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Why do cis men like trans men?

Filed By Guest Blogger | September 14, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Transgender & Intersex, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: cisgender people, personal chemistry, trans men, transmen

Editors' Note: Not Aiden is a gay man of trans* experience who prefers to remain anonymous because he's tired of being everyone's token tranny. He enjoys photography, notaiden.pngyelling at Project Runway contestants, and the eternal search for a good gay film. For the moment you can catch him at Not Another Aiden.

Someone seriously asked me this question the other day. Honestly, I was kind of surprised. Partially because I haven't been randomly asked a trans question since my early coming out days and partially because I'd never really thought about it before. It's an interesting question though, and one that could be reassuring to guys who aren't sure they'll ever be able to find anyone so I asked a bunch of old dates. Left out casual sex partners for this one because I tend to think of hook ups in a different category from dating, but if anyone wants those answers there are a few close, but not romantically involved guys I could ask.

Note that this is an entirely unscientific survey. There's not nearly enough racial diversity to be comprehensive (I have a thing for blue eyed blonds) and I tend to have fairly long term relationships so there weren't that many guys. Most are guys I went out with a few times and then switched to being friends with either due to lack of personal chemistry or things like distance, work schedules, or existing partner(s) comfort. All are on the more effeminate end of the spectrum. All could be classed as poly, though not everyone would identify as such and only a handful were in active relationships at the time we started dating. All are openly gay (and most couldn't be closeted if they tried). All have dated both cis and trans men. For some I was the first trans guy they dated. There are no exclusive tops. It's definitely not a representative sample.

What it came down to were two major things, only one of which actually has to do with being trans.

  1. The same exact reasons they're attracted to cis men. This was overwhelmingly the most common response. Every single guy I asked said some variation of this. Issue is that it's entirely due to the selection. I don't date guys who think of trans guys as a separate category of men. If the guys asked were exclusively into trans guys I'm sure the answers would be different (and more varied).
  2. After a bit of insisting most guys came up with the ability to adjust dick size. I kind of half way wish I was kidding. It's a joke I've made more than a few times myself, but I was never serious. It was something I told myself when I was feeling crappy about that whole having a vagina thing, a sort of consolation prize. Hearing it from other people makes me slightly uncomfortable. Not because it's a bad point, it's actually rather positive. It's just a personal reaction to the reality of being trans. Of course, this is another one with selection issues. I don't really get much from bottoming so my dick (flesh or otherwise) becomes a bit more important than it would be if I dated guys who really liked to top.

One other thing that came up a couple of times was how a slightly lowered STD risk was a bit of an added perk. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with considering that a true advantage just because so much of it depends on sexual practices. I'm a bit of a safe sex nazi, had a bad HIV scare right when I was coming out so I keep my risk levels as low as possible without being celibate. Someone with different habits (both in terms of sexual activity and protection use) would have different risk levels. Sure, getting fucked by a condom covered dildo is less likely to result in STD transmission than a bare cock, but an ass is an ass and if you put your uncovered dick into one it doesn't matter if it belongs to a trans guy or a cis guy.

Exactly one guy said he loved that I'm short because he'd never dated a guy he could swap clothes with before. Seeing as how not all trans guys are as freakishly tiny as I am, I don't think this one is particularly helpful. Still, it's kind of nice to know that being small is sometimes a good thing.

So really the reasons to like a trans guy are the same as the reasons to like a cis guy: entirely individual. Personally, I like it that way. It means that guys who view their maleness as different from that of cis men can go hang with the cis guys who feel similarly while I can stay over in my space with the cis guys who think of me as one of them, just with a vaguely interesting medical condition.


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Re: Size Matters:

A gal I know in a long-term relationship with a trans guy put it this way: more than a mouthful is a waste.

And for other issues, there's prosthetics which can be as thick or thin and as long or short as required, so there's no problems with too big/too small..

She and her partner are exclusively straight, but I think the same principle may apply.

my youngest son, in his senior year of high school, is a queer translad... reading this article allows me to feel more hopeful for him long term*, more able to realize that there is a growing segment of the population in general that can and will realize he is a man and he has a "vaguely interesting medical condition" or as he puts it, one hell of a birth defect...

*i keep telling him that high school is a temporary, mandatory hell and he is coming up for parole

high school is a temporary, mandatory hell and he is coming up for parole

Brilliant!

Perception of trans men -- particularly gay ones -- is changing pretty quickly. I remember coming out and not being able to find a single trans guy who'd managed to maintain a relationship with a cis guy. Now I know college-aged guys who not only know what being FtM means, but actively work to make gay [trans] guys more included. There are still people who try to make life difficult, but they're becoming more and more rare.

