Saturday, August 02, 2008

Safety First - Especially When Dating

So far this year we've had four transwomen killed. Ebony Whitaker, Saneshia Stewart, Simmie Williams and now Angie Zapata.

Outside of the common denominator that they're all transwomen of color, the other thing they had in common is that all these transwomen were under age 30. Two of the four, Saneshia Stewart and Angie Zapata were killed by people they were out on dates with.

I realize that if they are attracted to the opposite sex, that a large part of living a normal life for these transwomen so inclined to do so is dating. I and everyone who's fighting for our rights want all transpeople to live as normal a life as possible and I will continue to unswervingly advocate for their right to do so.

I know that my young transsisters are no different than young biowomen in many ways. Like young biowomen, some of my transsisters not only are attractive and stunningly so in some cases, they have no problem garnering the attention of the opposite sex. They also want to test their ability to attract their attention and wish to explore their blossoming feminine sexuality as well.

But if you're going to date, you have to be cognizant of the fact that as a woman, you have to be more aware of your personal safety since you no longer have the male strength level to defend yourself you once had. Once you start taking female hormones, your muscles start elongating to create those feminine curves on your body. That results in a reduced strength level. I'm 6'2", but after 15 plus years of being an estrogen-based lifeform I have the strength level of a strong woman my size, not a 6'2" male.

If heaven forbid, I'm in a situation in which I find myself trying to fight off an assault, if they catch me by surprise, I will have a hard time fighting off a determined attacker. So one thing I learned early in my transition is that like my biosisters, for my own personal safety, I must have a heightened hyper awareness of my surroundings at all times.

That is something that biowomen grow up with from birth. It's a new experience for transwomen. Failure as a transwoman to think about your personal safety 24-7-365 (or 366 in a leap year like this one) can result in being assaulted or worse.

The dating rules also change, and you have special addendums to those rules as a pre-op/non-op (or even post-op) transwoman. You also have to extremely careful about online dating as well.

While there are some biomen who are secure enough in their masculinity to enjoy our company and appreciate us in all our varieties and flavors, there are far more out there who don't wish to date transwomen period, pre, non-op or post-op.

Some of those biomen who fall into the 'don't want to date transwomen' category are emotionally insecure about their own sexuality. They are the ones who will react negatively, even violently to a revelation by you deep into the date, relationship or before or after sexual relations that you are a transwoman.

So if you're going to date, the best policy is to let your potential date know upfront that you are a transwoman. It is vitally important to do that if you like this person enough to want to start a relationship with them.

If you want to get busy with them, you need to tell them before you fall into bed with them. Waiting until he slips his hand inside your panties and feels a neoclit tucked between your legs is too late.

I was once upon a time a teenager with raging hormones, so I understand that things happen. I'm aware that a young or newbie transwoman has the powerful desire and eagerly wants to test her ability to attract the opposite sex just like some biowomen do. Some of it is because she really likes the person, some of it is for ego boosting purposes, some of it is because she sees it as the ultimate test of their femininity, and sometimes it's simply to get her freak on. Sometimes it's all of the above or a combination of the above reasons.

But just as our biosisters have to be cognizant of the fact that they could get raped or worse if they aren't careful about the situations they put themselves in, transwomen have all the other security concerns of a biowoman and more.

One of the things that a transwoman has to be aware of, no matter what her age, is that we face a heightened risk for physical violence and assault. While it's most likely to happen in a dating situation, it isn't always the case. Amanda Milan had her throat slashed seven years just because she was standing up for herself seven years ago at a New York bus terminal.

There are transphobic people out there who think we 'deserve' what we get directed at us violence wise or that we're 'deceiving' them for living our lives. That's what makes dating for a transwoman dangerous and can possibly result in you getting seriously hurt or killed.

If they aren't already, young transwomen, and transwomen in general need to start being aware of the fact that they must take common sense precautions in order to avoid being added to the 'Remembering our Dead' list.

That's not 'blaming the victim', it's stating a fact.

17 comments:

shemale said...

I understand that you're writing this as advice for young trans women who may be naive with respect to dating, especially online dating, but this kind of advice--advice that i would give a trans friend if i found out they were getting together in person with someone they met online and thought they didn't know better--on a public forum while talking about murdered trans women is a really horrible context for it.

