How can I better affirm my gender in the early stages of dating?

Total transparency in the early stages of dating has allowed me to feel affirmed in my gender and its many dimensions. My pronouns are they/them, and I’ve had to exercise the muscle that asks me to be transparent from the very start with my lovers. I usually tell people on the first date how I don’t identify as a cis woman, how “they/them” makes me feel euphoric and seen, and how every day I feel different about how I wish to present.

This felt like a scary thing to do, because there were moments where I felt unsafe revealing that truth, especially with cis men I was attracted to. For a long time, I allowed myself to be misgendered, even though it made me feel physically uncomfortable to be called a woman, lady, or girl.

I am transparent on the first date because the person’s reaction usually allows me to discern the trajectory of our connection. While nerve-wracking, it allows me to feel empowered in my agency in pursuing meaningful intimacy. I wear an outfit that makes me feel the most gender euphoric of the day, and I put myself before the assumed desires of another. If somebody is uncomfortable with my truth, then it reveals more about them than it does about me. I prefer to get this done early, because I know how precious my time is, and how uncompromising I am about my need to be respected in my fullness.

Even though transparency in dating feels simple and foundational, it is surprising how difficult it can be in action.

While I unlearn many harmful standards of desirability, I have learned what I know for sure: I want to do whatever I wish with my gender, and I want to share my life intimately with somebody who wholly supports me in that. If they cannot provide that, then I cannot be with them.

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