Life Relationships Dating as a trans or non-binary person Dating is already hard enough as it is, but trying navigate your dating life with the risk of transphobia adds even more difficulty. Being trans or non-binary and trying to navigate the dating scene is very hard. Here’s a short guide on how to keep yourself safe and have a good time. Disclosure of your identity One of the scariest parts of dating as a trans or non-binary individual is disclosing your gender identity to a partner. Coming out to someone you just met is scary, especially if they are a potential partner. It’s important to recognise that when, how, and if you are going to disclose is entirely up to you. Many people do not feel the need to come out to a new partner for a number of reasons, they may have no intention of taking a date any further, or feel that there would be no safety risk if they did not disclose their identity. You may choose to come out to some partners and not others, depending on the nature of the relationship. Whatever you decide, it is entirely up to you. You may have a hard time when determining when and how to disclose – how do I find the right moment? If you are meeting someone through online dating, it might be easiest to include your gender identity in your dating profile, this way you rid yourself of any potential partners that may be hateful or transphobic. On the other hand, some people may not be comfortable with this for fear of being fetishised. Another method of disclosure is to ask a partner for their pronouns very early into the conversation, this will give you a window to disclose your identity and get a sense for how accepting this partner is. You can also do this if you are meeting someone through a friend or relative. Ultimately, you may choose to disclose your identity at any time in any way. It may be as simple as saying, “By the way, I’m trans.” Whatever is most comfortable for you is your best bet. Put your safety first It is extremely important to keep yourself safe above all else. If you believe a partner may cause you physical or psychological harm for whatever reason, get yourself away from them, quickly. It may be a good idea to let a friend know where you are, or meet in a public place for your first date to ensure your own safety. If you have been hurt by a partner, get help immediately and utilize any bystanders, or call the police. You may also want to contact Galop, an LGBTQ+ helpline for those who have been hurt by hate crime, sexual abuse, or domestic abuse. You can reach them at 0800 999 5428 (National Helpline), 020 7704 2040 (London advice line), or [email protected] Communicate your wants and needs Just like all relationships, it is important to let your partner know what you need from them in order for the relationship to be successful. Communicating this early on just ensures that confusion will not arise further down the line. Making sure you are both on the same page will make you happier in the long run. Your needs are valued, and in any partnership, all parties involved have a say. Make sure your partners needs are met, but don’t let yours be forgotten. Relationships should also be fun! Don’t be afraid to tell a partner what you want, or ask to do try something new. Communicating your wants makes dating as enjoyable as possible. While your needs are extremely important, they are just the bare minimum. At the end of the day, you should be having a good time, and dating because you want to. Never settle Just because someone is accepting of your gender identity, doesn’t mean they are a good match for you. Even though sometimes it may feel impossible to find someone who you feel safe to be with, you should never settle for less than what you are looking for. Ask yourself what you’re looking for, and don’t accept less than that. It is absolutely OK for what you want to change, so long as it is changing for you, not for somebody else’s sake. Your identity matters At the end of the day, it is important that the people you date respect every part of you, your identities included. Even if your gender does not feel like the most important part of your identity, it is still a part of you that deserves respect and love. Your partners should respect and accept each intersection of who you are – you deserve the freedom to be who you are. Never settle for less than you deserve. What Next? MORE READING For more about gender identity, check out Being transgender, Being non-binary, and A-Z of gender identity. SUPPORT For more information about gender, visit www.genderedintelligence.co.uk. Galop gives advice and support to people who have experienced biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexual violence or domestic abuse. You can get in contact either by calling 0800 999 5428 (National Helpline), 020 7704 2040 (London advice line), or visit www.galop.org.uk. If you would like to speak with someone about LGBTQ+ issues, call Switchboard at 0300 330 0630 between 10am-10pm, email [email protected], or access their web text chat here. If you would like to speak to someone about coming out, family problems, sexual health, or training for your company or provider, contact Support U at 0118 321 9111. Check out our OutLife Forums for a safe and non-judgmental space where LGBTQ+ people can talk to one another about their issues and life experience.