1. Dating us doesn’t make you gay. Unless you’re a guy, of course! But ladies, if you’re attracted to men, fancying a trans guy doesn’t suddenly change your sexuality. It means you’re seeing them for the man that they are.
2. It isn’t the ‚best of both worlds‘. I’ve heard some girls say a trans man would be the perfect man because they can relate to women. Regardless of our bodies, in our heads we’ve never been female. If only I understood women as much as people may think I do!
3. We’re not all into girls. Some trans guys are into guys, or both. Some people struggle with this one but the thing to remember is your sexual orientation is a totally separate thing from your gender. It’s pretty simple, really!
4. We don’t all have surgery. Our bodies change on testosterone treatment to become more masculine. Sometimes that’s enough for a trans man to feel comfortable and surgery isn’t necessary.
5. We’re not all on hormones. Someone could be in the process of waiting to get on testosterone, or have their own reasons not to be on it. Sure, that makes a difference physically but it doesn’t make them any less of a guy!
6. Sex isn’t scary. It’s understandable to feel nervous before your first time with a trans guy… but then again it’s nerve-wracking with anyone for the first time! Everyone likes different things in the bedroom, regardless of being trans or not. Communication is key.
7. Don’t be ashamed. If we’re open about being trans, there’s no reason for you to hide it either. Obviously I don’t mean you need to shout it from the rooftops… but we want someone who supports our transition, not someone who is embarrassed of it.
8. We have insecurities. Going through the wrong puberty would give anyone certain body hangups. But then again, we all have our insecurities. It’s good to be open and honest with one another about what triggers them.
9. There are different kinds of lower surgery. Most people know about the phalloplasty – where a skin graft is used to create a penis. Many people are unaware that the clitoris grows into a small penis on testosterone, and there is a surgery that works to enhance what you have naturally, called the metoidioplasty. And there are different variations of both!
10. We’re not just trans. Being trans is just one small part of who we are. There are so many other aspects that are more important – our personalities, interests, sense of humour… first and foremost, we are human!
11. We have a sense of humour. I am really comfortable with myself as a guy, so I often joke about my transition with my girlfriend and friends. I’m always camping it up and am not afraid to be feminine! I can’t speak for everyone but I can tell you that being with a trans guy isn’t all about walking on egg shells.
12. We are pretty boring, really. Yeah, we aren’t anything exotic… being with a trans guy is really just like being with any guy. We are all different in our own way. We are all, simply, men.
Why (Some) Gay Men Won’t Date Transmen
When I read this comment I was reminded of the many social media posts I’ve read about discrimination against transgender people on gay men’s ‘dating’ apps. Some users block all transgender users in advance, refusing to consider them as romantic or sexual partners. Others use app filters to exclude transmen or state outright “no trans” in their profiles.
Alongside the high level of violence against trans peopledebate about when to disclose a transgender identity to prospective partners. In a dating app profile? During a first or second date? Only when a relationship gets serious or physical? There seems to be no perfect answer. All options entail risk.
So, when I read the above response, I was saddened. But I wasn’t exactly surprised.
I know some gay men are happy to consider transmen as possible romantic and sexual partners but they seem to be a minority. One 2018 study found only about 12% of gay men, 29% of lesbians, and 48% of bisexual/queer/non-binary people say they’d be willing to date a transgender partner. Even with those dismal numbers, transmen were seen more favorably than transwomen, even when that seemed to contradict a respondent’s sexual orientation (i.e. lesbians preferring transmen over transwomen as partners). The researchers attributed these results partly to “transphobia.”
Though gendered behaviors, identities, and appearances are highly regulated, the specifics of those regulations are rarely expressed directly. Rather, social norms regarding gender become known when they’re violated. It’s in the breach that many taken-for-granted social rules about gender are revealed.
One of those unspoken truths is the expectation that everyone’s gender presentation correspond to their biological sex. Over the course of our lives, most of us have relatively little access to the direct evidence of other people’s biological sex — their genitals, gonads, hormones, brain structure and function, and genetics.
Rather, we make assumptions about people’s sex on the basis of their outward appearance: their hairstyle, clothing, ornamentation, and secondary sex characteristics such as body hair and facial shape.
And in popular usage, “sex” is often just shorthand for a person’s genitals. If someone ‘looks like a man’ we assume they’re biologically male with male-typical genitals: a penis and testicles. But we usually never know if this assumption is accurate.
In this sense, gender has a recursive relationship to biological sex. Although many firmly believe gender presentation is the inevitable unfolding of biological sex, in daily interactions we make assumptions about a person’s sex solely on the basis of their gender presentation. Then we credit their gender presentation to their biological sex, much of which remains largely unseen.
This act— called “gender attribution” — is so unconscious and automatic, we don’t give it any thought. It’s part of the everyday, interactive social ‘theater’ in which in individual gendered identities are constructed within society — by individuals and all those around them.
Unless they’ve had genital reconstruction surgery (sometimes also called gender affirmation or gender confirmation surgery), transgender people break this fundamental social rule about gender. Transgender people are those whose gender identity and, often, gender presentation don’t align with what’s expected for the sex they were labeled at birth.
Though they were labeled female or male at birth, they’ve come to identify as, respectively, men or women, and may choose to present a gendered appearance that aligns with that identity. But they don’t (by definition) have a biological sex that matches their identity and appearance. Even if they alter their bodies through surgery or hormones, some aspects of biological sex, like genetics and certain secondary sex characteristics, cannot be willingly changed.
Transgender people — well, anyone really — can be in for a lot of grief when it’s clear their gender presentation doesn’t match their biological sex in ways their society expects. Due to certain secondary sex characteristics — ratio of hip to shoulder width, facial hair and shape, Adam’s apple, brow ridge, height, etc. — it’s potentially easier for transgender men (those labelled female at birth) to successfully present as men than for transgender women (those labelled male at birth) to successfully present as women — but not always.
Expectation of an agreement between gender presentation and biological sex is so socially and culturally freighted that those who appear to be playing a gendered social role they aren’t ‘entitled to’ by virtue of their birth sex are often viewed as engaging in a disturbing social transgression, if not outright fraud or deception.
Like all of us, transfolk were born into a society that demands sex-gender accord despite a mountain of historical and cross-cultural evidence indicating great variability in both human sex and gender. Our ideology has not kept up with knowledge about natural human variability. The conflict is between the truth of transgender existence and the social rule that treats that truth like a lie.
What binds gay men together as ‘a people’ is shared sexual attraction and desire for other men. Though some speak of “same-gender loving men,” rather than gay men or male homosexuals, it is undeniable that, while gay men’s gender presentations are varied, there is still an unspoken expectation by gay-identifying men that other gay men are biologically male.
More specifically, there is an expectation that gay men possess male-typical genitals — a penis and testicles — and some presence of male-typical secondary sex characteristics. At least in this one sense, gay male culture is deeply conservative. It presumes a correspondence between (gay men’s) gender presentation and their biological sex. That’s not precisely transphobic but it’s also not accepting of the fact that such correspondences are not the case for many transgender people.
Though anal sex is undoubtedly the quintessential Gay Sex Act in the ‘straight imaginary,’ the penis is actually a much more potent sexual symbol in gay male culture. The mythical presence of a large, attractive, fully functioning male sex organ that can become erect, penetrate orifices, and project copious amounts of semen upon orgasm is central to gay male sexual desire, sexual behavior, and cultural representations. In this, gay culture is intensely phallocentric. It’s a culture oriented around the penis and its cultural representations.