As a cis man who's been attracted to trans men, the answer for me is, "Because the guy was cute!" There's been plenty of unattractive trans guys I wouldn't think of dating, but only because they didn't do it for me. A cute guy is a cute guy. Get me alone in a bedroom with a guy - trans or cis - and I'm sure we'll think of something to do. :) What happens is best left for spur of the moment anyhow so to go in with any preconceived notions is just silly anyhow.

Haha, that was about what I got from everyone. "...Why wouldn't I date a trans guy? If he's cute and I'm interested? Sure." It's something I've always thought, but I like having confirmation.

Cute is cute. The thing that makes one a guy is between the ears anyway.

Why does anyone like anyone else? A cute guy is a cute guy, you start dating, and what happens, happens.

Besides, I'm bisexual, not too fussy about body parts. In San Francisco, a lot of times I'm just, "Whatever! Take off your clothes and surprise me!"

I know that and you know that, but for guys who are just coming out the idea of ever finding a guy who'll accept and understand them can seem impossible.

with due respect to your son & his coming out process, i must reply here for educational purposes. i'm also impressed & delighted by your support for your son.

what i'm about to say has more to do as a response to general trends in the transgendered communities that i've seen time & again, to be repeated in subsequent generations.

that being said, being trans is not a 'birth defect'. there is discrimination in common between trans ppl & someone with disabilities, but it's not the same. this is from someone who is trans and has disabilities. this is a oft-repeated statement by many transpeople & it's grossly inaccurate & self defeating...even the word 'defect' implies not the same status as any other human being, disabled or otherwise, transgender or otherwise. many disabled ppl i know are happy with who they are, however 'imperfect' they might seem to able-bodied ppl. they feel their humanity is what counts to make them peers with others, & not based on a perceived 'lack' of what able-bodied ppl might see ont he outside.

in this article in general, why is it that people hold dating cisppl as some kind of special badge compared to dating other trans ppl? it just continues the cycle of shame & inferiority. why can't we just treat each other as human and not create internalized hierarchies that simply mirror the larger social phobias that we face, doubling our stressors.

i understand there is a process for self acceptance, and i've nothing against transppl who 'prefer' cisppl as partners. but we should examine the reasons why behind them to make sure we as transppl love/ are attracted to the cisperson for who they are and not what they represent (social vs self acceptance).

not to mention the risk for cis-'chasers' or ppl who fetishize us while not respecting how we see ourselves, or worse, attempt to abuse/harm us in the name of 'love' or 'attraction' while we are at the same time in an often fragile state coming to terms with who we are. i'm not implying anyone in particular or all cisppl have that potential, but there are certainly some out there that fit that description, and can even be called a subculture--that worships a projection of the viewer while ignoring the person's identity, wants & desires who is being 'admired'.

this article seems to simultaneously try to celebrate being trans as 'different' while at the same time holding the cispartner as the gold standard for judging true trans acceptance into the ahem, real world. this is too often a social phenomenon in trans communities. i'm not trying to jump on the writer, but only remark that these general tendencies of comparing cis & transmen as separate 'types' of men (both in cis & trans communities) while at the same time denying any 'difference' between them are confusing messages in context to transppl's pressures to social conformity while struggling with self acceptance.

we should examine these attitudes & assumptions both among ourselves & in the larger lgbt & straight communities, in an effort to embrace who we are and leave the struggle to who we think we should become (due to societal pressure) behind-- as much as possible while protecting our safety (passing or not) & personal integrity.

1: As another person who's trans and disabled, some of us do view our trans-ness as just another disability/medical condition. "Defect" isn't the word I'd use either, but keep in mind this was a 17-18 year old talking. He's still learning the nuances of expressing himself, cut him some slack.

2: Some of us don't get along well with other trans guys. I know I rarely can find trans guys I 'click' with. Sexuality aside, I just have a fully different way of looking at both my being trans and the world at large because I was (accidentally) socially transitioned as a child. Cis guys not only accept my point of view without question, they're far less likely to tell me to "act like a man." We don't often talk about it, but the trans male community can be horribly sissyphobic and flat out cruel to those of us who don't fit some sort of masculine ideal. The few times I've managed to meet trans guys I'd be willing to date I've been all for it, but that doesn't happen very often. (This is, of course, leaving out all the guys I've been attracted to and not slept with who may or may not have been trans.)

