FAQ: Gay Men and Gay FtMs Redux

Alright, this post is one of the most popular pages on here, but it’s a bit outdated so I’ve decided to write a new one. Let’s start with the basics: what is a gay FtM? In this case I’m using it to mean trans men (however you want to define that) who are attracted to men, including cis men. There are plenty of trans men who are attracted to other trans men without being attracted to cis men, but this isn’t going to focus on them. For many of us the bigger question is whether or not a cis guy will ever be willing to date/sleep with us. The answer is…it’s complicated. It depends on a variety of factors that I’m going to try to cover here. This is all based on my own experiences in various cities and countries at different stages of transition. Like everything on this site, your experiences may be different. Yay for diversity.

  1. Perceived gender. The ‘perceived’ part of this is important. I know, you’re a guy.  That’s great.  That doesn’t matter if no one else can see it.  If you go to a gay club or group or event and all anyone sees is a straight woman or lesbian you’re not going to have much luck.  Why?  Gay men are (get this) attracted to men.  If they don’t know you’re a man they’re probably not going to be attracted to you.  Are there exceptions to this?  Yeah, of course.  I know I dated gay cis guys before coming out, some of whom knew I was a girl and others who didn’t, but that’s fairly uncommon.  It also tends to cause issues as the guys question their sexuality.  So if you’re no-ho or pre-T or early-T or whatever don’t expect to pull at a night club.  Coming out to a group of guys and then eventually dating one of them?  Bit more likely.  The random, anonymous sex bit is harder to do when not passing though.
  2. Perceived gender expression.  Again, ‘perceived’ is important.  If you’re like most trans guys chances are you’ve vastly overestimated how effeminate you are.  Here’s a hint: if you prefer a lumberjack look most guys will consider you butch.  They don’t know about your My Little Pony collection or ballet training.  Even if they did, they may not consider that enough to override the flannel and cargo jeans.  Consider it a bonus, effeminate guys of any orientation or genital configuration tend to have a harder time finding dates/sex.  Sissyphobia is still alive and well in the world, including the gay community.  Biggest difference between you and a cis guy here is that you’ll probably get at least one variation on “why didn’t you just stay a girl?”  Yes, it sucks.  No, chances are you won’t be alone forever.  It just makes everything a little more difficult.
  3. Age.  The world has changed a lot in recent years.  There’s more knowledge of trans guys, including gay ones, than ever before.  We’ve been on the news, in TV shows, and in gay men’s publications.  Sometimes this is useful, it means we have less educating to do.  It can also be a problem when guys think they know everything already.  I’ve found the younger a guy is the more likely he is to be open to the idea of dating/sleeping with a trans guy.  It’s not a 100% thing, but in general younger guys don’t have all the “oh crap, they’re trying to make me straight” hangups older guys do (for good reason) and tend to know at least enough to not think you’re a drag king or something.  That doesn’t mean go for 18 year olds if you’re 40 or something (that tends to not go well regardless of genitalia), but keep it in mind when deciding how to go about coming out.
  4. Subcommunity.  I will never understand why this is, but bears and leather daddies have always been the nicest, most accepting guys I meet.  If I was into them I’d totally be having more sex right now.  If gay trans guys blogging about their sexual experiences are any indication, they’re also pretty open to trans guys in their community.  I wouldn’t know, it’s not my thing.  Go you if it’s yours though.
  5. Preferred ‘type’.  This goes in combination with your own perceived gender expression.  Guys who are perceived as neutral or masculine tend to be able to go for anyone they want.  Guys who are perceived as effeminate get strange looks when we’re attracted to other effeminate guys (exception being hipster effeminate).  It’s stupid and heterocentric, but that’s the way things are for now.  It is entirely possible to be an effeminate guy who is into other effeminate guys and still find sex/dates, it’s just another thing that’s a bit more difficult to navigate.  It also seems to be getting easier as time goes on which is nice.  Just be prepared for straight people constantly asking “so who’s the girl?”
  6. Sexual preferences.  This is in combination with all of the above.  Guy who’s read as a feminine straight girl and is into effeminate guys and really wants front hole sex is going to have more trouble than a masculine, passing guy into neutral guys who hates anyone going near his vagina.  In my experience if you’re effeminate the assumption is you like stuff up your ass so if you prefer strapping one on you’re going to have to say that.  Only not in those words, they’re likely to make people think “lesbian”.  Which brings in the next factor.
  7. Language and how you try to pull.  Guys, this isn’t straight girl flirting.  Being coy is more likely to turn other guys off than get you laid.  Spend a few weeks just watching gay guys interact without trying to get any.  Learn what the cues are and how they’re different from whatever messages you’ve internalised.  Then go practice without expecting to actually succeed.  Be prepared in case you do of course, but don’t be too disappointed if you don’t.  It takes a while, even for cis guys.  Unless you are exceptionally hot you’re going to have to work at it a bit.  Everyone does.  Only difference is that you also have to find a good way to come out.
  8. Confidence.  This is probably the one I’ve seen guys (cis and trans) have the most trouble with.  Remember what you learned in middle school?  That idea that no one wants to be with someone who doesn’t like themself?  It’s true.  If you walk around with body language that says “I’m so disgusting, no one will ever love me” then chances are no one will.  I know, that sounds harsh.  Unfortunately, the world at large is not going to accommodate your self-esteem issues.  If you don’t believe that you’re hot then fake it.  Stand in front of a mirror and pretend you are the hottest guy in the world.  You will feel like a moron at first because it’s just an awkward thing to do, but eventually you’ll get over it.  Keep doing that until it feels natural.  While you’re doing that work on your actual confidence. Find a good therapist, start volunteering, whatever works.  You will be amazed at how big a difference being comfortable with yourself makes.
  9. Sociability.  I want to make something clear: you do not have to be a club kid.  You don’t even really have to be all that outgoing.  If you don’t like partying or going out with large groups then don’t do it.  Honestly, why would you want to attract someone who’s into that if you don’t want to participate in it?  However, I keep seeing trans guys sitting on their computers all day and whining that they’re not getting laid.  Well no shit!  You’re not even trying.  Get up off your ass and go meet people.  Sign up for Match.com for all I care, just don’t expect the universe to send you a boyfriend via FedEx.