I also don’tt think it an exaggeration to claim that possession of, and desire for, male-typical bodies is at the center of gay male culture and the raison d’etre for most gay male social spaces and cultural practices. It is assumed but never explicitly stated that self-identified gay men — transgender, agender, genderqueer, cisgender, etc. — in predominantly-gay males spaces share this understanding.
For these reasons, it does not seem unreasonable to me that masculine- or male-presenting people in a gay bar or on a gay ‘dating’ app will be presumed to have male bodies with male-typical genitals. Those spaces have been created to facilitate social, romantic, and sexual connections between just such persons.
But also because they contradict the underlying rationale for gay men’s spaces: that they’re primarily organized for the benefit of those who possess and desire male-typical bodies. For both these reasons, when transmen ‘out’ themselves in those spaces, they can be received as fraudulent, deceptive, or ‘out of place’.
We also need to be honest: some of the rejection toward transmen is rooted in misogyny, often expressed as fear or revulsion towards female bodies, especially female genitals. This antipathy is captured in the concept of the “gold star gay”: a gay man who has never had sex with a woman. Which (inevitably) gave rise to the concept of “platinum star gays”: gold star gays born by caesarean section (thus, have never had contact with female genitals).
More broadly, gay men’s misogyny is reflected in the oft-observed “femme-phobia” and “bottom shaming” in gay men’s culture, where feminine gender presentations or sex-role positions are stigmatized or ridiculed. Because they are socialized as men in a patriarchal society, many gay men internalize the same beliefs about women and femininity that everyone else has. Being gay is no proof against sexism or misogyny, even though many gay men believe otherwise.
And that misogyny plays a role in the construction of gay men’s spaces, and rejection of transmen as romantic and sexual partners — because transmen are assumed to have female-typical bodies with female-typical genitals and gonads. Though not all transmen have female-typical bodies — especially if they’ve undergone surgical body modifications — they are born-female by definition.
The meaning of the term “transphobia” is in flux (see here for some examples). It can describe extreme, irrational fear, aversion, or hatred of transgender people, or broader societal structures within which transgender people are not viewed as valid or legitimate.
Given the long history of gender variability and non-conformity among gay men and the celebration of drag and other kinds of cross-dressing by gay men, I don’t think gay men’s rejections of transmen as partners is an expression of hatred or intolerance of transgender people. I also don’t feel there’s a widely held belief among gay men that transgender people are invalid or illegitimate — though discrimination against transfolk in gay spaces is often reported.
Though gay men do seem to uphold in the broader social expectation that gender presentation align with biological sex, it’s not as though that expectation was created by gay men or that they’re also not victimized by it (as in the case of stigma and violence against effeminate gay men).
Rather, I suspect any rejection is symptomatic of a wider expectation that gender presentation correspond to biological sex; a desire for bodies possessing male-typical traits; and unacknowledged sexism and misogyny among gay men. Moreover, partnering with a person possessing female-typical sexual and reproductive anatomy would be inconsistent with many gay men’s sexual desires and self-conceptions as gay men, and the purpose of most gay men’s social spaces.
That might help explain some of the fervor of some gay men’s exclusion of transmen as partners. How does it affect a gay man’s own sexual identity if he’s attracted to a masculine-presenting person having female-typical anatomy including genitals? Is he still gay? Or is he bisexual or heterosexual? But beyond that, romantic or sexual attraction to such partners can call into question a gay man’s eligibility to participate in gay men’s social spaces and the LGBTQ community more broadly.
The fragility of these identities and spaces makes them less resilient when confronted with challenges to their foundational logic: that gay men are romantically and sexually attracted to other men (and “man” means masculine-presenting persons with male-typical sexual anatomies).
All of which illuminates the situation Kaig Lightner describes in the comment that opened this piece: the sudden revelation of his transgender identity was likely profoundly disorienting for his dance partner, who walked away rather than attempt to re-evaluate his sexual identity and relationship to his own community in the middle of a gay bar’s dance floor.
No amount of education, awareness, or empathy for transgender people or their experiences is going to persuade some gay men to undertake that journey. Probably the best we can hope for is more kindness and grace in gay men’s rejections of those they don’t view as prospective partners — no matter their gender identity.
Michael J. Murphy, PhD, is Associate Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. He is the author of many book chapters, and encyclopedia and journal articles. Most recently, he edited Living Out Loud: An Introduction to LGBTQ History, Society, and [email protected]
As a bisexual trans man who passes, I deal with a lot of „surprise“ reactions from all sorts of people when I reveal my status. When it comes to sexual and romantic interactions — from dance parties to apps — a majority of the time I have to do a little trans 101. Cisgender gay men seem to lack an understanding of trans etiquette and manners.
Of course, I’ve dated a few lovely cis gay men, but 8 out of 10 times, our conversations lack dignity on their end. Here are eight outrageous things gay cis men say to trans men.
Red flag! This tells you everything you need to know about this guys‘ understanding of trans people. He’s obviously not taken any initiative to learn more about being transgender.
Are you intentionally misgendering me to hurt me, or has the gender binary severely affected your sight, brain and manners?
Really?! A boy like me? Well, interestingly enough I’m not a flavor of ice cream. I am a man with feelings, and more than a fetish for your entertainment.
Cisnormative standards of beauty are boring, ya’ll.
My dick is not a figment of my imagination. Last I checked, it worked fine. Sometimes it’s not very big and other times I have to strap it on, but it’s definitely real.
Oh, let me guess… you’re really curious about my genitalia. Surprise, surprise.
Transgender is not a category of music or a physical activity. It’s fine to have preferences but you just spoke to me as if I was an inanimate object. By the way, trans men or all trans people are not all the same. Ya know, we’re people.
Yeah. By what you just said, I can tell I am new territory to you. Don’t take this the wrong way but we’re not coming into physical contact … at all. Like, ever.
How to Date a Trans Guy
That Guy Kas gives us the DL on dating a trans guy.
For the same reasons he would date anyone: good chemistry. We will challenge you to be more communicative. For our own emotional and physical security, we will probably ask a lot of questions. And we will turn you into better listeners too.
Don’t fetishize us. It’s creepy, and it objectifies us. Approach your questions with more politeness than you normally would, even if you’re on a cruising app. Never open a conversation by asking:
• How long have you been on T?• Have you had / are you going to have / do you want surgery?• Do you have a dick? Can I see it?• Can you get pregnant?• What does your family think about you being trans?• Shouldn’t you be attracted to women?
Don’t assume anything. Trans guys’ identities and bodies change as we transition, and often so do our likes and dislikes. Like cis guys, we’re all different, and that’s part of the fun.
Most trans guys have not had any surgery to their lower half, and many of us are satisfied with our original plumbing. Some guys call their parts a “pussy.” Some use other terms, like “front hole.” But everyone’s different and these terms can be triggering. Taking testosterone causes the clitoris to grow, and so guys may call it different things, like “dick,” “dicklit,” and “boy cock.” Ask your partner how they refer to whatever parts they have — but wait until it’s relevant to bring it up.
This is a far more common procedure, but don’t assume that a guy has had surgery unless you see him shirtless. It’s a good idea to call it his “chest” and ask him what his boundaries are.
Trans guys can be any of these! Don’t assume that he is a bottom just because he has his original plumbing. He may enjoy using a strap-on with partners. Ask him what he enjoys. If he tells you he likes penetration, that gives you a clue. If he tells you he enjoys topping other guys — another clue!
