Being a Trans Man in Gay Space

Hi Beastly,

thanks for such an awesome blog. I read an article of yours on the Advocate about rules of sex parties, and it really helped me with a lot of anxiety. I’ve been to sex parties before, but always felt nervous about doing something wrong, so your article helped quiet a lot of those fears.

Anyway, you/your blog seems super gender friendly, so I’d like to ask if you have any advice about a transmasculine person looking to go to gay sex parties, or just generally playing more with cis-men. Just as a frame of reference (not that it should matter but I know it does) I “pass” and never would be questioned, until I take my pants off.

I’m bi and currently in an open relationship with a cis-woman, but I feel I don’t take advantage of the “open” part of it enough because of my own fears. I’ve been on different dating apps, been on dates, and been to sex clubs, but I’ve been met with enough transphobia (and biphobia for that matter) to not feel anxious.

I know I have a lot going against me that automatically excludes me from cis-male play situations (which I get), but I’m hoping you have some both practical and emotional advice so I can really enjoy parties/clubs/dating.

I’m sorry that you’ve encountered transphobia in these spaces. That makes me furious. I need you to try and not view the best parts of yourself as things that are working against you. Use logic: you either defend the world and reject yourself or you reject yourself to defend the world (the “world” here means any culture or space in which you might be judged negatively). Rejecting yourself is logically impossible, so you have no choice but to see yourself as the standard the world simply fails to meet. You’re right and it’s wrong. If a sex space (or its attendees or its managers) say you’re unwelcome, they’re wrong and you’re right, and history will mark them accordingly. This is a rough way to go through life because the world fails repeatedly and makes you an antagonist within it, but that’s what it means to be queer.

Here’s the only emotional advice I have: use your transness to weed out the trash. I learned years ago to do the same with my HIV. I’m not meaning to compare your gender to an illness — your gender identity is healthy and beautiful. But my identity happens to be an illness, a chronic one that I can’t change, get rid of, or apologize for. It runs in my blood and marks me as separate from others in clinical files across the country. Millions of people see me as a walking pathogen.

It doesn’t define the entirety of my personhood, but it is nevertheless a defining feature. To love and fuck me, you have to love and fuck HIV. I have no choice but to defend it. If someone won’t fuck me because of it, I can do nothing to change their mind. It’s also not my prerogative to change anyone’s mind. It’s not my job to teach a sexually ignorant person the facts about HIV, certainly not while I’m just looking for sex like everyone else.

I can’t speak from trans experience but here’s what I think: being a transmasculine person didn’t “happen to you” in the way HIV happened to me — it’s a truth, not an affliction — but it is something you didn’t necessarily ask for, something you were born with, something you can’t change, and something you can’t say sorry for.

It’s not the sum total of who you are — you have a favorite dessert and favorite movie and so much else that makes you a complete person — but your transness is a gateway into all that stuff. To get to everything that makes you desirable and sexy and interesting, one must first get through the gateway — they must love and embrace your trans identity or at least not be afraid of it. It’s a hard rule — pass or fail. There are no rewards for effort or acceptable half-steps. To get the goods, they must take you as you are.

If someone doesn’t want to fuck you because you’re trans, there’s nothing you can do to educate them, change their mind, or alleviate their fears — and that’s not your job. They’re just not your problem and they don’t merit a place in your life or bed.

Now, practically, being trans and being HIV-positive are very different. Both are things we may be rejected for, even subjected to violence and discrimination for (I’ve had someone threaten to call the cops on me), but I can “hide” my status — I have the power to let others know about it (and, according to some, the responsibility of doing so). I choose to mark myself visually as an HIV-positive person with a particular tattoo, but that’s really not the same as full-disclosure. (I discuss the reasons why an HIV-positive person might not tell anyone in sex spaces about their status here.)

You don’t have that luxury. I can slip through like a devil in the dark. But you “pass” only to a point. Since I don’t have much practical information on being a trans man in a predominantly cis gay sex space, I reached out to a friend, the gorgeous transmasculine adult film star Luke Hudson, who offered some advice — on everything from dating apps to sending X-pics.

We all agree that Grindr can be a nightmare. I’ve gotten a lot of good opportunities from our beloved little app, but I’ve also had some ugly moments. Just like cis people, we gotta be careful of who we decide to meet IRL, but we also have the added hurtle that we need our partners to be fully aware of our “downstairs situation”. It’s not fun but it’s sometimes a life or death gig. The same can be said for other dating apps. My golden advice is get a numbers app like Date Check. You always wanna get someone’s phone number, that way you can tell that they are who they say they are, and a numbers app can do that for you. 

I’ve been to bathhouses and for the most part they don’t really care! I too pass until my underwear is off, so what I do is keep those on until I’m in, like, the hot tub or something. Don’t throw caution to the wind — ask a friend who’s been what the vibe is. If there’s a host you can contact, ask them, because ultimately the way they react is how their guests will react. Or if it’s a bathhouse, call the management and ask how they feel about it. If you can’t go to a party or a bathhouse where you can have your natural trans masculine breasts out then you don’t wanna be there, and that’s that on that.

Be ready for stares! A bunch of these people have never seen vaginas on a dude. I’ve clogged hallways and saunas being in bath houses. One time I was working out and turned around to find a crowd of dudes watching me!

As for dating, we pretty much know what to expect. 

Like every other aspect of your life that your partner wasn’t already aware of, you’ll have to explain it to them and tell them how to respect it. You don’t want your partner telling everybody and the milkman that his boyfriend is trans….Honestly though, with all that aside, I can’t say that transness gets in the way of dating as much as just life in general. 

My last piece of advice is nudes. Never be afraid to send that nude. Everyone’s body is beautiful and sometimes genitals are pretty, but what makes or breaks the nude is hygiene and lighting. Make sure it’s visible through the pubes and you have good lighting from underneath. With this information about apps and public stuff and taking nudes I want you to go out into the world and experience your sex life to the fullest extent you feel comfortable with.

I hope some of this helps.

My brother, you are a beautiful man and you get to experience an awesome subculture. But you also face challenges, aggressions, and discrimination that I don’t face, even from other men who fuck men. That’s wrong, but I understand it’s a reality that must be faced, so I simply ask you to do what I do when I go to sex spaces (which can be overwhelming for everyone): have a buddy, someone you can go up to and say, “Let’s leave now.”

I’ve done this many times and these friends have saved me — from fucked-up and aggressive guys who won’t leave me alone, from places that seemed unfriendly of my body type or opposed to the kind of sex I wanted, and from my own vices. There are no greater saints in a queer person’s life than the sluts who know when to hold our hands and lead us out.

I also don’t want to paint sex spaces as minefields of danger, because the greatest experiences of my life have happened in them. You just have to be smart, protective, sensible, and completely uncompromising. The space either wants you or it doesn’t get you. Pass/fail.

Love, Beastly

Like what you read? Show me some love on Venmo (SweetBeastly) or choose another option of support. Answers are free but donations are appreciated. Above Image: 1350 Club in Wilmington, CA  (I cannot verify that this place is trans-friendly).

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