The model, artist and actress went on Lena Dunham’s podcast to give the most intimate, important insight into the little discussed world of trans dating
“Trans-dating is hardcore and it’s really scary. And that’s coming from me, someone who couldn’t be dating in a more open-minded Manhattan pool of artsy boys and creative folk. Not saying it all sucks. I’m just saying it’s not easy.” Those are the words of model, actress, and artist Hari Nef.
Dating is a weird minefield to navigate anyway. Factor in being trans in 2015 and the situation is a little more complicated. There are plenty of regurgitated dating guides around for straight or gay people but trans dating is not something that’s been discussed openly in any depth yet.
Nef is going a long way to opening up this discussion. As well as speaking candidly on social media about love and sex with a great deal of humour, she’s now made an appearance on Lena Dunham’s themed podcast, Women of the Hour, to discuss her dating experiences, including the problems and how to deal with them.
From butterflies in stomachs to issues with non-binary bodies, these were the highlights of her important and characteristically intelligent on-air talk:
THE CLICHÉS OF ROMANCE
Basically, I’m hormonally a teenage girl because of how long I’ve been on hormones. When I think about what romance means to me, I have to return to this idea of my womanhood being only two years old. My emotional maturity in the female space is nowhere near as developed as it’s going to be. I’m still learning how to be a woman in relationships. And right now my idea of romance is deliciously cliché. I don’t know how not to get butterflies when some guy takes me out to a fancy restaurant and pulls the chair out for me and we go for a walk after and we kiss. They say all great artist has to master the clichés before they can innovate and I feel I’m mastering the clichés of romance and I don’t have the resources to innovate.
BLIND DATES AND SET-UPS
No one sets up dates for trans girls. No one goes, “Oh, you should meet my friend Hari, because you totally fuck trans girls.” I don’t get hooked up.
I get really scared of rejection a lot. It’s often quite difficult for me to approach people so I kind of wait to get approached. My girlfriend started doing this submissive thing and all the boys were chasing her. I don’t know whether it was calculated or it was just something that just happened during her transition but when you hear a story of a trans girl and what worked for her, you kind of just do it because there’s no primer. There’s so little literature on being trans and negotiating this stuff.
Before I start sex where I assume or know they haven’t been with a trans woman before, I press the pause button. I say “Hey, I don’t know whether or not you’ve been with a trans woman before, it’s not that big of a deal but I just wanna open it up, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to voice them.” Because people want to be sexy and go along with it but sometimes they just freak out. It’s a fascinating negotiation.
Trans people before gender confirmation surgery, those are non-binary bodies. You don’t learn how to fetishise those bodies out in the open. Trans porn is the number one fastest growing porn industry and the trans body has been being consumed in private in America for years and years and years by many, many people. But this is something very important and the core of violence against trans-women: men don’t understand that their attraction to trans women is a valid attraction.
THE REAL TRANS TIPPING POINT
I feel like the next big piece of this trans tipping point puzzle is for a famous guy to step forward with a trans girl on his arm. The reason that a lot of trans women, especially trans WOC, are getting murdered. It’s not women killing us, it’s not trans people killing trans people, it’s cis, hetero men killing us – a lot of the time just after they think we’re beautiful or catcalling us and they realise they’re not cis and they like they’ve feel tricked.