A young Australian man in 2019 called into a radio station to talk about how he had recently broken up with his girlfriend of nine months because he found out that she was born a man. This brings up the debate of the thin line between transphobia and preferences.
Man Breaks Up With Girlfriend When He Finds Out She’s Trans
In July of 2019, 20-year-old Alex from Sydney, Australia called into KIISFM radio station to talk about his recent breakup. He was the one who called it off, he says, because his 25-year-old girlfriend was lying to him. No, she wasn’t cheating on him – she didn’t disclose to him that she was born male. (1)
The pair had been intimate for the nine months of their relationship and Alex hadn’t suspected a thing. By all accounts, the relationship was going really well. Then one night he was out with a mutual friend of he and his girlfriend. After leaving the bar, Alex went back to his friend’s place, who was a bit drunk. That’s when his friend apparently could not hold the secret information in any longer.
“Look Alex,” he said. “Now I’ve been hiding something from you and so is your girlfriend. I think you need to know because I think it’s wrong and I can’t leave you thinking that this is a great, honest relationship”
The friend then explained to Alex that his girlfriend had undergone a sex change when she was 18, but that she was actually born a male. Alex was, understandably, quite shocked by the news.
“When I found out, honestly I dropped, I didn’t believe him at first, it was mixed emotions, then I still didn’t believe him,” Alex recalled. “So when I confronted her, I actually found her pills, I found her estrogen tablets… I just dropped, I felt cold, I felt angry, there was many emotions in one go.”
A Trust Lost
Alex explained to the radio hosts that he was quite in love with his now ex-girlfriend and never would have picked her out to be transgender. He described her as a “solid seven-and-a-half”. He also said that being intimate with her didn’t feel any different. Nonetheless, he felt as though he had been rather deceived.
“when you’re in a relationship, you think you could have trust, and at the start of the relationship, she should’ve been upfront and told me,” he said. “It makes me feel sick. I’m still heartbroken. I feel deceived… I think that’s a big lie for me, just sort of fake who you were and to not say that in the beginning.”
He had even met her family on a few occasions. Sobbing, she told him that she’d told her family that he already knew when he didn’t. It wasn’t just her that he felt deceived by, but everyone involved in their relationship. He was angry at his friend, too, who’d also kept the secret from him.
“I feel like she must’ve been scared to tell me or see my reaction.” he said.
At the time that he called into the radio, it had been three weeks since the breakup. He still had not spoken to either his friend or his ex-girlfriend since.
Is Not Wanting To Date A Trans Person Transphobic?
This is a difficult and delicate topic and very much depends on your reasons for not wanting to date a trans person. For example, a large majority of trans people have not had bottom surgery done. If your reasons for not wanting to date someone are purely biological, then no, that’s not transphobic. Saying “I prefer to date someone with a penis” or “I prefer to date someone with a vagina” are just preferences, and that is okay. (2)
If you don’t want to date a trans person regardless of their physical, reproductive organ attributes, then there may be some transphobia. Trans people are people who make regular, genuine connections with others. If you find that person physically attractive, you have a great connection with them and enjoy their personality, and they have the physical attributes (aka male or female sex organs) that you prefer, that should be all that matters. (3)
Should Trans People Have To Be Upfront About Their Birth Gender?
In 2013, the UK passed a law that requires trans people to disclose their reproductive organs to a potential partner before they have sex with them. In fact, they can even be sent to jail for it. It also doesn’t matter if you’ve had bottom surgery or not – they are legally required to inform their future partner. According to UK law, this is because when you consent to sexual activity, you consent to “being sexual active with someone with a penis” or “being sexually active with someone with a vagina”. (4)
Naturally, this was and is still met with a huge amount of controversy. Many people say, for example, that if you are trans male but have not had bottom surgery and therefore do not have male sex organs (or trans female without female sex organs), you should disclose to the person you are dating before the clothes come off. Again, this goes back to the “which organ do you prefer” argument. If you have the right organs to match your gender identification, however? That’s where things get a bit sticky.
Trans people should be allowed to live their truth and fully adopt their new identity. If they identify as the opposite of what they were assigned at birth, they shouldn’t have to be walking around with this little asterisk on their sexuality. Yet they still very much do.
I am by no means an expert on the topic and I don’t know what the 100% correct answer is in these situations. One thing that should happen is everyone should sit with themselves for a bit and think about their inherent biases and how they can improve upon them. At the end of the day, everyone deserves to be who they are without persecution or discrimination and everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
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- “‘She kept it secret for nine months’: ‘Heartbroken’ boyfriend dumps his girlfriend after finding out that she was born male – so is he in the wrong?” Daily Mail. Cindy Tran. July 30, 2019.
- “Is Refusing to Date Trans People Transphobic?” Advocate. Brynn Tannehill. December 14, 2019.
- “New Research Shows a Vast Majority of Cis People Won’t Date Trans People.” Them. Zhana Vrangalova. June 20, 2018.
- “Should Trans People Have to Disclose Their Birth Gender Before Sex?” VICE. Paris Lees. January 7, 2013.