How being trans on dating apps sparked this Fredericton writer”s dive into identity

Deciding to share their nonfiction story about being a trans person on dating apps wasn’t easy for Lee Thomas.

“I have a ton of apprehension about this,” Thomas, a therapist and writer in Fredericton, said in a conversation with CBC Radio. Atlantic voice.

Part of this stemmed from the inherently intimate nature of the encounters, but there was also a sense that people might extrapolate Thomas’s words to apply to an entire community.

“Because of the world we live in, people kind of take my experiences and walk away, that’s how it is for trans people basically, which is absolutely not the case,” Thomas said. .

Trepidation aside, Thomas said they were happy with their story, my summer body, is in the world. The piece, shortlisted for the 2021 CBC Nonfiction Award, is sometimes raw, sometimes funny and deeply personal.

When a tiptoe go around my pronouns, I remember they’ve created a boogeyman in their brains, and it’s my job to appease them.

26:10Trans Identity, Online Dating, and Creative Writing: A Conversation with Lee Thomas

An interview with Lee Thomas from Fredericton, discussing their creative non-fiction story about being trans in the online dating scene, and how that experience sparked larger conversations about identity, growing up, and creating space for a multitude of trans stories. 26:10

It all started as a failed tweet: Thomas had written a line – “I feel like I’m failing at two genders” – but couldn’t find a way to make it funny and never hit send. The line languished in their phone, until inspiration struck.

“I kind of started writing about all the frustrations I felt about dating, and this article came out of that almost in its current form,” Thomas recalled.

“I was lying in bed, furiously typing it into the Notes app on my phone.”

14:59Lee Thomas reads My Summer Body

Lee Thomas reads their shortlisted story for the 2021 CBC Nonfiction Award, My Summer Body. 14:59

Thomas had used dating apps before they transitioned, but “the change in my experience once I was kind of out and transitioned, was really remarkable to me,” they said.

It seems misleading to talk about gender in my dating profile because it’s such a small and uninteresting part of me. I spend very little time thinking about being transgender. I should be talking about puns, dogs, home decor. Things that matter.

“I intentionally named things that, for example, are integral to my life, but which people wouldn’t necessarily consider important, but which I consider to be more integral to my personality or enjoying my everyday life rather than my gender,” Thomas said.

my summer body back and forth in time, flashes of Thomas’ adolescence mingling with the present. Their favorite line sneaks in the middle of the story: Becoming requires being unseemly. There are many ways to make the transition.

Gender is probably their most notable transition, Thomas said, but it’s not the only way they’ve changed in recent years.

“Learning that I’m a person worthy of compassion, learning that it’s okay to set boundaries, really being able to embody that this isn’t a practice run – that’s life I have, and I can make choices based on that,” they said.

Thomas was previously shortlisted for the CBC Nonfiction Prize in 2018 with the story True Trans.

Some of Thomas’ writing pushes back any singular narrative of the trans experience. For them, “the transition was a slow, eye-opening realization for me. And it was just very comfortable,” they said, contrary to the idea that it was an ongoing struggle.

In my summer body Thomas writes about their perceived lack of wrestling. “The idea that I haven’t had all these years to feel tortured by secrecy makes me feel a bit of a fraud,” they said.

“[But] I think it’s important for us to have stories that don’t focus on the pain.”