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Dating apps and trans people: looking for love in all the right/wrong places

Dating apps and trans people

Claire-Renee Kohner Planet journalist and Bustle author is going where few trans people dare. Claire, a pansexual trans woman is currently on dating apps, legitimately looking for love with varied approaches and writing about her exposé. It’s an extremely worthwhile venture given how many trans people are murdered while looking for love in all the wrong places.

Not every transgender person who has been murdered is actually looking for a relationship or even have that as a factor in the violence. But given how hard it is for a trans person to date in ways that popular culture considers normal, that being gender conformative, sometimes the wrong places have been all we have.

Tinder deletes transgender people.

Are dating apps anymore productive than a midnight stroll along a dimly lit street? Well, first it depends obviously on what you are looking for. Many trans people, myself included, have come to equate giving someone momentary sexual gratification with love, which, of course, is not the same. The reasons for this misunderstanding of human nature generally can be found in our historical exclusion from dating in gender binary spaces.

Claire wrote about her App experiences on Bustle and HuffPost live video describing her experiences and has graciously shared this with Planet Transgender.

“Dating online really isn’t designed for people who are transgender’ said Claire, “and the ones that are out there generally like to fetishize us or are trolling sites for chasers; this means we are relegated to free sites like OKCupid, Meetme, Tinder or Zoosk. Zoosk, the number one dating site, is basically a binary site and Tinder, which is basically a hook up site, has banned accounts under what they call “trans fraud,” or trans people not disclosing their trans status in their profiles. This leaves you with OKCupid, the only site that offers gender variant identities other than male and female.”

“Overall, the online dating giants like eHarmony and Match.Com are missing the boat by catering only to the binary. I get that this is their business model, but allowing the LGBTQ+ community to join and find a match based on personality characteristics rather than a photo that you swipe left or right on will allow us to find better matches and long-term relationships.”

“Out of the 300 or so message I received the first week my profile went live, there were only a few viable men that caught my interest. Most of them just sent a single word message saying, “Hi.” It would nice if someone would have read my profile and started a conversation about a common interest, but that rarely happened.”

“I think some of the most off-putting messages were the one that used words like, ‘hon,’ ‘sweetie,’ ‘dear,’ or other terms of endearment within the first or second contact. Prior to transition, I would have never referred to anyone I didn’t know with those terms, but as a woman, I know that this is what men do and we are expected to accept it as a compliment.”

“After the show, some of us continued the conversation on twitter and one panelist asked me if I thought it “might be different if you/I targeted queer-minded folks who had a better understanding of gender/sexuality?” The short answer is yes, but what if you are like me and you like to date straight? Where and how does a queer site come into play in that situation?”

“Granted I’m Pansexual and it’s hearts not parts for me and I guess if you cast a wide enough net, your chances of success are still pretty thin as a person who is transgender because men start questioning their sexual orientation if they find out you are transgender.”

“I was asked after the show if I thought there was transphobia or trans misogyny involved in peoples decision not to date a trans person and honestly, I won’t cry transphobia when it comes to peoples preferences in the people they seek out to date, mate or relationship. We all have our preferences and if I don’t fall into yours, then that’s personal choice and quite frankly…your loss.”

“After several days of chatting with someone online, they would ask me out and I would then “out” myself. The end result they either blocked me, told me that I wasn’t part of their lifestyle, or in about a third of the responses, they asked, “Do you have boy parts or girl parts.” So I stopped outing myself and just went on the dates. If they asked me out again, then we had a conversation, but I never allowed the date to touch or hug me prior to the “announcement.” I didn’t want that instant look of regret or sudden panic attack.”

“I did go on this one date and I made sure it was in a well-lit coffee shop after work when it was busy. At the end of the date, he asked me out again and that’s when I came out to him. He said he had no idea and wasn’t sure if going on a date with him was honest of me, in other words, he thought I trapped him. I thought he was going to punch me, which is why I planned a public meeting.”

