Many transgender females often struggle with the massive adjustment in how to integrate themselves in society. I was one of them, of course. Though after being able to bravely face friends and family, the issue of how to handle attraction and romance gradually crept into my consciousness. The concept wasn’t new, obviously, but in the context of my femininity, self-respect and protecting myself from potential “chasers”, everything about this was all new to me. Awareness of these matters could be taught but it was only through experiencing being approached in the moment that we could learn to adapt. For some, this could be most terrifying, but not impossible to get used to.
In lieu of that fear, I’m offering up five ways transgender females (and pretty much anyone uncomfortable in their skin) can gradually increase their confidence and self-assuredness to better navigate being approached by a cis male or anyone who may show attraction to you. Most people typically fear because they are not fully prepared or they lack the confidence necessary to stand on their own. Fact is, everyone is drawn to confident people, whether romantically-charged or not. As someone who has been out as a transgender female for just about three years, these points have helped me build a strong foundation to handle almost any social interaction.
- Learn to love yourself. I didn’t realize I had such a minuscule concept of self-love until I learned how to fall in love with myself as a female. Pinpoint a few things you like about yourself. They don’t have to be physical. Actually, try to avoid physical things to start – less people are able to form commentary about things you like about yourself on the inside. Thus, giving you more time to appreciate them. In the end, establishing self-love to the point of being your own best friend and lover will protect you from the emotional pressures of falling into the arms of any person who has eyes for you. Or worse, letting someone do what they please to you because you don’t respect yourself enough. The early years of transitioning are usually the loneliest, but you’ll thank yourself later.
- Smile more. This was super difficult for me in the beginning and I’m sure others can relate. However, learning how to smile with your eyes & from the heart is crucial to being seen the way you deserve to be seen. Take time each day to look in the mirror and practice thinking of something in your life that you can’t help but naturally smile. Remember how it feels in your heart and what your face and body does naturally when it happens. Though a natural smile is the best kind, there will be situations where you need to smile even if you really don’t want to. Impromptu selfie anyone?
- Trust your instincts. For years, I had been holding back, hiding what I thought was unbecoming of a “man”. Those restraints no longer apply to me or you. However, as long as you think they still do, you’ll continue to emanate awkward vibes & body language that women WILL naturally pick up on. Trust that your body, mind, & spirit have always instinctively known what to do, who you are, and where you belong. As you learn to love yourself and smile more while unlearning any unsightly habits, your instincts will free you to express yourself to any romantic interest without concern or worry. Like me, you’ll be touching up your makeup and chit-chatting in the public bathroom in no time.
- Wear whatever the fuck makes you comfortable. You may think dropping the f-bomb isn’t necessary, but it really is. I know that in my first year of living authentically, I put an unruly amount of emphasis on my physical appearance. Your physical transition, though a necessary matter, is totally not where your focus should be. When you look at women on the street, they aren’t all in dresses with their faces on. Nor are they all curvy with ample breasts. Just because you’re a transgender female doesn’t mean you have to always look on-point or overtly femme all the time. Your mental and emotional transition are what will define you, making all the difference in establishing how people/romantic interests perceive and believe you are who you say. So relax. Wear those hand-me-downs from your girl friend proudly, without shame.
- Discover your sound. I’m of the belief that many trans girls can overcome everything above, but remain in a dysphoria loop due to hating the sound of their voice. This subject is a touchy one for me as I am fortunate enough to be a voice actress (VA) who literally retrained my own voice in one year. Another VA friend of mine did also in about the same span of time. This leads me to believe that anyone can find their voice with proper training and daily practice. Discovering the sound of your voice, believe it or not, can be done much sooner simply by listening to women you respect. Observe how their speaking rhythm changes in different situations, how they begin and end their sentences, and even their choice of words. Even if you don’t have the most feminine-sounding voice, establishing a baseline for your sound is the first step to speaking in a believable style that suits you as a female.