Trans men with their original plumbing may be more susceptible to STIs than cisgender men who have anal sex. Front holes are temperamental and sensitive, so it’s really important for you to be mindful of your hygiene and to practice safe sex. Trans men may also be capable of getting pregnant, so make sure you protect yourself and your man.
Most of the gay dating and hookup apps have ways for trans people to make themselves known as trans (if they want to, of course) and also have ways to search for trans people. Scruff has better filtering options and is more user-friendly than the others. OkCupid and some of the other dating sites have these same options as well.
6 things trans men really wish you’d stop asking them
3 trans men answer these questions so you don’t have to ask them.
Thanks to incredible trans womenLaverne Cox, more and more people are feeling empowered to change their biological form to match their gender identity. But what is it like being (and dating as) a trans man? I chatted to pansexual, heterosexual trans male, Knon-binary, transmasculine person, Cas, to ask them what questions they’re constantly asked by cis people. FYI, these kinds of questions can be intrusive, offensive and disrespectful – so please, just don’t’ ask them.
Three Types of Guys I’ve Met Dating Online as a Single Trans Woman
Janelle Villapando has been swiping left and right for years and in that time, she’s noticed a few patterns among the men she meets
As a transgender woman, my relationship with online dating is complicated to say the least.
With my accounts on OkCupid, Tinder, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel and ChristianMingle, I am subjected to the same kind of messages from Mr. Washboard-Abs-No-Face and unsolicited dick pics that most women, unfortunately, receive. But searching for Mr. Right as a transgender woman (I was born male, but identify and present as female) adds a whole new dimension to digital dating.
Since transitioning in 2014, I haven’t reacted positively to guys who hit on me in person because I haven’t mastered the art of telling them that we have “the same parts.” For the past three years, Tinder has been my gateway into online dating as a transgender woman.
As a 22-year-old grad starting a career in fashion (and hopefully, one day, my own size-inclusive clothing line), I am drawn to guys who are funny and ambitious. There’s no bigger turn-off than someone who does the bare minimum—except maybe body odour. In terms of looks, I prefer taller guys. Being 5’9″, I still like to be able to look up to my man, literally. So, whenever I see 6’2″ or taller on a guy’s profile, it’s almost an automatic right swipe.
As a trans woman on dating apps, I’ve always made sure that guys are aware that I am transgender. This avoids wasting each other’s time. There have also been many documented cases of trans women being hurt and sometimes even killed when they disclose their status to transphobic men that found them attractive, so being completely transparent is also a way of protecting myself from potentially dangerous situations.
As I click, message and swipe through the world of online dating, I’ve quickly learned that there are at least three different types of guys: those who fetishize trans women, those who are curious but cautious, and those who simply don’t read. Unfortunately, these labels don’t appear on their profiles.
Why do men date a Transgender women?
Interest in dating Transgender women continues to increase. And increase. And increase….
And increase. And increase…. Honestly, even though we run a dating site dedicated to dating Transgender women, even we are at My Transgender Cupid are surprised by the huge upturn in numbers of men looking to date Trans women.
Sure, we all know that men have always dated Trans women but this previously was not so overt. Typically, dating a Trans woman was something to be kept to oneself. To be locked away in your personal memory bank and only revealed when and if someone else realized your date was Trans.
Things change. The world evolves. And people get more enlightened. And, hopefully, with such evolution and enlightenment, they get more aware. More aware of Transgender women and men. Less prejudiced against T-girls.
„I was shocked“: Here’s what it’s like dating as a trans-woman.
From the moment I placed myself into the dating world as a trans-woman I was shocked. Having previously lived as a gay man, I understood that a lot of men are hyper sexual beings especially in the superficial gay community.
It was strange, as previous to my transition I had many views of how dating as a woman would be. In my preconceived notions, I was right in many aspects and wrong in many others. Because of the social stigma attached to dating trans-women, I was taught that I should appreciate any attention that I got. I was always a little promiscuous in my early life, but transitioning at that time and having this search for acceptance amplified my sex addiction.
Being naive in my early transition, I didn’t really understand what being heavily objectified and fetishised felt like, but you start to notice patterns when a guy can only focus on your genitals in a conversation, you definitely know he doesn’t have the best intentions.
Typically, a conversation on any dating app would start off with stereotypical greetings followed by questions of my genitalia.
That needs to stop, and honestly, it’s very disheartening.
What is it like dating a trans man?
Jessenia Vice and Jaimie Wilson reveal what it’s like dating as a transgender man and cisgender woman.
Transgender singer and activist Jaimie Wilson and cisgender actress and presenter Jessenia Vice fell in love when Vice slid into Wilson’s Instagram DMs and he replied with his phone number.
The pair are now in a serious relationship and live together with their dog in New York.
Vice and Wilson want to show that relationships like theirs are normal and that dating a trans man is no different from dating a cisgender man.
Vice explains that dating Jaimie has been different but not because he is transgender.
“I think it’s mainly because of our connection, I think we share a lot as creators, as artists. Our feelings and our connection, it’s deep-rooted [more] than just the physical… and that’s great and different,” she says.
10 Things You Should Know Before Dating A Transgender Woman
The dating scene for transgender women offers a unique set of challenges that cisgender — someone whose gender identity matches their biological sex — women don’t have to deal with. Fetishization, discrimination, harassment, and even homicide aren’t unheard of for us, but it doesn’t have to be this way. In order to spare my fellow trans women from the often harsh reality of our attempts at finding love, I wish the people who dated us would keep these things in mind:
Save the Bedroom Talk For the Bedroom. Christine Jorgenson was a World War II veteran, but ask anyone familiar with Jorgenson and they’ll be surprised. No one knows anything about her other than the fact that she was the first trans woman to receive genital reconstruction surgery. The preoccupation with trans women’s genitals has been lengthy and disturbing. We’re tired of being objectified over what’s in our pants, and genital reconstruction surgery is often a deeply personal topic. Besides, should the topic of discussion on your first date really be a woman’s vag? Awkward. There’s a time and place for everything. Know when it’s appropriate or necessary.
The Best way to find an answer for your questions is a Google Search. If you treat the date like a dictionary, we’re probably already shuffling in our purse for our car keys and telling you we have to run to the bathroom. Know what trans means and don’t expect trans women to be your professor on gender studies, because who wants heavy discussions on a date when you could be drinking wine? I Googled everything I wanted to know as I came to terms with my gender identity, so spare the textbook talk with a Google search, a book, or an actual classroom. There are vast amounts of tools for knowledge — don’t be afraid to use them. In fact, consider being educated your responsibility.
Don’t Let Watching Sex Online Be Your Study Guide. The job market is a huge barrier for trans women and poverty is high among our demographic. In fact, a whopping 57 percent of trans people have faced some form of discrimination in the workplace. As a result, researchers say that trans women are the highest demographic to turn to the sex trade to find meaningful work. If nothing else, trans women in the adult sex movies and the sex trade remain a top-seller among straight men. According to the sex site P*rnhub, the “shemale” category ranks 22nd in most searched — that’s a lot of sex on the interent. Let’s not forget, however, that the adult sex movie industry is often unrealistic. Know what labels are respectful to us and which ones aren’t.
