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.
- 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.Â 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.Â There are lots of rituals, the way people flirt and make contact. Make friends, get to know people.Â 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.Â Men don’t control each other the way women do.Â They don’t do the telepathy/empathy thing.Â Â When a man says something, it is implied that he says it only about himself.Â 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.
- Know yourself and know what you want/don’t want. When you want something, you have to take care of it yourself.Â Don’t expect that your partner will somehow think for you.Â You have to be outspoken at all times.Â Say no and say yes immediately.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.
Norah Vincent talks about her experiences with passing in straight male communities:
Written by ShipofFools, Kian and Not Aiden.
Requisite disclaimer: All opinions expressed in guest posts are the authorâ€™s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NotAiden.Â (Except where they do…gotta love group efforts.)