Hey babes! It’s your friendly neighborhood trans person here to stop you from being “that guy” when it comes to chatting up trans cuties on your favorite dating apps.
Look, we know we’re sexy, and we’re glad you think so too! But, the last thing we want from people who are trying to date us is to be asked a bunch of invasive questions or treated insensitively.
So, here’s 14 messages you can stop sending to trans people if you want to be good to the trans community (and possibly get in our pants):
1. You’re so brave! I know, I know! It seems like you’re being nice when you tell a trans person how brave they are for living their life unapologetically. But, for myself and my trans friends, it can feel like being treated like an exhibit at the zoo. Are you just looking for brownie points or do you want to put in the work to make sure trans people are safe and treated equally? We’re happy you respect us and the journey we’ve been through, but we also want you to just honor the fact that life is complicated and we’re all humans doing what we need to do to live authentically.
2. You look just like a man/woman. I would never know that you’re trans! We look just like men, women, or non-binary people because, well, we are. Congratulating us on how well we line up with cisgender norms of beauty and attractiveness isn’t flattering. Here’s a simple thing to remember: we are the gender we say we are regardless of whether we live up to your ideals and we don’t need your stamp of approval to make that so.
3. What does your junk look like? Are you on hormones? Like many trans folks, I dream of the world where these questions are no longer a thing. If you’re attracted to me, you’re attracted to me. And, there are plenty of ways that we can make sex work for us where our junk configurations don’t need to be an issue. Nothing is worse than being asked if we’ve had “the surgery” or told your interest in us is contingent on whether or not we take hormones. Earn extra points for asking what words we use to refer to our junk instead!
4. If I hook up with you, does that make me bisexual? Are you interested in people who identify with the gender you do and people who don’t? Then congrats, you may very well be bisexual! But, if you consider yourself bi simply because you hook up with trans people who may or may not have the same junk as you, then you need to sit all the way down. If you’re a man who digs men (including trans men), you’re still gay, honey. If you’re a man who’s into men and women (transgender or cisgender) and people who identify outside of the binary, then bisexual, queer, pansexual, or whatever else might be the right label for you.
5. I’ve always wanted to be with “a trans.” Good god, where do I start? It’s cool if you’re curious about having sex with a particular trans person, but do us a favor and figure out how to speak to us respectfully before you reach out. We are trans people and we’re not here to be your experiment.
6. MTF or FTM? These acronyms have become a sort of shorthand for trans women and trans men (they stand for male-to-female and female-to-male). But, many of us don’t identify with those terms as they seem to boil our gender down to something physical or biological. They make it seem like we transitioned from one fixed thing to another fixed thing or that we haven’t always been the gender we know ourselves to be. Not to mention the fact that trans people are not just some amalgamous blob. If you’re attracted to the person you’re talking to, then it really shouldn’t matter if they’re a trans man, a trans woman, or non-binary. If you’re that worried about it, try picking up on cues about how they present themselves and how they talk about themselves.
7. Your profile is too angry or too overtly political. Being a trans person and trying to date on or offline can be downright exhausting. Sorry if my language comes across as harsh, but I have every right to ask that the people who contact me are respectful, value consent, and are, like I try to be, aware of their own privileges. The personal is political, y’all!
8. Trans people, trans people of color, disabled trans people, fat trans people, etc. are my fetish. Check out the dictionary description of “fetish,” and you’ll find that it’s sexual attachment to an object. Well, turns out trans people, people of color, disabled folks, and fat folks are not objects! We’re real, live human beings. The people I find sexiest are those who are down to include me in their sexuality without making a big deal about it or obsessing over how my body is different from a cis person’s body.
9. Conversely, I’m not into trans people, people of color, disabled folks, fat folks, femmes, etc. No bro, it’s not just a preference. There are systems of oppression in place that shape our attraction to different groups of people. Take some time to examine why you have the “preferences” you have and whether those preferences are actually just coded transphobia, racism, ableism, body negativity, femmephobia, etc. You should never have sex with someone you don’t want to, but if you feel the need to be adamant about your problematic preferences, don’t broadcast it to the world. We’ve got plenty of hate circulating in this political climate, and we don’t need yours added to the mix.
10. Hey, hello, we’ve never talked before, but here’s an unsolicited picture of my junk inexplicably next to a remote, a banana, a soda bottle, or some other strange penis-sized object. I know, Mr. Headless Torso, you think that sending me a picture of your genitals is going to magically make me want to have sex with you. But, if you met me on the street would you lead with “sup” and then pull down your pants? I didn’t think so.
11. On a related note: I’m 5,362 miles away, send me pictures of your junk! Nobody likes a pic collector, and unless you’re actually planning to come visit my hometown and hang out with me in person, I’m not interested in doing the work to chat with you. Grindr tells me there are 82 Daddies within a 5-mile radius of me who I’m sure can get here faster. There is a veritable abundance of trans pornography on the internet to satisfy your needs; try that instead!
12. How do you top or bottom? This is one of those questions I always just shoot right back at the person. I put my pants on one leg at a time, I take my coffee without milk, and I top and bottom like you do. If we’re actually going to hook up, then we can talk logistics like you probably do with your cisgender dates. Still confused? Try checking out some trans porn on one of your favorite sites before asking a trans person to educate you.
13. I’m not interested, but I want to ask you invasive questions about your life. We’re on the apps to cruise and date and fool around just like everyone else. Most of us get asked on a daily basis to educate people about our lives and explain what it’s like to be transgender. It’s a lot of emotional labor, and it gets old very quickly. The same technology that brought us Grindr also brought us Google; use it!
14. Just read my damn profile. For some of us trans folks, there comes a point in our interactions where we feel the need to disclose our trans status to make sure the person we’re chatting with isn’t going to be weird about it. It’s not something we’re required to do and we shouldn’t have to do so. But, if you reach out and message someone on an app and then are shocked to find out that they are trans or are disinterested in them when you get that information, make sure you’ve actually taken time to read their profile and make sure you check your cissexism at the door.
Happy cruising, babes!