Backhanded Compliments Are Not Cute. “Wow, I would have never known you were a man — you look just like a woman!” or something similar isn’t a compliment — it’s just rude. The message that is being conveyed to trans women with this type of exchange is that we’re engaging in a form of trickery, a disguise to pass as something we’re not. As Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness put it: “I am a woman. I live my life as a woman and that’s how I should be perceived. I’m not passing as anything — I’m being. Being myself.”
We Didn’t Transition Just to Date Straight Men. This is a terrible yet too often perpetuated myth. Trans women don’t transition to fool straight men into sleeping with us. This disgusting form of ignorance has been sensationalized in both television and film. It’s one of the many reasons why I personally choose to openly state that I’m a trans woman on my tinder profile. And what about Trans lesbians? Trans women aren’t likely to change our sexual orientation after transitioning. Those of us who were attracted to women before transitioning are still likely to remain attracted to women. The numbers show that between 40 and 60 percent of trans women identify as bisexual or lesbian, so whether it’s men, women, both or none, we can date whoever we want.
Gender and Sexuality Are Two Different Things. Dating us doesn’t mean you’re gay. Dating us doesn’t even mean you have to be bisexual. If you’re attracted to trans women then you’re attracted to women. Trans women are women — end of story. Many people confuse gender and sex or don’t understand the difference between the two. Gender is fluid while sex is biological and rigid. Sexual orientation is shaped by your attraction to a person’s gender identity. If you’re a cis man or woman attracted to someone who’s trans, it doesn’t change your sexual identity.
We’re Not a Secret Society. When Tyga allegedly cheated on Kylie Jenner with trans model Mia Isabella, the media went crazy. Tyga’s sexual orientation was called into question and he was shamed by virtually the entirety of the hip hop community. Society shames men who are attracted to trans women by attacking their masculinity, labeling them as gay, or accusing them of having a fetish. Trans women are taught that we only deserve companionship through secrecy. Being open about your relationship with us conveys the message to society that we deserve to be seen. That trans visibility deserves a safe space to exist which can then foster easier acceptance from others.
You should treat Us with the Respect You Would Give Any Other Woman. One of my favorite interviews to date is when Janet Mock turned the tables on Fusion reporter Alicia Menendez, asking her the kind of inappropriate questions that Mock is constantly subjected to by interviewers. Menendez was overwhelmed with questions such as, “Do you have a vagina? Do you use tampons? When did you begin to feel your breasts budding?” If you find these questions alarming, take note that trans women are the subject of this type of questioning all the time. A rule of thumb to ask yourself is, “Would I ask or expect this of a cisgender woman?” If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t ask trans women either.
Dating a Trans Woman is a Catch. Did you know that trans women face some of the highest risks of becoming victims of domestic violence? An underlying issue is the idea that trans women have nowhere else to go, as if abusive men are the only ones who will ever truly love us. I’ve been a witness of too many trans women in abusive relationships at the hands of men. A common response when these women choose to leave them is, “Where will you go? Who’s going to be attracted to you like I am?” Don’t ever assume we’re below the bar. Know that you’re not the only fish in the sea. We have standards too.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and We’re No Exception. So take us to a movie, a concert — hell, even a rodeo. Being trans doesn’t mean we are miserable — we just want to have a good time like anybody else.
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Serena Sonoma Serena Sonoma is a transgender freelance journalist by way of Raleigh, North Carolina. She is a dog mother to two fur babies and a somewhat deranged fan of Game of Thrones.
New Research Shows a Vast Majority of Cis People Won’t Date Trans People
Considering the discrimination trans people face on a daily basis, it comes as no surprise that trans people are overlooked when it comes to dating. Two Canadian researchers recently asked almost 1000 cisgender folks if they would date a trans person in a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. This is the first study to ever attempt to quantify the extent of trans discrimination when it comes to romantic and sexual relationships.
958 participants (all but seven cisgender, ranging in age from 18 to 81, with an average age of 26) were asked to indicate which genders they would consider dating. The options included cisgender man, cisgender woman, trans man, trans woman, or genderqueer, and participants could select as many genders as they wanted.
Only 12% of all participants selected “trans woman” and/or “trans man.”
Those who would consider dating a trans person didn’t differ in race/ethnicity, but were somewhat older, more likely to hold a university degree, and, unsurprisingly, less likely to be religious than those who would not date a trans person. But some of the most striking differences were in regards to participants’ gender and sexual orientation.
Virtually all heterosexuals excluded trans folks from their dating pool: only 1.8% of straight women and 3.3% of straight men chose a trans person of either binary gender. But most non-heterosexuals weren’t down for dating a trans person either, with only 11.5% of gay men and 29% of lesbians being trans-inclusive in their dating preferences. Bisexual/queer/nonbinary participants (these were all combined into one group) were most open to having a trans partner, but even among them, almost half (48%) did not select either ‘trans man’ or ‘trans woman.’
Of the seven participants who themselves identified as transgender or nonbinary, 89% were willing to date another trans person.
Romantic relationships are one of the most important sources of social support for adults. The fact that most cis people would not consider trans people as potential dating partners is yet another serious risk factor for increased psychological and physical health problems among the trans population.
Surprisingly, among the 127 participants open to dating a trans person, almost half selected a trans person of a gender incongruent with their stated sexual orientation. For example, 50% of the trans-inclusive straight women and 28% of the trans-inclusive gay men were willing to date a trans woman, even though one wouldn’t expect either straight women or gay men to be attracted to women. Similarly, 50% of trans-inclusive straight men and 69% of trans-inclusive lesbians said they’d date a trans man, even though both groups are presumably only attracted to women. And 33% of the trans-inclusive bisexual/queer participants said they would only date a trans person of one gender but not the other, even though one may expect this group to be attracted to multiple genders.
Digging even deeper into the choices of cis folks willing to date trans people, an interesting pattern of discrimination against trans women in particular emerged among those who would be expected to be attracted to women: 28% of trans-inclusive bisexual/queer/nonbinary folks and 38% of trans-inclusive lesbians said they wouldn’t date a trans woman — only a trans man. There was no similar discrimination against trans men among those expected to be attracted to men: 0% of trans-inclusive gay men and only 5% of trans-inclusive bisexual/queer/nonbinary folks excluded trans men from their dating pool.
The high rates of trans exclusion from potential dating pools are undoubtedly due in part to cisnormativity, cissexism, and transphobia — all of which lead to lack of knowledge about transgender people and their bodies, discomfort with these unknowns, and fear of being discriminated against by proxy of one’s romantic partner. It is also possible that at least some of the trans exclusion is due to the fact that for some people, sexual orientation might be not (just) about a partner’s gender identity, but attraction to specific body types and/or judgment of reproductive capabilities.
Of course, this is just one study with a non-representative sample (participants were recruited using online advertisements, listserv messages, on-campus announcements, in-print magazine ads, snowballing methods, and invitations sent to previous study participants), so more research is needed to understand the extent of this form of trans exclusion and the reasons driving it.
But despite the limitations, these results clearly indicate that although the visibility of transgender people is on the rise, we still have a long way to go to reach trans equality.
them, a next-generation community platform, chronicles and celebrates the stories, people and voices that are emerging and inspiring all of us, ranging in topics from pop culture and style to politics and news, all through the lens of today’s LGBTQ community.
Navigating the dating world as a trans person
How can trans people best navigate the modern dating world? Finding love as a queer person is hard enough, throw gender identity on top of that and dating might seem impossible. The internet can be a refuge for finding community, but finding a dating community isn’t always the easiest or safest for trans people.
