A Trans Guy’s Guide to Grindr

A Trans Guy’s Guide to Grindr feature image from an illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images and a real DM received by Gabe

Last month, I posted a video where I talked about dating cis gay men now that I’m a trans guy. I’m used to getting transphobic comments that barely make sense, but this video had three in a row of the same flavor. Something about how a truly gay man would never fuck a trans man.

I expected it to really bother me, but instead I was just amused. I thought, “If you could see these faggots I’m fucking, you’d never doubt they were gay.”

Gay men are absolutely gay if they fuck me. They have the “Dua Lipa Radio” playlists, WeHo kickball shirts, and drawers full of poppers to prove it. The idea that a cis gay man wouldn’t fuck a trans man — including the most stereotypical cis gay man — was so not true in my reality. I had to laugh.

Before I transitioned, I both romanticized and feared cis gay male dating apps. I wanted to be “man” enough to use them. I wanted to cruise profiles over brunch in the bored way I saw my male friends do it. And, once I started transitioning, I wanted to desensitize myself to the landmines of microaggressions, especially when I could tell the guy didn’t have bad intentions.

It took about a year, but I did it. I take being on Grindr as my stupidest little privilege – a milestone of my everyday gender euphoria. I feel so happy that I get to do these very average guy activities I thought would always be beyond my reach. That includes complaining about the cesspool that is gay hookup apps. What joy!

Behold: Here is my imperfect guide to using Grindr if you are a trans man or transmasculine person looking to fuck cis gay men.


Pre-Advice:

  1. Enable Find My Friends, share your location with trusted sex-positive loved ones, and give them a time that the encounter will be over. (I like to get out in an hour, a fact which has stunned my straight guy best friend.) Also: Have a codeword ready for a mayday situation. (Are we having fun yet?)
  2. Apps like BeReal can out you to people you exchange phone numbers with. “John Grindr” shows up in my suggested friends with his full government name. If you don’t want to be found, check which apps give out your info.
  3. Learn the terms: NPNC (no pic, no chat) means he doesn’t message with blank profiles. Eyeball emoji means he’s looking for sex right now.
  4. Take it slow! Especially if you’re used to dating women. These social shifts can be disorienting but the more you demystify the experience, the less power it holds.
  5. People have, of course, met their husbands on Grindr so know that I’m speaking in generalities and jokes. Not every cis gay man is like the ones in this piece, and even then, I’m being silly. I think we all know that, right?
  6. You can also use these apps to hook up with other trans guys or with transfeminine people, but this manual is not for that. This is for cis dudes.
  7. If you’re a cis man I’ve slept with from Grindr, I appreciate you. Xoxo.
  8. I’m using “Grindr” as a catch-all, but this guide could also be for Scruff, Sniffies, etc. This does not apply to enlightened, kumbaya apps like Feeld. This is for the hungry, sissy sluts only.

Let’s go, girls.


1) These men are horny idiots.

If you were socialized female, it’s likely you learned deferential politeness and sexual shame. You also may have spent time in queer spaces full of politically thoughtful and social justice oriented people. But, bitch, this is not Paint and Sip night at the LGBT Center. This is Grindr.

Men may send dick pics unsolicited, even if you specify on your profile that you don’t want them. They may not know the most updated terms for trans people or the vocabulary of our liberation. You are not going to find gender studies scholars on Grindr. Luckily, you don’t care what they think, you only care how they fuck.

Because what’s great about this is it means you don’t have to put politics on yourself either. You’re not an educational representative for trans people. This is sex, not a DEI workshop. You can let all that pressure go, and just explore.

In everyday life, would I want a dude to call going down on me “eating my pussy out?” No! Dysphoria incoming! But after being faced with how rock hard it makes this particular hot boy who seems sincere and also probably thinks Leslie Feinberg is just a cousin of mine from Long Island? I can be convinced. Being turned off by certain words and behaviors is something I thought I’d solidified about myself, and have since learned was very different for me in sexual practice.

It is also so, so okay if you’re one of many trans guys for whom that is a line that cannot be crossed ANYWHERE. Keep an open mind and don’t judge yourself.