Kelli Busey
Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


  1. Transwomen. Primarily love men so much some even gave thier lives for men all in short. If a trans woman is a man. Don’t you think we would hear in the news that a trans woman killed a man. Since we never hear that its quite clear. Women don’t kill men. So transwomen are women period. And also I do believe these dating sites are a mid represent action law suit waiting to happen it isn’t fair. Its discrimination against women period

  2. Wauw, I am baffled.
    I stumbled on to this website while looking for information on transgender women and having seen the comments of Herb and the ladies, I am baffled by the tone and deminour of some the comments made by Clair towards Herb.
    I am a 31 year old man btw.
    there a couple of points I would like to make;

    1) we should all have the opportunity to follow our own path without being discriminated in anyway

    2) What is up with all that anger Clair. Your dating life is quite irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion and hints to a certain insecurity that validat.

    3) having said that, transgender women are NOT genetic women and just because we feel like something doesn’t make it real. If a white man feels that he was born in the wrong body and wanted to be Asian or black, he can have augmentative operations all he likes he will NOT be black/Asian. Now this doesn’t mean that we should discriminate him or exclude him in anyway but rather accept them for who they are and acknowledge that we are all equal and as such we all have the right to pursue our own happiness.

    4) i think the challenge is for transwomen to accept and celebrate their journey and uniqueness compared to the other two sexes instead of trying to squeeze into the female category.

    5) you can get we all types of theories or studies to back your point of view but 1+1 = 2

    6) I have to commend Sandy and Lisa for being constructive and trying to build a bridge and Herb for staying calm and displaying a thirst for more knowledge on this subject.

  3. While I completely understand Claire-Renee taking exception to comments Herb made, I would have to say that Lisa’s approach is the one that we need to apply. What is our goal? I think it can be summed up simply as being treated as any other human being, not anything more or less. To achieve this, there’s only one means, and that is by educating, but that must also be done in a very gentle way and not aggressively.
    Caitlyn Jenner has failed miserably in understanding why Kris is distraught. It’s not about the fact that she has transitioned per se, the fact is she has “lost” a husband, albeit they were already separating, still, it is a loss. And a mourning period is natural when we lose a loved one . It can’t be all about Caitlyn. She needs to listen to her daughters, who plead with her to be more sympathetic to Kris.
    that said, I understand Cait as well–she’s been living a lie for more than 65 years. But, we as, transgendered people also have to understand that the unknown creates massive fear–and there are, sadly, repercussions that can manifest themselves by way of mental abuse, bodily harm, and all sorts of barbaric reactions. But that is reality.
    So, I personally make it my mission to bring the subject up when appropriate to “educate” friends and anyone who’s part of whatever conversation has allowed me to bring it up. But I always do so in a very light manner to gauge the reaction of the “audience”. A strategy I use is to introduce analogies that are easier to grasp. I won’t go into detail as to not bore you, but I figured I would post a comment, which I’ve never done before, in support of Lisa’s suggestions.

  4. Is it possible that when someone like Herb comes along with the intention of wanting greater understanding we try to offer that rather than just frustratingly attack them for not understanding?

    There has to be an acceptance that, for most men, they are not yet equipped to deal with the sudden conflict of feelings that come from trying to understand something we have known all our lives.

    I see a shifting of greater understanding as the media continues with some more positive coverage on both sides of the Atlantic. However, this does not automatically mean that everyone will understand how to deal with a 1 on 1 interaction.

    It is the trans community’s time to start seeing great shifts in understanding and acceptance but it is not an immediate thing.

    Ignorance is no defense but only by us accepting that it exists can we seek to change it. Using people like Herb to help makes more sense than isolating them by attacking their methods or intentions. We would never achieve those great leaps in human understanding without finding an allied mediator that can help from the other side.

    No, there shouldn’t feel like there are sides, people should just understand but it is a little naive to think people won’t react to something they rarely come across.

    I for one appreciate all the Herbs in the world and, as a director of a trans support charity, will gladly accept any help available from within the trans spectrum and from without. It’s easier to break down walls if you’re striking from both sides.


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