The digital dating sphere can prove tricky, and bruising, for the trans user.One Grindr user, ‘Leapolitan,’ a trans woman who has been using queer apps and websites since before her transition, sent me an archive of conversations with men who talked to her in ways that varied from condescending to downright ludicrous, including one man whose opening gambit was to call her an unsexy witch.When ‘Transartist,’ a transgender man from Los Angeles, uses gay dating apps to meet other guys, it is not always a positive experience. “Guys contacting me to say things like I don’t ‘belong’ on this site.”Like many trans users, Transartist often gets used as a source of information more than anything else.“I’ve gotten really sick of fielding basic ‘trans 101’ questions that could be answered by spending 30 seconds on Google.Allegations of transphobia are not new in the world of gay online dating.I just block ignorant guys now.”‘Transartist’ is just one of the many trans men using Grindr, Scruff, Mister or other gay dating apps.
Leapolitan responded by saying, “hopefully youll [sic] bite into a poison apple.”In July 2013, gay app Scruff’s newest update included a function that had been a longtime staple for websites like Gay Romeo or Gay.com: the ability to define yourself as any number of ‘communities,’ and also state which ones you sought in a partner.Grindr introduced the feature themselves in October the same year and called it ‘tribes.’ Among the options for ‘jock’, ‘poz’, ‘leather’ or ‘twink’ are options to identifiy ‘trans’/’transgender’ on Grindr and Scruff respectively.Gabe, another trans man, has experienced many generations of gay apps, whether it be early ones like Adam4Adam, the monolithic Grindr, or Scruff.He identifies as transgender on Scruff but not always on Grindr.
He has not experienced opened antagonism on the apps, but has found himself used as a fount of information, whether it be other trans users seeking advice, or any number of other--to use his phrase-- ‘boner killers’.“There was one guy who I talked to recently who had cancer, or something, who lost the ability to produce testosterone,” Gabe says.
“So he was contacting all of these trans guys and asking what’s your dosage, what’s your height and weight, because technically we’re in the same situation.”If 2014 was hailed optimistically as “the transgender tipping point” by Time magazine, heralded by the success of Orange Is The New Black actress Laverne Cox, there remains engrained social ignorance—most tragically crystallized in the apparent suicide of Ohio teenager Leelah Alcorn.