Trans Dating: Racing The Clock

Image Credit: Liah Paterson

Being androgynous, gender fluid, or in transition comes with a certain level of inquisition. Whether it’s a curious family member, co-worker, or new romantic prospect, the whole “who are you and what are you trying to be” question is inevitable. It can also be really scary.

In the LGBTQ world, the term “clocked” is slang for that moment someone realizes that the person they’re with isn’t cisgendered.  After being clocked, interactions (especially those of a sexual or romantic nature) can sometimes turn take a turn for the worse — even becoming dangerous. Just YouTube search “He Didn’t Know I Was Trans.” The results will show a bevy of beautiful trans women like Nikita Dragun, Eden the Doll, or Jazlynn Westbrooke detailing their experiences being clocked, forcibly outed, or both. Failure, panic, disappointment, and aesthetic self-consciousness are just a handful of what comes up.

To be clear, becoming passable or “unclockable” is not about trying to deceive, trick, or lie to people — especially not for the gain of sexual conquest. It’s also not the universal goal of every trans person.

But for those who do want to go unclocked,it stems from the very understandable desire to blend in without harassment, admonishment, or threat.

“Which brings us to the next point.  Never ever apologize. Fuck that.”

Still, clocking is a damn near unavoidable part of the not-cis experience. Even for those who pass, people will always spill the tea.  So what happens after? How do most people handle realizing they’ve been talking to — and desiring— a trans woman?

(Henceforth, let’s assume we’re dealing with a heterosexual male.)

The biggest factor comes down to how secure the guy is in his masculinity and sexuality. For a lot of men, finding out they’ve been into a transgender person triggers the age-old male ego question: “DOES THIS MAKE ME GAY!?!” 

How and when they find this out is also a major factor. The most damaging thing to any relationship — cis or otherwise —  is for one partner to learn that they’ve been lied to. For many men, this is compounded by the feeling they’ve been tricked into a situation they wouldn’t normally have agreed to.

If you’ve just been clocked and you’re waiting on a cis dude’s reaction, remember to put your safety first. Situations like this have historically been perilous in trans women’s lives. You do not owe it to anyone to stick around if someone is making you feel uncomfortable for being you.

Which brings us to the next point. Never ever apologize. Fuck that.

Instead, make sure to convey that it was never your intent to deceive or mislead anyone. Rather, explain that you need a certain level of comfort before you share such personal information. Point out that guys (hopefully) don’t introduce themselves by announcing their dick sizes, but instead wait until they reach a level of security and intimacy. The same holds true for trans women and sharing private knowledge of their privates.

“The surprise benefit that comes from revealing your trans identity is the opportunity to gauge a person’s their integrity and intentions. Basically, their reaction can help clue you into whether their even worthy of your time.”

If it’s a real sticking point (men and their feeble egos), you can also educate your confused paramour about the fact that men who like trans women are not gay. A man who is attracted to and stimulated by the visage of a woman, is, by definition, straight.The goal here is to communicate, correct their undue pearl-clutching, and move on.

The surprise benefit that comes from revealing your trans identity is the opportunity to gauge a person’s their integrity and intentions. Basically, their reaction can help clue you into whether their even worthy of your time. If the newly professed information proves to be too much, part ways in the form that best preserves your peace of mind. Some girls might opt for friendship,  while others might take the route of Red Sonja and hit ’em with a “fuck you, your friends, and yo mama too.” Hey, both work. 

Protect your wellbeing and your heart. Communicate and educate where you can. Never apologize for who you are.


Gxiana McQueen is a transgender U.S. Army Veteran turned actress and model. She is currently an advocate of equal rights for transgender individuals and is a Certified Peer Support Specialist for Battle Buddy Bridge in New York.

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