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Tips for Staying Safe when Using Online Dating Sites
The Internet has opened up the world of dating for everyone. While it is still possible to meet that special someone through a friend, at the local club or coffee shop, or any of the other various ways people use to find dates, a large number of people have turned to online dating sites to find a romantic partner. One of the most important things to consider when you use online dating services, is how you can remain safe. There is an anonymity to online that is less present in offline dating. Your safety is the most important thing, so you need to do everything you can to ensure you remain safe.
Find the Right Transgender Dating Website
There are a multitude of online dating websites, but only a few of them cater to the transgender community. While sites like OKCupid offer options to list different genders and have non-binary options that does not always guarantee that people you contact or who contact you are okay with dating someone transgender. When anyone, regardless of gender identity, is able to use a dating site, that may mean your safety may be compromised. The truth is, as transgender people, we are more likely to be victims of violent assaults, being raped, or even worse. Disclosing your trans identity is not always safe. This makes a transgender dating site all the more appealing.
With that in mind, the first step is to find a site that is supportive of trans identified individuals. You want to go to a website where people want to date someone regardless of their gender identity. While going to a site specifically for transgender people to find dates is a great first step, it still does not guarantee your safety. However, once you have chosen the right website, you are one step closer to finding that prospective someone.
Avoid too Many Personal Details
You need to make your profile attractive to prospective dates. This means you need to have clear profile pictures. Blurry pictures can be a turn off, and imply you have something to hide. In some cases, you may prefer to not show your face on your main profile. This may be due to work, family, or some other important obligation. Make it clear in your profile that you are not able to share your picture because of that obligation or not being out, but that you would be willing to share a picture once you have connected with someone if you seem to hit it off. Most people who understand the issues facing the trans community know the safety issues surrounding being outed, and if anyone is offended by this, they probably are not the right person for you.
You will want to avoid providing too many personal details, such as your full name, location, or phone number. Introducing yourself to someone by asking them to call or text you, can be quite dangerous. When to disclose personal information is each individual’s choice. Still, it is recommended that you get to know the person before sharing such intimate details. In the early days of the Internet, most people would chat by email, text based chat room, or personal messenger, then by phone, and finally in person. Following this formula still seems effective. People on the internet have the option of lying about who they are, and you will not find that out until you meet in person, sometimes not even then. Be cautious and careful. Your safety is the most important thing. Use common sense and you should be fine!
Talk on the Phone or by Video First
While this might not be possible for every person, especially someone with a disability who may have trouble with verbal communication (there are many individuals with disabilities who identify as trans or non-binary), if you have the ability to talk on the phone, try to get to know the person you would like to date before you meet them, by chatting with them. They do not have to be long involved conversations, but hearing their voice, and sharing something with them vocally can be a great way for both of you to learn more about one another. It is understandable that some trans identified individuals may not like their voices, and may avoid the phone at all costs because of this. In this case, try texting them. It is not the same, but it is better than sticking to the computer exclusively.
Your phone and computer/laptop may have other options such as Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangout, so you can video chat together. If you are gamers you may find success playing games together, and using programs like TeamSpeak, to talk with one another while you play. In any case, the goal is to find a way to reach out to a prospective date beyond email or messenger, and get to know them before meeting in person.
Reach Out on Social Media
Most people have some form of social media presence, typically a Facebook profile. As you get to know potential dates/partners, ask them if you can connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or any other social media site you use. If they refuse to connect with you on social media, but insist you meet in person, this should set off warning bells. If they do allow you to connect, you will most likely have the chance to learn much more about them.
Facebook is often a great way to get to know a person. You can look at their pictures, which will tell you more about what they look like, how they dress, and possibly what they do with friends, family, or in their free time. If they list their interests you can learn what sport they like, if any, the kind of movies they watch, the music they listen to, and what groups they may have joined. What they post on their feed is also a great indicator of their interests. You can find out if they are politically active, and if so, what their views are. You may learn about the causes they support, and how they interact with their family and friends. This is one of the best ways to help ease your mind when getting to know a prospective date.
You should be cautious of profiles that have little information, little engagement, and no pictures, as this may be a sign that the individual has something to hide. Of course, it might also mean they are not very computer savvy or just don’t use Facebook much. Just keep in mind what all of the possibilities may be, and it will help you stay safe.
Let People Know When and Where You Meet
If you get to the point where you decide you want to meet, it is so important that you tell family and/or friends where and when you are going to meet. If you can, try to meet in a public place and even consider bringing along a few friends. You could have a double date or group date, by inviting friends to stay with you throughout the night. Ultimately, it is about you being comfortable throughout the meeting. If the person you plan to meet pressures you to meet alone, don’t do it. If they truly respect you, they will understand your desire to stay safe, and will be supportive of whatever methods you put in place. The right person will understand that you can never be too cautious.
If you go anywhere with them, especially during the first couple times you meet, make sure family or friends know exactly where you are, and if you leave that place, text or call your loved ones to tell them where you are going. This is about you remaining safe. It only takes a few seconds to text or make a quick call. Your life is worth the time it takes. You may also want to have someone who cares about you call you during the date to check in, or you can call them to check in. Knowing you are safe throughout any date will lift the weight off their shoulders. They can be comfortable knowing that you are safe and everything is okay.
When you start dating online, no matter who you are, you need to be aware that there are safety risks. You can significantly lower these risks by following all of the steps outlined above. Dating can be great, but no date is ever worth risking your life. Those who are transgender are even more at risk than the cisgender community. As trans individuals, we are more likely to be harmed by someone we date. We face significantly higher levels of intolerance simply because we’re transgender. We owe it to ourselves to remain safe, no matter what.
Online dating has given transgender people more opportunities to find love, relationships, and/or companionship. It is a great way to find a date, a partner, or even a snuggle buddy. Now you can better utilize trans-friendly dating services, such as this website, to find that special someone. By using the tools above, you are ensuring that any person, trans or not, can participate in online dating, while remaining safe.