Most of my friends and I use dating apps to meet people, hook up, and date. There are many dating websites and apps that state that they are “LGBTQ friendly” but for the most part dating sites are more LGBQ friendly than trans friendly. I have read countless articles, internet comments, and profile messages from people who say, “I would never date a trans person.” In fact, only 16 to 18% of Americans say they would be willing to date someone who is transgender. Hearing about people being afraid of or not open to dating a trans person is just one reason why it is so hard to date as a trans person. And even though I have heard it many times before, it is still hard to confront.
I looked at eight popular dating sites to see which are the most gender inclusive. Most stick to the gender binary, forcing people to state that they are either male or female, with no other options. Some sites are more inclusive for cisgender gay or lesbian folks than bi+ folks, as they only list interested in only male or only female, without the option for selecting both. Some have a variety of sexualities to choose from, and some have a combination of options for gender and sexuality. I’ve found that OkCupid and Tinder are the most inclusive, having many options for sexualities and gender, especially transgender woman, man, non-binary and gender fluid.
Even once we have been able to select the appropriate identities for yourself and the people you are interested, many trans people still might feel obligated to disclose that they are transgender explicitly in their profiles or early in the conversation. But it often seems like the second you tell someone in the dating world that you are trans, their entire view of you changes. Sometimes, if you don’t come out to someone, they can make you feel like you lied by not disclosing. But if we tell the person on the other end that we are trans, the person may end the conversation in a huff. Either that, or they will fetichize our trans identity, saying something like ‘that’s hot,’ or ‘I’m usually not into trans people but I might like you.’ To be honest, all of those options make me want to run away.
Some trans folks might disclose that they are trans early in the conversation with someone they are interested in dating. Those that are comfortable enough to disclose this information might do so because they don’t want to get their hopes up only for rejection or possible violence if they meet up in person. There have been many instances in which I’ve neglected to disclose my gender identity until I was deep in conversation in someone, which made the person end the conversation and/ or say rude things. Sometimes I disclose my gender identity pretty early in the conversation and they stop messaging me immediately. Although disclosing trans identity in the beginning of a conversation early in the messaging process can be hard because people cut off contact, it’s safer in the long run.
Personally, I know that I am not ready to date yet. I am still in the middle of my coming out process and am focused on myself more than dating someone else. When I see a trans person that is dating and happy I get excited for them and for myself because I know how hard it is to find someone and feel comfortable. I also remember how lonely the single life can be when you are figuring out who you are and living through another heart-filled Valentine’s Day. Sometimes I wish I could have a relationship like the ones I see.
All trans people are worthy of love and affection. Hopefully we as a society will begin to see that trans people deserve love, just like anyone else. An important thing to remember though, is that patience is a virtue. Finding someone takes time and effort. And when I found someone who loves me for exactly who I am, as a trans person, I’ll know all the waiting has been worth it.
Is Refusing to Date Trans People Transphobic?
Dating, and finding the right person to be with is hard. It’s even harder when you’re transgender.
A 2018 study showed that only 1.8 percent of straight women and 3.3 percent of straight men would date a transgender person. A small minority of cisgender lesbians (29 percent) and gays (11.5 percent) would be willing. Bisexual/queer/nonbinary participants (these were all combined into one group) were most open to having a trans partner, but even among them, just a slim majority (52 percent) were open to dating a transgender person.
Right-wing (and anti-transgender) opinion outlets looked at the results of this study and concluded that of course no one wants to date transgender people, based on the assumption that people can tell if someone is transgender, and that as a result there will be no sexual attraction. However, this analysis fails based on several key facts. One is that there are transgender people who are very attractive by any conventional standard. Another is that, according to data provided by PornHub, the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of pornography, and trans porn is one of the most popular types.
In other words, you can’t always tell who is transgender, and a lot of Americans are sexually attracted to transgender men and women when they think no one is paying attention. However, the answer changes when they think someone is recording their answers.
In another study, 348 cisgender college students were shown pictures of 48 cisgender members of the opposite sex. Each picture was randomly assigned a fake biography, which included whether the person in the picture supposedly was transgender or cisgender. The college students were then asked to rate the attractiveness of the people in the pictures. The researchers found that participants were far less likely to find the people in the pictures attractive if they thought they were transgender.
The question that gets danced around, however, is: “Are all these numbers indicative of transphobia?” The answer, I believe, is clearly yes.
Before we dive into why these numbers reflect some combination of ignorance and transphobia, I want to get one point out of the way first: this article is not to suggest in any way, shape, or form that people “owe” transgender people dating opportunities or sex. It is to point out that flat rejection of any possibility of dating any transgender people is rooted in an irrational bias against transgender people themselves.
Much ignorance can be traced to the simple fact that only about 16 percent of Americans have a close friend or family member whom they know is transgender. As a result, all sorts of myths, misconceptions, and stereotypes about transgender people can become “truth” to people who don’t know anyone who is transgender.
Thus, there’s a lot to unpack in these numbers. One is the discrepancy between heterosexual and homosexual respondents. Straight people were much less likely to be willing to date a transgender person, and it is likely because they see it as a threat to their sexual orientation, i.e. that dating a transgender person would make them “gay” or “queer.” Lesbians and gays have less fear of such labels about their sexual orientation. The fear of being seen as gay would also help explain the results in the second study rating attractiveness using straight people as subjects.
Conversely, straight men are often deathly afraid of being seen as gay because they are attracted to a transgender woman. And TERFs — trans-exclusionary radical feminists — have even conflated being set up on a blind date with a transgender person with rape and sexual assault. Though, it does call into question whether they understand what a blind date is, you don’t have to have sex on a first date, and that the owners of the coffee shop where you’re having it generally frown on that sort of thing. Conversely, some gay men are afraid that dating a transgender man would call into question their “gold-star” status.
Another assumption inherent in these numbers is that transgender people have the “wrong” genitals, or that they aren’t functional. While it is true that most transgender people have not had “bottom” surgery, ruling out an entire class of people based on a false assumption (that all transgender women have a penis and all transgender men have a vagina) is discriminatory.
Which brings up the question: is it transphobic to have a genital preference? I would argue that it is not, using the sort of logic that would be used in legal circles. Namely, this rule can theoretically be applied neutrally across cisgender and transgender people. Thus, the rule of, “I am not attracted to people with a vagina” or, “I am not attracted to people with a penis” can be equally applied to both cisgender women and transgender men.
The legal realm also provides insight into whether a something is inherently transphobic in and of itself. There is a legal concept call the “but for test,” where but for a certain fact or action, something would not have happened. It is also referred to as the sine qua non rule, which means „without which not.“ In civil rights cases, this is a crucial test to see if individuals are being discriminated against.
For example, if a woman was fired for wearing pants to work instead of a dress, and her male co-workers wore similar pants, “but for” the fact that she was a woman, she would not have been fired, and this constitutes a clear case of sex discrimination.
Applying this concept using previous case law is illustrative. After Diane Schroer was offered a job at the Library of Congress, she came out to HR as transgender, and the job offer was withdrawn. The withdrawal was not based on her fitness for the job, but purely because she was transgender. But for the fact that she was transgender, the Library of Congress would not have withdrawn the offer, and this was clearly a case of discrimination based on transphobia.
