If you’re on your first date with someone, if they are transgendered, do you expect them to tell you on that first date?
That’s what Randy Cohen of The Ethicist column over at The New York Times thinks in response to a letter from a straight, presumably cis-woman.
The woman is seemly upset after finding her male date was a FtM transgender. She didn’t find out this information from him, but after some online searching into his past, after he apparently wasn’t forthcoming enough.
Randy responds with:
[…] this person behaved badly by not being more forthcoming with you, he is still entitled to some privacy. You should not prompt a public announcement about his being transgender.
Is it just me, or is this comment a little contradictory? He “behaved badly by not being more forthcoming” but “he is still entitled to some privacy”.
He goes on to say:
Getting to know someone is a gradual process. I might panic if on a first date someone began talking about what to name the nine kids she’s eager for us to raise in our new home under the sea. Premature disclosure can be as unnerving as protracted concealment. But as partners cultivate romance, and particularly as they move toward erotic involvement, there are things each should reveal, things they would not mention to a casual acquaintance — any history of S.T.D.’s, for example, or the existence of any current spouse. Even before a first kiss, this person should have told you those things that you would regard as germane to this phase of your evolving relationship, including his being transgender. Clearly he thought you’d find it pertinent; that’s why he discreditably withheld it, lest you reject him.
How many of you have been on a first date with someone, only to not have any desire to go on another date with that person, or that person is not interested on going on another date with you? You barely know this person and what kind of person they could be, do you really want to reveal such personal information straight away?
This man obviously was not comfortable with revealing that he is FtM, and considering the attitude of some people towards trangenders, I don’t blame him. I definitely don’t think he has discredited himself by not telling the woman on the first date.
If they met through, say, the internet, it would probably be different. Sites like NZDating have the option of stating your gender as transgender on your profile. Going through an internet dating site, you may be more able to judge a person’s reaction to this information. This is something you can’t do if you meet someone for the first time in a real life situation. You need that first date to have that opportunity to suss someone out first. Revealing your transgender is something I would leave to at least to the second date. Though of course, throughout the first date, the two of you may connect in an amazing way and the opportunity to let them know would be then.
In such a judgmental society, unfortunately you do have to be careful with what information you reveal about yourself and who you reveal it to.