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The Student News Site of Arcata High School

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TRANS-ition to Loneliness

As teenagers, entering the scene of love can be one of the most anticipated milestones in our lives.
TRANS-ition+to+Loneliness
Anthony Vasek

As teenagers, entering the scene of love can be one of the most anticipated milestones in our lives.

It’s built up as another essential part of the high school experience; backpacks stuffed with notes, football games, swirlies in the bathroom stalls, and, of course, finding your high school sweetheart.

But even with the dating pool entirely open, it can be surprisingly hard to land a decent partner. Especially one who shares feelings in the same way.

When gender-queerness is factored into the equation, the predicament only becomes more complex. 

“It’s really hard to navigate relationships because you never know if someone’s gonna be cool with it,” said trans senior Josh.*

Transphobia, harassment, and violence are all very real possibilities in the world of trans dating.

But even apart from the more extreme situations, being rejected for something uncontrollable can be demotivating, particularly for young people who are struggling to find their place in the world as is.

Trans sophomore Ethan said, “I think as teenagers—trans or not—we really just crave acceptance from our peers.”

Jade, a genderfluid senior, recalled suppressing their feelings for three years over the course of a turbulent heterosexual relationship.

“Being in that relationship made me not even consider exploring [gender and sexuality] for a really, really long time,” they said. “I wanted to dress more masculine, but I couldn’t because I was with a man who was straight.”

Ethan initially came out as trans in seventh grade, while still in a relationship with a girl. 

“She never really saw me as a guy and continued treating me like her girlfriend,” he recalled. “She kept calling herself a lesbian and she crossed boundaries regarding my body that I was clearly uncomfortable with.”

It can feel hopeless, if not borderline impossible, to pursue romance when you’re so held up over being perceived in the wrong way.

“Most queer people who are cis just have to worry about the person they like being queer too. I have to worry about whether or not a future partner understands trans issues and whether or not I’d actually feel comfortable dating them,” Josh, who hasn’t been in a relationship since prior to coming out, said.

“As well as whether or not they actually see me as a man,” Ethan said.

For that exact reason, some students opt to live without disclosing their transgender identity to those around them.

An anonymous student first transitioned when she was relatively young.

“I’ve been living stealth** for a while, [so] no one really notices anymore by looking at me,” she said. “I’m scared someone might accuse me of leading them on or something when they find out about it. Or they might tell everyone about it.”

As a result, many transgender teens teens find themselves searching for romance within the gay and bisexual communities in hopes of finding someone who shares common ground. 

However, as Ethan mentioned earlier, cisgender queer people can often be found to share similar views with their heterosexual counterparts.

“The dating pool is already lessened enough when you’re gay,” said Ethan. “Then, you have to factor into account that cis gays may turn you away based solely on your body parts, not what comprises you as a human.”

He then brought up the positive effects his current relationship with another trans person has had on his life.

“Our likeness in identities makes me feel more comfortable. I don’t stress over how I present myself in front of him because I know he’ll always see me as I am,” he said.

He added, “It’s also nice when your partner is going through similar struggles because a deeper connection can be formed around those struggles.”

But then a 2018 study by Karen L. Blair showed that, “across a sample of both heterosexual and lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and trans individuals, 87.5% indicated they would not consider dating a trans person.”

Of course, when it comes to relationships, it is essential that the comfort goes both ways. 

“It’s obviously not anyone’s fault if they don’t want to date me,” the anonymous student said. “No one has to and I obviously get why they might not want to.”

She closed by saying, “But it still feels bad when I know [the guys] checking me out would be looking at me like a mismatched Frankenstein if they knew.”

But even then, we should not be denying progress. Compare now to a decade ago and it’s apparent: things are changing, however slowly, for the better.

 

* Only first names are used in this article for privacy

**Someone who chooses not to disclose their birth sex

Anthony Vasek
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About the Contributor
Anthony Vasek
Anthony Vasek, Managing Editor
Anthony Vasek has been a reporter for the Pepperbox, a student-run publication with nearly a century of history, since 2022. This year he is excited to use his knowledge to take on an editorial role. His coverage revolves mostly around sensitive topics, such as mental health and drug use. He also does a great deal of graphic design, leading the class in InDesign during each layout session. Two articles of his have won both first and second place, respectively, in the Feature category of the Jackie Awards. Personally, he has a strong belief towards the supremacy of felines and fish.
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