Even if young trans women disclose their transness as early as possible while dating someone (or even before dating someone) it's entirely likely that the situation could turn violent. Sanesha Stewart knew her murderer for months and was probably out to him as trans and that didn't save her. Amanda Milan didn't get killed because of failure to disclose.

And even if Angie Zapata didn't tell her murderer that she was trans, it's not her fault that Andrade bashed her head in with a fire extinguisher--at this point, what she *could* have done is irrelevant because she's dead anyway and anything she might have done differently is no guarantee that she wouldn't have been murdered anyway--so what good does saying "what if she had done this" do except to move fault from Andrade to Angie?

I love reading your blog and i pretty much always like what you have to say but i wish that you'd picked a better context to say this to young trans women.

Rebecca said...

For a start, I agree with most of what Megan said.

I'm going to write up a longer response about these issues when I get home tonight on my own blog, but I have to say that I find this post, and your comments on the Zapata post extremely patronising of young trans women like myself.

"...want to test out her ability to attract the opposite sex and get her freak on?" How about, just actually being, y'know, kinda into someone, and maybe kinda perhaps wanting to date them? This oh-you-re-naive-and-oh-I-can-understand-you-wanting-to-*experiment*-with-what-is-*new* attitude is really offensive, and were it any other blogger but you I'd be being a hell of a lot less charitable right now.

Monica Roberts said...

Before you two engaged in the transgender community's favorite event, the conclusion jump, I have to ask did y'all read the entire post?

Megan,
I brought Amanda Milan up to highlight the fact that she wasn't in a dating situation when she was killed. The guy hated her enough to kill her. That the reality we all deal with whether we're 18 year old t-girls or 58 year old ones.

Rebecca, you call it patronizing, I call it 'keeping it real'. There are various reasons that go into why a person decides to have sex with someone, and one of the first I mentioned ladies, is liking someone.

I'm aware that a young or newbie transwoman has the powerful desire and eagerly wants to test her ability to attract the opposite sex just like some biowomen do. Some of it is because she really likes the person

And yes, ladies, one contributing factor into why transwomen enter into dating relationships is because we want the ultimate validation of our womanhood and our personhood.

And I disagree, four transwomen being killed under 30, with two in dating situations is a perfectly valid reason and time for talking about this issue of dating safety especially if by doing so i can help prevent another Saneshia Stewart or Angie Zapata killing from happening this year.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there!

This is such an important issue!

I believe that the violence that is directed at transwomen is rooted in an extreme fury about being "outed" as a gay man by the transwoman.... many men THINK that if they are attracted to a transwoman then they must be gay and they hate the thought...

I try to tell these men that the reason they are so focused on the "am I gay if I have sex with a transwoman?" issue is because they do not think a transwoman is a "real" woman... they lash out due to their own inner conflict.

Dating a transwoman for several months does NOT mean that a man has worked out his inner conflict because sharing activities together does not mean the deep-seated issues are being resolved or even discussed.

Black men who identify as "straight" know that they would be openly ridiculed by other men IF their peers were to find out that they are involved with a "transwoman". They fear the exposure and the humiliation of what comes after the exposure. Black men who are straight often THINK that if a man is interested in a transwoman then he is actually hiding that he's gay so the reason he's choosing a "man in disguise" is so he can indulge his desire for sex with a man.

Yes...this perception is prevalent!

These killers are rooted in inner torment. Transwomen need to steer clear of men who seem "tormented" about being with a transwoman....or who are trying to hide that they are with a transwoman....red flags....NOOOOO...

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

Monica Roberts said...

Megan and Rebecca,
While this post is highlighting dating safety and comes in the wake of another transgender murder,
it is not strictly aimed at young transpeople.

