Mid-thirties lesbian trans woman: How do I meet people?
November 9, 2017 5:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm in my mid-thirties, am transgender and a lesbian. I haven't dated in years - before transition I was in a six-year-long relationship. So far all my efforts at meeting people have been completely unsuccessful. What am I doing wrong? What should I do differently? And how do I stay sane in the process?

Some background: I've been on hormones for 9 months and recently made the step to presenting as a woman full-time. I live in a mid-to-large UK city which seems pretty LGBT+ friendly, but maybe doesn't have that large an LGBT+ population. My last relationship (serious and long-term) ended a couple of years ago and I put relationships and sex to one side while I dealt with the break-up and then the awkward inital stages of transition. Now that I've reached the point of having fully socially transitioned, it feels like it's time to start living my life again, so I've started to explore my options for meeting people again.

I don't really have much of a social life (my close friends all live elsewhere and have become mostly couples with new babies) and I'm working on that. But in the meantime I've been trying to get back into the dating world via a number of dating sites/apps, including OKCupid, Tinder and Bumble: As yet with essentially zero response. On OKCupid, nobody messages me and with one exception (which fizzled after a couple of messages) nobody responds to the messages I send. I just don't seem to get any local matches on the more swipe-y dating apps.

I haven't been single and looking in like seven or eight years, so all this stuff feels new and intimidating. I knew that dating while in my thirties and transgender wasn't going to be easy, but I wasn't really anticipating what feels like universal rejection. It makes it really difficult to stay positive and open to things and definitely plays into the underlying fear that transition would mean nobody would ever want to be with me again. It's hard to stay hopeful in the face of zero interest.

Any advice on how to approach this and stay sane?
posted by xchmp to Human Relations (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Congrats on getting back into the dating world!

I live in a mid-to-large UK city which seems pretty LGBT+ friendly, but maybe doesn't have that large an LGBT+ population

Although I'm cisgender, the first thing that came to mind is that you probably don't want to go about this alone. I would encourage you to try to build up a system of support. Have you invested any time looking into whether your city has any organizations or groups for trans women specifically or LGBT groups more generally? It might be helpful to talk to other women in your town who have navigated similar dating challenges. Talking with other trans women might help with the fear factor. You might also consider finding a skilled therapist if you haven't already. I wish you luck!
posted by Gray Skies at 6:31 AM on November 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

In my area, trans folks don’t have a lot of luck when targeting the general population, unless they are perceived as exceptionally hot. They do better when getting involved in queer social circles in real life.
posted by metasarah at 6:32 AM on November 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have you gone to lesbian or queer women events? If it's a mid-to-large city, they definitely exist. Queer women circles, outside of the biggest cities, tend to be small and close-knit and once you start going to events consistently, it's very easy to develop a queer social circle. I find it a lot easier to date through that context, than through dating sites. I'm a cis woman but there are a good number of trans women at queer women events in my city. I don't think being in your 30s would be a barrier. I think remaining single longer is more common among queer and lesbian women because a lot of people don't come out until they're in their 20s.
posted by armadillo1224 at 7:50 AM on November 9, 2017

I'd focus on real life circles and keep the dating apps as a whimsical afterthought. Metasarah is, depressingly, on point. The more friends and activity pals you have, the easier and less intimidating this will all be. However! You never know, so drop Bumble, hone your other two profiles something fierce and get 5 really great, fun pics to show off. You gotta hit the right elusive combo of funny, interesting, upbeat and queer-buzzwordy to get good matches. Browse profiles to see what's trendy. Don't forget to answer at least 300 OKC questions and set your search parameters to "women who like women." My trans friends have the best luck when they're up front and proud about being trans on their profiles, I think it susses out the jerks real quick. (If you're kinky or poly, you might also try FetLife and go to some local queer meetups?) As for sending messages, everyone's different of course but I find it's best to joke or elaborate on something really specific in the cutie's profile.. like make a witty casual remark that's attentive, slightly challenging and invites reply. Intrigue! Even better: use that line to segue directly to an invitation for a tie-in date. Rule of thumb, your first message should be 1-3 sentences, if she replies you need to ask her on a date and offer your phone number within 3-5 exchanges. Have a scenester dyke and then a friend in your target audience edit your profile. Chop chop!
posted by fritillary at 8:11 AM on November 9, 2017

I'm not sure if these exist in the U.K. but many big US cities have "queer dating/queer cruising" facebook groups and I see a fair number of trans women posting and seeming to get responses. It feels like a different crowd than dating apps. (If you are extra brave and patient you could start a local one but good moderation in these groups is both challenging and vital.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:52 AM on November 9, 2017

Real life social circles, yep. The more explicitly trans positive they are the better.

I also recommend getting on fetlife, and looking for trans groups and events. Even if you aren't kinky, going to generalised welcome meetings can help you meet open minded people.
posted by Jacen at 9:25 AM on November 9, 2017

I don't necessarily have great advice on this because I'm a cis lesbian and have had a similarly hard experience dating, though after many years of the weirdness of dating sites I have a wonderful parter. If you can find local queer groups that do activities you like, that could be good, and it's always good to make friends. As far as OKCupid etc, keep the profile up, check it periodically, block straight people from seeing you, and don't overthink it - lots of people make profiles and then forget about them, and it gets a lot harder if you are over 25.

Good luck!
posted by bile and syntax at 9:59 AM on November 9, 2017

Have you invested any time looking into whether your city has any organizations or groups for trans women specifically or LGBT groups more generally?

Yes, I've looked. There doesn't seem to be much.
posted by xchmp at 10:22 AM on November 9, 2017

If you live in a mid to large city, there are other single LGBT people there. If there really aren't events or groups or organizations or activities where you can meet each other in person, it might be a public service to put together an event on meetup.com or Facebook or something similar once in a while.
posted by redorangeyellow at 11:37 AM on November 9, 2017

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