I’m a trans man, and I like having casual sex with strangers from the internet. Casual sex is a risky and weird space, and there’s some awesome things that come with that – risk can be a big turn-on and weird spaces can be great for nonnormative sexuality. One of the things I love most about casual sex is the way it can bring together people from vastly different areas of life: I’ve met some interesting people I probably never would have interacted with through work, school, or social circles, and if I did interact with them there we likely never would have talked about sex the way we were able to through the circumstances of our meeting, much less had sex. I didn’t really realize just how much this was the case until I wound up having casual sex with someone in the local kink community, where you’d think the barriers to open sexual conversation and engagement might be different, but they’ve turned out to not be that different, especially for sex and gender minorities. My own experience in the local kink community has been that I still wind up finding it best to stick to queer and trans centric spaces, meaning…basically the same social circles I have otherwise, only kinkier. Sometimes. Okay, they’re basically the same social circles.
So, Craigslist winds up being an odd sort of haven: I can skip right on past the dreck and sometimes find someone worth checking out. I’ve had a few experiences of not particularly good sex but they’ve almost entirely been with people who state some wariness about having sex with strangers on the internet, so I stopped bothering with those people (I chalk it up to them being ready to express desire, but not ready to act on it, and using Craigslist or similar sites as vehicles to explore that expression but not yet the action. And naturally, part of exploring the expression of desire is exploring how to say no). Really, the biggest struggle I have gets back to being trans: most of the people who post or message indicating that they’re open to or desiring trans people say it in ways that reflect how they’ve obtained and intuited their knowledge of trans people. Which is to say, they describe trans people in a way that ranges from confusing to derogatory. Obviously this isn’t everyone but it’s definitely a majority, and where it’s bad for trans men it’s worse for trans women. I don’t know if I’d even bother if I were a trans woman – at least “trans man” doesn’t come with a whole pornography-as-anthropology framework informing people how I theoretically fuck.
The thing with casual sex with strangers is that it’s an immediate experience demanding immediate response; there’s no buildup of learning a partner’s nuances, how they like to be stroked behind their ear but will fucking cut you if you touch them after they orgasm, if they like having their name called in bed, if they like making eye contact while you say it. You have to err on the side of normative sexual behaviors, be quickly explicit about where you want to get away from that, and quickly forgive and communicate when normative expectations are placed on you which you haven’t already disagreed with. The further you stray from heteronormative and cisnormative, the more communication required, the less casual it gets, the more time invested, more strings, more frustration and even pain when it sours. So it’s easy and common to look to stereotypes when pursuing casual sex. This isn’t specific to stereotypes about marginalized people – cis guys get stereotyped too – but of course the impact on of stereotypes on marginalized people is part of the structure that keeps us marginalized. Looking to these stereotypes also isn’t specific to cis guys; I recently had a genderqueer-identified person respond to my post looking for someone to suck my cock who was talking about their focus in making other trans people feel more comfortable with their bodies. Fucking ew, why was this person assuming I was looking for sex therapy? Cock. Sucking. Can I be clearer? So straight up: this is everyone’s problem. Also straight up: Cis dudes do it the worst.
I’m tempted to say especially those who identify as straight, but my experience with sexual orientation’s intersection with cis people’s pursuit of trans people suggests that orientation is a terrible indicator of whether or not someone’s going to defer to stereotypes about trans people. I don’t know, I feel like this might be a whole other post.
This whole thing here was supposed to be a brief introduction, believe it or not. So, on to the point of this long brief introduction: I strongly believe, optimist that I am, that of this majority of people expressing things from confusing to derogatory about trans people in casual sex contexts, the most say these things because they are unintentionally ignorant and offensive rather than willfully so. Most people don’t have manageable access to spaces where discussing transness with an intention to not wound is expected (I include knowledge of how to gain access to such spaces, as well as spoons to engage in such spaces, as part of the definition of “manageable”). Instead they have easy access to – even a difficulty with avoiding – spaces of society where offensiveness is celebrated, which I’ll call disgust porn spaces, whether fringe, such as Howard Stern, Jerry Springer, tabloids, and FAIL Blog, or mainstream, such as People magazine, Family Guy and South Park, can you tell how out of touch with current pop culture I am? Disgust porn spaces are the commonest and easiest source of exposure to difference; fringe ones survive through insisting that they’re the mainstream gone slumming, while mainstream ones survive by insisting they’re rebels without rebelling. They’re easy to access; they’re hard to avoid. So transgender expressions have generally been socially revealed through these disgust porn spaces and thus controlled and rewritten through a narrative of disgust and difference. To extract disgust and difference from cisgender frameworks of trans people, our mainstream existence has been sanitized and desexualized, allowed sexuality only through a lens of mainstream-permissible drag or award-winning dramatic presentations of our violation. We can be sexy only with our clothes on and our genders normative. Most transgender sexual expressions, authentic and imagined, remain primarily communicated outside of transcentric spaces through such things as fringe disgust porn spaces.
