Trans Women Deserve To Be Loved Proudly. Straight Guys, I'm Looking At You.

What will it take for trans-attracted guys to overcome their unfounded shame and thirst for discretion?

A straight, cisgender guy sits alone at a table, the glow of his phone illuminating wide, darting eyes. He鈥檚 visibly anxious. I walk in and see him before he sees me. I study him. Our eyes lock. I鈥檒l never forget the deer-in-the-headlights look on his face.

I鈥檓 a transgender woman. I started talking to this guy online. He鈥檚 in his 20s, dark and handsome. After I twisted his arm, he finally agreed to meet me in public. Of course, he initially wanted to just come to my place for quick, convenient and 鈥渄iscreet鈥 sex, but I wouldn鈥檛 allow it. I鈥檝e taken to making guys meet me in public like an actual, human woman.

Dating, loving, marrying and having families with trans people should be normalized.
Dating, loving, marrying and having families with trans people should be normalized.
Hinterhaus Productions via Getty Images

A park bench, a coffee shop, a restaurant 鈥 where we meet and who the guy is doesn鈥檛 matter. It鈥檚 always the same, trans-attracted dude, and the same look of fear on his face. I鈥檝e seen it before, and I will see it again.

Dating and disclosing while trans can be a minefield of fragile masculinity and shaky sexuality.

I鈥檝e been dating and hooking up as an out-and-proud trans girl for the last seven years. I meet guys the regular way, out in the world, but I鈥檝e met most of my casual liaisons and sexcapades online. OkCupid, Plenty Of Fish, Badoo, Blendr, Tinder, Whipler, Bumble. Let鈥檚 pretend it ends there.

What I鈥檝e learned along the way is that there are countless trans-attracted men who quietly and confidentially admire and lust after trans women. I鈥檓 talking about regular dudes who self-identify as straight and 鈥渙nly ever鈥 date and hook up with cisgender women. (Mostly.) You probably never hear about it, because they can鈥檛 and won鈥檛 talk about it.

鈥淢y wish is that trans admirers and trans-attracted men come out of hiding.鈥

Online, it鈥檚 easy for guys to find and connect with trans women and explore their curiosity and pursue their attraction. There are many apps and websites dedicated specifically to trans dating. These interactions happen on regular dating sites and hookup apps, as well as through social media and in real life. But they always seem to happen on the sly.

It鈥檚 this clandestine culture and underground world that I鈥檝e become privy to. In my world as a trans girl, this is an accepted reality. It鈥檚 normal. But to the rest of the non-queer world, it may as well be an alternate dimension like the Upside Down.

The secrecy and discretion that cisgender, heterosexual guys ask for seems to stem from internalized stigma, transphobia and homophobia. It鈥檚 the misconception that liking a trans girl is somehow 鈥済ay,鈥 which in turn is somehow wrong or shameful. False and false. Trans women are women, but social conditioning prevents many men from seeing that.

It hurts when straight men want to keep their relationships with trans women "discreet."
It hurts when straight men want to keep their relationships with trans women "discreet."
Jessica Lia via Getty Images

This transphobia is underscored by instances of straight, cisgender men who have been outed in the media and shamed, trolled or put on trial for their attraction to trans women. This is alarming and sad. In the case of Maurice Willoughby, it can be fatal.

I鈥檓 so fed up with this. My wish is that trans admirers and trans-attracted men come out of hiding. My dream is that dating, loving, marrying and having families with trans people is normalized.

鈥業 deserve to walk in the sun with a man who loves me鈥

Dating and fucking while trans has been equally exhilarating and disheartening.

I prefer to meet a guy for the first time at a cafe or somewhere communal to vibe him out 鈥 mostly because I want to be treated like a regular girl and shown a good time, but also for my safety as a trans girl.

Many guys, on the other hand, want to slide into my apartment and slide into me like they slide into my DMs 鈥 then bounce. Insult is added to offence when they request to be 鈥渄iscreet鈥 about the whole thing. It usually goes some variation of:

鈥淚 respect you babe but let鈥檚 keep it discreet鈥

鈥淭hat鈥檚 cool hun but I like discretion, I鈥檓 private if you know what I mean haha鈥

鈥淚 don鈥檛 mind that you鈥檙e trans and all but can we do it discreetly tho?鈥

No. Just 鈥 stop. Meeting a trans girl isn鈥檛 some clandestine operation.

鈥淚 know now that I deserve to walk in the sun with a man who loves me.鈥

I鈥檝e been told that I鈥檓 very feminine and pass as female (a problematic privilege), but that doesn鈥檛 seem to reassure these straight dudes that everything will be OK when we meet. They鈥檙e afraid of being found out, persecuted and rejected.

That鈥檚 fair, I get it. I really do. Social stigma is real.

But it seems they don鈥檛 consider how their actions affect me. I鈥檓 treated like a perpetual post-midnight booty call, reduced to some fetish or kink that can only be explored under a hidden veil of shame. It makes me feel dirty, like a horrible secret. It鈥檚 a degrading, disgraceful feeling to not want to be seen with 鈥 to be unwanted and unacknowledged is rejection.

It impacts the heart, stings the soul.

When I was in my 20s, I allowed that bullshit to happen. I was naive and wanted to get my jollies, too. I used them like they used me. But I grew up and grew tired of their shit. As I entered my 30s and matured into womanhood, I learned my value and worth. I learned to love and respect myself. There鈥檚 a lot more now that I just won鈥檛 put up with. I now know that I deserve to walk in the sun with a man who loves me.

Trans women who date men deserve to have public relationships.
Trans women who date men deserve to have public relationships.
Alex Farfuri via Getty Images

Like our girl Laverne Cox says, trans girls deserve for a man to declare their love and claim us publicly as their girlfriend when we鈥檙e dating. But what will it take for trans-attracted guys to overcome their unfounded shame and thirst for discretion?

To start, guys need to start talking to their bros about the trans girls they鈥檙e attracted to or hooking up with. When they do, they鈥檒l most likely find they have something in common, because their friends probably like trans girls, too.

And for the men who are in secret relationships with trans women, but haven鈥檛 told their friends and family, I hope they find the support and courage they need to be honest with themselves, their family and peers.

What is needed is for them to step out into the open, show public affection 鈥 holding her hand on the street is so simple, yet so revolutionary.

They owe it to their women to say, 鈥淵es, this is my girlfriend, she is trans and I love her.鈥

And, hopefully, a parent will say, 鈥淥h that鈥檚 sweet, honey, good for you. Where did you two meet? Pass the potatoes please.鈥

I know we鈥檙e a long way from that. But these men do currently exist. They鈥檙e out there, they鈥檙e real. Like my loving man, for instance. I鈥檝e been in a relationship with a straight, cisgender man for three years. He loves me publicly and shamelessly. In fact, he鈥檚 proud of me being trans. He is a wonderful ally and supports me in every way that I need.

So, to all the trans women waiting for their ideal relationship, whatever that looks like to you, I want you to know it鈥檚 possible and they鈥檙e waiting for you, too. You deserve shameless love and affection.

And to all the straight guys who shamelessly, proudly and publicly date and love us, I admire you for being man enough to love a trans girl.

A version of this opinion article originally appeared in the Brockton Writer鈥檚 Series.

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