what should they know and when should they know it?
about five years ago, a nearly life-long friend of mine who’d gone through sexual reassignment surgery and was embarking on dating men asked me a question. she wanted to know at which point she should ‘reveal’ the truth of her past.
it was a hard question for me to think about answering. on the one hand, i felt that as a cis-woman it wasn’t my place to advise. on the other hand, this was a dear and very close friend who was asking me really only for my opinion.
but there were even more difficult aspects of this simple request. my fears for her safety made me want to say that she should make sure the person knows before the situation gets involved enough to rouse desire in the guy. (my friend is straight). i know all too well how dangerous the world can be. there are countless stories i’ve heard from people and in the news about men attacking women who are transsexuals. they often feel mislead, betrayed and enraged if they have felt attracted to someone they find out wasn’t exactly ‘female’.
still, i was conflicted by the fact that on the occasions that trans-women have approached me for the purpose of a date, they have felt the need to tell me that they weren’t ‘born’ women. an unnecessary precaution as far as i’m concerned, since even before my own child presented herself to me as other than the son i’d thought i was raising, it seemed to me that a person who’s had to go such lengths to become the woman they’ve always known themselves to be is perhaps more woman than i am, who by accident of birth was born one.
now that i am the parent of a trans-girl i feel even more of a disconnect between the things i feel it’s necessary for others to know and the things that happen if they don’t know such things in advance.
my daughter is a girl and has always been one. the fact of her male body is to her mind a cruel birth defect, one that will be surgically repaired at the earliest possible convenience. so what if it was a cleft palate that was surgically repaired? would it be necessary to inform a potential ‘date’ about that? what about if it was a big hairy mole that was removed?
why is it considered necessary for trans-persons to reveal all? isn’t it only because cis-privelege demands it of them? even some of the most open-minded within the lgbt community think that transgender/transsexual people should be ‘out’ about the gender that was assigned at birth. i know. i’ve met them!
so, and i’m asking for opinions now, what should they know and when should they know it? how much of a person’s past identity, whether physical or merely their ‘history’ must they reveal? and why? should i be required to let a person i’m interested in know that 40 years ago i used heroin? that i’m fatally allergic to bees?
some people who think trans-folk should reveal themselves before dating insist that it is deceptive not to. but what about their own pasts histories do they withhold? what about their own medical histories do they deem private matters? isn’t insisting that transsexual/transgender persons tell all just another way to discriminate between “them” and “us”?
my daughter is very out in the open about herself,and prefers not to hide things she’s not ashamed of. and society needs to see people like her. to know that they are normal. but for myself, i think that it is no more necessary for a girl to reveal such things before we date than it is for her to tell me about a big hairy mole removed from her ass.