2) Cast a wide net.

On the traditional dating app circuit, you might be looking for “Prince Charming.” On Grindr, you are looking for “Prince I Could Maybe Put Your Dick In My Mouth.”

It can be aggressive! I have trans guy friends who are understandably timid, so they focus on one cis guy who seems “safe” and put all their eggs into that basket. Then, when “pedestal guy” bails, they’re left with no hook up and they feel badly about themselves. Nothing on Grindr is personal. The app is notorious for flakiness. It’s 100% not you.

My strategy is to have four or five convos brewing, and to keep searching even still. People’s schedules don’t always line up or someone disappears, even if the conversation was adequate and your desires aligned. If you want to guarantee a hook up for a specific date and time, have a roster of back up possibilities.

And because you have options, you don’t owe anyone anything! You do not have to go through with a fuck just because you don’t want to lose out on a guy who likes trans men. I promise you, from the bottom of my t-dick, cis men who fuck trans guys are a renewable resource.

3) Have a thick skin.

People suck. Their profiles are racist, transphobic, or fatphobic. Consider that not a personal attack or a trigger for self-hatred, but rather a gift. Weed them out immediately!

If you wear a binder and that’s a problem for someone? Bye! Not on T and he misgenders you? See ya! During our first chat, I had a guy refer to my genitals as “a cunt.” I replied, “Hey, is it possible to not use that word?” He ghosted. Good riddance!

Are you gonna get less interest because you’re not medically transitioned or because you ask for a trans-specific accommodation? Sure, but that’s the trash taking itself out. (For clarity: I have top surgery and am on T. I don’t have bottom surgery. I make that clear on my profile.)

If you engaged with every man sending you something along the lines of “Lemme see that pussy,” you’d be on the app all day. Remember a good chunk of these men have fried their brains with a drug meant for horses. You can straight up ignore, block, and move on.

4) Know what you want. Discuss terms and boundaries.

Think about what your ideal hook up would be like, and try to keep your focus on you! Don’t spiral about what a cis man might want from you or how you can please them. Think about what YOU want to happen. Be realistic about convenience and the most likely scenarios, of course, but don’t do anything just because you think the cis guy would want it.

If you want to top, it means traveling with a dick, condoms and lube. If you want to bottom or to use condoms for blowjobs, you have to bring/have them. I was surprised by how few gay men have condoms at the ready, but as I’ve had a few tell me: PreP changed everything and pregnancy between cis men would be miraculous.

One cis guy assured me the other STIs are “just the price of doing business.” While I’m all for ending STI stigma, I had to remind him that “child support” is a much bigger price.

You can put your list of wants and parameters in your profile. Or, if you’re worried about being spotted by someone you know, you can put them in your “saved phrases,” a feature that lets you keep responses to send multiple times.

My experience is that most cis guys will want you to bottom with your front hole. It is easier and quicker and if the atrophy hasn’t hit, it’s self-lubricating. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. (See: “side” as an increasingly popular alternative to “top” or “bottom.” “Side” means no penetration.)

If you do want to use the front hole, bring your lube of choice. If the guy has lube, it’ll be for butts. If you want to get fucked in the butt, amazing. And seriously, if you don’t want to use your bottom half that way at all, you do not have to. I promise no one will be mad.

5) They lie.

Just as a man might say he’s 5’10 when he’s 5’8 (literally who cares??), he will tell you he has been with trans guys before. He is lying.

Okay, not always. And it’s not done with malice! He’s saying it to make you feel comfortable. And God bless him. It’s very sweet and possibly even true!

But be skeptical and proactive. When they rub the inside of your thigh thinking it’s going to make you cum? Move their hand. You’re doing the other trans men they fuck in the future a favor. At the end of the hook up, the CEO of Grindr will present you with a Purple Heart.

6) Care about your own experience more than his.

A mindset that’s helped me during sex with cis men now that I’m trans is that I have stopped caring more about if they’re having a good time than if I am.