…I wanted to make this an even 10, but that’s all I can come up with right now.  Really guys, there are a wide variety of factors that play into whether or not you’ll get laid.  Some of them are related to being trans and some of them aren’t.  Just get out there and start trying.  Be prepared for disappointments, everyone experiences them.  Don’t let fear hold you back though.  Only person that’s hurting is yourself.

Trans Pride vs Gay Pride

I am not at all a poster child for trans pride.  I take no joy in the fact that I am trans, at best I consider it a kind of annoying condition that allows me a different view of the world than most people.

However, I have an incredible amount of gay pride.  My selection of gay pride t-shirts is ridiculous enough to need a rotation because they don’t all fit in my closet, damned near everything I own has a rainbow sticker or button on it, and I spend quite a bit of my free time working with *gay youth.

What’s the difference?  I think it’s a combination of things.  First off, there has never been a time in my life where being trans has felt like a positive thing.  I don’t subscribe to the gender binary smashing ideology so for me being trans is most often a pain in the ass.  Being gay isn’t always a picnic, but the bad times are at least balanced out by the good.  Yes, I may be assaulted for no reason other than my rainbow scarf.  I also get to experience that kind of giddy feeling when I’m first interested in a guy and all of the fun that is going to a truck stop diner with fifty other gay men in various levels of drag.

Which leads into the second reason: community.  I don’t feel any connection to the trans community.  I interact with it because I want other guys to know that there is more than one way to be a man, but if I were to stop tomorrow I wouldn’t miss it.  Part of this is due to ideological differences, but most of it is because I honestly don’t view being trans as an important part of my identity.  Clearly this is not the case with my sexuality.  I can’t really say for sure why other than that being gay plays into my day to day life far more than being trans.

People don’t know I’m trans.  I’ve reached a point where the things that used to scream “look, you’re different!” at me (bathrooms, packing, swimming, etc.) are so instinctive that I don’t think about them unless I’m having a particularly bad day.  Everyone knows I’m gay.  The woman working the register at the grocery store at least assumes I’m gay even if she doesn’t know for sure.  I could try to mask it, but I’d only be hurting myself.  So I get daily reminders of my sexuality in the form of whispers and odd looks and the occasional yelled taunt.  I also get the “family” looks and knowing smiles and sometimes a flirtatious gesture or two.

It helps that I choose to express my sexuality in a certain way.  I don’t have to be effeminate.  I don’t have to get involved with gay organisations.  I don’t even have to go to gay clubs.  If it really bothered me I could change.  The thing is, I don’t want to.  I did straight drag for a while when I first came out.  It sucked.  I made the conscious decision to say fuck what people think, I’m going to be who I want.

I didn’t get that option with trans.  It was either transition or kill myself.  People say “oh, you don’t have to physically transition, you can learn to live with your body,” but they don’t know what it’s like to wake up every day and wonder who that person in the mirror is.  I didn’t choose to start T because I wanted the changes, I chose to start T because my brain already viewed myself as having those changes and not having the visual image match up with the mental one was driving me slowly insane.  I never once got a choice in the matter.  Not if I wanted to continue being alive (which, admittedly, is not always as clear as it should be).

That’s not to say I’m not proud of what I’ve accomplished since coming out.  I am incredibly proud of what I’ve done and the person I’ve become while also dealing with depression and dysphoria.  However, that is pride in myself, not pride in the conditions.

*I also work with trans youth, but that’s more rare.