Similarly, imagine a date that’s going well. There’s mutual physical attraction and definite chemistry. Then you find out they’re transgender via conversation (yes, everyone still has their clothes on), and end the date right then and there. But for the fact that the other person was transgender, this would have been a really good date, and you probably would have seen them again. This is discrimination against the transgender person for being transgender.
Obviously, this isn’t illegal, nor should it be. But, from a logical standpoint, yes, this is discriminatory and transphobic. Similarly, the belief that all transgender people are unattractive to you (when there are some undeniably very attractive ones), and that you could not have chemistry with them, or you religiously object to transgender people, and even when presented evidence to the contrary, is an expression of transphobia.
Finally, there’s the pretext of “I only date people I can have children with,” the implication being that procreation is more important than any other part of a relationship. This is generally something you hear from straight people (since lesbian and gay couples will need help with children regardless) and is generally just a cop out. At the same time, there are transgender people who have banked sperm or eggs prior to transition. There are transgender men who have carried their own children to term. But, when was the last time someone started a date with a demand that they provide a sperm count lab result anyway? Or made them fill out a questionnaire about the regularity of their menses?
Short version: they don’t. For cisgender people, the starting point of dating is attraction and chemistry. Sex, and procreation, generally don’t happen in the first hour of “Getting to know you” of coffee and chit-chat. Putting a different standard on transgender people to exclude them from the dating pool is an expression of bias based on false stereotypes, irrational beliefs, and fear.
There are conventionally attractive, intelligent, charming transgender people who can have children out there who are physically indistinguishable from their cisgender counterparts. Blanket refusals to even entertain the possibility of dating someone who is transgender is borne out of transphobia, just as “No Asians,” on gay dating apps is an expression of racism.
Ask JT! Am I Still Gay if the Man I’m Attracted to is Trans?
You’re a man that’s attracted to another man, CIS, so you can still check off the “G” box in the LGBT census report.
Sure, the man you’re into was born biologically female, but he was always a man in his soul, and as a gay man, you’re attracted to more than just his genitals – you’re attracted to his gender, which is male.
This can be confusing for some people, and I still dream of a day when people won’t get so uptight about labels, but this is one area where I think the LGBTQIA community is miles ahead of their non-ally straight peers. Because of all the letters in that acronym, we see humanity as a magnificent tapestry with many shades and hues, where words can have flexible definitions and those who don’t conform to a specific expectation are still granted their right to live how they feel is true to them.
Of course, not everyone in the LGBTQIA community is so open-minded, but that is our party line, and it’s a good one.
A gay doctor who likes to read fiction? Something tells me you won’t be single for long after you establish your practice. I can already hear the throbbing … let’s say hearts … of the other single gay men in your area right now.
To start off with, I’ll have to be honest and say you’ll be looking for a long time if you want to find romance, smut, drama, comedy, and adventure in one book. That’s a tall order, and I can’t even think of a “straight” book that has all that.
I have a few ideas of my own, but I also want to thank all my Twitter buddies who helped me out when I crowd-sourced this one.
First, I want to thank my new buddy, author KJ Charles, for being so helpful, and I also want to plug his book (which is getting killer reviews on GoodReads), The Magpie Lord, which has comedy, adventure, and two smoking hot male main characters. So it hits a lot of items on your list, Doc.
KJ recommended some great reads: by Harper Fox, Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall, and the Jordan L Hawk. All solid reads with queer leads.
@rjmedwed reminded me that Christopher Rice’s books are must-haves. I particularly liked his first outing, . Real good, with a huge cast. Not much humor, but adventure and sexy-time.
The Honesty Blog recommended Jamie O’Neill’s At Swim, Two Boys, and @allanj69 mentioned Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series, as well as Jordan Castillo Price’s .
Sultry diva Liz pointed outJosh Lanyon’s Moriarty & Holmes series, and really, all of his stuff has smut, romance, and adventure. And John got all high-brow on us and recommended The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal, which is really an essential read for gay men.
And finally, Mattie B cemented what I was going to say, which is by the late Perry Moore is a good win if you’re into YA.
To add to the list, I’d recommend some work by good friends of mine: Brent Hartinger’s entire catalogue (and definitely start with his classic The Geography Club, now a movie!), Michael Jensen’s sexy historical novels Desmond and Vampire in SurburbiaFearless and Exiled to Iowa. Send Help. And Couture.
And if any readers have books they’d recommend, sound off in the comments!
From books to movies? Okay, let’s see what’s out there.
First, the movie you’re contractually obligated to watch: Brokeback Mountain. It has its critics, but this is the movie that hits you so hard, you don’t even realize it. Most people I’ve spoken with have said the first viewing of the movie didn’t leave them with the feelings they expected, but then as they thought about it over the next few days, the effect finally hit them and stayed there. Brilliant performances from Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and of course the greatly-missed Heath Ledger.
Another Gay Movie is practically a straight-up (gay-up?) spoof of American Pie, so I’m not sure how that would fare with someone who was in kindergarten when Pie came out, but it’s a cute movie. Skip the abysmal sequel, though.
Camp is a fun, light-hearted, musicals-infused teen comedy, so I’d give that one a go. And Jeffrey is a great time-capsule of what it was like to be gay and living in New York in the early 90’s.
If you have the stomach for horror movies, Hellbent is probably one of the best gay horror movies out there. And the love interest is crazy sexy.
One movie you should really check out, though, is Shelter, which is unfortunately not on Netflix streaming, but it’s such a great, understated, mellow gay love story, and has my favorite final shot of any gay movie out there.
What It’s Like To Date Online As A Trans Person
Let’s be real: If you aren’t on dating apps, you’re going to have a very hard time finding someone to love (or hook up with).
Unfortunately, the apps aren’t the most welcoming place for trans men and women. Mainstream apps like Tinder, Grindr and OkCupid have been slow to recognize the needs of their trans users. It wasn’t until 2016 that Tinder made it possible for users to specify gender identities like “transgender,” “trans man,” “trans woman” and “gender queer.”
Apps that do cater to trans men and women leave a lot to desired; Transdr, one of the better-known apps, has been called a multiple derogatory terms in both advertisements for the app and on the app itself.
And even if you do find a match on an app, dating IRL can pose very real threats. Though roughly 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender, there’s still a widespread lack of understanding of trans issues among the general public. And sadly, transphobia is on the rise; 2017 was the deadliest year for transgender people, with at least 28 deaths tracked by the Human Rights Campaign.
There are bright spots, though: The creators of @_personals_, an Instagram account for lesbian, queer, transgender, and non-binary people looking for love via an old-school classifieds approach, are currently crowdfunding in the hopes of building an app. And in September, OkCupid became the first mainstream dating app to add a dedicated space on profiles for the LGBTQ+ community to state their pronouns.
To get a better understanding of what it’s like out there, below, we talk to three trans men and women about their dating life, how they stay optimistic and what dating apps need to do to become more inclusive.
What it’s like to date as a transgender woman
Robyn Chauvin was certain: It was a date. She’d asked her companion out to dinner. They were eating at a nice restaurant. Then, she says, halfway through, her dining partner dropped a bomb.
She asked me in the middle of the meal, ‘Well, what kind of woman would date you?’”
“That one hurt,” Chauvin admits. The pain was more acute because this was her first foray into dating after she’d fully transitioned.
At the time, Chauvin was a transgender woman in her early 40s. The year was 2000 and the times were different. The world hadn’t yet welcomed Caitlyn Jenner or Laverne Cox. Today, Chauvin is 65, and courtship hasn’t gotten any simpler.
