Trans men have been cruising alongside nontrans gay and bi men for as long as men have been cruising. With the addition of the “trans” tag, many apps such as Grindr and Scruff are starting to recognize us. Lots of people use the “trans” tag if it’s available — including trans women, trans men, nonbinary folks, crossdressers, and cis men looking for any of the above. Plenty of men with trans histories don’t use it for a plethora of legitimate reasons: Perhaps they don’t identify as trans, they prefer to disclose during chat, or they're trying to deemphasize the trans part of their profile.
It’s well-known that Scruff's and Grindr’s populations consist of a sea of disembodied chest and dick pics, looking for the quickest quickie possible with the least amount of effort involved. For many trans guys, proper hookup etiquette can be a little different.
Personally, I'm all about receiving a good dick pic, as long as the user isn't one himself and it doesn't come in lieu of a “hello.” I have found fun, friendship, and a certain amount of romance on Scruff and Grindr — but experiences like these are few and far between. I make liberal use of my block button.
Overall, my experiences on gay hookup sites and apps have been positive, though I’ve had to put up with a lot of ignorance and intolerance. I’ve tried waiting until decent conversation and compatibility has developed to come out as trans, but with rather dismal success. I’ve been blocked, harassed, and ignored.
It became too painful for me to cruise this way, so I’ve gone back to plastering “trans” all over my profiles. I almost never make first contact, much preferring to let people come to me and start conversation. The downside of listing my trans status on my profile is that many people who contact me are doing so only to ask general questions, not because they are actually interested in me.
While Grindr also allows users to tag themselves as “trans” (though you cannot choose any other additional tags unless you pay for Pro), Scruff edges out of the competition when it comes to fostering a trans-friendly environment. Scruff allows users to create a much longer profile, which allows me to explain my gender in greater depth. This eliminates some (but not all) of the Trans 101 talks. Furthermore, not only can I tag myself as trans (along with a few other tags), users can also indicate that they’re looking for trans folks, which means I can feel free to reach out if someone else’s profile interests me. I’ve also noticed way more gender-variant people on Scruff than Grindr, and it always feels sexy and affirming for me to see others like me.
But I know from lots of experience that there are plenty of cis gay and bi men out there who see us as the sexy men we are and would love to rock our worlds. If this describes you, here’s a quick primer for successfully getting into our pants and getting off, without scaring or pissing us off.
Do your homework first. Google is your friend and has likely already answered many of the general Trans 101 questions you may have. Being treated like a Wikipedia article on trans people is a boner-kill. I’m on cruising apps to have fun, not to participate in educational talks. We all do a certain amount of educating new sex partners, because bodies and preferences are unique, but if I have to put on my Trans 101 teacher hat, you don’t then typically get to see my “let’s fuck” hat. Many knowledgeable and experienced trans voices are already out there — go listen to them.
Hold off on questions about our bodies. Wanting to know what you’re getting into is understandable, but we need to know that you are safe first, and that we won’t feel like circus freaks. Trans men aren’t nearly as likely as the typical cisgender (nontrans) man to be so open about our equipment, particularly if we haven’t even decided whether we want to sleep with you yet or not. Don’t ask about what he’s got between his legs unless he brings it up first, or you’re both into each other and actively talking about doing the deed. If you’re still not sure…
Communicate! Ask him how he feels about talking about his body, and don’t push him if he’s not quite there yet. Know that the words many cis men use to refer to their bodies may not be the words we use. Also keep in mind that there may be parts or areas of our bodies that we may not feel comfortable with you playing with or even touching. Talk about what acts you’re both into and what words you both use for your bodies. You too have words you tend to use over others, so share them!
Don’t buy into the stereotypes. Sex with trans guys can be different — but sex with everyone is different. Trans does not equal kinky. Some trans people don’t identify as men or women at all. Trans men aren’t all bottoms. Many trans men get bottom surgery. And we do not necessarily need flesh-and-blood penises to be really amazing tops. (I’m primarily a bottom, but I topped my trans girlfriend into a cry-gasm with my strap-on the first time we had sex, and it was awesome.)
Do play safely. Make sure both of you know your status and prevention preferences, such as barriers or PrEP. Some trans men can become pregnant, and everyone can contract STIs. Don’t forget to use lube, even if your guy is fine having his front hole played with. Testosterone can mess with our ability to self-lubricate, which increases the risk of discomfort, tearing, and STIs. Never pair silicone lube with silicone toys or oil-based lube with latex.
Regardless of how you feel about trans men frequenting gay hookup apps, we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere. And really, who wouldn’t want to bed us? Some of us have an extra hole we like playing with, and some of us have an impressive array of cocks to choose from that never go soft under any circumstances. What’s not to love?
NIC CAMERON is a queer, nonbinary trans guy who lives in Denver with his nesting partner and their fur-baby, Harvenald Buttersworth. You can follow him on Twitter at @epidemnic.