Guest Post: How I Figured Out I Was Trans, the short version

When people ask me how I knew I was trans, I often don’t know where to start.  There were all sorts of signs that I was trans throughout my childhood, but being as this was before the internet, I had no idea that transitioning was a possibility.  Like many trans people, it wasn’t one thing that let me know I was trans, it was a thousand tiny things that piled up into a narrative.  Eight years after transitioning, I still have moments when I remember tidbits from my life that confirm my transness.  These tiny moments didn’t make sense at the time, but in hindsight I can see what they meant.

Some trans people talk about being in the wrong body and some talk about not liking their social role.  For me, it was a strange combination that led me to transition.  The biggest thing, the one that trans people don’t like to talk about, is sex.  Yes, sex – I figured out that I was trans through having sex.  It started in the summer of 2000.  I was a junior in college and had just started dating a older man (lol, he was only 26, but it felt like a huge difference at the time).  The sex was great in the beginning, as I had gone a long time without any sexual contact due to my extreme studiousness and shyness.  After a month though, the sex turned bad; I felt locked up, stoic and frigid.

Being the perfectionist that I was, I spent days poring over sex books to figure out what I was doing wrong.  Convinced that I just wasn’t doing it right, I made it my goal to explore sex like I never had before.  I watched porn, bought toys, went to the strip club, read erotica, subscribed to Abercrombie & Fitch’s catalogue (my first softcore gay porn!), but nothing helped consistently.  I started to think it was physical, so I went to the doctor’s – nothing wrong there.  I practiced kegels, read up on kama sutra and tantric sex, tried the positions with my boyfriend, all to no avail.  Slowly sex became a chore that I loathed doing – a fact that is depressing as hell when you’re horny.  The only thing that helped was having sex right after waking up.  Curious, I started a dream journal.

One afternoon, I was waking up from a short nap in which I hazily remember having sex with a man.  Normally, this would have just been considered a good use of daylight hours, but this time I had a penis and I was the one penetrating him.  The dream was so vivid, so electric, that I thought about it for months, totally confused as to why I would have a dream like this.  It didn’t make any sense.  I tried to put it out of my mind, but a big part of me liked it so much, I started to have this dream every night.

After a few months of this, I furiously started researching the internets.  I came across a picture of a masculine presenting female-assigned trans person.  Floored, intrigued, excited and scared, I slowly I came to accept that my dream was telling me something important and that the only way I would figure it out was to break up with my boyfriend and explore my sexuality with other people.  Three months later, I chopped my hair off, graduated from college and somehow became convinced that I should start my experiments with women.

When graduate school started in the fall, I started dating another grad student – a woman.  My goal was to somehow embody my dream, to somehow feel male, so dating a woman seemed like the natural thing to do and I went with it.  At first it was new and exciting, just like my last relationship, but after a month of sex in which I never took off my clothes, I got bored and anxious.   I also felt like a fraud cause she thought I was a lesbian, but making her come did absolutely nothing for me.  After five months of exploring sex (including BDSM lite) with her, I took to the internet once more.

This time, thankfully, I came across a message board full of queer and trans people.  I spent months reading the archives, searching for some truth that mirrored my own.  I stopped having sex again, started to obsessively study myself in the mirror and make myself as masculine-looking as possible.  I lifted weights every day, starved myself, started shopping in the men’s side of the store and, most importantly, I started having the special dreams again, except this time they were more explicit and longer.  Jolting energy spilt through my penis, like I’d imagine a cis guy would feel and it was very unlike the orgasms and feel of vaginal sex.  I had a masculine chest, fur, fuzz on my face and I found myself furiously sucking my imaginary partner’s cock like I never had in real life.

Up until this point, it had never occurred to me that gay trans men existed.  In my dreams, I was a man having sex with a man, but acknowledging this out loud to other people scared the shit out of me.  So I continued on my quest to look more masculine while entertaining the possibility of sex with lesbians who digged people like me.   Convinced that I was disgusting, not worth dating and certainly not sexy, the attention and ego boost were nice.   I had some odd encounters with lesbians, but the spark wasn’t there.  I felt mostly dead down there when it came to having sex with women.

Slowly my dreams became more elaborate and I started wondering what else was possible.  Just going to a gay porn website was enough to make me start shaking and sweating at this point.  It felt forbidden and wrong.  It took me a full year of thinking before I finally downloaded some gay porn.  At first, I was confused.  I mean, I had sex with plenty guys growing up and I’d seen plenty of penises, but seeing gay porn for the first time made me feel completely ignorant of male sexuality.  I watched the twinks giving each other blowjobs, examining their bodies and noticing how skinny and smooth they looked.  Then one of them starting topping the other and my mouth literally gaped open – I thought “that’s exactly what my dream was like!!!”.  A part of me didn’t want to watch anymore (they weren’t my type and they looked rather sickly), but I couldn’t look away – it was calling my name.   Scared to death that I was really a gay man, I told myself that it wasn’t my cup of tea and that perhaps I was into the type of sex that has never existed in real life.

