine that you will post a photo or exchange photos later with those people who you choose to communicate with. They will see what you look like. If you meet them in person, they will see what you look like. If you put yourself out there honestly, then you are not being a fraud.
Not everyone you talk to or meet will want to date you. You will not want to date everyone you talk to or meet. But I would encourage you to look for the people who interest you, not the people who might be interested in you. That way, when you find someone, the feelings and attractions will be mutual. Good luck.
What do readers think?