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Looking at Real Trans Media in Her Story Episode Three

TMS' continuing series about Her Story.

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Welcome to episode three of Her Story, the Internet-based series that deals with LGBT community intersectionality and dating while trans. You can watch Her Story over at the official website and find my look at the rest of the episodes here.

Her Story episode three is about first dates. We’ve spent more time with Violet so far and now we concentrate on Paige. We open on Paige and James’ first date at a nice restaurant. These two people are gorgeous, and I’d happily have ten minutes of this restaurant scene listening them talk and watching them eat. During dinner, Paige is flip-flopping between coming out to James as trans versus enjoying the positive attention from someone who seems like he’s genuinely interested in her.

In the end, she opts to enjoy the night, and who could blame her. Explaining you’re transgender to people becomes tiresome very quickly. It’s only one facet of your life, after all. Paige is so much more. A successful attorney with Lambda Legal, she’s smart and has a huge heart. Why should her first date reduce her to “I’m transgender”? I can’t fault her for letting James get to know her before she tells him. Of course, in the real world, it’s safer to say beforehand, and if you don’t disclose, many cisgender people would argue that this is “tricking” them. Note that it’s not.

To me, there is no perfect answer to this conundrum. On one hand, unless someone is interested in you or you in them, then why say anything? It might put them off before they have an opportunity to get to know the whole you, not just one tiny aspect of your existence. Of course, if you both want to hook up, and you’re pre-op like most trans women, it becomes a pretty necessary conversation for … practical reasons. If post-op, why should you say anything? Can you put yourself first?

Is it unfair to not reveal on the first date that you suffered from depression or anxiety? That you have an abject fear of spiders or cheese graters? Some things should only be revealed as and when that information becomes relevant. When it comes to dating, is that when things start to get serious? I’ve never had to face this issue; I’m a non-passing trans woman, so I don’t have to reveal anything as it’s pretty damn obvious. On the other hand, revealing up front is by far the safest thing to do, and when I asked trans friends on Twitter, almost everyone said to tell someone before you start dating them—and not in person.

This I can understand, as you can retreat from your potential date before you expose your heart, and if they’re jerks, they get a chance to flee, and you’re physically safe. Telling someone upfront like this means that you’re protecting yourself from emotional and physical harm; the latter is so very important, as we’re in a horrific epidemic of transgender violence. Yet, revealing such personal details is reductionist; you’re getting judged on one tiny aspect of yourself. Like I said, no perfect answer exists. It depends on who you are, who they are, and what you both want out of the interaction. The idealist in me says tell people if you connect. The practical, safe, and very scared side of me says tell them via IM before you even go on the first date. It’s fascinating watching Paige struggle with the many facets of trans dating, something cisgender people don’t have to face.

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During episode three, Her Story flips between Paige’s story and Violet’s. We see Violet is talking to Allie, and we’re in full-on date mode as they stroll through L.A. eating ice cream. It’s cute and playful. It also contains a great line when Allie says “It made me realize the power of a true story well told,” which really sums up Her Story well. It is a great story well told. It may not be a true story in any way (I wouldn’t know), but it rings pretty darn true to the real transgender experience. It’s thought-provoking and far in advance of any other series I’ve seen that deals with trans life. I hope you’re enjoying this, too.

Join me next time as we delve into Her Story episode four!

Marcy (@marcyjcook) is an immigrant trans woman and writer. This includes Transcanuck.com, a website dedicated to informing and helping trans Canadians. She also has a nerd job, too many cats, is a part time volunteer sex educator and has an ongoing sordid love affair with Lego. Those last two are not related … probably.

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