Meanwhile, I took steps to start testosterone therapy for my physical transition and graduated from college.  I moved to a new town and met some gay men for the first time in my life at age 23.  This is when my life started – I’m not exaggerating.  My new role as a man was being accepted rather easily with the help of testosterone-induced masculinization, a very trans-friendly community and top surgery, but making that step into gayhood became some sort of looming monster.  The closer I became with one of my gay friends, the more apparent my sexuality became to others, the more I couldn’t ignore the truth.  I finally came out, which surprised no one (apparently I make a rather fey man).  In less than a week after coming out, I was making my privates hurt from the constant masturbation from just the release of finally accepting myself.  Soon, I went after the real thing and for the first time in my life, my sexuality felt easy, not forced.  I no longer had to get in the perfect position, think of England, or imagine I was somewhere else.  I could be in my body and feel the electricity and most importantly I could share it with someone else, like humans were meant to do.

This isn’t to say that my sex life is easy and that I have no issues.  When I’m with a cis guy, I immediately feel less than a man – how do you come to terms that someone ran off with your penis before you born and not feel inadequate?  A lot of times, men aren’t interested in having sex with me once they know I’m trans.  On the street, if you saw me you’d never know that my package was manufactured at some plant in China.  Naked, well, you’d be really dense not to notice that my penis is quite small, much like an overgrown clit (testosterone makes it grow, a lot) and that I can’t fuck you with it.   Some don’t care that I have a vagina and some really like it.  I try to tell myself that being trans is like being short – it’s much harder to find people that are into you, but it’s not impossible.  Sometimes, my lack of a penis keeps me from cruising for a date.

Those times I’ve had sex with men who didn’t care, who fucked me all night (yes, I’m a bottom), who either didn’t notice or didn’t care that they had the only penis in the room when there were usually two, have given me years of contentment.  I was a gay man with them, just like any other guy and we enjoyed each other’s bodies like gay men tend to do.  I’ll never forget those times when I could forget that I was born female.  Like the dreams that started it all, they are seared into my brain and they make me feel alive even when I’m alone for yet another saturday night.

I may not make sense to you.  That’s alright.  It took me years for me to make sense of myself.  But I do exist – I’m not weird, or disgusting…. I’m just gay and male and trans.  For a few years I lived my life as a straight women, but not since my first gay sexual experience have I felt any longing for my former life or like I could just turn back.

You’ll never know what it’s like to be trans (unless you are actually trans) and that you’ll never know what it’s like to be a gay trans man (unless you are one), but that doesn’t mean you can’t accept it.   This is me.  I am gay and I am a man.  Take my word for it, otherwise I’ll have to bore you with more details of my mostly uninteresting life and then you’ll be really sorry you asked because you couldn’t understand.

Kian currently lives in NH with his two cats. He would be wicked excited if he didn’t have to move to a ginormous city to the south in order to have a fulfulling sex life (he’ll miss the snow and the ice-skating too much.) He can be reached at kian217 at gmail dot com if you’re interested in conversation, an argument or in sending a nicely worded hate letter.

Requisite disclaimer: All opinions expressed in guest posts are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NotAiden.

Dating and Transphobia

“Is it transphobic to not date a trans person?”

I’m actually surprised it took this long for this question to come up.  It’s common enough, but also far more complicated than people tend to think.  So much depends on why you won’t date a trans person.  I’m gonna use the gay male angle for this because that’s what I know, but the answers are all pretty much the same.

There’s the “but I’m gay!” response.  Yeah, that one’s transphobic.  Why?  Because it says that trans men are really women.  It once again reduces us to what may or may not be in our pants.  Guess what?  Trans men are men.  Dating us doesn’t make you any less gay, it just makes you less of a douche.

Also in here is the “I don’t go for twat” excuse.  I’m always torn on whether or not this one’s transphobic by itself because, y’know what?  I don’t really like it either.  I have no issues sucking a trans guy’s dick, but the second he expects me to go slightly further south I get kind of nauseous.  It’s all…wet and squishy and I swear to god the last time I tried it almost ate my finger.  Thing is, not all trans guys are into that anyway.  *Assuming we are is a more subtle way of putting us back into the “woman” box.  So while the lack of desire to fuck a vagina isn’t necessarily transphobic, the jump from that to turning down all trans guys everywhere is.

After those two we start getting into more subtle distinctions.  It’s pretty common for early/pre-T guys to be turned down because they don’t pass.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell you if that’s transphobic or not.  I tend to lean toward no because you can’t help who you’re visually attracted to.  I like my guys pretty and twinkish so I don’t really notice, but if you’re into bears then a pre-T guy isn’t gonna do it for you and I can understand that.

There’s also the issue of identity.  Being seen as half of a straight couple can be disturbing, any trans guy who’s experienced dysphoria over that should understand.  Cis guys can have the same issue.  Even if they don’t see us as women the issue of the general public doing so is sometimes a dealbreaker.  It’s related to the early/pre-T issue in that most guys pass this phase after being on T for a while, but with a slightly different reason.  Sure, it’s showing cis-privilege, but I’m still far more accepting of this one than most others.  After all, I get how irritating it is for the world to see you as someone you’re not.  Why would I try to subject someone else to it?

