I support equality for same-sex marriage. I support it in that, given the opportunity, I will vote for it — I will sign online petitions for it (and have done so in numerous occasions) — and in-general, I believe that two people who have a life-long partnership relationship should have the same right to enshrine their relationship in the same legally-binding form (and in turn to receive all associated perks of having done so) regardless of whether those two people are of the same sex or of opposite sexes.
That said – am I about to get out of my armchair and go to a raleigh supporting it? No. Am I willing to go door-to-door supporting it? No. If I had more spare money to donate to whatever political cause would it go there? No, it would go to some other cause. So, why, if I am so convinced that people of the same sex should have just as much right to legally-wed as people of opposite sexes – am I not willing to do anything that would require me to get up out of my armchair to do it?
The reason is simple — as much as Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual people are lacking a fundamental right that they aught to have and which should be given them — many people, such as myself, in the Transgender umbrella, are denied a right that is even more basic than this — a right without which any talk of Marriage Equality is, for us, a mere hypothetical question. This right is Dating Equality — and it’s high time that people start approaching it as the social justice issue that it is.
Many times, when I tried talking to non-Transgender people about dating equality (or even sympathetic non-LGBT people) the issue is brushed off with reasons that clearly reflect that they (however well-intentioned) just don’t get the issue. One person said quite frankly: “People like what they like”. I agree – people like what they like, and you can’t fault them for that. So, isn’t that fact that people like what they like the essence of this whole Dating Inequality that I am complaining about? And therefore, in my demand for Dating Equality, am I not, in essence, demanding that people change this very inevitable fact of life? The answer to these questions is “no” and “no”. People will always like what they like — and it is inevitable that some people will always consider a woman being transsexual to be an undesirable trait. But Dating Equality does not mean changing that. I will here explain the difference.
Let’s say I meet a guy, he asks me out, we go on a few dates. Let’s say he doesn’t know off-hand that I am transsexual – and that I reveal it toward the end of the third or fourth date. That inevitable “people like what they like” effect just means that there’s a chance (a good chance I’d even add) that he will find my being transsexual to be an undesirable trait. But if Dating Equality existed, that would be all. He would then weigh the undesirable trait of me being transsexual against the balance of everything else he learned about me up to that point. It may turn out that the balance of all those other things just isn’t enough to outweigh my being transsexual — for whatever reason. But it may turn out that they are strong enough and that he will still be interested in me.
However, as much as transsexuality is immutably a trait in me – it is not one of the primary defining traits of who I am — and Dating Equality would mean that I wouldn’t be expected to treat it as such. That means, there would be no expectation of me being required to disclose before a first date, or upon first meeting, that I am transsexual. Therefore, when he finds out at the third or fourth date that I’m transsexual, the undesirability of me being transsexual wouldn’t be further bolstered by a judgement that I am somehow “dishonest” for not having mentioned it earlier. Furthermore, he wouldn’t doubt that everything else he learned about me is real just because he didn’t know that I’m transsexual. The only negative things weighing against me other than me being transsexual would be whatever negative things were weighing against me moments before I revealed this about myself. If me being transsexual is so extreme that he can’t handle it — or if it’s just barely enough to tip an already close-to-the-mark scale against me, than that’s just “how it goes” and I accept it.
But currently, it’s not like that. Currently, the environment is such that if I don’t disclose up-front that I’m transsexual, the risk of anti-transgender violence that I face goes way up. Then, even if that doesn’t happen, the revelation that I am transsexual would be compounded by the fact that I’d also face the judgement that I was “dishonest” for not having revealed it further (due to the social expectation that I should have revealed something like this up-front). Furthermore, since he now perceives me as “dishonest”, any positive trait I had previously revealed about myself will come into question — possibly even positive traits that he himself witnessed incidences of.
Oh — and did I meet this guy through a dating web-site (which for many singles these days is the only option)? If so, this guy can report me to the site’s administrators — and if they side with him in his assessment that this something one owes a disclosure for up-front (and therefore take action against my account because of this) the way that terms-of-service agreements are generally written (one-sidedly by the web-site) I will have little or no recourse against this. As a matter of fact, as obvious as the reason for the sanctions against my account may be, I doubt I’d even be able to get formal proof of the reason for their actions.
The impact from the lack of cooperation from dating web-sites is made worse by the fact that, for transsexual women, they are more likely to be the only avenue available, because other avenues are less likely to be available. For example, one way that many couples meet is for a mutual friend to make the introduction. But if the woman being set up is transsexual, this mutual friend may not feel comfortable making the introduction, out of concern that her male friend may be resentful toward her for having set him up with a “tranny” – unless that guy is what we call a “tranny chaser”, someone who wants us precisely because of the one trait that has been nothing but a source of dissonance for us, and which we would like more than anything to just have the chance to live-down. How can a relationship with someone who wants us precisely because of that possibly be a healthy relationship?
So why not avoid this by just stating up-front that I’m transsexual? For one thing, if I reveal this upfront, it’s unlikely that any guy will stick around to learn anything more about me — unless that guy is, once again, a “tranny chaser”. Then there’s the issue that my self-actualisation needs require me to be able to get on my life and be able to move past being transsexual. No arguing that being transsexual is always going to be part of who I am — but I need to be allowed to treat it as the minor thing that it is. Having to state up-front that I am transsexual makes me forever stamped with that as though it were a primary part of my identity — which it is not.
Not to mention that on some dating web-sites, this could even result in my profile being flagged as “offensive” and therefore removed.
Anyways, Marriage Equality is a moot point for me without Dating Equality – because there’s no way I can marry anybody before I find that someone to get married to. Yes — same-sex couples should be allowed to legally-wed as much as opposite-sex couples – but with all the talk there’s been for the last decade the more advanced right of Marriage Equality, it’s about time that people start taking the far more basic issue of Dating Equality seriously.