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Serving Transgender Victims of Sexual Assault
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June 2014
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Transgender-Specific Issues

The Choices: Relationships

As with any person, transgender people can be celibate, involved in a partnership, or have multiple partners at any given time. Partners may be with a transgender person throughout their gender journey (exploration and/or transition), or they may enter the transgender person's life later on.

Partners of transgender people may or may not have sexual orientations that are congruent with their partner's gender. For example, an FTM who was once part of the lesbian community as a butch may have strong social ties to the lesbian community and have a partner who identifies as a lesbian. The female partner may maintain a lesbian identity, while the FTM partner may now identify as straight or bisexual. Similarly, an MTF who was married to a woman throughout her transition may remain married. Post-transition, the MTF may now identify as lesbian, while the MTF's wife may still identify as heterosexual.

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Genderqueer or gender non-conforming individuals and their partners may have already created language to encompass their gender non-conformity and may feel similarly empowered to develop creative and unique terms to describe their sexual orientation. Some younger people are reclaiming the word "queer" and using it as a positive term to describe their sexual orientations (regardless of their partners' gender), or they use terms that transcend traditional partnership language, such as friends with benefits, heteroflexible, pansexual, and polyamorous.20

Sexual attraction or behavior is nearly always an area that partners address when one person socially or medically transitions. Navigating the changing dynamics of a partnership can be complicated in the best of scenarios, and it may become even more difficult if one or both partners' attraction changes.