OkCupid Part 2: Trans in the virtual world
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By Holly J. McDede with interviews by Vladimira Molcanova

Vladimira Molcanova, also known as PutinLad in the virtual world, is about to meet a woman from she met on OKcupid in a coffee shop. Vladimira has explained to Lilly, also known as LiamR1995, that it’s not a date. It’s an interview for a radio story. But Vladimira is still nervous.

“So I kind of felt weird for that of putting her in that position of it's not real and you know it,” Vladimira said.

Lilly is a trans woman from Great Yarmouth, and she said coming out on OKcupid opened up her dating options.

“Originally my OkCupid profile did just say male , because I was not comfortable with coming out on there, when I did, I noticed I got a lot more responses. I'm thinking, ‘Is that related to being trans?’” Lily said.

Thanks to new sexuality options that were introduced to OKcupid in 2013, those who use the site can now be genderqueer, agender, intersex, transgender, pangender, transmasculine, transfeminine and two spirit, among others Now, Lily can be open about who she is.

“It’s so much better now, there are so many sexuality options and it’s just nicer ,it feels better to be on there now,” Lily said.

That’s not all that Lilly’s honest about. Just so you know, Lily prefers overweight people. She thinks abused animals are worse than starving people. When OKcupid inquired, she admitted that she wasn’t happy with her life. She drinks frequently.

Unlike Beef Stock98 -- who Holly J McDede and Danielle Hancock dated in the first part of this series -- Lily is not trying to impress anyone with her OKcupid profile. She recalls meeting one of her dates for the first time.

“And then I met him and he was was nothing like his profile,” Lily said. “So I formed a connection with a fake you. It was an awful date.”

Vladimira is not new to the online dating scene, either. She met her first boyfriend in a chatroom. She was fifteen. He was eighteen. A year and a half later, they met in person. By then, they were already in love.

But relationship expert Barbarette Mortimer is skeptical.

“It can be that two people are communicating honestly. And it's great if that happens, but how many of us in any relationship get to know the other person until you've seen them a few times and get to know them properly?” Barbarette said.

She says that, nowadays, we live in a culture of instant gratification where people want love and they want love now. But once you do meet the person in real life, you’re back at square one again. And you still have to take the time to get to know the person all over again.

“The next part of the relationship, when you meet, how often you meet, how you get to know each other, is similar to once you meet somebody online. It's the initial meeting that's the significant difference,” Barbarette said.

When Vladimira met her online boyfriend, though, it was different. It was like they had known each other already.

“You can have feelings for people you haven't met. You can adore them. You can look up to them. And after you meet them, you just...I don't know, to a certain degree, but it's not like...love-love...like actually knowing each other,” Vladimira said.

Maybe they both just got lucky. Maybe they both knew what to expect. After the interview, Vladimira and Lilly hang around for awhile. They talk.

“We had the interview at the beginning of the date when we were still kind of strange to each other. After that, we were just talking and hanging around,” Vladimira said. “The more the date progressed the more it felt like a date. It felt like a date at the end of the day.”

Without a microphone in her face, Lily is back to her real self again. It starts to feel like a date. And even after the evening is over, Lily hasn’t given up on a more significant connection.

“She's been messaging me every day. We've been exchanging messages every day,” Vladimira said.

Sometimes profiles are misread. Sometimes profiles out right lie. Sometimes pictures are taken when the lighting is the best it’ll ever be. Sometimes dates feel like interviews. Sometimes interviews feel like dates. Sometimes, we introduce ourselves exactly as we are, and people still want more from us. Sometimes, we connect. Sometimes, we can’t.

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