My Adventures Using Tinder as a Trans Woman
I got some shocked, rude reactions, some polite nos, and discovered that Tinder has legitimate human beings on it whom you can talk to about actual stuff.
Illustration by Sam Taylor
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
So anyway, someone captured my heart recently like a thief in the night and squeezed all the juice out till it ran dry, and I was thinking that a great way to fill up this huge black void I've been left with would be to fuck everyone on Tinder. You say "love and sex addiction"; I say, "Order me an Uber."
I know, Tinder is so ridiculously 2013 it may as well be Disclosure, but this is the first time I've been single for years, so I just haven't been able to sample the delights of dating through an app—until now. Obviously I'm devastatingly, supernaturally, pulchritudinously hot, so I was thinking this could get pretty slutty, pretty quickly, right?
MY DATING LIFE BEFORE APPS
When I was a student and single in Brighton, me and my girls didn't have any problems attracting men. (Well, apart from Rachel, poor thing, but then no one likes dandruff, babe.) Most weekends back then I'd find myself winding down in my bedsit after the club, drinking Gallo, and listening to some hot young heterosexual have a coke-, electro-, and way-too-much-information-fueled crisis. "I'm not gay," they'd tell me, in a panic, usually followed by the classic, "I've never been in this situation before." Well, good for you, sweetheart, I'd reply—I'm in it every fucking Saturday night. And it soon got rather dull.
They often asked me to "prove" I wasn't lying, along with stupid questions about whether my hair was real or if I'd had my tits done. All reasonable enquiries, I suppose, in the context of a meaningless one-night stand, but I cannot forgive them for being so fucking predictable. It was like they were reading from a script—one that invariably ended with the words "OK, I've had a think about this and I'm prepared to let you suck my dick anyway." Well, cheers, dude. Great to hear you've squared that with yourself.
In person, I've had one or two guys tell me that it's just not their cup of tea, which is fair enough, of course. And even though on the whole, after that initial little wobble, most ended up taking a slice of Paris pie anyway, you can forgive me for expecting Tinder—with its anonymity and the added potential for rudeness that brings—to offer up some shitty reactions to my little "revelation."
To my surprise, though, most of the guys I met on Tinder were pretty chill from the get-go. Maybe they felt less threatened hearing the news that I am trans via their trusted smartphones? Or maybe I'd wandered into a strange, parallel universe where being trans just really isn't a big deal any more? There will always be those horny people out there in the world who are good for a fuck. But what about love? And commitment? And do you get to meet Mummy and Daddy—and they yours? Those questions are the same for anyone, but particularly more fraught for anyone from a minority background. No matter how smoking and wonderful you may be.
The following is a report on what I've learned about using dating apps as a proud transgender seductress.
These guys were shocked, bless 'em.
I really only had one or two reactions that you could class as "bad." Out of 200 Tinder matches. I guess straight guys are more sexually open-minded than we often assume. I can't say this would be the case for every trans person, and it's true that I'm swiping in London, where you'd imagine the mandem to be a bit more, you know, cosmopolitan. I guess I also mainly swiped left on Essex boys, in favor of guys in bands or with whom I share common interests in stuff like the Economist and City boys that look like they JDGAF about anything but coke. Basically, my pool of hotties may be biased towards a more open-minded metropolitan elite. Unless you looked like a complete fucking arsehole with no respect for anything, in which case I definitely swiped right.
A few guys turned me down politely, which feeds into an ongoing debate in the blogosphere about the so-called "cotton ceiling"—a cheeky play on "the glass ceiling" of discrimination that stops women getting top jobs. The cotton version is when people who otherwise support trans rights say they wouldn't have sex with a trans person. Some trans people argue that it's wrong to completely rule out dating us and, while it's fine to have a "type," I get where they're coming from. In my view, though, there's a huge difference between denying someone a job versus not desiring someone sexually. Sexual attraction may be the one area that it's OK to "discriminate" in—after all, it's up to you who you want to fuck—but you don't need to be a dick about your preference. Or, you know, limit yourself. All this feeds into much bigger conversations about desire and race, desire and disability, and desire and class—none of which I am going to attempt to explore here. You could write a book on it. And then six more. So, back to my Tinder guys.
I don't want to embarrass anyone (read: I don't want to jeopardize potential shags/hot dates/marriages), so I won't use any real names, but let's take a look at some sample reactions. Here's how it went when I told someone who I'm going to refer to here as "Fit Freddy." Twenty-one. From Islington. And fit as fucking fuck.
Fuck me now, Freddy!
Originally I decided that I'd chat with people before opening up, but after a while I decided to change it up, and reveal my fun fact on my bio page. Whether they just didn't read my info when they swiped right, or whether they just thought it was a joke, or didn't care, it doesn't seem to have made any difference. Guys are ON IT. A lot of guys messaged me with "No way did you used to be a guy, lol," which is flattering (if somewhat problematic, as it implies that trans women never look "good") but the point is, I'm still popular! Probably more popular than you.
AND I spent my first night on Tinder speaking to two other journalists, both fans of mine, of course. I mean, who knew? Tinder has legitimate human beings on it whom you can talk to about actual stuff.
SO WHAT DID I LEARN?
For starters, I found out I'm probably not as slutty as I once thought. Seriously. Most people are kind of hideous and, to my surprise, I would not lay with them. I'm not even looking for a Mr Darcy—tbh, I'd rather a rugged little rascal who wants to live out of wedlock and run up huge gambling debts, Mr. Wickham–style, but even those seem to be hard to come by these days. Thank you, dating apps, for helping me to see that, against all the odds, I've been lucky enough to have found, and slept with, some truly beautiful men in my time. And Simon.
I'm not sure if dating apps are a good thing or a bad thing for trans people—they're just a thing. The benefit is simple: There are loads of people to choose from. So if they're just not into you when they find out that you're trans, who cares? You just move onto the next potential fuck buddy. The drawback of that, of course, is that you're just as disposable to them as they are to you. Someone who may well be open to dating a trans person, given a little time to think it over, could dismiss you before getting a chance to explore how awesome you are. And how open minded they have the potential to be.
Like, I suspect most men I've charmed in nightclubs over the years would never have slept with me had they come across me via an app. If you'd asked them: "Would you date or have sex with a transsexual?" I reckon around 95 percent would have said no before they met me. The truth is, you never know how you will feel in that situation until you're in it, drink in hand, basking in the warm glow of my irrepressible sexual charisma. What I'm trying to say is, desire is a complex affair and though we may have types (tall, dark, and handsome for me, please), none of us can truly explain why we fall for certain people, or merely want to rip the underwear off others.
And another curveball. I did something I'd never done before last week: I went on a date with a trans guy. A really frickin' hot trans guy. I told one of my pals and their first reaction was, "Um, what's he got down there?" I was pretty repulsed to be asked this, but it's nothing I wouldn't have asked myself back in the day. Don't get me wrong. I like a nice cock as much as the next girl, but my pal's question seemed so dehumanizing—reducing a whole, charming human being to a mere set of genitals. It's just the sort of thing I can imagine my lover's friends asking about me.
The truth is, I don't know what he's got down there. I just know I like the way I feel when he talks to me, how nicely he fills out a shirt, and how sweet the mint Cornetto tasted that he surprised me with for our walk in the park. I kind of feel like if we became intimate, it wouldn't matter what's going on with his junk. Just like "Life" in Jurassic Park, I'm sure we'd find a way.
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