“I went from receiving zero attention on dating sites and Facebook for years, to all of a sudden receiving many unsolicited messages from strangers and acquaintances”
I still have vivid memories of the loneliness I felt when I lived my life as Robert. I’d drive around the city at 2 a.m., listening to Jimmy Eat World on repeat, looking for a 24/7 fast-food drive-through. I didn’t care about my health. Actually, I didn’t care very much about anything. I was ready to die. I simply didn’t have the motivation to kill myself.
I spent five years without any physical contact with another woman. No kissing. No hand-holding. No cuddling. Nothing. I would try to lament about my debilitating loneliness to my female friends and they didn’t seem to have much sympathy for me. They were too worried about dealing with men who would harass them. At the time, I was actually jealous of the harassment they endured. “At least somebody’s paying attention to you,” I’d think to myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t sympathize with what they had to go through. I was just too lonely to care about anybody other than myself.
My perspective has broadened since. I came out as a transgender woman earlier this year, and my experiences as a woman named Robin differ greatly from my experiences as Robert.
I went from receiving zero attention on dating sites and Facebook for years, to all of a sudden receiving many unsolicited Facebook messages from strangers and acquaintances requesting sex. When I don’t respond right away, I’m met with anger and transmisogyny. “Hi beautiful” turns into “f— you, you’re ugly and not even a real chick” within seconds. Some of these men I vaguely know. Some I never met at all. Some have wives and children. And none of them seemed to care that my relationship status showed that I was in a relationship with a woman.
I’ve been asked if it’s flattering to receive messages seeking sex, and my truthful answer is that yes, it’s about 5% flattering, which means it’s 95% creepy and scary. I now have to worry about potentially running into one of these men in real-life, and I live with the very real fear that one of these men might hurt me physically because they have had it with rejection.
(Please note: I realize that there are men out there who receive unsolicited scary messages from others, and I also know that there are women who struggle with loneliness as well. I’m speaking in a broader sense of the paradigm that we, as a society, are accustomed to, which is that men “hunt” for the women, and women “choose” their suitor. I am speaking in very general and heteronormative terms and am not including other types of relationships. I am not implying that other relationships are less valuable. I am merely focusing on traditional male/female relationships for the purposes of illustrating this particular point.)