3: I wrote this originally for the guys who read my blog. I have a large following of 14-18 year old [trans] guys who express the same intense fear of always being alone that I had when I first came out. Most of them have the same issue not being accepted by the trans community that I had (and continue to have). There's no support for people like us. No one holds our hand and tells us everything will be fine, they're too busy making sure we know we're different even from other trans guys. I wanted to make sure that these guys knew that it's possible to be both gay (capital-G Gay for most of them) and trans without also being alone forever. It was bad enough for me at 20 and I'd dated gay guys before, I see no reason to let teenagers suffer that same feeling of isolation.

While it's probably not healthy to hold up cis men as the "gold standard," it's really nice to have some affirmation that they can be attracted to us. For several reasons.

(1) There are a lot more of them. There are fewer gay guys than hetero guys, but the population of gay cis men is still at least an order of magnitude bigger than the population of gay trans men. The fact that cis guys can be attracted to us drastically improves our odds of finding partners. Which is particularly important for those of us who aren't yet wanting to settle down with a specific person.

(2) Our sexuality is not relevantly different from cis gay men's sexuality. We might have thought more about trans issues, trans inclusion, what to do with trans men's genitalia...but when it comes down to what pushes our involuntary subconscious buttons, we're the same as cis guys inside. Which means that for some of us, it's all (or largely) about a part that trans guys don't happen to have. For others, that's not such a big deal. There's variation. But some of us really prefer cis guys, just as some cis guys do, for reasons that aren't easily dismissed.

(3) We're gay men. We're not a third gender or alternate sexuality. We're gay, and we want to be part of and feel included in gay communities. Part of that is dating and being in relationships with the wider community of gay men as one of them. Being ghettoized, dating and having relationships only amongst each other, is "othering" in a way that some of us aren't comfortable with.

(This is coming from the perspective of someone who, like Not Aiden, identifies as unambiguously male and unambiguously gay. It's not intended to insult or offend people with genderqueer, fluid, or other identities or pansexual or bisexual people, who may be interested in creating a separate subcommunity with a separate culture. That's just not where I fit.)

Same here about being trans and gay with a capital G, and about being bashed by the larger "normal" trans community.

Evan- "Which is particularly important for those of us who aren't yet wanting to settle down with a specific person."

Thank you for pointing that out. Many people (cis and trans) have told me to find that "special someone" who loves me "the way I am". It happens I'm not interested in a monogamous relationship, I want to sleep around like any other gay guy.
Their prescribed type of relationship turns the trans person into something of a hostage to that "one person", because what if the partner leaves? There would be "nobody else". And if he's cis, he can shop around while the trans person can't. That's just not a healthy relationship model. Luckily, it's not realistic anyway.

Ryotboi- excellent reply (I like the original text as well) I'm especially thankful for you pointing out this:
"many disabled ppl i know are happy with who they are, however 'imperfect' they might seem to able-bodied ppl. they feel their humanity is what counts to make them peers with others, & not based on a perceived 'lack' of what able-bodied ppl might see ont he outside."

I always felt uneasy about the whole trans=disability metaphor, but I couldn't put my finger on it, why. Now I understand myself better. I have a minor disability myself and have a similar attitude like the one you describe. I have always resented feeling inferior or ugly because of it, and thought of it as an interesting variantion. I feel the same about being trans. It's only the social effects of being disabled or being trans that suck, and in the cases when additional health/body issues come with it. But it's not all "Woe is me!!", it's also interesting/normal/everyday/a bit special/just human.

ryotboi: I'm responding to your commentary on why trans people appear to prefer to date cis people as a badge of honour.

I don't think that's what it is at all; there are simply MORE cis people in the world than there are trans and if we were all expected to only date within trans communities; many of us would be SOL. I, for one, see it more as an odds game. I don't want to be written off by a huge population that's within my attraction sphere; I don't prefer dating cis folk to trans folk.

That being said, I'd personally have trouble dating anyone who said they'd ONLY date a trans guy for the same reasons as NotAiden. I'd always be suspicious of what exactly they were attracted to. That's a personal thing, though, and certainly doesn't apply to others.

love is all around | September 16, 2010 2:26 PM

I think it's so wonderful that gay men like bil have finally come out with the truth that the penis is meaningless to most gay men. It is the man and not the genitals that matter to most gay men so encountering transmen and their vaginas is actually a form of sexual liberation from the cis prison of same sex genital obsession which the gay media has forced gay men to believe. As many transmen say, the penis is a vagina in reality -- the clit and the vulva become the glans and the scrotum so there is no difference and only bigots and right wingers would pretend there is. Personally I am moving from exclusive cis male sex to transman vaginal sex and now to sex with women. I can see becoming heterosexual and enjoying penis vagina sex with masculine women without the debilitating immaturity and prejudice of same cis sex penis obsession that I lived as a "gay" man (probably something to do with a lack of love from my father in the first place). Transmen vaginas and men like bil will lead all gay men into a bisexual and even heteroqueer future where there are no labels on genitals or love.