Casual sex spaces are also methods of communication about nonnormative sexuality. Unlike fringe disgust porn spaces, a casual sex space’s existence doesn’t rely on the space insisting that it’s a mainstream place gone slumming: it’s understood that it’s not normative, and thrives a limited distance from the normative. It’s a limited distance because of the previously mentioned difficulty with sudden expressions and expectations of sexuality, but it must have at least some distance by definition of the space as one for casual sex, itself nonnormative. “Non-judgmental” is a common self-descriptor. These spaces therefore have unique positive possibilities for communication of nonnormative sexualities. When it’s about marginalized bodies having sex with nonmarginalized bodies, there’s two streams of communication: one by these marginalized bodies and one by the nonmarginalized bodies who pursue them. The latter stream tends to begin from knowledge gained from disgust porn spaces, pornography, and anywhere else they’ve seen the objects of their desire described, and tends to develop through actual interaction with the people inhabiting these marginalized bodies – and that’s rather hard to do when starting from only having access to a language of disgust for those bodies desired.
This all turned into the below piece I posted in the Casual Encounters section on my local Craigslist, which is here until the temporary nature of Craigslist releases it. There are a lot of people participating in fostering hostile, harmful environments for trans people who I think want to do better and who can most easily be accessed through such spaces. In particular, I think communicating information about trans people in sexual spaces has a unique capacity to endow mainstream expressions of trans people with authentic, complex sexualities, to rewrite sex with trans people as sex, rather than as threat or fetish.
As you can guess, I’ve been struggling with how to make this thing work. It had to be short. It’s too long and too dense. I cut out a bunch of things that I felt were necessary, like the part that specified that the risks for trans women having casual sex were far higher than for trans men which was why they were so much less likely to take a risk with someone who seemed potentially unclear on the concept, and I’m not happy about leaving that out. I took out everything that addressed intersexuality; I’m not happy about leaving that out either. It had to be simple and I had to leave too many things unacknowledged to accomplish that. It had to fundamentally be about how to change the lens through which cis people perceive trans people, presented as a guide to stop doing things that were keeping the reader from having sex with trans people, and not actually be about trans people ourselves, while centering the language and needs of trans people, but using language accessible to people who currently omg. It had to be entertaining and easy enough to keep the reader reading rather than moving off to some post that was actually offering sex. It had to not simply redirect the marginalization. It had to come from a space of heart with simple goals that would be desirable to accomplish. I hope I at least accomplished that. I’ve gotten some positive responses already.
Ideas for improving it are welcome. Editing and reposting it is welcome. Credit is nice. Making the world a better place for everyone is awesome.
Want to have sex with a trans person?
I know you post a lot saying you want to, but it’s just not working that well…maybe not at all. Maybe it’s because your post or message makes you look like ignorant or like a jerk, and you’re really not. And if that’s not the case, it sure doesn’t hurt to change up your next post so you don’t sound like a broken record of sexlessness. Here are some tips. If this is tl:dr, just reading #1 will get you far in life.
