community

'Trans women and their partners are kept in the shadows' - Author Juno Dawson on finding love with boyfriend Max

"I was starting to wonder if girls such as me got any sort of happy ending."

2019-10-24

This article was first published in Attitude issue 311, Summer 2019

Words: Will Stroude / Interview: Thomas Stichbury

As transgender people continue to make their voices heard (much to the chagrin of Piers Morgan and his unpleasant ilk), conversations about trans dating and romance are finally starting to break free from the shadows.

Attitude columnist and author Juno Dawson, 37, rewrote her expectations for a fairytale romance a year ago, after meeting Max, 26, her boyfriend, who is in retail management.

The loved-up couple posed together on the cover of Attitude's 'Pride In Love' issue this summer, where they shed light on the (sometimes violent) stigma that trans people and their partners continue to face when it comes to their relationships and why, after decades of being fetishised by straight men, trans women are demanding more from life and love.

Photography: Francisco Gomez de Villaboa

How did you meet?

Both: Tinder!

J: I was open about the fact I was trans. I said I was a writer, that I liked books, films and cocktails, and that my dislikes were olives, mushrooms and intolerance. Then I said, “By the way, I’m trans, if you have a problem with that, swipe left.”

With a lot of guys, their opening gambit would be, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to fuck a trans woman.” What is the comeback to that other than: “That’s weird because my fantasy isn’t to be someone’s experiment.” 

Photography: Francisco Gomez de Villaboa

Were you jaded about the possibility of finding love before meeting Max?

J: I was starting to wonder if girls such as me got any sort of happy ending. I’d kind of made peace with that. I thought mine might be me, my dog and my friends, and that’s a really good ending.

I figured men wouldn’t be a big chapter in my life. Just as I was on the verge of tuning out, Max rocked up.

What do you love most about each other, and what are you particularly proud of the other for?

J: From day one, the fact that I’m transgender has never seemed to throw him off. I find myself saying: “If this was to happen, would you leave me for a cisgendered girl, or if that was to happen, would you leave me?” Max replies, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

In real life, you just don’t see trans women and their partners because we are kept in the shadows. The fact that Max has been by my side in broad daylight for a year and is willing to be on a front cover, well that’s above and beyond.

When I saw the portraits [of us] on the screen, it was amazing to see a trans woman in love on a magazine cover. Normally, we see shots of dead trans women.

M: I never had any experience with the trans community at large before Juno. What I feel most proud about is that she had the courage to take action and say: “This is how I want to live, this is how I want to be, this is who I am.”

Juno’s latest novel 'Meat Market' is out now.