As I gazed into his eyes, I knew we were going to kiss. We had just spent a few hours together at a soccer game and suddenly, I saw the fireworks in the reflection of his glasses. It was that very moment when our lips connected that I had my first kiss with a man. I was 34 years old, an unusual age for a straight woman’s first kiss with a dude. I blame my own complicated sexuality as a transgender woman. Having exclusively dated women before, I found myself attracted to men only after my medical transition.

According to Debra W. Soh, a sexual neuroscientist and one of Playboy’s resident sexologists, sexuality flips like mine are common among trans women. “Research has shown that about one third of trans women will report a change in their sexual orientation throughout their lifetime, and flipping can happen for a number of reasons,” she says. Sexuality is fluid and there are myriad reasons and situations in which trans women may feel their attractions shifting. Soh continues, “For some people, a change can represent sexual interests that were there all along but only became fully realized upon transitioning. For others it may be the result of romantic opportunities becoming available that weren’t before, like someone whom you wouldn’t have previously considered asking you out.”

Given that it’s fairly common, fears of a sexuality flip are a frequent concern for trans people starting hormone replacement therapy, especially for those already married or in a committed relationship with a straight partner. When I began transitioning last year, my marriage disintegrated quickly. Not only was my wife straight, but she worried I’d be attracted to men after transitioning. In retrospect, she was right to worry.

There was always one impediment to me pursuing relationships with men: I had to be a woman first.

Hannah, a 60-year-old trans woman from the San Francisco Bay Area experienced her own shift in her sexuality. “I started being honest with myself about my sexuality when I began being honest about my gender identity,“ she says. "I was in deep denial about everything before that. It’s hard to tell looking back, but I think I was bisexual before, though when I felt attracted to a man, I had always denied it. I expected to still be attracted to women after transition, but that just faded away after a couple of years, and now I have zero interest [in women].”

This is the case for many trans people before transition, as the fog of gender dysphoria tends to dominate over our sexualities. Hannah continues, “I watched the boys and girls around me [in high school] and I felt like everyone else was tuned into a different radio station than me, one I couldn’t hear.”

Hannah’s experience closely matches my own when it comes to my sexuality. I was always secretly attracted to the idea of sleeping with men—my first orgasm was tied to the thought of it—but there was always an impediment to me pursuing relationships with men: I had to be a woman first. The thought of a man finding my male traits attractive made me too dysphoric to consider it. Soh offers insight into the mental dynamics in play when a transition unlocks a trans person’s full sexuality. “[Some trans women] will wait until they have started their transition. As sexual beings, we want our partners to see us the way we want to be seen, and in a situation where someone who is trans doesn’t feel this is the case, this can, needless to say, amplify feelings of dysphoria,” she says. My transition felt like a combination bike lock, my womanhood being the missing number that’d unlock my true sexuality. While Hannah and I seem to have been aware of our previous attraction to men, that isn’t always the case for women like us.

Erica Corbin, a transgender woman from Olympia, Washington, had always been attracted to women and never expected her sexuality to change in transition. “It was a huge surprise. Right up until it happened, I considered myself resolutely lesbian,” she says. For Corbin, it took one particular man asking her out for her to reconsider her sexual identity. “I thought about it hard. It wasn’t so much that I was attracted to him as a guy. My conclusion was that the fact that he was male wasn’t a good enough excuse to turn him down. So I said I’d try. That was almost two years ago.”

Lidice, a 21-year-old trans woman, watched her sexuality change ‘from gay boy to lesbian’ when she transitioned.

But for Corbin, learning to love the physical side of her relationship took time. “Neither of us expected a physical relationship. It wasn’t until two months later that anything physical happened, and even longer until we were able to have sex. I never wanted to be near a penis [before] and I never wanted anything in my ass. Now I’m really grabby and having him inside me is the best feeling ever. So uh, conversion process complete, I guess,” she says. Corbin’s story shows that there isn’t one size fits all when it comes to trans people who experience a shift in their sexualities.

Lidice, a 21-year-old trans woman from Barcelona, watched her sexuality change “from gay boy to lesbian” when she transitioned, which seems to be a rarer type of change. “I’ve always known that I was not 'the norm,’ but since I didn’t know much about the LGBT community or what a trans person was, I just assumed I was gay. It was the only option I knew alternative to being straight. Also, I’ve always liked people similar to me—someone I can identify with—and since I saw myself as a femme boy, I liked femme boys.”

Like the other women interviewed, Lidice didn’t believe her hormone treatment influenced her flip. “Yes, my sexuaity started changing when I started transitioning, but not specifically in a hormonal level,“ she says. "It started to change when I socially transitioned even before I started HRT. HRT changed how I process emotions, feelings, my sex drive and my sexual response—but it did not change who I’m attracted to.”

There seems to be an ongoing theme, then, when it comes to HRT and the sexualities of trans people: that HRT allows us to more fully grow into living as our true selves. Corbin noted that social stigma also plays a factor, especially for trans women. “Our society has a stereotype of the trans woman who is out to trick straight men, and they may be afraid of becoming that stereotype,” she says.

Above all else, trans people hope for more understanding from society at large when it comes to their sexualities. Hannah points out, “I wish cisgender people [or people whose gender identities matche their genders at birth] understood that trans people have the same broad spectrum of orientations and desires as cis people, and especially that trans women don’t transition because they’re really gay men who want to have access to straight men. I transitioned because the conflict between my internal experience of my gender and the way I lived in the world was crushing me.” She reiterates that her transition had nothing to do with sex. “I’d give up sex in a heartbeat to live as myself,” she says.

For many trans people, their transitions have hardened their original sexual attractions; for others, their transitions have allowed them to more fully explore their inner attractions. Trans people who experience a flip in their sexualities seem to be in the minority and trans people in general are more likely to be in the LGB spectrum than cis people are. It’s a common misconception that trans people transition in order to sleep with straight people of their sex assigned at birth. The combination of gender and sexuality is especially complex for transgender people, and we should be allowed to explore our true feelings without stigma or social pressure.