The Trans Fags

3.16.2008

By T Cooper

On a cold winter night I take my 20-year-old friend Hunter to an East Village gay bar -- his first time in a New York City watering hole where he could wade among other cute gay men like himself. I convince the bartender to let us in by pretending that Hunter is my little brother who just turned 21 and came out but had his wallet and ID stolen on the subway. The barkeep grudgingly lets us stay, and we take a seat in the rear. It's a pretty empty weeknight, but a few guys start throwing looks over shoulders and cruising Hunter, and he whispers that he thinks one of them is cute'the straightest-looking dude in the room.

Then, as if called in from any-gay-bar central casting, a lanky dark-haired guy starts unbuttoning his fly and pulling out a soft dick, then lets it flop around outside his jeans as he struts around the bar. Both Hunter and I try not to stare, but we start betting on whether it's real. For 20 minutes we're convinced it is, but then someone pulls the thing, and it stretches to a skinny foot-long before snapping back wildly. Hunter laughs and mouths, 'Totally fooled me.'

Despite handling the often rugged and unforgiving testing ground of a gritty downtown gay bar with aplomb, Hunter -- like the rest of the men you see on these pages -- is the kind of guy some online gay hookup sites don't want you to meet. But I do. So let me introduce you to Trystan, Cole, Kelly, and Hunter, all trans fags -- transgender men who date other men.

It's definitely OK to think these guys are hot. But you know what's not OK? Saying things like 'I never would've known' or 'But you're so good-looking.' And especially: 'If I saw you on the street, I'd never think you were really a woman.'

That's because these guys aren't really women. They were born female, yes, but they now live their lives as men. FTMs (female-to-male transsexuals). Tranny boys. Trans men. But also gay men, just like any gay men -- yet with one small difference (no, not that difference -- I'm referring to their second X chromosome in place of the Y that determines an infant's sex at birth to be male). Which is what provokes dating websites like Adam4Adam -- and even people on Craigslist -- to delete or flag these guys' profiles, insisting that their sites provide a service 'for men only.'

Fed up with having his profile deleted, one of these gay trans men fired back in a letter to Adam4Adam management: 'I may have been born female, but I've transitioned to become male. No one on this site has had any problems with me. I'm part of this community. I work in gay bars. I date gay men.... I had no idea that I would be facing this kind of discrimination from within the gay community.... There are all different kinds of gay men: fat men and poor men and disabled men, and men that are into S/M, men who like to bareback, men who do crystal, and men who are black and Asian and mixed. All of these men have prominent profiles on your site. Why not me?'

The final verdict: 'The reason is because your profile says 'I was born a girl' and 'with all my original girly parts,' and your photos show depicts [sic] female private parts, so based on that our profile approval team concluded that you're not a man.... Thank you. The Adam4Adam Team.'

Nothing quite like being told you're not the man you thought you were.

Hunter: Short Boy
I'm a full-time college student. I'm into guys who are fairly active and are doing something in their lives. I'm not looking for commitment...just casual hookups. People who know how to spell and write in full sentences are a plus. I probably won't respond if your profile says something like 'suckhotdicknow.'

When not hanging out underage at East Village gay bars with me, Hunter is in his second year at a Portland, Ore.-area university but is currently studying abroad in Amsterdam. Growing up as a girl in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Hunter started to realize he was a boy as a sophomore in high school. He started injecting testosterone and had top surgery (a bilateral mastectomy and chest reconstruction) a year later, and he has lived infinitely more happily and peacefully as a male ever since.

When I first met Hunter a year ago, he showed up at my East Village apartment with an amused and slightly perplexed expression on his handsome baby face. A particularly persistent man had followed him and his equally cute and also skater-styled young friend all the way from the F train, repeatedly asking, 'Do you guys like to wrestle?'

Both Hunter and his friend ignored the man, an average, middle-aged, suit-clad guy who kept insisting, 'I'm totally straight. I'm married. I just like to watch guys wrestle. You sure you don't want to come over? I'm just around the corner... I have drinks.'

Before Hunter came out as gay and started attracting the attention of random chicken hawks on the street, he identified strongly as a dyke. 'But when I started hormones my sex drive got jacked up a crazy amount, and something just switched biochemically or something. There's a quote that goes around in the trans community: Testosterone makes you gay. It's kind of true for me,' he says with a laugh.

Hunter's not really in the market for a relationship, but he does like having sex with guys he meets both online and at school. He is open to dating other trans men but is mostly interested in meeting nontrans guys. Despite having no problem finding candidates, Hunter often feels conflicted after hooking up. He still has female genitalia, and while clitorises in most FTMs grow considerably when on testosterone and are an adequate metamorphosis for many, Hunter's 'one-inch dicklet' isn't what he ultimately wants for his body. He is actively pursuing a surgical phalloplasty.

'I'm having more anal sex lately, but for the most part, I'll have frontal sex -- that's how I refer to it -- because it's the most convenient. I rationalize it, like, It's there and it's just another hole, so I might as well use it,' he says. 'It feels good at the time, but then afterward the psychological ramifications suck. My reality snaps back, and I'm like, Yeah, it's just another hole, but it's another hole that's only in women, so as soon as we're done I run and find my boxers.'

Hunter always used to disclose his FTM status in his personal ads, but now he waits until corresponding with guys before broaching the subject. Most seem cool, but others can be quite disrespectful, either accusing Hunter of trying to 'trick' them or writing things like 'You look like you had your tits cut off' and persisting in referring to him as a woman.

'They're generally good guys,' Hunter says of the nontrans men he's progressed to the point of having sex with -- about 95% of whom have never been with a trans man before. 'After we have sex a lot of guys are like, 'I really like your setup.' They're trying to be complimentary, but either way they lose. On the one hand, I want them to be OK with my equipment, but on the other hand, I don't want them to be -- because I'm not OK with it.'

While he knows that a phalloplasty will not be perfect, Hunter believes that his sex life will be infinitely better postsurgery than it is now. So in the interim he has not been pursuing as many hook-ups this year as he did during his first year of college. 'It's just so exhausting having to disclose to guys over and over,' he explains, clearly vexed. 'I just want to be able to hook up with random guys but not have it be the Trans 101 discussion every time, you know?'

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