Sunday, November 16, 2008

Honesty

I have mentioned before that I am on a couple dating sites. I like to spend some time chatting with new people who may be interested in me romantically. Sometimes the conversations are quite fun. A few rare times they are very offensive. Most of the time though they are repeats of the same conversation I've already had many times. On dating sites people tend to greet you the same way, make the same comments, ask the same questions. I feel like I should keep a record of my responses so I can just paste them in, instead of having to always type them out for each successive person. Today I received a message from a man who said something that is not unusual for people to say. He, and others who say it, mean it to be complimentary, but for some reason I don't take it that way. I'm probably going to sound awful here, but believe it or not I get offended when people thank me for my honesty.

My dating site profile is titled "Saskatoon Transgender Woman". In the 'About me' section I again specifically state that I am a transgender woman. I do it that way because many men are not willing to date a transsexual, and I know this. I believe my profile will weed out those men who may otherwise contact me, and reduce the chance of having a great conversation with a nice man turn sour when he discovers I am a transsexual. In short, I announce that I am a transsexual for two reasons: 1) So I don't have to waste time talking to men who are not interested in transsexuals, and 2) So I don't have to feel the rejection I'd feel when someone almost invariably refuses to reply after discovering I am not 100% female.

It is this declaration of transsexuality that people commend me for. Many times people have messaged me with good intentions, but not romantic intentions. They simply want to want to thank me for my honesty in stating that I am a transsexual on my profile. I don't think they realize that their good intentions are actually hurtful to me. I feel like they are thanking me for not wasting their time. Maybe one or two times it isn't so bad, but after many people have thanked me in this way and then never spoken to me again I feel like I've actually been thanked for saving them from me. Quite honestly, their messages feel like they are saying, "Whew, thanks! I almost asked you out!!"
"I commend your honesty in revealing that you are a Canadian."

If I could give any advice to anyone it would be to consider transsexuality just another attribute alongside such dating site staples as nationality, hair colour, or religion. If you think the message, 'I commend your honesty in revealing you are a transsexual' sounds like a perfectly acceptable sentiment, then try replacing 'transsexual' with any of my other attributes: 'Canadian', 'blonde', or 'radical atheist'. If someone did say 'I commend your honesty in revealing you are a Canadian' then how would a Canadian feel hearing it? Clearly the speaker perceives something is undesirable about Canadians, and the Canadian would not appreciate the comment at all. Hopefully this comparison shows how condescending and upsetting the sentiment becomes.

In addition, whenever I am thanked for my honesty in this way I am also left with the question of what it makes me if I do not reveal my transsexuality. If it is commendable to tell people I am a transsexual, then is it deplorable if I do not? Would this same person commending my honesty feel that I have become dishonest should I edit the word transsexual off my profile? Does it make me a liar to wait until I know someone a bit more before I tell him?
If so, then I've been a liar many times over.

I haven't always had such an open profile. I once thought it best to tell people after I've had some time to get to know them. As a result I've actually been told many times that because it is a dating site, I OWE it to people to tell them. These people believe that transsexuals must adhere to a strict policy of full disclosure, and believe that we are being deceitful if we do not tell them right away. I think that is ridiculous because the intent isn't to protect the transsexual woman from potentially angry reactions, it is to spare some men from embarrassment over his attraction to her.

The notion that I owe it to people to tell them upsets me. Should I not still have the option to reveal private parts of my life when and to whom I see fit? What should I do in real-life situations? Believe it or not I have been asked out by regular men thinking I'm a regular woman. Would such a man be within his rights to be upset with me for not somehow having advertised my genital status ahead of time? Even if he isn't one to be upset over transsexuals, do I owe it to him to tell him before he asks me out for coffee?

It reminds me of one time I was at Diva's (a gay bar) hanging out with some transsexual friends. Some guy had spent the night lingering in the background staring at me, and when I went to buy a drink he was quick to offer to pay for it. As it turned out the bartender didn't give me the choice to turn him down. The bartender, too busy to worry about it, took the man's money and moved on to the next customer. As I walked back to my table the man asked me what I was doing with the 'fucking trannies'. When I told him that I was one of them he was disgusted with me and didn't come near me again all night. So he saw a woman hanging out with transsexual women in a gay bar, and was still upset that he didn't know I was a transsexual too. Short of wearing a placard or taking off my skirt I don't know how else to have conveyed to him my transsexual status.

As a transsexual woman I think it is a good idea to make sure any man I go out with knows ahead of time that I am a transsexual. It is a decision based on preserving my safety and to protect my self-esteem, not to preserve the black and white sexuality that some men believe in. My profile says I am a transsexual not to spare men from being exposed to me, but to weed out those men who would not be interested, and to avoid negative reactions that hurt my feelings. I advertise this fact about me only because I have chosen to, only because it serves my purposes. In no way do I owe this information to anyone I don't wish to have it. If you want to thank me, don't thank me for 'being honest' about a highly private detail of my life, thank me for gracing you with it.

4 comments:

dykewife said...

i have an ok cupid account because i do their quizzes and it's just easier that way. anyway, i clearly state that a) i'm a lesbian b) i'm married and c) i'm not looking for any kind of relationship with anyone.

i still get putzes who insist that i might "change my mind". insert rolling eyes here.

it's too bad that people don't always engage their brains before they try to engage in communication.

kneeded gain said...

I found you through a dating site and then as now think you are just a damned cool person. very attractive too.

I find it sad when a group that is commonly discriminated against is bigoted about others...

Sarah J M said...

In this situation I don't feel discriminated against, I just feel that it is ironically insulting to thank me for my honesty.

Romanice said...

I think its very nice that people are so thoughtful even if they are completely ignorant. But I'm looking for a date with you or a chat email me at armstrong.richard@rocketmail.com or Romanice at Cupid