A year ago, Cassandra Heart would have been lucky to get one match per week on her Tinder profile.
But since becoming a woman, the 30-year-old has been inundated with messages, and has racked up a staggering 1,700 matches in just nine months.
Cassandra, who is in an open relationship with wife Leah, says, “It’s a huge confidence boost to know that so many people are swiping right for me.
“I’ve been on dates with people across the LGBTQA+ spectrum – including straight men – and I’m open about the fact that I’m trans.
“I didn’t think I was bad looking as a man, but now I love what I see in the mirror.
“I failed on Tinder as a man, but now 1,700 people want to date me!”
Cassandra used to be a man called Dustin ©SWNS
Cassandra has known she was trans for as long as she can remember, but only came out in July 2019. She explains, “I was five years old when I heard someone on the news talking about a sex change.
“I asked my parents what that meant, and when they explained it to me, I remember thinking I wanted that to happen to me some day.
“Growing up, I had mainly female friends, and I loved playing with dolls. I always fought against the typical gender norms – I’d wear flamboyant outfits, and my first mobile phone was hot pink.
“A lot of people assumed I was gay, and when I was 20, I came out as bisexual – which wasn’t a surprise to anyone. My parents, friends and family were all really accepting.”
As Dustin, she didn’t have much luck with online dating ©SWNS
But Cassandra, who was then a man named Dustin, was hiding the fact that she was transgender.
She says, “I met my wife, Leah, who is also bisexual, in 2013. But even then, I kept my true identity a secret. But it took its toll on me mentally, and I would drink a lot.
“Leah and I had always had an open relationship, so I had a Tinder profile, but I would hardly get any matches.
“Over the course of two years, I got about 60. I think people could tell how miserable I was.
“Finally, in 2018, Leah encouraged me to stop drinking. After I became sober, I started to think about what had driven me to drink – and that’s when I knew I had to be truthful about who I was.”
Cassandra now ©SWNS
Cassandra, who lives in Seattle, Washington, then came out to her wife.
She recalls, “When I told Leah, she accepted me 100 per cent. As we’re both bisexual, we didn’t have to worry about her not being attracted to me as a woman. She wasn’t angry at me for keeping a secret, instead, she said it made a lot of sense.
“I’ve always loved drag, and I’d pick a female costume every Halloween. I’d even moan to Leah that it was unfair that guys couldn’t wear make-up. I think on some level she already knew.”
After coming out to her family and work colleagues, Cassandra changed her name and began dressing as a woman every day. Then, in September 2019, she started taking hormones.
She remembers, “For me, transitioning has been amazing – I know I’m very lucky. My family were so supportive, and when I told my mum that I’d chosen the name Cassandra, she said that was the name she’d planned to call me if I’d been born female.
“I noticed changes in my body pretty quickly. I developed breasts within a few months, and I lost muscle mass, meaning I had a more womanly shape.
“Leah and I went shopping and I got a whole new wardrobe, it was so much fun.”
In January this year, Cassandra set up her new Tinder profile as a woman.
WATCH: ‘I was the queen of getting told off’: Paige and Finn expose their Love Island Secrets
Real life: ‘My gastric band ruined my life’
Super-slimmer gran: ‘I lost 4st and dumped my partner for a toyboy’
Burns survivor: ‘I hid my scars for 45 years – now I love my body’
She says, “I know some trans people who have had bad experiences on dating apps – people can be very unkind. And I’d been unlucky as a guy, so I didn’t have high hopes.
“But as soon as I set up my new profile, I was getting matches every day. I made it clear that I was trans in my profile, as I think it’s better to be open, but it hasn’t stopped people swiping for me.
“It’s nerve-wracking presenting yourself to the world as a different gender than the one you were born, so it’s a confidence boost to know that so many people like the way I look.
“I know women tend to do better on apps than guys, but I think the fact that I’m so much happier now must come across online.
“Now, I’ve been on dates with straight men, gay and bi men, and gay women, too. And I love sex as a woman – I’m not sure why, but it’s 1,000 times better.
“There is no jealousy between Leah and I – we communicate well and she’s just really happy for me.”
Now, Cassandra is looking to the future. She says, “Next year, I hope to have gender reassignment surgery, which I know is risky, but I’m really excited about it.
“The past couple of years have been amazing – I don’t have any regrets.”
Get the most inspiring real life stories in Closer magazine each week.