There are some transwomen my age or older that haven't gotten that message either. ;(

adelaide doris windsome said...

i really do appreciate this article. the advice is appropriate, potentially life saving and also motherly in an endearing way.
i respect the decision of a trans woman not to "out" herself to their date though.
i do not ever feel safe as a trans woman. as monica said women have to be on guard 24/7 and some of us are learning what that means. though i may not feel safe, decisions i make and action i take do make me safER.

i do wish this article talked about more practical advice such as self defense. despite losing a great deal of muscle mass, i'll still try and kick ass, i'll fight to my last if i have to.
its good to always carry mace and a cell phone you for protection. i also carry a knife, if i feel threatened, i will pull it out and fiddle with it, someone is less likely to attack you this way though it probably doesnt look so good on a date.
taking self defense classes is also vital, despite having less muscle your body can still be a potent weapon.

i would also recommend letting someone know where you are. just tell a friend or roommate or whoever that you have a date and maybe its worth mentioning that they do or dont know you are trans. you can have a safe word or panic word that will let them know something is up.

happy prowling...

adee
transasin.wordpress.com

taylorSiluwé ..... said...

Great article and advice.

While I wouldn't dare speak for trans women, I do know that tormented men are a danger in any dating situation. Men who just can deal with certain disclosures and what society will think should be kicked to the curb with a quickness. Life to complicated enough without having to play therapist for love.

Renee said...

I must have a heightened hyper awareness of my surroundings at all times.

That is something that biowomen grow up with from birth.


We are trained to be fearful at all times. Very seldom when people raise girls do they ever assert the possible strength of the female form or encourage young women to learn how to defend themselves. We are just raised to lead a closeted sort of life...i.e don't walk alone after dark. This is not a positive model. As women we should be seeking ways to increase our power and live fear free lives not hide in fear from patriarchal forces.

OohLaLexi said...

I think this advice is noteworthy. While I don't believe that Stewart's and/or Zapata's murderers were in the dark about their trans-status, it is still important to remind up and coming transwomen to know what is out there. This advice isn't given to make us afraid of dating, rather it is to educate us to what things are possible and how to do your best to avoid them.

A person who reacts negatively will likely react negatively no matter how or when he finds out. So, it is good to know some things to help protect your safety. I call it practical dating advice.

1. Learn self-defense (I like Krav Maga, personally).
2. Develop your sense of discernment.
3. Always tell a friend of loved when we you go out with someone new (Name of person, place going, expected time of return).
4. Check in with friend or loved one while on the date (quick hello via cell phone to let them know you are okay).

These are not failproof, but they are a great start. Being a 28 year-old transwoman, I have dated many men and haven't always followed these precautions. But, my spirit of discernment has always been good (even as a child). I have been blessed enough to not have any violent reactions to my disclosures. I still think we have to teach our younger sisters the ropes. Knowledge is power. This is knowledge--plain and simple.

-Lexi

Smokie said...

You wrote:
Some of those biomen who fall into the 'don't want to date transwomen' category are emotionally insecure about their own sexuality. They are the ones who will react negatively, even violently to a revelation by you deep into the date, relationship or before or after sexual relations that you are a transwoman.

__________________

Are you saying, essentially, that a man who THINKS he is dating a woman - but later finds out he is dating a man - is insecure about his own sexuality...?

WOW! It clearly sounds like the insecure person in THAT scenario is the transperson. If he/she/it were not insecure, he/she/it would tell the UNSUSPECTING man upfront, "Hey I have a dick/I was born a man/etc." -- and I would think that he/she/it would disclose this info right after exchanging hello's. A straight man does NOT want to touch or even communicate with a transperson, period. This doesn't make him homophobic; it just makes him a man who doesn't "do" men, and there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone is entitled to their own preference. So, in all fairness, the straight man should be told upfront if he's approached a transperson.

Véronique said...

Smokie --

A trans woman is a she. A trans man is a he.

No person is an it. Please try to remember all of that. It's really quite simple.

for what its worth said...

...comes down to this .. the trans community long ago got into bed with the LGB, promote the LGB and identify through their activism as part of the LGB. Is it any wonder why it is that straight men consider dating a transwoman as being a gay act?

Monica Roberts said...

For What Its Worth,
If you listen to rap music, are you, just because you listen to rap music down with being called a 'thug' or having people assume you are a 'thug' because you listen to rap music?

Just because transpeople are aligned with LGB people POLITICALLY doesn't necessarily mean that we agree on everything, or SEXUALLY are in emotional lockstep.

So the assumption of some biomen (and some biowomen) that because they date a transwoman, that makes them 'gay' is incorrect.