The best dating apps for gay users, since meeting people IRL is hellish
Most people have at least one horror story about online dating. It’s a rite of passage that single people love to hate.
But the horror stories look a little different for members of the LGBTQ community. On top of the classic awkward Hinge date anecdotes and screenshots of a corny bio seeping with secondhand embarrassment, gay singles deal with all sorts of alienating interactions. Baseless questioning of sexual history, harassment, and fetishization — most of it coming from cis straight people who shouldn’t have popped up in your feed in the first place — don’t exactly give one butterflies.
Still, dating apps have become crucial means of introduction for gay folks looking to settle down. A 2019 Stanford study and 2020 Pew Research survey found that meeting online has become the most popular way for U.S. couples to connect — especially for gay couples, of which 28% met their current partner online (versus 11% of straight couples).
But the Pew survey also dredged up those ugly experiences with harassment. This could be where options that bar heterosexual users, like HER and Grindr, come in. Their perfectly-tailored environments are so well-known in the gay community that they’re essentially in a league of their own.
That’s not to say that they’re in the queer dating app market alone. Apps like Zoe, Taimi, and Scruff exist. But their plateauing popularity can be attributed to similar complaints: too many scam profiles and too few legitimate users (ones within a reasonable distance to plan a date, anyway). Chappy was a promising app for gay men that shut down just as it was gaining serious traction.
And at the end of the day, „everyone“ apps are simply where masses of queer users are. Keeping Tinder on the back burner isn’t just a straight people thing, especially for those who live in less-populated areas where Grindr and HER have slim pickings. Plus, some mainstream apps do deserve credit for the steps they’ve taken to create a more inclusive atmosphere. Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge now offer lots of sexual orientation and gender identity options. OkCupid gets kudos for making that change years ago, as well as making social justice a core part of compatibility scoring — which kind of self-curates the type of people on the app.
If you’re LGBTQ and hate leaving your home, you’re not alone. Here are the best dating apps and sites that’ll maximize your opportunities while minimizing your human contact. Bless. (For the best dating apps specifically for lesbians, go here.)
How to Date a Transgender Person
This article was co-authored by Paul Chernyak, LPC. Paul Chernyak is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Chicago. He graduated from the American School of Professional Psychology in 2011. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 73,639 times.
For the most part, dating someone who is transgender is like dating anybody else. However, if you are cisgender (not transgender) and it’s your first time dating somebody who is trans, you may want to keep a few things in mind. Think about why you want to date them. If the answer is anything other than because you genuinely like them and want to get to know them better, consider whether your reasoning is a healthy basis for a relationship. Be sensitive when asking personal questions about your date’s body or history. Focus on getting to know them as a person. Most importantly, listen to them: your date will be able to guide you better than anyone else.
The guy who can’t handle that I am trans
After one too many encounters with men who were fetishizing me, I started to spend time on guys who actually wanted to get to know me. These are men who find me attractive, but are initially hesitant because of my trans-ness. With these men, I went on dates in public at the movies, or a chill restaurant, and I was viewed as more than a new sexual experience—but I don’t think I was seen as potential relationship material either. One guy in particular seemed to really like me. We vibed well and there was sexual tension building during our dates. Then poof, he was gone. After a month, he reached out to me saying he couldn’t be with me because I am transgender. He was concerned about how his sexuality would “change.”
I had another similar experience on a first date where a man greeted me, hugged me, then said he left something in his car. After a couple of minutes, I got a text from him while waiting alone at our table that said he had to leave because my transgender status was giving him anxiety. After that, I stopped chasing guys who were too concerned about their feelings to even think about mine. Red flags like continually postponing dates and constantly asking, “When are you getting the surgery?” helped me whittle down the number of guys I talked to by half.
The guy who ignores the (not-so) fine print
Thanks to Tinder, profile pictures say more than a thousand words—and actual words seem to be irrelevant on our profiles. While most people only consider the profile pic before swiping right or left, for me, the text on my profile is crucial. Even since Tinder introduced more genders to choose from than just the binary male and female, it doesn’t show your gender on the swiping screen. I get plenty of matches on Tinder, but within 24 hours around half of them un-match or block me after reading my profile. Whenever I do start talking to guys who “stick around,” I make sure that they know I am transgender before meeting them.
However, I recently went on a date with a guy who was tall, handsome, funny and had his shit (relatively) together. We met in the late afternoon and enjoyed our frozen yogurt in perfect patio weather. It was going really well! At the end of the date, our first kiss quickly turned into a handsy makeout session in the backseat of my car. Before it went further, I did my routine check of asking, “You know I’m transgender right?” expecting he was going to say yes and carry on. Instead, he looked at me with a blank face.
He started yelling that I never told him. I responded saying it was all over my OkCupid profile, which it turns out he never read. He said, “I’m bouncing; that’s f-cked up,” and jumped out of the car, spat on the ground, slammed the car door and walked away. I sat in the back seat of my car in complete shock.
In that moment, I was mostly concerned about my safety. I stayed in my back seat for probably five minutes to make sure he was gone. When I got back into the front seat to drive home, I still felt uneasy. What if he’s still around? What if he’s going to try to hurt me?
I touched up my makeup, reapplied my lipstick and put the car in drive. Once I got out of the area I started processing what had happened. I knew that it was all going too well for him to even be interested in me. Until that awkward moment, I thought, “Is this how easy dating could be if I were a cisgender woman?” I had gone from the girl that my date was kissing to someone he found disgusting all because of a single word: transgender.
Relationship status: single, but cautious
Not all guys I’ve talked to fall into these three categories. I’ve gone on dates with guys who seem to be genuinely into me and are accepting of my trans identity, but there’s no magical combination of spark, chemistry and attraction.
I seem to only be attracted to guys who are no good for me—and I know that I’m not the only woman, trans or not, who feels that way. Since that incident with the guy in my car, I’ve slowed down my activity on dating apps. I thought about deleting all my dating apps, but it’s still my main way of meeting guys. Plus, what if the perfect guy slides into my DM, right? I haven’t lost hope, and my friends continue to encourage me. If I had a dime for every time someone said that I’ll find love when I least expect it, I’d be driving a hot pink Bugatti right now (all white interior, please). If that’s truly the case, I hope he’s 6’4″ and messages me with a cheesy pick-up line.
The way the world looks at dating Trans women has changed
It’s not that difficult to understand the reasons for the changes in social attitudes. The internet and the various social media channels have played an immense role in bringing new knowledge about dating Trans women to the forefront of society. People see things they have never seen. People start getting interested in matters outside of the constraints of the two most well-known genders, male and female. Suddenly, everyone is talking about gender being non-binary. About people who are gender fluid. As well as finally accepting that gender and sexuality is not the same. At last!
Awareness brings with it greater public visibility of Transgender women. Nowadays you can see Trans women on TV shoes, in films and on chat shows; in public forums and running for political office; or on the board or at senior management levels in publicly listed company. Transgender women are following very much the same path to acceptance as gay men and women followed all those years ago. It just seems to be taking that much longer.
This greater visibility brings tolerance to start and, hopefully, acceptance over the slightly longer-term. No longer is a Trans woman seemingly out of place. No longer are the overt stares and glances as common as before. There’s also legal protection of sorts in place about discrimination against Transgender woman and provision of equal opportunities. Just two efforts promulgated by governments to encourage a recognition of diversity of gender.
