Dear Dan: I’m an adult man, and I have developed a trans attraction after following a particular Tumblr blog. That blog is now gone, sadly, since all adult content has been purged from Tumblr. It wasn’t just porn; it consisted of all the things I really enjoy — images of oil paintings and antique furniture, scenic landscapes, wild animals and then pictures/gifs of trans women. Some women appeared to have had top surgery while others didn’t. But all of the women featured on this blog had penises. I had never considered a relationship with a trans woman before, but after browsing the blog for a year, I can honestly say I’d do it in a heartbeat. I would actually like to date a non-op trans woman. I know that many trans women don’t like having their male parts touched or acknowledged, but I didn’t know that a trans woman can only have a functioning penis if she isn’t taking female hormones, and I hadn’t considered the effect that might have on somebody’s gender dysphoria. How can I meet a trans woman who is hopefully comfortable with her male parts and seeking a relationship? I live in a conservative Bible Belt state — Utah — and I am woefully uneducated on this subject.
—Girl’s Heart, Man’s Parts
Dear GHMP: “My penis and balls aren’t ‘man’s parts,’” said Bailey Jay, the three-time AVN Award–winning transsexual porn star. “They’re mine. I own them. Not some random man.”
In fairness, GHMP, you acknowledge being woefully uneducated on trans issues, something your letter demonstrated again and again. But let’s start here: A trans woman doesn’t have boy parts. She has girl parts—unique girl parts, as girl parts go, but girl parts just the same.
“I’m on hormones and my cock works great,” said Jay. “Every trans woman is going to be different and have different experiences, and that’s the best first bit of advice I can give GHMP. We can smell it a mile away when we are all being lumped in together as a concept. Treat any trans woman you’re romantically interested in as an individual.”
As for places to find trans individuals who might be up for dating cis men, well, you might want to sit down, GHMP, as this is pretty shocking.
“I’ve heard OkCupid is inclusive, and I have friends on there whose profiles even help people navigate discussing their bodies in a respectful way,” said Jay. “And finding a trans woman to date who hasn’t undergone bottom surgery is pretty easy. The surgery is expensive and even scary to some. It’s not terribly common that a trans woman has had that particular surgery.”
But just because a trans woman hasn’t had bottom surgery doesn’t mean she doesn’t want bottom surgery, so you shouldn’t assume a trans woman with a penis plans to always keep her penis.
“The real question is what her relationship is with her current genitals,” said Jay. “Maybe she’s very dysphoric about them. Maybe she doesn’t even want you to see them or touch them. Even if her body is your preference, there’s a chance it isn’t hers. I personally love my penis and even like talking about it. But bringing up genitals right away can make you seem insensitive or like you’re dehumanizing your date.”
Jay recommends looking for trans women on mainstream dating apps and then following their lead.
“Now, genitals and curt sexual dialogue are kind of my jam,” said Jay, “so I wouldn’t even flinch or blush. But this can be a very charged subject for people.”
Look to the profiles of trans women you’re interested in for cues about their approach to personal subjects. One woman might put it all out there and welcome questions about her experiences as a trans woman; another woman might be open about being trans but prefer not to focus on it.
“Still, never use genital questions as an icebreaker,” said Jay. “You’ll know when your evening with someone is going well enough that there’s a certain amount of trust,” and at that point, you may be able to bring it up.
“And please make sure to talk about both of your bodies,” added Jay. “This isn’t all about if her body is right for you. Make sure your body meets her standards and preferences, too. I always joke that cis men should have to disclose as well. Any expectation you find yourself putting on her, split the responsibility.”
You can find Bailey Jay at her for-adults-only website TS-BaileyJay.com.
On the Lovecast, Dan chats with sex-workers-rights advocate Kaytlin Bailey.
@fakedansavage on Twitter