What it comes down to is treating us like individuals rather than some monolithic entity.  Turning down all trans guys?  Transphobic, even if you don’t mean to be.  Turning down specific trans guys for specific reasons?  Not transphobic.  There are some fine lines that can be hard to figure out, but for the most part if you’d date Kaiden even though you don’t like Jayden you’re probably good.

*Not trying to say that guys who like front penetration aren’t guys or anything, it’s just the underlying sentiment people who use that excuse tend to have.

Why cis men like trans men

Someone seriously asked me this question the other day.  Honestly, I was kind of surprised.  Partially because I haven’t been randomly asked a trans question since my early coming out days and partially because I’d never really thought about it before.  It’s an interesting question though, and one that could be reassuring to guys who aren’t sure they’ll ever be able to find anyone so I asked a bunch of old dates.  Left out casual sex partners for this one because I tend to think of hook ups in a different category from dating, but if anyone wants those answers there are a few close, but not romantically involved guys I could ask.

Note that this is an entirely unscientific survey.  There’s not nearly enough racial diversity to be comprehensive (I have a thing for blue eyed blonds) and I tend to have fairly long term relationships so there weren’t that many guys.  Most are guys I went out with a few times and then switched to being friends with either due to lack of personal chemistry or things like distance, work schedules, or existing partner(s) comfort.  All are on the more effeminate end of the spectrum.  All could be classed as poly, though not everyone would identify as such and only a handful were in active relationships at the time we started dating.  All are openly gay (and most couldn’t be closeted if they tried).  All have dated both cis and trans men.  For some I was the first trans guy they dated.  There are no exclusive tops.  It’s definitely not a representative sample.

What it came down to were two major things, only one of which actually has to do with being trans.

1: The same exact reasons they’re attracted to cis men.  This was overwhelmingly the most common response.  Every single guy I asked said some variation of this.  Issue is that it’s entirely due to the selection.  I don’t date guys who think of trans guys as a separate category of men.  If the guys asked were exclusively into trans guys I’m sure the answers would be different (and more varied).

2: After a bit of insisting most guys came up with the ability to adjust dick size.  I kind of half way wish I was kidding.  It’s a joke I’ve made more than a few times myself, but I was never serious.  It was something I told myself when I was feeling crappy about that whole having a vagina thing, a sort of consolation prize.  Hearing it from other people makes me slightly uncomfortable.  Not because it’s a bad point, it’s actually rather positive.  It’s just a personal reaction to the reality of being trans.  Of course, this is another one with selection issues.  I don’t really get much from bottoming so my dick (flesh or otherwise) becomes a bit more important than it would be if I dated guys who really liked to top.

One other thing that came up a couple of times was how a slightly lowered STD risk was a bit of an added perk.  I’m not sure how comfortable I am with considering that a true advantage just because so much of it depends on sexual practices.  I’m a bit of a safe sex nazi, had a bad HIV scare right when I was coming out so I keep my risk levels as low as possible without being celibate.  Someone with different habits (both in terms of sexual activity and protection use) would have different risk levels.  Sure, getting fucked by a condom covered dildo is less likely to result in STD transmission than a bare cock, but an ass is an ass and if you put your uncovered dick into one it doesn’t matter if it belongs to a trans guy or a cis guy.

Exactly one guy said he loved that I’m short because he’d never dated a guy he could swap clothes with before.  Seeing as how not all trans guys are as freakishly tiny as I am, I don’t think this one is particularly helpful.  Still, it’s kind of nice to know that being small is sometimes a good thing.

So really the reasons to like a trans guy are the same as the reasons to like a cis guy: entirely individual.  Personally, I like it that way.  It means that guys who view their maleness as different from that of cis men can go hang with the cis guys who feel similarly while I can stay over in my space with the cis guys who think of me as one of them, just with a vaguely interesting medical condition.

Seriously boys, not everyone who turns you down is transphobic

So I went out last night.  It’s not something I do very often these days, work has me busy and I did not inherit the Latino dance gene, but a friend was visiting from out of town so I figured why not.

Apparently pushy little hipster queens were why not.  Don’t get me wrong, the kid was cute, I just wasn’t really looking for a hook up even if he had been my type.  After about 20 minutes of rejecting the guy (I have to admit, that takes decent balls) he shouts “why don’t you fags ever like trannies?!”

Now, I’ve had some interesting things shouted at me over the course of my life.  That was quite possibly the most amusing.  I feel kind of bad because I started laughing and probably turned what was already embarrassing into one of those horror stories we all have from early transition, but it was just so funny.

Let that be a lesson to all of you newly passing guys: don’t assume you’re being rejected for being trans.  Actually, let’s start with don’t insist on pursuing a guy after he explicitly says ‘no’.  Remember high school and “no means no”?  It applies to gay guys too.  I know, there’s all that talk about gay guys being promiscuous and constantly horny.  Often I am horny, that doesn’t mean I want to sleep with everything that moves.  At least, not anymore.  Trust me, you don’t want to be lumped in with the guys I slept with during the early-T days.  They were often unwashed.

