I’ve had some awkward misadventures in dating as a single parent with a transgender teen. I fully affirm and celebrate my child and I expect any partner to do the same. It’s better to find out earlier rather than later if they affirm trans people. There’s good ways to do this. Avoid the horror stories.
Here are some of the things I have heard before I finally met someone who loves me and my kid that I am crazy about almost 2 years later.
“I think all sin is equal. I cannot judge a trans person’s sin.”
“Why does your son want to be a boy? He was such a pretty girl!”
“Oh my gosh! My friends are gonna think it’s so cool that I’m gonna be a step mom to a transgender!”
“So does he have a dick or a vag?”
“My family is Christian. If he ever meets them they can never know.”
Learning best practices took some time.
On your profile there is a magic sentence that you should be using in your profile:
“LGBTQIA acceptance and affirmation is a must!”
Not everyone reads profiles. They just look at a your face and go right in. There are also people that “swipe right” to any and all profiles. Look over their profile carefully for red flags. Though there are conservatives and Christians that are accepting and affirming, obvious and overt references to evangelicalism, second amendment fan, America First slogans, family values, etc. These are what I would call yellow lights.
When you engage in conversation, ask direct questions. Because this is the internet and everyday is halloween with online dating, do NOT out your kid to a stranger you have not met yet. This is a safety issue for you and your child. But you can ask direct questions and position it honestly without unsafe reveals if they ask why it matters. Frankly, if they ask why it matters, I would consider that a flag.
“There are some things that are very important to me. I’m enjoying the conversation. But I need to know. How do you feel about LGBTQIA people and equality?”
Some people who are not “on board” will be very upfront at this point. In their own way they are trying to be respectful and honest. Wish them well and disengage.
Some will give accepting answers that do not affirm. In the context of a potential budding relationship, I do not have the time or the energy to pull them over to affirming and celebrating.
Using a Service
I’ve never used a service, that was a little out of my price range when I was single. I do have a friend who used to work for “It’s Just Lunch”. It is a dating service where consultants help you meet other people who they think you may be a match for conversation and lunch. These are professional organizations. She has assured me that you can tell them about your family dynamic and also tell them that is privileged information. They will keep this in mind when they screen potential meets.
Sometimes we will meet people in unexpected circumstances. Parks, bars, concerts, museums, art shows, etc. Mutual flirting happens, the heart is racing, hormones may even be flowing. Someone eventually asks the other for a phone number or out to coffee. Maybe other ideas are on the table.
Disclaimer! I am not here to tell another adult what to do sexually. If you meet someone randomly and decide to hook up and it is consensual and mutual, have fun!
Talking about politics, religion, social issues and any other such thing in this initial meeting would be a complete mood killer. Enjoy the moment of flirtation and attraction.
Once you have exchanged numbers. Start having conversations and start learning who this person is and what matters to them. Ask all the same questions you would have in an online situation. This is harder than the online. You have already had the butterflies and you will need to force yourself to use the critical mindset in the questions.
People May Change: You’re Not A Romantic Agent of Change!You can meet the most amazing and beautiful person in the world and they are not on board with a non negotiable. You may feel you have been lonely too long and he or she does seem reasonable. Hey! Maybe he/she will come around in this and maybe my child and I can help them. Stop! This will not go the way you think it will. This plan almost never works on any subject.
Reasonable people can change. In 2006 I evolved in my social understanding, acceptance and affirmation of LGBTQIA people and issues. This is their journey and they need to take that independant of you. If you think that they will change in the relationship, you are not only having an unrealistic hope, but you are placing an unfair expectation on the other person. Do not do this to the other person, yourself, or your child.
Meeting the Kiddo!
We do not out our children without consent of our child unless absolutely necessary. If you have met someone who is on the same page as you and things are going well, you may hit the point where they are ready to meet your child. Talk to your child. Tell them about the person and then ask them what they prefer. Do they want you to “clear the runway” before meeting? Do they want to take control of that? Is this none of the other person’s business right now? That is your child’s choice.
What Isn’t Your Child’s Choice
Who you date! Children may have strong opinions about their parents dating. This is natural and it is normal. As an adult, you do not let your children dictate your love life and companionship. I see this happen a lot and I see too many parents who are unnecessarily lonely because they give in to their child’s whims. What we do teaches them what is acceptable for their adult lives. Choose misery to make another happy and you will teach them that it is either acceptable to be miserable to make another happy or they will think it is okay to force another to be miserable.
Do not ever tell your child that dating is hard because of them. It is not hard because of them. This is merely an extra layer of caution we need to address in dating. Sure it may have us eliminate some options more readily. But let’s be honest. If your child were cis het, would you really want to date or marry someone who is narrow minded enough to diminish people based on gender, sexuality or race?
Link and Book and Video Resources
Link: http://singleparentsdatingguide.com/ This contains some advice for single parents by single parents and former single parents.
Book: “Sex and the Single Parent” by Meg F. Schneider and Martine J. Byer. When I was struggling to navigate the dating waters this was a great book. It is no longer in print, but pretty easy to find online through places like amazon and half price books.
Video: This link has a video and short article from TLC. Pretty basic, but good advice. http://www.tlc.com/tlcme/5-tips-for-dating-as-a-single-parent/
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