The Trans Fags

3.16.2008

By T Cooper

Cole: Femme Metro Trans Man
Lonely trans guy looking for friends to go out with in the Chapel Hill/Durham/Raleigh area. I'm a quiet kind of guy until you get to know me. I can be a lot of fun, but I'm sick of going out alone. I like dancing and movies and just hanging out. Am also interested in trying some play with a nontrans guy (have been almost exclusively with trans men so far). But sex isn't the most important thing.

The term tranny fag represents exactly who I am,' declares Joshua Bastian Cole, 27. 'I'm queer, but that's even too general, because I'm pretty specific about who I'm attracted to: other trans guys who are transitioned.'

Cole grew up in Rockaway, N.J., and started periodically passing as a guy in ROTC basic training during his college years at James Madison University. He wasn't necessarily trying to pass back then, but it gradually started happening after coming out as a lesbian the year before, when he was with a partner who encouraged him to wear men's clothing.

'I wonder if my lesbian phase was a midway phase between girl and trans man, because it's more acceptable to be masculine in the lesbian community,' he offers, eyes bluer than seems natural. His ideal mate these days? 'Someone like me. A lot of people might label it arrogant and conceited, but I guess I've just always been looking for myself.'
In fact, during all points in his sexual and emotional history, Cole has been drawn to people who mirrored precisely where he was in his own journey: from girls and women to androgynous tomboys and gender-queer 'bois' and finally to where he is now: FTMs who have taken testosterone to masculinize their bodies. 'When I'm with another trans guy, we're both either using a dick or not,' he clarifies. 'But with a nontrans guy [a penis] is there all the time, and it can't go away, and I suddenly realize my unrealness. I just feel less like a guy when a nontrans guy's naked next to me. No matter how equally they see me, I know I'm not equal, and I don't like that.'

Which is where Cole feels he clashes with a lot of other trans men he knows, who cry 'transphobia' if somebody -- especially a partner, for instance -- refers to their prosthetic dick (dildo) as anything but real and attached. 'I respect those guys who completely view themselves as 100% male, but I just don't happen to see myself that way."

Cole's day jobs find him endlessly refolding clothing at a Chapel Hill, N.C., Banana Republic as well as selling food at the local co-op, but he also recently appeared in Cubbyholes: Trans Men in Action, a feature-length porn video featuring both trans and nontrans men having sex together. He agreed to take his clothes off on film in support of trans visibility, 'to show what our bodies look like,' but he doesn't necessarily have sex like he does in the film. 'When I'm really having sex, I'm usually packing, and the underwear stays on,' he explains, smiling shyly. 'Though I'm still a total femme bottom in both relationships and sex.' When asked to elaborate, he adds: 'I'm a pillow princess, so if I'm with another femme, look out: It's a race to the pillows.'

When Cole comes to the New York City area for a family visit and to see A Chorus Line on Broadway, we meet for dinner at a loud and crowded Chelsea restaurant. Against the tableau of male couples there on a Friday night, it seems as though we blend right in, and true to Cole's word, out of nowhere like robotic programming by the butch-femme gods, I find myself opening doors for him, waiting for him to sit before I do, and picking up the check; I want to get the leftovers wrapped up for him to take home. Over coffee he tells me how hard it is to find other trans fags in the Durham-Chapel Hill area, which is why he recently placed a men-for-men profile online.

The Yahoo! Personals ad netted Cole dates with two different nontrans gay men, with whom he had a decent time, but they failed to relate with Cole at the level he needed. 'They weren't part of my world,' he explains. 'They were just plain guys who happened to be gay. They watched football. I wasn't attracted to them.'

In general Cole feels very little connection to gay male culture, a statement underscored by two massive tattoos he recently had inked into his forearms. In large, blocky lettering the right arm reads TRANS, and on the left in the same location appears the word HUMAN. As our gay night on the town repeatedly demonstrated, Cole's aesthetic and manner might cause him to pass seamlessly as a stereotypically stylish gay man, but along with his ink, he protests, 'I don't like being invisible as trans. The experience is something I'm proud of, and I talk about it all the time.'

Cole has lost relationships because of his refusal to pass as just a guy -- or even as just a gay guy -- when he's been with trans men who wanted to live completely 'stealth' (concealing their trans status). 'Identity is a huge part of trans culture, so if one thing's not in line with another, my outness can cause problems,' he recalls of one particular relationship that tanked because of a rift over visibility.
'People are always telling me to move to New York or San Francisco or Seattle, but I can't just up and go.' So for now Cole is working on his fledgling acting and writing careers -- not to mention getting ready for his latest close-up in the next installment of trans fag porn from the producers of Cubbyholes.

Kelly: Female-to-Male Tranny
FTM looking for (bi)curious guys: seeking guys for friendship, fun, and fucking. I'm into anal, vaginal, cock sucking, toys, and all-around debauchery.

Kelly Arbor is a 30-year-old trans man who 'loves to suck cock.' He's always identified as bisexual but asserts that he is 'queer with respect to his sexuality, gender, and politics.' About three years ago he had top surgery and started hormones, and he is currently in a relationship with a female.

'I prefer to date women and fuck men,' Kelly clarifies, which is why his presently monogamous relationship is moving toward an open one where he will continue to date nontrans men, like the 'fuck buddy' he had for six months before falling in love with this new person who obviously has some say in whom he has sex with besides her.

'I've had the desire to live as a fag since about the age of 20, when I began to express a feminine maleness, which I call 'fag,'' Kelly recalls. 'But after my tits were gone I felt like I could physically see myself more as a fag -- and passed in those communities too -- so it was like desire that could finally be manifested through access.'

Like the others, Kelly meets men mostly online, screening especially for bisexual and other queer men, 'because I'm a boy with a cunt. That's how I like to get fucked a lot of the time, and it's not something I'm willing to dismiss.' Kelly is dark-haired, ruggedly handsome, and solidly built; think a shorter Colin Farrell. And (see a trend emerging here?) Kelly also has no trouble finding guys to hook up with -- guys who appreciate that masculinity and being attracted to it is way more complex than the presence or absence of a penis.

'But I've had a couple run-ins with people face-to-face after meeting online, and they just didn't have the desire they thought they would toward my body. No biggie; life is about experience, and every hookup is educational,' Kelly says matter-of-factly. His open attitude is reflected in the work he does as manager of a sex-toy store in Seattle: He 'absolutely' feels that educating the men he meets is his responsibility: 'It's part of what I love.'

'I've fucked a lot of guys who have never been with women,' he says. 'It's so interesting and special to be the first vagina they fuck.'

Send a letter to the editor about this article.

READER COMMENTS ()

AddThis