...Not all trans men want to use their vaginas. In fact, you try going anywhere near that and I will react with extreme violence. How about treating trans men like people instead of some sort of prop to further your own political agenda?

reality hurts only when you resist it | September 16, 2010 4:59 PM

And whether you like it or not, whether you call it bigtory or not, whether you say the sky is red when it is blue or not some gay cis men will never be sexually attracted to a person with a vagina or a constructed artificial penis. No males on the planet get upset because men or women have sexual desires that exclude them for some reason (especially genitals -- the locus of sex for 90% of people), except "gay transmen" who call human rights violation when a gay man is not attracted to them BECAUSE of their OP (Original Plumbing -- Buck Angel has not liberated transmen but fetishized the transmale vagina to a group of kink seeking gay/bi men). Some bisexual men like bil enjoy vaginas and/or non-genital sex. Most gay men enjoy penises and genital sex. Period. Fact of life. Get over it. It is this politicizing of genitals that ironically makes trans men seem like they hate themselves and are ashamed of who they are. Be trans -- be different -- be open and honest and find like minded people. Already bil and others have come out -- they like "cute guys" with vaginas or no sexualized genitals. Seek them out. The way gay men seek out other gay men in a sea of hetero men. Trans men who want men will have to find ways to find those bi men who are into them. Simple. You cannot PC whip anyone into sexual desire when it simply does not exist. That is what homosexual liberation is about. We are not pretending we are not sexually aroused by women and vaginas. We are NOT. Why make this a bad thing?

Not for you, because you clearly have your own issues that need worked out, but for anyone else who may think you sound reasonable:

1: Most trans men don't care about being rejected due to our lack of a penis. It's when that rejection turns into malice or hatred or a complete denial of our identity as men that we start to get irritated. I get liking dick, I like it too.

2: I'm not a Buck Angel fan for largely the reason you stated. I think it's great that some guys are comfortable enough to use their vaginas, but I'm getting a little sick of the assumption that we all are. Besides, I am no where near that butch.

3: Trans man = man. Gay man who sleeps with trans men = man who is sleeping with men. Same way a gay man who somehow gets his penis cut off in a horrible accident is still a man. Really, it's not that difficult once you get your brain out of the neolithic era.

4: Attraction is based on so much more than genitalia. Most of the time you don't see genitalia until after you're already attracted to someone. Some people do have a strict preference and that's fine. I suggest trying it first just because you'd be surprised at what you like (I know I was hesitant about dating another trans guy), but there's nothing wrong if you're a one or the other kind of person. At the same time, NOT being a one or the other type doesn't mean you're any less gay. There is a huge difference between a trans guy and a woman, both in and out of bed. If there wasn't we wouldn't bother transitioning. For one thing, staying a woman doesn't require needles, therapy, and surgery that costs more money than most people have.

Clarification. A man who loses his penis (to disease or accident or castration) is NOT the same as any transman. The man without the penis has nothing there but a scar. The transman has a vagina there! Or a modified one. Not the same thing at all. I've heard that said by a number of transmen and it is illogical and weird to make such a comparison. BTW, it would be interesting to hear from transmen who like women and who date hetero women to get an accurate comparison with trans men and gay men. Do these women just laugh and ignore the presence of the vagina? They like penises too. Any comparisons between the groups?

I'd also like to mention that implying that having sex with a transman is like a "gateway drug" to a gay man having sex with a woman is pretty f-ing offensive. I'm usually not so sore about that stuff but that one really stings.

Right? Bloody hell, I haven't heard something that offensive yet oddly complimentary since being told I was "the best of both worlds." Uh, no I'm not. I'm a guy, bite me.

I know an older cis gay guy who would never go near a woman but who has dated not one but two trans guys. I'm interested what he would say about the assumption that he is "turned all hetero" by dating the two guys *lol* Maybe we could write to those ex-gay camps and offer them some transmen to assist in turning gay guys straight? Works sure as hell, as we have learned here.

yeah i get the sheer vulminosity thing of there being more non-trans gay men. that makes sense. it's the person & chemistry, not the genetalia (except extreme fetishist like buck angel) that count. but how can we logistically separate transwomen who are pre-op & go for profit & buck angel? that being said, it's really NOT comfortable/permissible for the majority of transmen to use their vaginas in my experience as one of the major selling points of hooking up. to me, it's kinda strange, & sets up an expecttation for bi/gay guys cuz he's so out about it.