Men who have sex with men (MSM) have always used a variety of methods for hooking up. These ways have changed with shifts in laws and law enforcement practices, societal acceptance and of course, apps. As Grindr and Scruff grow in popularity, the different populations using the apps are also growing. Many trans men, including those who used to frequent (queer) women’s spaces, are hanging out and cruising in gay male spaces and using apps that facilitate cruising. But MSMs have a lot of questions before meeting trans men online for sex and want to know how to respectfully navigate the similarities and differences of hooking up with trans men.
We asked Murphy Longley, a local gay trans man to facilitate a workshop for gay and MSM on hooking up with trans guys. Below is a primer for understanding the questions that cis (non-trans) MSM may have as well as short answers to those questions. His workshop on April 4 will cover much more depth and create space for more nuanced answers with advice from his own experience to help educate others on cruising queer trans men in historically gay spaces.
1) What does FTM mean?
FTM stands for Female to Male, it’s a catchall for folks who were assigned female at birth and have transitioned either socially or medically (eg with hormones or surgery) to align with a more masculine gender presentation. Trans guys may also use terms like trans man, trans guy or describe their personal identity simply as trans-masculine.
2) Are trans men who have sex with men just gay guys?
Yes and no. There are definitely trans men who have sex with other men who would classify themselves as gay. But just as there are cis men who sleep with other men who may identify as bi, queer, panssexual or even straight, the same principle applies to trans men.
3) Do they still have vaginas?
Sometimes. But nobody wants to be reduced to body parts, and doing so for trans folks leads down the dangerous path to harmful bathroom bills. More on surgery in question #7.
4) Vaginal or anal sex?
All people have preferences for the types of sex that they like to have. Some like oral pleasure and others prefer kink or anal or massage. There is the same diversity of preferences in the FTM population as there are in any other population.
5) Can I get a trans man pregnant?
Yes, it is possible. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a common (and increasingly more accessible) tool for trans men to change physically such as facial hair growth, deepening of voice, fat redistribution etc. One other effect of HRT is to halt a menstrual cycle, but many trans men choose to not take hormones. In addition, some trans men will undergo a hysterectomy as part of their medical transition, others may not. Everyone should be having frank conversations about safer sex and the trans community is no exception.
6) I am a gay man who bottoms (gets penetrated). So what would happen?
You’re in luck! Plenty of trans men love topping! Some trans men may be uncomfortable with their genitals or turned off at the idea of being penetrated, or simply enjoy being the penetrator. Strap-on penetration is incredibly safe (with proper care of your toys) and has the benefit of offering the choice of size and style of toys to fit any partner’s preferences.
7) What does top and bottom surgery mean?
Top and bottom surgery refer to procedures that can happen above and below the belt respectively to help align a trans person’s physical body with their gender identity. Top surgery typically amounts to a double mastectomy and/or chest reconstruction, whereas bottom surgery refers to many possible procedures below the belt. Trans men who haven’t opted for bottom surgery are often described as having their “original plumbing”.
8) Where can I meet trans men?
Most people do not like to feel fetishized, so seeking out trans men specifically to cross that option off your bucket list or out of curiosity would likely make most trans men feel uncomfortable and uninterested. Really, trans men are everywhere that cis men are, and trans men interested in sex with cis men will be in places where gay men are, including Grindr.
9) What pronoun do I use?
Never “she”. Often he/him pronouns will be the preference although many will opt for a gender neutral they/them pronoun. However, self-identification is an important pillar in the trans community. The only way to know for sure is to ask, respectfully.
10) If you are a trans man wanting to have sex with men, why did you transition??
Because I’m a man who likes to have sex with men. Specifically, men who like to have sex with other men.