Gender identity doen not always neatly line up with sexual orientation, nor does it always neatly libe up with the genitalia you possess between your legs.

'Errbody' likes different things behind closed doors, and sexuality for transpeople can be a very complicated and sometimnes mind-mumbing dance to people who don't spend much time contemplating it

Sexual orientation, like many thins in nature is not a binary proposition. It's more of a line segment in which straight's on one end, gay is on the other end, bisexual is in the middle, and we all fit somewhere along that line segment.

Transpeople are no diffrent, except for the fact that we have the added burden of ascertaining where we are on the gender line segment first before we can deal with where we fit on the sexual orientation one.

for what its worth said...

"If you listen to rap music, are you, just because you listen to rap music down with being called a 'thug' or having people assume you are a 'thug' because you listen to rap music?"

Am I 'down' with it ? It really doesn't matter what I am 'down' with. The fact is that there are a lot of people that will assume that if someone listens to rap music and wears pants they have to hold up with their hands when they walk, that the overall impression of that person by a lot of people will be that they are a thug and a gangster. (Thats why bad guys turn up in court in a suit by the way in case you had not noticed.)

"Just because transpeople are aligned with LGB people POLITICALLY doesn't necessarily mean that we agree on everything, or SEXUALLY are in emotional lockstep."

That may be true but most people don't ask someone their sexual affilliation, they garner that from what someone appears to be 'down' with. I once had the misfortune to live in San Francisco. Most straight people assume that means I am a Lesbian. I don't get to tell 'why' because most don't ask.

"So the assumption of some biomen (and some biowomen) that because they date a transwoman, that makes them 'gay' is incorrect."

The assumption by MOST (not some) of society may be incorrect, but we don't get to vote on their assumptions ... do we!

"Gender identity doen not always neatly line up with sexual orientation, nor does it always neatly libe up with the genitalia you possess between your legs."

That's true, but it better line up with someone's presentation if they intend to hit the sack with a straight guy or gal they didn't disclose the anomoly to. Thats common courtesy to say the least.

"'Errbody' likes different things behind closed doors, and sexuality for transpeople can be a very complicated and sometimnes mind-mumbing dance to people who don't spend much time contemplating it"

That doesn't give transpeople the right to just do anything they want.

"Sexual orientation, like many thins in nature is not a binary proposition. It's more of a line segment in which straight's on one end, gay is on the other end, bisexual is in the middle, and we all fit somewhere along that line segment."

If we are talking 'Sexual Orientation" then I will concede that your statement is probably true ... however .. that does not extend to gender as some often claim. Gender is binary, male-female. Holes & poles. That is how it is seen from the vast majority of people on the planet and for the most part even transcends across straight and homosexual/lesbian lines. Gay men don't date people with vagina's, straight men don't date people with penis's ... EXCEPT behind closed doors, but thats another issue.

"Transpeople are no diffrent, except for the fact that we have the added burden of ascertaining where we are on the gender line segment first before we can deal with where we fit on the sexual orientation one."

If someone doesn't know what gender they are then they have no business dating anyone. I will go one step further... if someone 'thinks' their gender is not what their birth certificate tells them it is then they are probably exacly what their bc says they are. If someone "knows" that their gender is different than the one on the BC, then they are probably correct in their knowledge and will almost certainly work toward correcting their birth defect. Society (not the transgender person) has the burden of trying to figure out which ones truly are mis-sexed from those that claim to be. That is where the real problem comes into play since there are now so many claiming to be transsexual that society have decided to simply stop trying to figure it out. Society have quite rightly decided that all transpeople are gay since they claim to be a part of an organisation that is homosexual/lesbian. Most of the male to females claim to be lesbian and date women or other transgenders, all the rest are simply out there trying to fool straight men into sexual acts they are not aware is happening with a female presenting gay man.

That is how the general public see's it. It may be far from the truth and it certainly does not mean that I see it that way or that ALL people see it that way but the fact is that what the public once considered a medical anomoly has now become a gay rights issue and the focus has shifted from scientific acceptance of a medical condition for an unfortunate few, to a sexual one in where the public now have no sympathy or tolerance for trans-anything.

Monica Roberts said...

For What It's Worth,
Ever heard of intersex people?

