Canada·Blog

Lara Rae: navigating the world of dating and sex as a trans woman

Remember that old Facebook relationship status: it's complicated? Well, when you're thinking about s-e-x and navigating the world as a transgender woman, complicated is an understatement.

Growing up, I always knew I was female — but my sexual orientation was much less certain

A still image from Her Story, which deals with transgender dating in an honest and heartfelt way. (Tamea A.)

Remember that old Facebook relationship status: it's complicated?

Well, when you're thinking about s-e-x while going through second puberty at 52, complicated is an understatement.

Although I always knew that my gender was female, my sexual orientation was much less certain. Being a boy on the outside — and being born in the 1960s — it was just expected I would like girls. And I did. 

But why did I like them? Because they looked great? Like how I wanted to look? Or because they created fond feelings inside me?  

Those feelings are, essentially, our sexual orientation: the direction that the compass in our brain points our heart toward — who we're attracted to physically and emotionally.  

As a young child, I always wanted to hang out with girls and do "girl stuff."

But in junior high, when a bunch of boys said they wanted to do stuff with a girl in our class, I said I wanted to be her.

This created quite a sensation. My idea was met with some hard, corrective punching. Wanting to be a girl, I was taught, made me abnormal.

That really stuck with me. Being attracted to my male classmates made me homosexual, which I knew was a terrible thing to be. But not nearly as bad as a transsexual, which I was told was the worst thing in the world.

When I came out three years ago as a gay man, I was sincere about my attraction to men. But I kept being transgender mostly to myself.  

The cost? A life of terrible sex. Terrified of sex with women. Twice as scared of men. 

Hormone therapy has changed everything. If this was a normal puberty, you'd likely say estrogen has made me "boy crazy." But, really, for the first time in my life, I'm simply comfortable in my attraction to the opposite sex. 

I'm still a long way from dating. Putting yourself out there as a transgender woman isn't easy — it can lead to heartbreak and, more seriously, to violence and murder.

But things are slowly starting to change. In the television reality show New Girls on the Block, we meet a transgender woman who dated and married her best male friend from high school. And the film The Danish Girl deals with a woman whose partner transitions.

An upcoming series called Her Story deals with transgender dating in an honest and heartfelt way.

  • On mobile? Watch the video here.

For me, dating is likely a long way off. I still have one person in my life I care for more than I ever did before: myself. And for now, that's enough.


Lara Rae is charting her journey in a new syndicated column, airing Mondays on CBC Radio One. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lara Rae

Columnist

Lara Rae is a stand-up comic, comedy writer and the former artistic director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

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