You're a savvy queer who's been eyeing a hot trans guy at the monthly dance parties, or the regular cutie you see at all the fundraising events, but how you make the approach? We here at Early to Bed have had many customers ask for our help in flirting and consummating their crush on an FTM, so on Feb. 9 we're presenting a first-ever workshop, How to Bed a Trans Man, that covers this topic in detail. If you can't make it to the shop in person, lucky you, here are seven tips to help you up your seduction game and keep you from inadvertently offending (or just turning off) your date.
1. Don't use the word "tranny."
RuPaul loves it, but you're not on a date with RuPaul. The word is highly charged in the trans community because of its hurtful use in the past, and even if your date uses it to describe themselves or others, chances are when you say the word, you'll sound awkward at best, or a like an insensitive jerk at worst.
2. If you mess up pronouns, apologize briefly and move on.
Everyone makes verbal gaffes. Quickly say you're sorry and keep the conversation flowing. People mess up names and pronouns of non-trans folks, too; our brains are not perfect, so don't make it a huge deal and draw more attention to it. Then, make a concerted effort to not mess up pronouns again. If you keep saying the wrong pronoun, though, consider that maybe you aren't ready to be on the date.
3. Do your own research beforehand.
How do you take the hormones? What types of surgery are available? What's this tight nylon shirt you're wearing? What does "non-op transsexual" mean? All these questions can be answered by the Internet, so don't treat your date like a private googling session (unless you're supergeeks and that's part of a fantasy scenario). Educating yourself on these topics will keep your curiosity from accidentally spilling all over your date, and it will also make conversation easier to follow on your end if he does mention things about his transition or past. However...
4. Don't bring up trans stuff too much.
With all your newfound knowledge, you might now be tempted to flaunt it, but don't. Play it cool. As a rule, think of it as a 3-to-1 ratio: you should only bring it up once for every three times your date does. Now, if your date is really, really into discussing social construction of gender, queer critical theory, trans politics, etc., then go for it; it's good to talk excitedly about topics that your date likes to talk excitedly about. But if he's not fixated on the topic, then you shouldn't be, either.
5. Don't tell anecdotes about other dates with trans men (or about your trans friends).
Some trans people like knowing that their date has been to the rodeo before, so to speak. Others think it's an immediate red flag that you're a fetishist. Mentioning it once casually in the proper context is OK, but don't instigate the story out of nowhere. Going on and on about your trans friend(s) is meaningless, too; we want to see your behaviors in action, not get a list of your personal references.
6. Don't ask us our birth names.
We went through a lot of trouble to train and educate our friends and families to switch to a new name, plus we probably paid court fees to do it legally. Your curiosity is normal, but the question itself puts us in an uncomfortable place of having to remember our past and talk about it with a near stranger who hasn't properly taken the time to get to know us in the present. It's also kind of a boner-killer to have someone gawking at how we don't look like a Heather anymore.
7. Do give flirty compliments.
Unless you have X-ray vision, the majority of what makes someone attractive to you is not what's between their legs or inside their pants. More likely it's things like the way they move across the room, a grin, how they hold a glass, a look in their eyes, the way they tell a story -- all characteristics that have no gender markers whatsoever. Talk about those things as turn-ons. Use gender-neutral adjectives ("sexy," "smoldering," "attractive," "compelling," "hot") and maybe throw in "cute," "adorable," or "handsome." Avoid adjectives that tend to be gendered in either direction -- too feminine and it can feel uncomfortable, but too masculine and it can sound like you're overcompensating. (The same goes for excessive dude-bro speak.)
Raymond is an instructor at Early to Bed, a feminist sex toy shop in Chicago. Women-owned and oriented, boy- and trans-friendly, the store has a relaxed atmosphere that is different from your average sex shop. Their brother site, Early to Rise, caters to men seeking sex toy advice and honest product reviews.