At what point do you tell a stranger you’re trans?

Rhyannon Styles talks love and dating

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I’ve just started my first relationship since my transition began in 2012. Prior to that – in my twenties, when I was Ryan – I’d had couple of serious relationships with men. And over the last three years since I’ve become Rhyannon, I’ve had dalliances meeting people on apps like Tinder, Happn and OKCupid. But during the process, I discovered that using the word ‘trans’ to describe myself wasn’t always enough. I would literally need to write on my dating profile: ‘I’m a male-to-female pre-op transgender female’ to avoid any confusion further down the line.

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Being so honest can also come with consequences; there were occasions when people would rudely ask me over text about my genitalia, or use language like ‘dude’ or worse, ‘she-male’. It was often upsetting; that language hurt me. I think people feel they can get away with abusive behaviour behind the safety of a phone screen, I was just very grateful that I didn’t actually have to meet these people. I could also feel quite intimidated when I was in a nightclub or bar. When the music is really loud, and people are drunk with their arms around your waist, at what point do you tell a stranger you’re trans? 

Back to the apps. Once an initial ‘match’ was established and numerous texts had been exchanged, it would come down to the date. Dating can be difficult but only if you want it to be. I never went on a date without being honest about who and where I was in my life. With every date, I got stronger and more confident because I was being myself. Dating is universal and as someone who has experienced it as a man and as a trans woman, regardless of gender, it’s much the same experience for everyone. 

At the beginning of my transition, I thought dating and meeting a partner would be difficult. I thought I’d need to have gender reassignment surgery for a person to except me as a trans woman. What I’ve discovered three years into my transition is that I’m completely wrong. 

At the end of July, I went on a date with a person I’d chatted to via an online dating website. Before the date we hadn’t revealed our full names, So when I finally asked him his name, he replied ‘Ryan!’ (which was my old name) it was weird for about 5mins. I now realise those previous dates were all preparing me for this. When you meet the right person i think you just know, i felt it pretty quickly when we began dating. Of course, the thing with my relationship with Ryan is it just works. We relate to each other on all levels. He has all the characteristics I’ve been looking for in a partner. Its already been four months now and it feels so effortless. It’s wonderful to be in this headspace at the end of 2015! 

I believe that being open about who you are is key to finding someone who will appreciate you — whether you’re trans or not. So now, whenever Ryan introduces me as his girlfriend Rhyannon, a little piece of me melts every time.

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