1) If your ad says tranny or shemale, you’re sabotaging yourself
You wouldn’t post an m4w ad saying “LOOKING FOR BITCH”, would you? (Well, most of you, anyway.) “LOOKING FOR SHEMALE” is kinda like that. Shemale is a porn term, and I don’t know about you but I’ve found “I think I saw you in a porn once” to be about as shitty as pickup lines can get. Meanwhile, tranny is often an assault word. As in, “She looks like a tranny.” Or “I think there’s a tranny in the bathroom.” Some trans people don’t have a problem with being called that, but a lot more are likely to pass you up because of that one word. Guess how many trans women are going to pass you up for NOT calling them a tranny? Did you guess zero? (Well, there’s always at least one, this is the internet after all…)
And no, you don’t get a free pass because you think looking like a tranny is fucking sexy. Show it by choosing a different word:
2) How to say who you’re looking for
A lot of ads say they’re looking for “CD TV TS FTM” like they’re open to oranges, apples, bananas, and sledgehammers. I was confused until I posted saying I’m an FTM and people responded asking if they can jack off my gurlclit while I’m wearing a skirt: some people seem to think any trans-related term means a feminine person with a penis. Ironically, getting jacked off while I’m in a skirt could be fucking hot if it didn’t mean having to have so much non-sexy talk first, so here’s the non-sexy talk. You don’t need a whole second language or hundreds of words, but here’s some better words to use so you don’t start off on the wrong foot and can get right to the sexing.
FTM/Female to Male, trans guy, trans man, transgender male, transexual man, etc. All generally mean a man who was assigned female at birth, and calling him “him” is usually accurate and unlikely to offend. Similarly, MTF/Male to Female, trans girl, trans woman, transgender female, transexual woman, etc. all generally mean a woman who was assigned male at birth and should be called “she”. If you tell an FTM you’re curious to have sex with him because of your longstanding crushes on butch women/tomboys, he might relate to that, but more likely you’ll remind him of people who aren’t willing to see him as a man and he’ll be turned off and insulted (I know, surprising, right?). If you’re often attracted to people you think are butch women who call themselves FTMs, try saying you’re looking for butch FTMs who are on low/no testosterone. They’ll love having their gender respected and getting some good sex without having to “prove” their maleness with a lot of testosterone. (This assumes you’re any good at fucking, of course. You are, right?) Or maybe you’re really just looking for butch women/tomboys who consider themselves women, in which case stop messaging dudes with pictures of your penis. Same whole thing goes if you’re into feminine trans women on low or no hormones: if you message them saying you think sissy boys are hot, you’re probably being an asshole because you think a trans woman and a sissy boy are basically the same thing. Protip: they’re usually not.
Transexual/TS can refer to men as well as women, and may or may not indicate that someone’s had genital surgery. I don’t know when it’s useful for you to use other than when a trans person uses it to describe themself. Sorry! There’s also a lot of outdated stuff that calls trans women “transgendered/transexual males” and trans men “transgendered/transexual females.” Using these terms this way (calling a woman a male or a man a female because they’re trans) is like saying “gee willikers” and voting Nixon, and has the same effect of you not getting laid.
Passing: it’s like saying we’ve passed a test and, like Pinnochio, become “real” boys and girls, what the fuck. (Similarly, saying a trans woman “looks like a real woman” or that a trans man “looks like a real man” is totally gross and not a compliment. She is a real woman. He is a real man.) But hey, maybe you’re okay with being insulting as long as you’re getting laid by some hotties, right? Well, it’s also like saying “don’t be ugly”: how many people see that, think “ugh, wtf is wrong with this dude”, and don’t respond, and they’re totally sexy and amazingly willing to put up with your pockmarked ass? You’ll get a lot more mileage out of *not* saying “passing”, and if someone’s photo isn’t attractive to you, just don’t pursue them. Trust me, we do the same thing with your photo, and we’re not asking if you’re passing. Maybe we should.
CD/crossdresser, TV/transvestite, sissy boy, tomboy, genderqueer, androgynous, gurl, etc. These aren’t generally the same as being a trans man or trans woman any more than scrambled is the same as being eggs: a non-trans man can also be a sissy boy, a trans woman might also crossdress as a man sometimes, genderqueer tomboys may get genital surgery without being men or women. Check the term on Wikipedia or Urban Dictionary if you don’t know it and be ready for half the people you meet to use it differently. If you’re not sure whether to call the person he, she, they, a woman, a man, or something else, see how they talk about themself and ask questions. Or take the shortcut and just use the same words for themself that they’re using. You don’t have to be inventive.