They'll be the first ones to tell you that gender isn't a nice an neat binary proposition as too may non-transgender people assume it is.

And since you broght up what rights transpeople don't have, non-transgender people don't have the right to discriminate against us or kill us because they are uncomfortable with us.

As many of us have stated, we agree that people need to be told if they're dating one of us. But if we tell you that, it doesn't give you the right to kill us for disclosing that piece of info about us either.

Part of being human is engaging in romantic relationships with people. Sometimes that involves having sex with people as well.

It's unrealistic, asinine and arrogantly presumptuous of any non-transgender person to demand that transpeople cut themselves off from that intrinsically human emotion to placate those of you who are uncomfortable with the reality that transgender people exist, that some people find us desirable, and some people prefer us as sexual and life partners as well.

Monica Roberts said...

Are you saying, essentially, that a man who THINKS he is dating a woman - but later finds out he is dating a man - is insecure about his own sexuality...?

No Smokie, this is what I said:

Some of those biomen who fall into the 'don't want to date transwomen' category are emotionally insecure about their own sexuality. They are the ones who will react negatively, even violently to a revelation by you deep into the date, relationship or before or after sexual relations that you are a transwoman.

You separated out the key piece of that paragraph.

Let's try this again, Smokie. A TRANSWOMAN is NOT a man, whether she is pre-op, post-op or non-op.

Too many non-transgender peeps are fixated on genitalia or are stuck in defining yourself by what genitalia resides between your legs.

The existence of transgender people and intersex people emphatically spells out that gender is far more complex than the simple binary system that has been impsoed to organize our world.

for what its worth said...

I have to wonder why the transgendered promote the rediculous notion that there is no such thing as binary gender.
Assuming for a moment that the world were to grant your requests, what would people refer to this "third gender" as ?

I have seen over and over where people have complained about the term "it" in reference to people of ambiguous gender. I took a quick look at websters dictionary and came up with the following .. please remember I didn't write the dictionary ok...

" 'it'
1: that one —used as subject or direct object or indirect object of a verb or object of a preposition usually in reference to a lifeless thing (took a quick look at the house and noticed it was very old), a plant (there is a rosebush near the fence and it is now blooming), a person or animal whose sex is unknown or disregarded (don't know who it is), a group of individuals or things, or an abstract entity (beauty is everywhere and it is a source of joy) — compare he, its, she, they"


What would you like to be refered to as? Since you feel that there is no Male or Female How can you say that you are a "woman" or a "man" as the case may be. How can we help you feel more comfortable in your own skin?

If a person feels they were born with a body that does not match their brain sex then that person can take steps to correct the body, to bring it into line with their mental image of who they are. I really don't think anyone has any problem with that and it has been done by countless individuals over the past 40 years who go on to live normal lives in their target gender.

Having said that it would seem that some fair amount of transgendered people don't really want to change their body for whatever reason and actually prefer to have ambiguous genitalia. They would seem to prefer that the other 6 billion members of the planet should stop with the rediculous notion that they are either male or female and start calling each other "it" or "thy" or just simply "person".

This brings up an important question. How could someone feel they were born in the wrong body (gender stereotype if you prefer) when they don't actually believe that there is a gender binary? If you say your a woman yet you dont believe there is a gender seperation, where do you get to call yourself a woman. Do you see where I am going with this?

A reasonable person would conclude that you actually don't know what you are and would expect the world to simply term you as something other than... or a "person" period. Well thats all well and good but I can see holes in this line of logic that one could drive a freight train through. For instance, the biology betwenn what we term male and female are quite different. Would you expect medical science to disregard your actual genetic makeup when considering treatment for illnesses and disease? As you may be aware, some things are specific to men or the male species, such as the prostate, some things specific to women such as the need for pap smears and menstruation. How would we then term all of these things if we suddenly decided that there is no gender differences, that there is no binary gender?

Having considered all these things, would it not be far simpler for the transgendered to simply step up to the plate as male or female and allow the members of their target gender to decide if they are actually what they say they are - or - perhaps that in itself is the real reason behind why they would prefer to destroy the gender binary, because they already know that they are not and never will be considered the gender they claim, by the target gender they claim to be a part of.