Relationship Tips for Trans* Guys
Relationships are tough, and there probably isn’t a single person on the planet who has it all figured out. We all stumble through issues with communication, jealousy, petty disagreements, and so on. However, there are some issues that are more likely to come with the territory when you are a trans* guy who is dating or in a serious relationship (regardless of whether your partner is trans* or cis). Here’s some tips for how to deal with these potential issues:
1. Don’t let your transition take over your relationship or make things all about you. Especially early on in transition the struggles of coming out, dealing with dysphoria, figuring out your identity and transition path, and all that other stuff can really consume your thoughts and life. All these issues and major changes in your life can easily take over your relationship. Even if your partner is also trans* and can completely understand, it can be frustrating when one topic dominates all of your conversations. Also, if everything is constantly focused on what you are going through it may keep the two of you from getting to know other parts of yourselves (if you’re in a new relationship) or deal with other issues. It can also make your partner feel like a cheerleader and supporter instead of an equal partner in the relationship who is also listened to and cared for. This does not mean that you shouldn’t feel free to discuss your gender identity or transition with your partner, far from it! Instead, it means that you need to find a balance between your transition and needs and your partner’s life and needs.They should support you, but you also need to be there to support them.
2. Keep your anxieties in check. A lot of trans* guys are overly anxious about their partners’ sexual histories and/or sexual orientations. It can be difficult to feel like you are competing with cis men or women and that can cause a lot of jealousy. The thing to remember, though, is that your partner chose YOU and wants to be with you. If your partner tells you that they love your body, love you for who you are, etc. you should believe them! Don’t allow your anxieties (motivated by dysphoria or otherwise) create patterns of controlling behavior.
3. If you feel constantly disrespected, controlled, belittled, and/or stifled in your current relationship, communicate this with your partner or, if you need to, leave. A lot of trans* guys put up with bad behavior in relationships or even abuse because they have low self-esteem or believe it would be difficult or impossible to find another partner if they left. It is important, however, to stand up for yourself in your relationship and to know when to throw in the towel. Yes, dating can be incredibly difficult as a trans* man (particularly if you are gay), but that does not mean that you should be afraid to communicate your issues or that you shouldn’t leave a toxic relationship.
4. Sex is a delicate issue that often requires communication. This is true for all relationships, but particularly those that involve one or more people with body dysphoria. You may need to negotiate with your partner what sexual acts you both feel comfortable with, which body parts are okay to touch and which are off-limits, etc. It may not seem sexy or romantic, but these types of conversations can make your sex life far more satisfying and decrease dysphoria during sex. Your dysphoria may interfere with your sex drive or otherwise affect your partner and your relationship, and it is important to communicate these things so your partner isn’t left in the dark or worrying that they did something wrong.
5. Avoid adopting stereotypically masculine behaviors that can be harmful for relationships. We are taught that men stereotypically do not listen, help around the house, or communicate about their feelings. Some trans* guys adopt these behaviors, either consciously or unconsciously, because they are insecure about their masculinity or feel that it is a way to express themselves as men. There’s nothing feminine about sharing your feelings or supporting one’s partner emotionally. They are non-gendered behaviors that help build strong relationships.