ColumnsUnapologetically Trans

Cupid’s Arrow Keeps Missing Me

The difficulties of dating when you're an internationally known trans advocate.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, for all you people who are fortunate enough to be hugged up with the person you love. And in this Houston TBLGQ+ community, I get to see on a regular basis more than a few happy couples.

Some of y’all have recently gotten engaged. Others have been together for only a few years. Some have been together for decades. And I’m envious of all of you peeps who are role modeling relationship goals in real-time.

While I’m told by the peeps who love and care about me that my fabulous, unapologetically trans self is talented in many areas, unfortunately, there’s one thing I consistently suck at, and I get reminded of it every February 14—or whenever someone asks me who I’m dating.

The area that I’m not so successful at is being in a long-term relationship.   

The joke I tell about my relationship dry spell is that I’ve been wandering the dating Sinai Desert for so long that the hooked-up couples who are headed to the relationship Promised Land just stop, look at me, shake their heads, and resume their journeys as I head in the opposite direction looking for my special perfect one.   

It’s not like I haven’t had suitors vying for my romantic attention. The problem is that the people who approached me did so acting as if I, as an unapologetically trans feminine person, am so starved for romantic attention that I would just fall to the floor and be grateful they chose me.

Naw, boo boo kitties. Just like my cis feminine counterparts, Moni has expectations and standards, and you are going to have to put in some work to capture my attention and my heart.

Chocolate and flowers I love. I expect them on my doorstep on Valentine’s Day, my birthday, or both. Peanut butter or snickerdoodle cookies from Tiff’s Treats also work.

If you’re going to date me, you do so knowing that I am an internationally known and out trans advocate, and I get busy at times. That means that I get invited to fundraisers and other events that will at times require you to join me as my plus-one. I travel to various events and conferences around the country, which translates to me being on the go and in a hotel room somewhere. That travel ramps up significantly during a Texas Legislative Session.

I’m not giving up that activism to stay in the trans closet (as one potential trans suitor wanted me to do). My people and my community need me. I like doing the advocacy work, and it’s a part of who I am.

Because I have been on local and national television news shows, there are moments when I am recognized while I am out and about, and my close friends can co-sign that happening.

Even though I am a notoriously picky eater, I like to go out to eat from time to time. I also like attending collegiate and professional sports events, going to museums, and going to movies and plays. I like doing participatory sports like tennis, bowling, shooting pool, and playing miniature golf. All those activities will sometimes require you, as a person interested in dating moi, to take me out during daylight or early evening hours. If you are unwilling to handle that, step.

If you are ashamed to let your family or homies know that you like dating trans people like me, don’t approach me until you can be fearless in unapologetically stating that you like trans women.

Those are my minimum requirements in terms of what I’m looking for in a long-term relationship partner.

Something else that is playing into why I’ve been single for so long is my transition. When I started transitioning in 1994, I put myself on a five-year dating hiatus in order to focus on getting comfortable in my own skin, becoming the best person I can be, and dealing with all the issues brought on by my second puberty. I didn’t want to deal with trying to be in a relationship with all of that going on.

Then I started getting active in Texas and national trans activism, and that put love on hold again for a while. A planned five-year relationship hiatus became 10 years, then 20, and now it’s been almost 30 years since my last relationship.

There’s also my failure to read the signs to know when someone is interested in me beyond just friendship, or not moving fast enough to let someone know I was interested.

And yes, the challenges of dating while trans have been a factor. I worried about the intimate-partner violence that trans feminine people experience at five times the rate of their cis feminine sisters.

Would I be open to dating a transmasculine person? Always been open to that, but it just seems that the ones I was interested in were either married or already hooked up in a relationship.

So once again, here I am on Valentine’s Day buying my own chocolates and pulling out my DVD copies of rom-com movies to watch because Cupid’s arrow keeps missing me.

Here’s hoping that on Valentine’s Day 2021, that will no longer be the case.

This article appears in the February 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Monica Roberts

Monica Roberts, a native Houstonian, is the founding editor of the GLAAD award-winning blog TransGriot. Her ongoing mission is to educate people on the lives of transgender people and fight for everyone’s human rights.

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