As for the trans thing, sometimes a guy just isn’t interested.  We’re allowed to not be interested, you don’t get a free pass on fucking everyone you want just because you’re trans.  Sure, sometimes it is transphobia.  Sometimes guys are assholes.  However, when you’ve been ignored even before you’ve come out you need to assume that it’s something other than transphobia.  Kid could’ve had the world’s biggest penis and I still wouldn’t have been interested.  Why?  Because hipsters aren’t really my type, I like my guys to at least pretend they’re legal, and I was going home with a good friend who also happens to be an amazingly talented bottom.  No guy was getting my attention that night, trans, cis, or otherwise.  Maybe Chris Colfer or Nicky Byrne — and even they would have had to have wanted to join in.

Reclaimation and “faggot”

When I was coming out “transfag” and “trannyfag” were fairly common terms to throw around.  “Trannyfag” has slowed down a bit (largely due to trans women correctly pointing out that you can’t reclaim a word that isn’t generally used to describe you), but “transfag” still exists — though it’s shifted meaning a few times.  I don’t particularly like either term, but I understand the desire to find something, anything, that correctly describes who you are so I go with them.

However, I am sickened beyond explanation by the sudden rise of trans guys calling themselves “faggots”.  With all due respect to the guys who are just coming out, you’re a bunch of morons if you think that sort of crap is going to get you anywhere.

Notice that passing guys and cis guys rarely even use “fag” as an identifier — and when we do it’s in very limited contexts.  “Faggot” is not the gay man version of “dyke”, there’s no real debate over whether or not it should be reclaimed.  It’s more synonymous with “paki” than “JAP” (Jewish, not Asian).

What’s even more irritating is that most of the guys deciding to “reclaim” the word have never been called it.  Just like with “tranny”, you don’t get to reclaim this one.  Until you’ve felt the intense fear that grips you when some stranger yells “faggot” at you in the street you don’t have anything to reclaim.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t get it at first.  I knew better than to use it because I grew up with gay guys, but I didn’t really see how it was that different from “fag” or “queer”.  Then I got bashed.  Yeah, the guys who beat me up yelled “fag” and “queer” a few times, but what really got them going was “faggot”.

There is a difference.  It’s only three letters, but it’s huge.  Learn that now, from me, a random guy on the internet.  Otherwise you’ll end up having to learn from a bunch of thugs pounding it into your face.

Clearing up a few posts

I’ve been getting quite a few hits on posts that I’m not sure fully express how I feel any more.  They probably need updated, but I’m in the middle of a bit of a perspective change so I can’t quite find the right words.  In any case, I feel it’s important to mention that the following posts are no longer an accurate representation of my feelings and are in need of further clarification:

Issues with Social Genderqueer – This one I think is largely people jumping on one line and missing the entire point of the rest of the post, but that says quite a bit about my ability to clearly articulate the idea I was going for.

FAQ: Gay Men & FtMs – Oh man, was I bitter when I wrote this.  Serious breakup combined with a string of trans-related rejections combined with living in an area where all of the local gay men knew and slept with each other, I was not a happy queen.  It could use a non-bittered update now that I’m in a new area and no longer as bitchy and frustrated.

…And that’s actually it so far.  There may be more lurking back there, but no one’s reading them so I don’t really care :P

Guest Post: Advice to newly out gay trans men

Three gay FTM old-timers have gathered the following tips that might help you to become part of the gay community.

Personality and Dress

  • While you may feel the need to play with your masculinity and put on personas while you figure things out, please use an editing eye. For instance, say you like having a big bulge. Instead of going for the biggest one in the store, take it back a notch and get a medium-sized one to start. Same goes with other things like mannerisms. Perhaps you still sing-song like a typical woman and you’d like to start “speaking like a man”. Well, you could make your voice super monotonous and lacking of any emotion (how boring!), or you could find a balance between expressing yourself and embodying a stereotype of a man. You get to choose, so do it wisely.
  • If you must wear baggy clothes to feel comfortable during the early stages of transition, please do not continue after starting T. Your body shape will change, the hips will disappear (for the most part) and guys pants will start to fit well. This is when you need to update your wardrobe. This ties into learning to feel right in your body after so many years of hating it, so you must unlearn your old habits of dress. Start watching how men wear their clothes – you’ll start to see that looking like a 15 year old boy isn’t really that attractive. Find your own style.
  • Don’t use gay men as something of a guinea pig for your experiments with masculinity. While it is ok to be adventurous and curious about sex, it is not ok to be so while looking down on or being disgusted by the people that you date.
  • Don’t become a caricature of a gay man. You are not required to swish, squeal, giggle and wiggle but if you do, just make it your own and not copy your mannerisms from other people. Be natural and let the gay man inside come out but don’t force it.
  • You will try things on that don’t fit and some that do. If you’ve tried X and you find you don’t like it, then don’t do it, regardless of how many trans men have told you that you must do X in order to pass. If you like Y and every trans man you’ve met has told you to never do Y in order to pass, then keep doing it. Courage of conviction is a must when you are in the early stages – you must stick to your guns and believe you are who you say you are despite many others trying to convince you otherwise. And whenever someone says that you will only pass if you do X, Y, or Z is simplifying the entire process and leaving out the most important part – your happiness.
  • It doesn’t hurt to be creative in dress and hairstyle. Be delicious.

