Writer


This Valentine’s Day it’s important to reflect on those who are more at risk of violence when trying to find the love they desire and deserve. 

I am sure around Valentine’s Day a lot of trans girls in their teens would have dreamt of themselves as a princess, having her happily ever after with her Prince Charming, or maybe a fairy tale of two princesses in love. Just dreaming of that loved one, escaping away in a world of one’s own. Trans girls often don’t have the luxury to think of love like others do. Much of our thoughts are preoccupied with worrying about whether or not our identities are valid, whether we would get to live as our authentic selves, or about being accepted by our family, friends and society. Love becomes secondary, and thinking about love is often at times a means of escape from the harsh realities that surround us. 

I grew up believing I was asexual and aromantic for most of my teens so I genuinely couldn’t relate to many of my friends gushing about how their crush asked them out or their first dates. It was a coming of age life experience for many, but not for me. I was either thinking about which manga or book I should read next or whether or not I would get the prerequisite grades for the university I was interested in - Valentine’s Day had no real meaning to me. Then, during my seventeenth summer, I fell in love with a close friend of mine. Out of respect for our friendship and no longer being able to hold those feelings inside of me, I confessed to him about being trans and about my feelings for him. I did not do this out of the expectation of redamancy, because I knew that it was high school, and we still existed in times where he would not have considered me as a woman. My first love confession ended up with him rejecting me and saying that he saw me as a friend, and months afterwards he avoided me and eventually stopped seeing me as a friend. The Valentine’s Days after this had me wondering if I would ever be lucky enough to find love, whether I would be good enough for anyone. Whether I would still be a girl, a woman in their eyes. 

"My first love confession ended up with him rejecting me and saying that he saw me as a friend, and months afterwards he avoided me and eventually stopped seeing me as a friend."

This was my experience in high school. During my undergraduate days, while I was in university away from my parents, I discovered Grindr for the first time. Thanks to this dating app, I entered into a series of toxic relationships involving men from September 2016 till June 2017. Grindr did affect my self esteem, and the transmisogyny I faced there broke me down. In 2019 I tried Tinder and I matched with a phenomenal woman, which turned out to be the happiest relationship I had been in. Our first date was meeting up at a talk on Indian Constitution and right to equality, us walking together through the forested part of her university campus and having dinner together at McDonalds. That night was special, just two girls bought together under the canopy of stars. We mutually parted ways months after owing to circumstances in her life she was not in control of.

My experiences with Grindr back in India involved transmisogyny, and much of my experiences involved me not having faith in my womanhood as I experienced thoughts of self inadequacy with regards to my gender identity and my body. My relationships with men on that app did not help much either as many would either misgender or deadname me, or worse, fetishise me, reducing me to an object of lust. I didn’t feel desired or affirmed in my body in any way. 

"My relationships with men on that app did not help much either as many would either misgender or deadname me, or worse, fetishise me, reducing me to an object of lust."

Trying Grindr again in Glasgow, the land of white men, does bring out an eyebrow raising question of “why?”. Grindr is an application that offers its users to remain anonymous, meaning there is no penalty for not having a face picture on one’s profile. There was also the worry about what I may experience at hands of white men on this application as a trans woman of colour, particularly as a South Asian trans woman of colour. 

My policy on Grindr was threefold: first, the person must show a picture of their face, prove that it is them, and finally agree to meet me in a public place. If these conditions were met, I would agree to see the man on the date. These aren’t any extra ordinary conditions. They were normal considering the risk of violence when meeting strangers on online apps. 

"My policy on Grindr was threefold: first, the person must show a picture of their face, prove that it is them, and finally agree to meet me in a public place."

Out of 3,000 taps and messages I received on Grindr, it was only three white men who could fulfill the conditions I had prescribed. Many of the messages I received weren’t just mere transmisogyny, but transmisogyny that was aggravated by the fact owing to my race - white man fetishsised me as a South Asian trans woman. I received messages from white men, saying things like, “I will gulp you down like curry.” Indeed, if the fact that I was being reduced to food and beverages from the subcontinent wasn’t alarming enough. Men would compare me to Bollywood actresses in saying, “become my Priyanka Chopra for tonight”, or “you look just like Hema Malini”. Neither of these comparisons seemed remotely amusing or could be interpreted as a compliment for me. White men certainly claim that they desire trans women of colour, but often their ideas of desire are rooted in not recognising our inherent humanity, reducing us to objects to sate their lust for us. There is desire, but this desire is not rooted in treating us as equals, but as targets of fetishsization. 

To trans women of colour reading this, I do want you to realise that you’re not wrong for seeking love or any form of companionship this Valentine’s Day. The difficulties you face aren’t your fault - my experience has revealed an ugly side of the world of desire and romance that is political. It is systemic: desires and notions of romance are shaped by factors of race, gender identity, ethnicity, etc; you are not flawed for seeking or believing in love. Love is beautiful, love can bring infinite joy, and love that resides within you is capable of feats unparalleled. Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to love, can remind us that it is the cruel systems of oppression around us that have stigmatised the love we receive and give - none of that is your fault. 


1 reply on “What Valentine’s Day means to me…”

Ana says:

Thank you for sharing your experience, more power and love to you! Resonated immensely with each and every word.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Similar posts

No related posts found!