You might also see cis, cisgender, or cisexual: generally, someone who’s not trans. There’s also “bio male/female”, but that’s kind of weird unless being trans makes someone an android or something, plus it makes me think of bio majors. “Genetic male/female” used to be popular and is used less now for similar reasons, or maybe because “genetic” is three syllables and “bio” is two, in which case “cis”, with its single syllable, is clearly superior. It’s not perfect but neither is “trans”, and this is Craigslist anyway.
3) Okay, you called someone something that wasn’t insulting, and they responded! They want to have sex with you! Now what?
Asking where and how your sex partners like to be touched, whether they’re trans or cis, is awesome foreplay. If you’re having sex with a trans person it’s more common that they’ve had surgery at some point before, and possibly recently enough that you’ll have to be careful touching them somewhere. This is shitty, but it’s also more common that they’ve been physically or verbally assaulted at some point, especially for trans women, so talking about what’s okay is important!
Some things to know about trans men’s bodies:
* Many take testosterone which works just like puberty on cis guys, with new hair in strange places, a period of voice-cracking before it settles, and delightful new smells if you find man-stink delightful, only the random boners are usually a lot smaller and thus less embarrassing in public. It will make his clit/cock grow but only up to a couple inches. A clit and a cock are the same body part so don’t whine to me about making shit up, and if the trans guy you’re going to have sex with calls his a cock, you do to.
* Many also get top surgery which makes the chest more pectoral and less boobical. If he hasn’t had top surgery, he might not want his chest touched, or he may think it’s fucking hot, so ask.
* Some get genital surgery which might include testicle implants, extending the clit/cock in a variety of ways, and/or removing the vagina and vulva. Surgery does some wonky things to nerves, so ask what feels good.
* If he’s been on a standard dose of testosterone for at least a couple months and wants to have vaginal sex, he isn’t having periods and can’t get pregnant, so the condom’s for STI protection only. Also, his boy hole might get raw easily and have difficulty self-lubricating. Have some non-glycerin-based lube around (glycerin-based lube can cause yeast infections and other badness), and be gentle if needed. If you’ve got a regular fuckbuddy who keeps having rawness issues, vaginal estriol suppositories might help; for some reason they’re now a controlled substance because moist vaginas are apparently a threat or something, so he’ll have to ask his doctor.
Some things to know about trans women’s bodies:
* Many take estrogen and/or antiandrogens (basically, testosterone-killers). This works a lot like puberty on cis girls, but won’t remove many of the preexisting effects of testosterone: it’ll generally soften her skin and hair, redistribute fat towards her breasts and butt, and may make her regrow some hair she may have lost if she’s started some male-pattern balding. It won’t usually make her stop growing other body and facial hair, though that hair may thin some, so she may shave or get electrolysis or things like that.
* Also, it will usually make her not able to get an erection, or much of one. (Most “trans women” in porn are cis women wearing prosthetics.) If she’s still got testicles, they’ll be shooting blanks. Her clit/cock will get much softer; it’ll feel like a long clit and smell like it too, and estrogen often totally changes how she orgasms, so she might *really* enjoy when you suck on it even though she’s not getting hard. If she does get erect she may not enjoy sticking it in your butt, or may be happier sticking a strap-on in your butt instead. Some trans women do still get erections and like to fuck people with them, but expecting that with every trans woman is like expecting every burger to have bacon on it. If you’re looking for a trans woman with bacon, er, an erection, specify.
* Some trans women get non-genital surgeries, including breast and butt implants, facial surgeries to shave things like jawbones and nose bridges, and things like that, but none of that is standard because holy shit is that a lot of things going on. This can change where she has sensation and how she can be touched in those areas.
* Trans women are more likely than trans men to have genital surgery, ranging from getting their testicles removed to getting their bits turned into a vagina and vulva. If she has a vagina, it doesn’t self-lubricate, so lube is still your friend! It also has some size limits, so if you’re particularly big or thinking of using your hand, check with her first. And yes, her clit probably loves to be licked.
* For a while, her nipples will be super fucking sensitive. They’re new and budding and puffy. Be gentle unless she’s said it’s okay to play harder!
Remember, using this information doesn’t make any trans person owe you sex; it just makes you less likely to turn someone off due to accidentally being an asshole, and more likely to know which end of a trans person is up. Good luck and happy sexing!