Online dating can be a dehumanizing experience. I tried Tinder and Bumble but, after matching with a couple of women and then mysteriously having them tell me “I’m not into transgender people, I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re so brave,” I figured out that I might be the only person that actually read people’s profiles. These women were swiping on my masculine-appearing photo and then, after we matched, they were going back to look at all my photos and read my profile. Hence them telling me how brave I was in an attempt to save face when they realized they swiped right on someone who was Trans.
That experience should give you a window into online dating- your entire personality, appearance, and experience boiled down to one photo. People try really hard in that one photo. Some women lead with their bodies, showing a lot of skin. Other women go with Snapchat filters, the majority of these choosing the “dog face” filter for some reason that totally baffles me. Others just photoshop themselves into oblivion or choose a photo from a bygone era when they didn’t have wrinkles. I always preferred the women that were bad at selfies… I knew I was getting a real look at who they were.
After getting enough of the “you’re so brave” bullshit, I dropped Tinder and Bumble and went exclusively with OKCupid because it (1) let me list as transgender and (2) showed prospective suitors a collage of photos so they could see at a glance what they were getting into with me.
I went on some amazingly weird dates. There was the woman who liked to do mushrooms while she made out with people so she could stare into their souls. There was the woman who was in a lesbian marriage for 14 years and wanted to see if someone with male hardware and female software would work for her. There was the Domme… that is a blog post in and of itself. (I still don’t know how I got from “Come to my apartment. Let’s listen to sad music and play video games.” to “This is my punishment table. This is where I discipline my Subs.”) There was the woman who was polyamorous and wanted to know if her boyfriend could join us on the date. (I said yes. It was weird but it gave me a window into another way of living. My coworkers loved the story.)
My twentysomething coworkers told me that online dating is a numbers game and that I needed to be more calloused when it came to dating. They told me I needed to have a constant queue of women lined up for First Dates and just “play the game.” I hated the game. I hated trying to compete with 20 other people for someone’s attention. I hated getting ghosted. I hated getting Friend Zoned after the first date. I often asked myself why I kept at it. It felt like a quixotic quest.
One day I was going through my Daily Chore of Swiping and saw a woman with blue hair. As I looked closer I saw that she had kind, joyful eyes. I read her profile and saw that she was a strong, independent woman. She was clearly Swipe Right Material, so I moved my thumb in that direction and moved on to the next person. A few days later I glanced at my phone and saw that I had matched with someone named Ronnie and that she had messaged me. I’m used to matching with women and then having them ghost me, so I kinda shrugged and waited until my lunch break to read what this mysterious Ronnie person had to say.
I realized with a little surprise that “Ronnie” was the woman with blue hair. She told me that she found all of my gender expressions attractive. She specifically complimented by black-to-blue hombre wig… my favorite one. We messaged for a while, talking about her dog, life goals, our kids, and other random shit. Once I decided she probably wasn’t going to murder me, I asked her out for coffee. It was awkward, like most first dates. I just talked and let her talk. I felt like it was going OK. It was at the end of the date, as I walked her to her car, that she gave me this flirtatious look and I felt my insides twist a little.
When I got back to Waxahachie, I saw that she had sent me her phone number. I added Ronnie as a contact and shot her my info. We started texting each other, with Ronnie actively pursuing me. It was a refreshing turn of events. I’d never been courted by a woman. She texted cute Spanish phrases to me. She told me I was pretty.
I decided to ask her on a second date. I went SUPER casual and invited her to go grocery shopping with me at an Asian Grocery Store after I got off of work. We grabbed some tea and talked. She had taken the time to read my entire memoir and didn’t run away screaming. If anything, she seemed more interested in me. I paid more attention to her on our second date, looking for any reason to be wary. I couldn’t find one. She was genuinely a beautiful person, inside and out.
We walked through the Asian Grocery Store with her on my arm and her nose occasionally wrinkling from the pungent smells of dried seafood and random fermented things. I told her about living in Asia and which ingredients I loved, as well as the stories attached to the ingredients. As I walked her to her car, she kissed me goodnight. I was hoping for it but wasn’t expecting it. I still smile when I think about it.
She asked me to be her girlfriend later that month.
Ronnie does something I will always be thankful for: she accepts me with an open hand and heart. She found out I’m transgender and didn’t bat an eye. She found out I have three sons and didn’t bat an eye. She found out I have Major Depression and didn’t bat an eye. She saw me en femme and didn’t bat an eye… if anything, she celebrated seeing me as who I truly am. She told me I was beautiful. She tells me that all the time. Sometimes I believe her.
We went to a party together last weekend. We did Dia de los Muertos makeup and I was in a dress. It was the first time I ever went in public expressing my gender in a way that reflected who I am. While I had moments in which I was scared shitless, I felt completely safe by her side. She assured me that anyone who treated me badly would suffer her full wrath & fury. I believed her.
I don’t know what I did to deserve someone this good.
I worry about the future. What will our relationship look like this summer when I have custody of my kids? What if I transition? Will she still love me through the mood swings and body changes? She told me that she’s researched what will happen if I do transition and she told me she just wants me to be myself, whatever that looks like. I believe her.
I have to remind myself to come back to today… to this moment. Today Ronnie is trusting me with her heart and I’m trusting her with mine. That’s a fucking beautiful thing. She’s at work as I write this. I’m going to vacuum her apartment and take her dog for a walk while she toils away at her desk. I’m going to cook an Asian meal for her tonight, full of color and flavor and warmth. We’re going to have great conversations tonight as we sit on her sofa.
Today is going to be a great day for me.
Tomorrow probably will be, too, but I don’t have to worry about tomorrow yet. I can just revel in today. I have an amazing girlfriend and I get to share this day with her.