Social Aspects

  • Forget what you learned about gay men from the media and start learning from actual gay men.
  • Recognize the diversity of gay men, because they’re not all the same, just as not all trans men are the same.
  • Don’t throw slurs around until you know which ones are being reclaimed/used in your particular area.
  • Do not mock gay men and/or gay culture.  Most guys don’t mean to do this, but it’s the one that’s likely to piss people off the most — and alienate you from any stealth trans guys who may be watching. Do NOT make fun of anyone until you are close enough that everyone knows it’s friendly. Don’t make gay jokes, don’t whine about Peter Pan syndrome or immature queens, don’t suddenly start acting like Kurt from Glee when really you’re more like Artie. It’s a vastly annoying phase that many guys (cis or trans) go through and the more you can avoid it the better.
  • When you go to a new gay male place, just stay in the background for a while, and learn how people are behaving.  There are lots of rituals, the way people flirt and make contact. Make friends, get to know people.  If you behave well and people know and like you, gay men will approach you easily, often even when you are not passing yet. Men are easy to understand and easy to have, not like with women.
  • Remember that gay men are independent and much less group-oriented than women/lesbians are.  Men don’t control each other the way women do.  They don’t do the telepathy/empathy thing.   When a man says something, it is implied that he says it only about himself.  Never expect that he will check in if he might somehow hurt you with what he says, because he is only speaking about himself.
  • Be entertaining and friendly. Many gay guys make an art of being a good conversationalist, and good manners are certainly something that will endear you to people. Be funny, or if you can’t, be kind.
  • Gay men actually like men. As in, really like them – not just men’s bodies, but men’s culture, men’s ways of relating to each other, the way men smell and taste and sound. A certain amount of misandry is tolerated among lesbians and the genderqueer types, and even among straight women, and it’s easy to soak that up, but gay men can smell it and it turns them off (even as potential friends) before you even open your mouth.
  • Don’t act like you’ve figured out how to be a man that is somehow how better than the versions you see from cis men. You’re not going to earn any friends that way and you certainly won’t get laid if you complain about all the misogyny and sexism you see. Cis gays are real people and they deserve respect, even if that means biting your tongue at times. Pick your battles. If you must call someone out for misogyny or sexism, do it in a funny or polite manner – they are your potential friends and mates, not pawns of the enemy.
  • If you have trouble finding your place, don’t fret, you just haven’t met the right people yet.

Sex

  • Know yourself and know what you want/don’t want. When you want something, you have to take care of it yourself.  Don’t expect that your partner will somehow think for you.  You have to be outspoken at all times.  Say no and say yes immediately.  A guy will never sense that something is wrong with you, because he expects that you take responsibility for your boundaries and needs, just as he is taking for his own.  Be outspoken about it without being bitchy.
  • Socialize with cis men as friends before you try to date or sleep with them. If you can’t get along as one of the guys, figure out the problem before you start trying to bring a sexual element into it. Straight women can get laid with guys they don’t like and can’t relate to (usually with guys who similarly don’t like and can’t relate to girls), but gay men expect at least a little bit of common ground, even the ones looking for NSA (no strings attached) stuff.
  • Don’t be too aggressive and not take no for an answer. Shrug the rejection off and move on to the next guy.  There will be guys that don’t feel comfortable sleeping with trans man and you must accept this.
  • Don’t cry transphobia for everything – no one likes to be called a douchebag for no reason. This is especially true when getting turned down for sex, it’s not always because we’re trans. “Not my type” encompasses everything from clothes to hair to height to genitals to sexual interests. I know I’ve turned down trans guys for reasons unrelated to their crotch, cis gay guys should have that option too.
  • Don’t be grossed out by stuff. If it isn’t your piece of cake, just leave. There are other places. Don’t give people the feeling that they are perverted or something.
  • Don’t go into a gay male back room with a group of early transition FTM, (esp. when the guys who are in there have known you as a lesbian for years) and demand that they have sex with you. If the guys feel uneasy about it, don’t call them transphobic – that won’t enhance your chances to fuck them.

Bonus material:

Norah Vincent talks about her experiences with passing in straight male communities:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5171860

Written by ShipofFools, Kian and Not Aiden.

Requisite disclaimer: All opinions expressed in guest posts are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NotAiden.  (Except where they do…gotta love group efforts.)

Guest Post: So you’re a gay trans man?

