Using a sex app like Grindr, that largely caters to gay cis men, as a gender variant is a tricky business. Most of these apps are cissexist and it’s often reflected in the users (as well as racist, fatphobic, classist etc) so what are my recommendations for getting the most out of these apps? Here’s my top 10.
1. Trust your instinct- if someone is giving you bad vibes (also known as the squinks), block them, tell them you’re not interested, or meet up with them in a public space first. Your instincts are probably spot on.
2. Share your possible hook ups with other people who are also using the app- if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been approached by dudes who seem alright at first, but have been outright rude fuckwads to trans dude friends of mine I would have like ten dollars, maybe twelve. That’s like two and a half coffees!
3. Have your identity and body form (i.e. your bits) on your profile (or bring it up pretty quick). Obviously this is really bloody contentious. And I loathe the idea of having to declare what/who I am and the bits I’ve got, but for me I think it filters out at least some of the crap people and time wasting that really shits me off. That and feeling like you’ve got a connection/are on the same page with someone to then have them stop chatting to you cause you tell them you’re trans is really fucking annoying.
4. Use the block function- these spaces are really weird, right? They are not like the ‘real world’. And while you may have been taught to be polite and kind and considerate if someone’s being a dick, block them. If you’re not interested in talking to someone and they keep talking to you, block them. If you’re just feeling a bit over it all block all of them. These are different rules and every-one else is playing by them, you probably should too…
5. Don’t take anything seriously or to heart. You’re going to get rejected and you’re going to reject people. That’s kind of just the nature of the interaction. Don’t be a dick, and don’t tolerate dickishness but also be ready for rejection. If you go into it with a certain amount of amusement and playfulness with limited expectations it’ll probably be much more enjoyable.
6. Figure out your boundaries- and not just your bodily boundaries. What you want to do and with what bits (an important thing!), but also your spatial ones. Are you going to meet in a pub/café first? Are you going to host, or are they and why? Do you feel able to kick someone out/ask someone to leave? Or do you feel more comfortable leaving? Does being in your home make you feel more secure? Or does someone knowing where you live squink you out? What makes you feel safest and how are you going to negotiate that. Figure it out and stick by it.
7. Tell people your boundaries- If you’re going to have a NSA (no strings attached) encounter (ok, lets just say fuck), than maybe you want to think about telling people exactly, in detail, what you want to do. This can be god damn hot, but also sets people up to know what to expect. It also gives you options to tell people no to something without them being able to justify pressuring you (which is fucked up anyway) because you didn’t clarify what you wanted to do prior to the encounter.
8. Have a safety person. Tell someone who you’re going to meet, any details you’ve got, and where you’re going. You can negotiate a text system for telling people when you’re done, or that you’ve arrived and the person seems OK. Basically it’s smart to have someone know what you’re doing in case anything goes wrong.
9. Ask for face pics (even after they’ve given you one). If you’re going to someone’s place, or they’re coming to yours its probably a good idea to get multiple face pics just in case (call me paranoid) someone is being a bit misleading.
10. Think about hooking up with other trans people- and not because ‘it’s all you can get’ but because these spaces often become super focused on cis men and I suspect there becomes this internalised transphobia that takes place with the idea that you should ‘aim’ for cis dudes as the more attractive and desirable bodies. Think about that, and then think about hooking up with other trans people and gender variants and why you would or would not do that. If you would then go for it, if not, maybe you got a bit of work to do on yourself.
11. And here’s an extra special one, just for fun, use Urban Dictionary. There are a bunch of acronyms and slang that I for one have never heard of. Urban dictionary has you covered and you’ll get to learn some interesting and amusing shit. And while I’m here there is a fucking excellent and super god damn hot blog called Trans Fag Sex Journals look it up, you’ll thank me later.