Being trans is hard. Exploring my gender has been a hell of an adventure, and now that I’m finding myself most comfortable on the masculine side of the spectrum, I’m starting to see how my gender impacts my relationships and sexuality. I’m still primarily attracted to masculine of center folks, except now, instead of pursuing them as a femme presenting person, I’m presenting as masculine myself. I went from being perceived as a woman, and being able to court straight men, to identifying as a non binary trans guy (who is still often perceived as a woman) courting gay, bi, and queer men. If the dating scene had such a thing as market value, it felt like mine just plummeted.
This wasn’t a surprise, and I’m almost ashamed to admit it was one of the scariest parts of transition for me. We’re all told not to care what other people think of us, to be happy with who we are and to love ourselves, but the truth is that sex is important to me, and when I was making a decision that felt like it was going to limit my access, it felt a little like shooting myself in the foot. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t delay the process of deciding to start HRT, but at the end of the day, it got to a point where I couldn’t enjoy sex with straight guys anymore. I had learned enough about my gender that I couldn’t just “pretend” to be a cis woman, the sex wasn’t worth it if I spent half of it dysphoric and disassociating.
Unfortunately, recognizing that I needed to do something didn’t make it any easier. I started taking T, coming out to more folks in my life1, and changed my gender on all of my dating apps to “male”.2 When OKC had labeled me as a woman, I was afraid to open the app because I knew it would bring my profile to the top and I’d be flooded with so many messages that I couldn’t sort through them all, now I can leave it open for hours and only a few will trickle in.
I know that flood of messages was mostly useless, that it was full of people who couldn’t be bothered to write a real message, people who wouldn’t be attracted to me if they knew I was trans, people who I wasn’t attracted to in the first place. I know the volume of messages doesn’t mean anything, but it’s hard not to notice it’s absence.
All of that said, I’ve been on Testosterone for 5 months, I’m covered in pre-teen acne and watching my weight shift to my belly in ways that make me anxious, and I’m still having just as much sex as I was having pre-T, maybe more since the T makes me less scared to go out to pursue it (and is blowing up my sex drive like WOAH). I haven’t limited my search for partners, I’ve focused it. By being the most authentically me that I can I’m allowing people I wouldn’t be compatible with in the first place to self select out of my dating pool.
At the same time, I’m still acutely aware of this concept of marketability, of exactly how desirable I am, or have the potential to be. This focus isn’t healthy, and while my fear isn’t completely unfounded, things aren’t nearly as dire as my anxiety brain often likes to make it out to be.
As part of working through this new anxiety, I’ve been addressing it on several fronts, the first of which, is unpacking why this matters so much to me in the first place. Why is it so important that I feel desirable to feel valuable? Is this part of being socialized as a woman? Is it leftover from unhealthy relationships of my past? Is it something else? More importantly, how much of it is actually valuable and how much do I want to keep a part of who I am? I do feel a lot of joy around feeling desirable, it turns me on, I love the way people react to my nudes, I love being able to send filthy texts and watch the receiver get turned on, I love seeing people worship my ass. I want to be able to feel joy in being desired while not feeling worthless when I’m not.
My friends and partners have also been incredibly valuable in helping combat this with me. From affirming compliments to dirty talk where I’m gendered correctly, being verbally reminded that I am attractive, not in spite of my transness, not because of it,3 but simply alongside it is incredibly validating.
Finally, I’ve started surrounding myself with media in which other trans men and trans masculine folks are being seen as desirable, specifically in porn. Unfortunately, there isn’t a huge collection of gay porn starting trans guys available, but studios like Bonus Hole Boys and performers like Cyd St. Vincent and James Darling create some fantastic content. Luckily, these formally niche performers are on the rise- just a few weeks ago one of my favorites, Viktor Belmont, performed in a mainstream film with Naked Sword. It was the first time that a trans man has performed in mainstream gay male porn in 15 years, and it was fucking fantastic, by the way.
We’re also seeing the industry expand into sex games that allow you to customize your experience and VR porn on sites like VRSmash. I’ve found myself wondering a lot lately, what kind of scene I’d create if I could create my own, and what I’d want to watch through a pair of VR goggles. Would I want to feel like a voyeur in the corner? Would I want to see through the eyes of another trans guy, to watch myself get fucked, or would I want a scene where I could see through the eyes of a cis man? Would that be affirming, or just make me more dysphoric? Would it depend on the day?
Seeing people like me being sexual with other people all over the gender spectrum reminds me that by expressing my gender I haven’t catastrophically limited my dating pool. My transness doesn’t mean that I can never be a part of any community that isn’t the trans community. I didn’t quarantine myself with the queers4. There are cis men who will find me attractive, there are straight women who will find me attractive, and there are plenty of queers that will find me attractive. I don’t have to choose between being attractive and being a boy. I can be a real attractive boy.
Many thanks to VR Smash for collaborating with me on this post, as always, all writing and opinions are my own. If you want to talk more about dysphoria and desirability during sex, join me for my first O.School live stream on Monday at 8pm est!
- Coming out to the straight dudes I was attracted to was particularly hard. [↩]
- To clarify, I’m Non-Binary on OKC and Tinder, but after choosing any non-binary identity, the apps prompt you to choose if you’d like to show up in searches for men or women. [↩]
- There are very many people who fetishize transness, and I have some very complicated feelings about that. While I don’t have a problem with the concept on it’s face, when someone with a trans fetish approaches trans folks, it’s often really dehumanizing. They’re not attracted to you, they’re attracted to your transness, full stop. You could be any trans person and they’d be equally interested in you, and that’s just gross. [↩]
- Although, that does sound rad. Queer Quarantine Play Party next Halloween anyone? [↩]