It took practice, but I make an effort not to act like my body is an inconvenience or a consolation prize. I don’t go into the hook up with assumptions about what a gay man might want to do or not do. What he might fetishize or be repulsed by. Everyone chose to be here, and he knows I’m trans. It’s really none of my business what he’s thinking.

If the guy says he wants to suck your trans dick, but you’re nervous he hates vulvas, it’s on him to tell you that. Take him at his word and his actions. Enjoy it! He’s a big boy. If he didn’t want to be fucking a trans guy, he wouldn’t be. He finds you hot!

You don’t have to preemptively feel shame about your body parts. Do you know how many cis gay men hate their bodies? Why do you think Equinox exists?

7) No one is having a great time!

Talk to any cis gay man and he’ll share his own hell stories about hook up apps. Bad experiences are part of dating and part of searching for sex. But enough guys are having a good enough time and that’s what keeps us coming back.

That and testosterone makes you hornier than you ever thought possible.

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Gabe Dunn

Gabe (he/him) is a queer, trans writer and director whose most recent film GRINDR BABY was selected for Frameline Festival’s 2023 Voices. He is a best-selling author thrice-over, host of the podcasts The Knew Guys, Just Between Us and Bad With Money. As a TV writer, he has sold over a dozen TV shows to networks like FX, Freeform, and Netflix. His young adult sci-fi drama Apocalypse Untreated was released by Audible Originals in 2020. His latest TV project The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams is in development at Universal with Gabe set to write and produce.

Gabe has written 9 articles for us.

28 Comments

    • I’m a lesbian and I loved reading this. More fag/dyke crossovers = better.
      Also lesbians can read about things that aren’t directly lesbian-ey?? We won’t combust if every article doesn’t reference cats and comfortable shoes. A lot of this advice can also be extrapolated for other slutty queer scenarios (ie knowing what you want and asking for it).

    • It is for lesbians. It’s also for bi+/pan women and queer, non-binary and trans people. Not every article is going to appeal to the entire AS audience.

      As a long-time reader and a cis, bi woman, I’m glad this content is here. And I’m especially psyched to see Gabe Dunne contributing on AS.

      • Yes! Absolutely. Thank you cleo! The point is that we’re publishing writers and articles that touch on many different experiences in our community — and that means trans guys, too!

    • before even seeing this comment i was going to comment that despite not personally needing this specific advice, i clicked on this immediately (on my day off!), read it with dedicated attention and found it so interesting and entertaining! Gabe is simply a very funny guy and I had a really nice time!!!!

    • it’s literally in their about section who they serve, but sure, go off on anything that doesn’t center you

      “Autostraddle is a digital publication and real life community for multiple generations of LGBTQIA+ humans (and their friends). The driving fire behind Autostraddle is building a space for lesbians and queer people to be our entire selves, to be known for the multi-dimensional ways we move in the world. The driving fire behind Autostraddle is building a space for lesbians and queer people to be our entire selves, to be known for the multi-dimensional ways we move in the world.”

  1. Thank heavens!! After 4 decades or so of waiting, a no nonsense, realistic guide to hooking up with gay cis guys. And without the constant “gay men are soooo (insert ..ist of choice)”.
    I’ve been doing a non-online version of this pep talk for 20 years. Gay men are easy to operate if you know where the buttons are. And many of them are really nice. And i know no cis gay guy who does not complain about dating apps (analog dating was alot mote fun, that’s a certainty).
    So yeah, thank you for this, and i will check out everything you write now.

  2. Finally some fun advice that isn’t about STIs or person-first communication!

    Those are great – I just mean they’re designed to be serious, but we need some irreverence. For example, reminders that pretty much all the dudes who send messages like “you are a disgusting straight girl” are literally high on drugs.

  3. Got an ad for this article on instagram, you’re funny as hell. Second everything in this article – being a trans guy on grindr suprisingly isn’t that bad.

    Also anyone who says “real” gay guys aren’t going to have sex with trans men are in for a rude awakening. There are a lot of gay guys who like (for lack of a better word) boy pussy … definitely suprised me when i first started on grindr but its definitely real.

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