The New York Times‘ ethicist columnist Randy Cohen told a female reader she had a right to be upset a transgender man she went on a date with wasn’t forthcoming about his T status. This is gonna get dicey!
The flames are already flying at the blog Bilerico where Dr. Jillian T. Weiss is calls Cohen’s advice “dangerous nonsense.” Cohen writes in his column:
There are two questions here: What must close companions reveal to each other?And what may they reveal about each other to outsiders?
Getting to know someone is a gradual process. I might panic if on a first date someone began talking about what to name the nine kids she’s eager for us to raise in our new home under the sea. Premature disclosure can be as unnerving as protracted concealment. But as partners cultivate romance, and particularly as they move toward erotic involvement, there are things each should reveal, things they would not mention to a casual acquaintance — any history of S.T.D.’s, for example, or the existence of any current spouse. Even before a first kiss, this person should have told you those things that you would regard as germane to this phase of your evolving relationship, including his being transgendered. Clearly he thought you’d find it pertinent; that’s why he discreditably withheld it, lest you reject him.
Hmmm. He didn’t mention it because he thought it pertinent? And that makes his omission “discreditable”? That’s a pretty one-sided approach to a transgender person’s bill of dating rights.
I needn’t go into the psychological struggle many transgender folks endure as they transition, or the level of stigmatization our trans brothers and sisters face just by re-entering the dating pool as an “other.” Should a transgender person reveal to a potential mate he is trans? Sure, but it doesn’t have to happen on the first date. In fact, it probably shouldn’t, unless it’s somehow this “extra bonus” he knows about beforehand (maybe on the other person’s online dating profile, she lists trans guys as a plus?). Establish a repertoire. See if there’s chemistry. Decide if the relationship has any chance of moving forward. And then everybody show each other their no-no place.