IT’S TIME TO LIVE IN LOVE
I have a super exciting episode for you today! I am talking to one of my faves, Laverne Cox, (YES THEE LAVERNE COX) Emmy-nominated actress and Transgender Rights Activist. She is here to tell us all about how she found love on Tinder and how you can, too.
This is Transgender Awareness week when transgender people and their allies generate awareness about who transgender people are, share stories and experiences, and advance advocacy around the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affect the transgender community.
I’ve been a fan of Laverne’s work for years. She’s so wise and so wonderful and regardless of your gender identity or orientation, I know you’re going to love this super-sized, advice-packed interview.
LAVERNE COX (2:25)
Laverne Cox is the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy for her brilliant work in Netflix’s series Orange Is The New Black. Since then, she’s produced the documentary Disclosure about transgender representation in Hollywood, she co-starred in the film Promising Young Woman, and she hosts the podcast The Laverne Cox Show. And now, she’s here on Dates & Mates!
(6:00) Laverne found a love like never before… on TINDER: Laverne spills ALL the tea. So here’s how it went: Laverne and the now-boyf matched on Tinder in NYC before the pandemic but never got to meet. They continued to chat on the app and didn’t catch up in person until months later. When they did, Laverne says they had a really great time and she thought he was awesome. They continued to meet up whenever she was in NYC and eventually fell in love! Laverne points out that even though she is 49 and her boyfriend is 27, the age gap has never been a problem for them – they always have fun together, and it helps that they share a love for music of all kinds.
Thinking about her past relationships, Laverne says that her last three boyfriends (including her current beau) had never dated a trans woman before herself. She thinks that being famous made them more open to meeting her and exploring a connection. Laverne also adds from her experience, a lot of men who purposefully seek out trans women to date or have sex with, fetishize and objectify their targets. This is perhaps why she’s seen a pattern in dating men who haven’t dated someone trans before.
(12:04) Resilience in the face of objectification: I ask for Laverne’s thoughts on being fetishized since she is both Trans and Black and on dating apps. Laverne responds that even though there is always the chance of fetishization, we have to practice not bringing those traumas into making new connections.
Resilience is key. If you’re always defensive when meeting new people, you won’t be in your “resilience zone.” Practice meeting new people with an open and curious mindset, because the energy you bring to new relationships will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if you give it enough power. Laverne notes her strategy is to always give people the benefit of the doubt until they show her otherwise, “and people usually show you very quickly.”
(16:03) Don’t disrespect yourself by accepting less than what you’re looking for in love: Laverne shares that when she was young, she really wanted to be in love. On the other hand, she had an expectation of what it was to be wild, young, and free. But in this instance, her fantasy of what she thought she wanted versus what she really wanted was not in sync (and nowadays amidst hookup culture, I think this happens a lot). So Laverne advises that if you want to have sex, no judgment – but it’s important to be very, very clear if that’s what you want.
(18:58) Love is love: I ask Laverne how she thinks race intersects with dating culture. Laverne remembers what the reaction was like from her fans when she first went public with her ex-boyfriend, who was white. She recalls that many people were disappointed she was dating a white guy and thinks this is because those people wanted their own fantasy for Laverne to be carried out in real life – i.e. wanting her to find her “Black King” or be with the kind of person they wanted her to be with. Laverne continues that it’s hard enough just to find someone you connect with, why would you limit your dating pool? And sometimes you have to be really open in that dating pool to find someone you actually vibe with on a spiritual level. As they say, LOVE IS LOVE.
(23:31) Laverne’s dating app strategy & a few words on genital preferences: In her own approach, Laverne says her profile was a full-on thirst trap – even though her pics had hookup vibes, she says she used these types of photos only to get the guy’s attention since men are more visual. And surprise, surprise… Men weren’t reading her bio.
She learned this very early on. Once she matched with someone, Laverne would ask the man three questions:
- “Did you read in my profile that I’m trans?”
- “Have you ever dated or had sex with a trans person before?”
- “If you’ve dated a trans person, did you introduce them to your family?”
Laverne explains that asking these questions upfront is all about eliminating the men that are going to have a problem dating a trans woman. It’s a safety precaution and saves time, so she doesn’t get too far down the line with someone before they find out she’s trans.
Laverne also adds that some trans women think it’s transphobic if a guy doesn’t accept whatever genitalia she has, but she doesn’t hold it against them. Laverne believes it’s okay and perfectly normal to have genital preferences, just like we would have preferences for anything else in dating. And while it is absolutely NEVER appropriate to ask about a trans person’s genitalia or surgical status in a general setting, Laverne feels that it’s a fair question in the dating game. She says, “I think it’s a waste of your time as a trans woman if a man has a preference for a certain kind of genitalia that you don’t have.”
(30:38) Your lack of boundaries is attracting the wrong people: Laverne recalls that when she was young, like many Trans girls in early transition, she desperately wanted to be seen as a woman. This created a lack of boundaries – since she wanted others to like her so badly, she would answer everyone’s questions about her body. But Laverne realized later that other people’s projections and thoughts about her transition are not her problem. Being trans is beautiful, and she doesn’t need to take on all that baggage. I think that the more you can share your authentic self and be transparent about what you want and who you are, the more you’re able to attract the right person
(35:12) Are you holding any limiting beliefs about dating?: Laverne describes how getting older has really made her confront the stories we tell ourselves about dating as a woman in her 40’s. She states that “ageism is a story that society has told women,” and a lot of women carry the belief that dating is hopeless once you turn 40. In Laverne’s case, once she embraced her age publicly, she was able to let go of the internalized shame around her age. In the end, finding love is all about shifting our belief systems and shifting our story of ourselves, so we don’t carry around all that negative stuff with us.
What do you do if you encounter someone who won’t date you because of your age? Shame is contagious so don’t waste your time and energy taking on other people’s shame about dating you.
(35:12) Be a Love Warrior: We should strive to be the embodiment of love, and move through the world that way. She believes that whether you have a relationship or not, walking around and existing in a state of love is what we’re here for. Laverne adds that when we can raise our vibrations to “just being love,” we draw love to us in return. So think about the things that bring you pleasure and a sense of love and magnify that, walk around in that.
Check out my interview on The Laverne Cox Show here! And be sure to follow Laverne on all her socials, @lavernecox.
DEAR DAMONA (44:41)
- Email from Amanda – Thank you for what you do and all the information you share. My bf and I recently broke up after 10 months. We’ve both considered trying again but I’m unsure. He’s a nice guy but I have struggled to feel comfortable in the relationship. He comes off as very stand-off-ish, and doesn’t show much facial expression or spontaneous physical affection. That being said he’s been supportive helping me through life transitions (I’m 32 and he is 40). I wonder if I may have overshared in the relationship. I talked about my PTSD and boundaries which made him uncomfortable and he has continued to make comments about how he can’t be himself around me due to my boundaries. This is a bummer because I wanted to be open and build my trust in him over time. In addition, we struggled to laugh together, only went on dates when I asked, and rarely snuggled up for a movie night despite me asking for that as well. My stress got so bad I finally needed to be on my own. Do you think it’s worth trying again, or am I better off taking some time and finding a relationship where I can be more authentic?
- Email from Bryant – Hi Damona. Hope you are well. I saw you on the Drew Barrymore show and I thought you would be a good person to ask this question. Do celebrities date regular people who are not in the business? If so, how would a normal professional man (me) ask a celebrity out on a date?