Common Problems Dating a Trans Woman in Johannesburg


Let’s say you are actively dating in the hope of finding “the one.” You choose a website or app and starting filling out your dating profile. You’ll be asked to list your own gender as well as your gender preference or select it from a list.

This list will typically start with “cisgender.” Cisgender or cis means a person whose gender matches the one they were born into. Other options on the list are going to be transgender man or woman and non-binary.

Who else is out there?

One common problem with trans dating in Johannesburg, as elsewhere, is that with discrimination and overall ignorance. There was actually a study that reflected the above conditions. The results, which were published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, showed that almost 90% of people only chose the cis option, excluding non-binary and trans individuals from their options.

Even though the South African constitution was the first to explicitly ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, including an equality guarantee, it does not expressly ban discrimination against trans people. Trans people in Joburg and South Africa’s other big cities often complain about discrimination at the workplace. While this is not directly related to dating problems, it can affect the individual’s personal life tremendously – and yours as their partner.

Problems Arise from Ignorance

Disregard of the issues your partner is experiencing and struggling with, including violence and discrimination, will inevitably lead to relationship problems. Apart from that, there’s just pure ignorance that will cause such. Ignorance normally manifests itself early on. Here are some examples.

Know What “Trans” Means

Never treat a prospective partner like a dictionary. Yes, you’re curious about all things trans, but Google exists for that. Don’t ask things a simple search won’t uncover. A date is no occasion for a serious conversation about gender. Do spare textbook discussions with a book or a class if you’re really interested. Don’t be afraid to use a multitude of tools for knowledge available. It is your responsibility to be educated on the matter. If you aren’t, at least don’t let it show.

Misguided Compliments

Comments like “You’re too beautiful to be a man” or “you look better than a real woman” are not compliments; they are insults. Telling a trans woman that she “looks just like a woman” or something to that effect sends a not-so-subliminally offensive message, which is that she’s trying to pass off as a woman, that she’s not really a woman. That’s not true. You can be born a woman into the male gender, and that’s exactly what this is about. Trans women are not trying to engage in the form of disguise or trickery. They are simply trying to be who they are. And this is something even people in a progressively-minded place like Johannesburg can miss.