Manhunt's For Pussies

11.20.2008

By T Cooper

I admit it. Like the rest of you sick homos, I'm a Manhunt addict. It all started innocently enough: As your fearless and friendly neighborhood tranny columnist, I'd devised a daring and clever social experiment in online dating that would plumb the infinite intricacies of, and differences between, sexuality and gender -- all for your enjoyment and edification. Well, that was the plan at least, until I slapped a profile up on Manhunt, got a full membership, and started getting more play than John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, and that guy from Maroon 5 all put together.

But first I want to tell you about my original scheme, which was inspired by those insidious and cloying television ads for eHarmony, the openly homophobic dating website founded by the evangelical Christian'leaning Dr. Neil Clark Warren. I started thinking: He might've said no homos, but nobody ever said no trannies allowed on the site. Hey, I'm a (trans) dude, and I'm attracted to all genders -- including women -- so why not give it a shot? I wondered whether I could even pass eHarmony's patented personality test, as I'd read that as many as 20% of people who take the 400-plus-question survey get rejected for being what Dr. Warren deems poor marriage prospects (depressive, emotionally unstable, divorced too many times, gay, etc.).

I'm pleased to report that my (actual) photographs and (95% true) answers to the litany of unnerving questions -- 'If you were to marry, how many children would be ideal?' and 'Rate your morality on a scale of 1 to 7,' for starters -- got this freaky trans queer certified by eHarmony as 100% pure heterosexual male marriage material.

I paid $59.95 for a three-month membership, at which point I was suddenly matched with scores of women in the New York area who were statistically poised to be my ideal wife, based on '29 dimensions of compatibility.' There was Stacey in Mamaroneck, 4 foot 10 and in human resources. We got through several rounds of communication before she closed the match, choosing her preselected reason as, 'I think the physical distance between us is too great.' Wait, did she mean height? Then there was Lori in Queens, a vegan booklover like myself, who claimed that she couldn't live without NPR (me neither!). After she asked about my parents' relationship, what I like to do on Saturday nights, and where I see myself living in 15 years, we lost touch: 'I'm taking a break from dating,' she opted for.

Can you start to see where one might find Manhunt a little more'dynamic? Damn, straight chicks are tedious. It seemed as though my mission had been effortlessly accomplished and I had sufficiently imploded Dr. Warren's binary-obsessed, too simplistic categories of 'man seeking woman' and 'woman seeking man.' But there were also a lot of women who liked how 'sensitive' I seemed and how 'clean and good-looking' and 'not overly Neanderthal' I was. (OK, it was generally white and Asian ladies who were into my profile; the black and Latina ones seem to like their guys a little more, well, manly). I didn't mind fucking with eHarmony a little, but I did start to feel bad leading on some of the unsuspecting women who appeared to be taking a shine to me. So I figured it was time to give the fellas a whirl.

Common sense suggests that cruising is merely a search for dick. But I happen to be of the mind that cruising is also very much a search for identity -- one's own identity, which is constantly morphing whether we're aware of it or not. Take personal ads. Whether it's an extra inch, a few less pounds, or those 'swimmer's builds' that no amount of pools on this planet could possibly support, we all lie about ourselves to prospective mates. It's pretty much a given that a guy who says he's 5 foot 7 is really topping out at 5 foot 3 in dress shoes. Even in person we tend to shape-shift and make adjustments to who we are and who we're attracted to in the moment, or even how we'll have sex, depending on the partner.

White lies notwithstanding, for most people -- gay, straight, and everywhere in between -- the personal ad is simple: (1) You say what you are, and (2) You say what you want. But for a transgender person, cruising can be a particularly tricky prospect that inevitably puts the first step in that process -- identity, as opposed to sexuality -- front and center, since often, what we know ourselves to be might not always line up with what others think we are. I was thus really curious if I'd pass muster with the fussy fags on Manhunt as easily as I had with the marriage-minded ladies of eHarmony.
In my Manhunt profile I tried to stay as loyal to my true personality as possible. I said I liked guys who were capable of stringing a few words together, that I was looking for friendship first, and that I liked going out for coffee and browsing used-book stores. I put up two face photos and one of my torso. Going against the usual MH grain, my profile stated, 'I don't need to see a photo of your dick right now; you don't need to see mine.' (My dick spends much of its life in a drawer.) My final photo pictured me pulling down my jeans and striped boxers, grabbing onto and revealing a thick, juicy'organic zucchini.

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