Trans woman Daniella McDonald says dating straight men was a “horror show”, until she met Josh, with whom she has been in a relationship for two-and-a-half years. Daniella told her story to BBC Gender and Identity correspondent Megha Mohan.
At the sound of the bait splashing gently into the lake, Josh turned to me and we locked eyes. Next to him stood my father, but unlike Josh he was looking straight ahead, holding a fishing rod and hoping to catch the region’s famous trout.
My family was camping at Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. It’s a spellbinding tourist attraction, known for its grand mountains and clear lakes, winding hiking trails and unpolluted sky.
We’re talking about what most young people talk about: relationships
Josh smiled at me. My family loves the outdoors and it was lovely to see how much he did too. But this moment was more than that unspecified relief of finding out that your boyfriend fits in effortlessly with your family. Looking at the two men in my life standing next to each other in quiet contentment, I had an overwhelming feeling of peace. There was a time that I couldn’t have imagined this.
I’m fairly conservative when it comes to what I want from a romantic relationship: monogamy, companionship, someone I can take turns to make breakfast with, someone who would be there to support me with my long hours as a medical student at the University of California in San Diego. So my online profile reflected that.
I don’t hide my gender identity, I am always upfront from the beginning. I began transitioning physically at the age of 26, but I had been living as Daniella for years.
I had written a standard dating profile, except for the first two words I used to describe myself: “transgender woman”
As a woman who is attracted to men, I wanted to be with a man who was attracted to women.
The majority of direct messages on my dating profile were just awful. I would wake up to DMs calling me a “tranny”, my phone would ping with the words, “You’re a man.” I would get paragraph-long death threats with detailed fantasies on how I should be murdered.
Less extreme, but still troubling, were the men who had a perverse interest in trans women. They saw me as a temporary exotic experiment and failed to observe respectful boundaries. Our early conversations focused on questions about my genitals and what kind of sex we’d have.
The good-on-paper men who were interested and respectful to me in private, were embarrassed to be seen in public with a trans woman. These men wouldn’t introduce me to their family or friends. Some would say that they would lose their jobs if their employer found out they were dating a trans woman. To me it seemed like internalised homophobia, they couldn’t think of me as a woman and they didn’t want the people in their life to view them as gay.
I remember once being picked up and driven for a movie date. I was so excited, and as he was purchasing tickets, I thought “Wow, this man is really sweet and we’re on a nice, ‘typical’ date.”
Then, as we sat down in the dark cinema and the trailers began to play before the main movie, he turned to me and said, “I just don’t think I can do this.” And he got up and walked out. I followed him to the front where he got a refund on the tickets and he walked Jagd Dating-Seite away, leaving me to make my own way back home.