Fresh from Valentines gaudy pink and red glow, Elijah Luke Michel explores the complexities of finding romance as a transgender person.

Its that delightful time again! Of love, romance and far-reaching fairy tales. Sappy dramas, red roses, and clickbait for commercialism, along with a proverbial kick in the teeth for those in unhappy relationships and a dire reminder of abnormality for those who are, or are not, single by choice.

Romance and relationships can be tricky for most on a good day, but when youre living on the transgender spectrum, even finding the courage to try and attain love can be daunting. Rejection affects everyone, but if its because of something outside of our control – the way we were born and the cis-het-normative society we live in – it hurts more so.


Love and relationships come in many different forms, and, naturally, one type never suits all. Some of us seek or find the one, someone we can devote our time and energy to throughout a lifetime; others enjoy the freedom of connecting with numerous others, whether they be short intimate interludes or longer, and believe it takes more than one partner to meet our varying needs.

Regardless of our attachment style, who we go to bed with determines our sexual attraction – our orientation – as opposed to who we go to bed as, which determines our gender identity. Relatively simple in a normalised society for heterosexual cisgender people. Not so much for those on the LGBTIQA+ spectrum.

So much confusion about the rainbow community stems from a lack of education about the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation. I was recently searching for an article about the impact on the indigenous trans community when colonialists first arrived in India but couldnt recall the title, so simply typed in transgender. Most articles in this relatively major publication that came back were about cisgender same-sex relationships.

If we are (binary) transgender and heterosexual, our pursuit of those of the opposite gender is deemed normal; however, if we are perceived as our assigned gender at birth, we are met with the same disdain offered to those who are gay/lesbian, bi or pan-sexual. So if we are transgender and same-sex attracted, bi or pan, its a double-whammy. Again, how we are perceived by others determines their response to us. Add to that being non-binary or gender-fluid, and the expectations placed on us by society, ourselves, and others can be tumultuous in the dating scene as perception of our orientation changes depending on who we are with.

Leading up to Valentine’s, dating apps heat up with people looking for someone, even if just for the day. It can be a time of both expectation and letdown, but the most important thing is to stay wise and to stay safe. At the end of the day, theres truth in the cliche – its whats on the inside that counts. Inside your heart, not inside your pants. Unless it triggers internalised homophobia in the one youre attracted to, for which neither of you are to blame.

Every human deserves love, companionship and intimacy (for those who want it). If youre home alone on Valentines Day, remember that no matter who we are, getting to know ourselves before getting to know others is important. Make time to create a list of your relationship needs as well as personal dealbreakers with any potential partner. Maybe this time next year you will be enjoying an intimate dinner with a loved one (or more) or appreciating your value over a meal for one. Either way, you win.