1.  Get comfortable with the idea of gay sex.

Many FTMs date women at first because they assume that they must like women if they are a man, but this is not true at all.  If you are interested in dating men or already do, then start calling yourself gay and get used to the idea.  This is important because being a gay man is frowned upon, and announcing that you are going to transition to a gay man takes most people aback.  Most will not understand this, but that’s okay because you’ve found this website and a good portion of transmen are gay.  You are not alone.

As a big part of this, you will have to overcome internalized homophobia in addition to internalized transphobia, so talking about your sexuality is just as important as talking about your gender (which I’m sure you do all the time ;)).  You must unlearn many of the ideas you subconsciously have about gay men and gay sex, which is not easy.  You might have some sexual repression.  You might feel shame when you call yourself gay.  It may feel really uncomfortable.  You need a gay and trans positive person to talk to about this.  Don’t ignore it and assume that accepting your transsexuality means that you are okay with being gay as well.

If you’ve never had sex with another man and would like to, but are scared, you may just need to do some research.  This could be as simple as making out with a guy (preferably gay), watching gay porn, or making some gay male friends and asking them some questions at the risk of sounding dumb or silly.  Explore.

2. Your new (gay) libido

At the beginning the wait for muscles, a deeper voice and hair seems endless.  It never comes fast enough, does it?  While you wait, lets work on becoming comfortable talking about your libido.  Testosterone jettisons your libido into warp speed compared to what happened before.  You could be like me and become a slutbag right away (not my normal way of being, but a valid choice) or you could wait a bit and get used to how it works first.

Your outside bits grow and become super sensitive.  Thinking about sex makes you hot and bothered.  Visual imagery has more of an impact.  Smells drive you wild.  Sometimes, sex will be the only thing on your mind and you can’t escape it.  Find a hot video (Gayup.org/ is my favorite stop) and enjoy yourself.  Repeat if necessary.  All men go through this period of their lives but usually around age 15, so other people might really start to wonder what’s going on even if you haven’t told them yet.  Once you get a hold on your libido and what gets you off, start to assess your level of readiness for the dating scene.

3.  Getting ready to date (and passing).

When your body starts to masculinize, your body shape will change.  If you can afford it, replace your clothes (buy nice ones and get them tailored if you are short) as they stop fitting.  Gay men, in general, like to show off their bodies.  You might have already done this before, but many transmen never felt comfortable as women to go so far as to show their body off, so this may take some getting used to.  Tight clothes are encouraged, packing is a must.   Find your assets and show them off.  You may need another gay man’s assessment on your body (scary, I know), but it will help you figure this out, as everyone is different.  For instance, I have quite the booty, always have and always will.  Before I transitioned, I hated it and tried to hide it.  Now, it’s what gets me a date, so I’ve learned to love it and show it off.

For those who are pre-surgery, binding must become your art.  Depending on their size, your most hated bodily possessions must be squeezed to death under layers of fabric and made to look like a male’s chest as much as possible.  It is very easy for some and an enormous (pun intended) proposition for others. Some other men might just think its all muscle under there from far away.   Others won’t notice at all.  Figure out what works best for you.  Make sure you can breathe, especially if you like to dance like me.  Wear the binder while shopping because certain clothes make it seem to disappear.

For those post-surgery or the rare “I barely need surgery” men, show off your chest.  Pre-surgery, I slouched hardcore and had to relearn how to carry myself as if I’ve never been embarrassed about my chest.  Get some muscles and revel in your new chest.

4.  Dating (and passing as a gay man).

I hate to stereotype gay men in general, but it is a well-known fact that gay men are superficial ;).  When cruising or socializing you will most likely be judged on the way you looked (as previously female, you’ve probably already experienced this).  However, you may have taken care before to not look too put together in order to look less female, but now you need to reverse this in order achieve your fullest dating potential.  Take care of yourself – eat good food, exercise, and quit smoking.

Regarding the acquisition of a special friend, testosterone will determine when you start passing consistently, but there are some things you can do to increase your chances of being seen as a gay man.  If you around other gay men, being open about your sexuality is a good start (especially, if you don’t pass that well yet) – make sure they know you’re gay.   Flirt.   Go dancing.  Make out.   (Don’t do the drugs!).  USE CONDOMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Seriously.

5.  Disclosure

When you find someone you like and who may like you, you need to figure out when and how to tell him that you are trans.  This is a sensitive and complex subject that cannot be discussed in full in this context, but I wanted to mention it because your safety is important.  Give this a lot of thought and do not assume that he won’t be okay with it.  But also expect that some men will not only not be okay with your transness but they will be quite cruel about it.  Do not let other people determine your self-worth.  Stay safe and have fun!

Kian has been living as a gay transman for most of his 20s.  Nerdy, quirky and fey, he often spends his time thinking and writing about gay and trans politics.  He loves to learn and cook and looks for hairy men who do the same.

Requisite disclaimer: All opinions expressed in guest posts are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NotAiden.