And, so, we conclude the first part of the reasoning as to why more and more men are dating Transgender women. But, of course, there’s more to the answer than awareness and visibility.
Laura* and Oli* have been together for two and a half years and are getting married next summer. Like all couples they’ve had their ups and downs, but being in a trans relationship brings its own unique complications…
When Laura first met her boyfriend Oli she had no idea the well-dressed guy she’d been eyeing up from across their seminar room was trans.
‚I actually assumed Oli was a gay, cis [non-trans] man, so I was delighted [when I found out] he was straight!‘ she says. ‚I added him on Facebook that evening, and realised he was trans; I’d had no idea. But once I got my head round the idea I wasn’t fazed at all.‘
Now 22 and 24, Laura and Oli have been together for two and a half years and are getting married next summer after the final stage of Oli’s genital reassignment surgery. Like all couples, they’ve had their fair share of ups and downs, but being in a trans relationship brings its own unique complications.
‚When it came to us actually getting together, she had no idea what to expect in terms of my body,‘ Oli says. ‚She knew I was on testosterone, but I avoided going into detail by never wearing less than a T-shirt and boxers around her, and just focusing on her sexually.‘
For Laura, sex with Oli was a revelation. ‚It was completely different to any other relationship I’d been in before – but not for the reasons you might expect. He was the first partner I ever had who really put my enjoyment first.‘
She adds: ‚I literally had never even had a boyfriend who went down on me, and I was shocked to learn that I could actually orgasm with a partner too!‘
When Oli eventually felt comfortable revealing all, they were both pretty anxious. ‚I kept thinking „she won’t see me as a man anymore and she’ll leave me“,‘ Oli says, while Laura was just terrified she wouldn’t know what to do. She needn’t have been.
‚Without being too explicit about Oli’s junk,‘ she giggles, ‚let’s just say that hormones change things a lot down there, and I had no problem transferring my previously acquired skills!‘
Testosterone treatment, Oli explains, causes what used to be the clitoris to grow into a small penis – and he remembers feeling relieved when Laura’s reaction was „oh, it’s just a tiny dick! I know what to do with this.“ ‚It’s not usually what a guy wants to hear from his girlfriend,‘ he laughs, ‚but in my case it was a huge relief.‘
After the initial awkwardness, their sex life went into overdrive – possibly helped by the early stages of Oli’s testosterone treatment giving him the sex drive of ‚a typical teenage boy‘.
Two and a half years on though, they say sex is now far less regular: ‚My discomfort and distress at having the wrong genitals [known as gender dysphoria] has become worse and worse,‘ Oli explains.
‚I’m having my first stage of lower [genital] surgery next month, and the closer it gets, the worse I feel about what I currently have. Thanks to testosterone and chest surgery, the rest of my body is now so ‚male‘ – I have a flat chest, I’m really hairy, I have facial hair, more muscle mass, and then there’s this one vital area that hasn’t caught up yet.‘
He adds: ‚I know Laura thinks I’m desirable as I am, but it’s very difficult to want and enjoy sex when you have the wrong genitalia.‘
For Laura, Oli turning down sex was initially really difficult. ‚He can be relatively closed about his dysphoria, so my self-esteem took a bit of a blow. We did get better at communicating about it eventually, after a couple of sob-fests from me,‘ she says.
‚As a partner, it’s very hard to know what to do when your other half has to interrupt sex because they feel so distressed and alienated by their own body,‘ she adds.
‚It’s really difficult to comfort them about something that’s so impossible to get away from, and that you’ll never fully understand or experience. When it’s really bad, he can’t talk, move or be touched, and I just have to put some pants on and give him the space and support he needs.‘
But sex isn’t the most difficult part of being with a trans guy; for Laura, it’s been other people’s reactions. Early on in the relationship, she faced ignorant and intrusive questions from friends, relatives, and even acquaintances, wanting to know ’so are you a lesbian now?‘ and ‚what does he have down there?‘
‚Our relationship is constantly under scrutiny,‘ she says. ‚Friends and family do perhaps take us more seriously as a straight couple since Oli had surgery, but it’s unfortunate that trans people are held to such high standards of presenting as their true gender.‘
Despite the ongoing wait for lower surgery, Oli’s chest surgery last year was a major bonding period for them as a couple. ‚I’m a lot more cuddly with Laura now I don’t have this ‚danger zone‘ on my torso. It’s absolutely wonderful to have her fall asleep on my chest,‘ he says.
Laura agrees: ‚He seems more himself, and our physical intimacy has definitely improved. I do quietly hope that once Oli’s had lower surgery our sex life will have a bit of a revival, but I definitely feel more secure and comfortable in our relationship now than ever,‘ she says. ‚Plus we’re probably more productive now we can keep our hands off each other for longer than ten minutes!‘
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Coming out to Jessenia Vice’s parents
One of the hardest things Vice and Wilson had to go through as a couple was coming out to Vice’s parents.
Vice’s mother wasn’t sure what being transgender meant. “I had to explain in full depth what it all meant and then she respected the fact that this was still the same person she had initially met months and months and months prior,” explains Jessenia.
Wilson no longer has a close relationship with his family since coming out as transgender when he was 19 years old. He was kicked out of his parents’ house and forced to fend for himself. As a result, for Wilson, being accepted by Vice’s family makes all the difference.
Pictured: Alex Cheves
In time, she softened. She said hey to me. Then she graduated and disappeared. A few years later, I learned that she transitioned. Dae found his truth, came out as transgender and found his queer family in a city not far from there. We are still friends today. While our journeys are different, we both more or less found the things we needed — the right words to call ourselves, the chosen families we belonged in — at the same time. Dae has become a remarkably handsome man, and in many ways, he was my first sign that others were out there — back when I simply knew I was „other“ and that was all I had.
Other sexy trans men came later — casual hookups and kinky playmates — who taught me some of my most important lessons about being queer. Here are some of them.
2. Don’t assume anyone is straight because of how their gender is presented.
When we talk about gay and bi men, that includes gay and bi trans men, too. Assuming anyone is straight because of how their gender is presented is an unhealthy hetero projection — one we don’t need.
My ability to detect whether or not someone is gay or bi (what some call gaydar) is faulty, so unless I meet someone on a sex app or at a queer-heavy bar, I face the task of expressing interest and seeing if they’re interested back. Thankfully, hookup apps usually do the work for me. If you meet an out trans man on an app like Grindr or Scruff, it’s safe to bet he’s interested in other men.
5. Everyone has different words for their body parts. Ask what his are.
I told him that when I get in submissive headspace, I like when guys call my hole a pussy or cunt. I also know some cis gay guys who hate the word „cock“ and bristle at its use. Everyone has words they prefer, and those words may change depending on the kind of sex they’re having or who they’re with. Some trans men say „vagina,“ others say „front hole“ and „back hole.“ By asking for his words, you’re getting the language you need to talk about sex.
7. Don’t know how to break the ice? Ask what he’s into.
You know the common Grindr script: Sup? Looking? Into? These days, guys seem to dislike one-word messages because they’re economical and efficient and no one likes to be reminded of how they’re one of many options. But you are — everyone is. Maybe it’s brisk and to-the-point, but I ask „Into?“ almost immediately. Someone can reply with what sex role they like, list their kinks, or say they’re looking for love. At least two men have listed their hanky code colors, which I appreciated.
If you’re gay or bi, a trans gay/bi man is likely into many of the same things you are. Start there. This is the same script you’d use to flirt with anyone because trans men are men.