Chella Man, Aaron Rose Philip and Sage Dolan-Sandrino share their experiences on dating as trans people
On this episode of In The Know: The Truth Is, Chella Man (@chellaman) and Aaron Rose Philip (@aaron___philip) sit down with artist, public speaker, and activist, Sage Dolan-Sandrino (@thhrift), to break down their experiences dating as trans people. Sage discusses her general feelings towards dating as a trans woman, the nuances and highs and lows of dating cisgender people, and her overall preferences for dating.
Aaron starts things off by asking Sage to try and describe her overall experience as a trans person in the dating world by using just one word. “Transformative,” says Sage. “Transness is inherent in everything that we do.”
For Sage, dating as a trans person has helped her understand the nature of relationships through the lens of her true identity and self. “My experience dating as a trans person, as a trans woman, as a trans woman of color, has really transformed not only my understandings of intimacy, love, care, respect and sexuality, but also my understandings of friendship, of life, and the ways in which people interact with me,” she says.
Sage has an optimistic view on dating, but she understands that for many trans people, dating can be complicated and challenging, especially when it comes to dating someone who is cisgender. To Sage, dating a cisgender person can be hard, which she feels is based primarily on a lack of shared outlook.
“We live in a completely different reality than them, because there are so many things, there are so many systems that they interact with on a daily basis that they are not forced to question,” says Sage. “I’ve come in contact with people who think that my body is a classroom, and that I’m here to serve some sort of purpose and teach them some lesson in their life, and how they can become more ‘woke’ about sex and more ‘woke’ about the world.”
While the group has had challenges dating cisgender people, they agree that there are plenty of cis people who they have dated that are understanding and supportive. “It’s easy to get caught up in like, this feeling of the cis people being 100% against us,” Sage tells the group. “And although there’s no point in denying the reality of the harm that the cis system has on trans people, there’s also no use in denying the reality of cis people who love… and affirm trans people in our existence.”
The group then discusses their experiences dating other trans people, and Sage shares that she feels safer and more connected with her trans and queer partners. “I’ve dated trans people, and I have found those experiences to be safer in specific ways,” she says. While Sage doesn’t think that trans people dating other trans people is “the answer,” she does feel that being able to be with someone who has shared a similar journey can lead to a deeper connection for the couple as well as the individuals.
“I think that through experiencing and sharing love with other trans people, there is no doubt a journey that you go through yourself in being able to see that beauty in yourself,” says Sage. “Operating under those cis systems and norms, I denied myself so much love, like I denied seeing myself as beautiful, I denied myself all of those things. And through loving and seeing and respecting and sharing that with another trans person, I was able to give that same ease back to myself in saying, ‘You know what? You are worthy of love, you’re deserving, you’re beautiful.’”
While dating trans and queer people is Sage’s preference, she shares that transphobia of all forms is not absent in trans dating. “Unfortunately there are experiences where other trans people are still operating with behaviors that are influenced by internalized transphobia,” Sage says. But for Sage, dating other trans and queer people has still provided the most meaningful relationships.
“[The] romance, intimacy and care has been so much stronger in my trans dating relationships and in my queer dating relationships,” says Sage. “Because there is a true basis of friendship and like, that radical acknowledgment of who I am.”
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