‘The transf*g tipping point’: Gay trans men are edging into the spotlight – and it feels good

Two men about to kiss

Trans men who are also gay seem to be approaching their own tipping point, writes self-described transf*g Jackson King, and it’s gathering speed.

In 2014, a Times Magazine cover story featuring Laverne Cox became shorthand for an alleged 21st century breakthrough on trans rights.

I’m of course talking about “The Transgender Tipping Point” – a viral piece which spoke of trans people finally “emerging from the margins to fight for an equal place in society”.

Such heady optimism feels naïve given the sharp turn the trans “debate” has taken in more recent years. But there are, I think, still reasons for us as a community to be hopeful.

One such reason is that as a self-described transf*g (gay/bi trans man), I’ve seen growing awareness of people like me among the cis gay community. 

Trans guys seem to be one of the less societally recognised groups under the trans umbrella. When cis people think of transness, they typically think of trans women – this is due to transmisogyny and the violence of hypervisibility (and it’s certainly not something to be envious of). 

You may like to watch

While I don’t think this general imbalance in the public imagination will ever completely fade, I do think our time in the shadows – not just as trans men, but as trans men who are also gay – could be approaching an end.

Cis gay men being into trans men is nothing new

I was surprised recently when a queer cis man I occasionally hook up with mentioned T-Boys Club completely unprompted. Launched last year at Dalston Superstore, the epicentre of queer East London, T-Boys Club is a “party for t-boys and all who sail in them”. My hook-up said he had considered going along.

“What do you know about T-Boys?” I thought, in the same way I might respond to a white British person who told me they cooked curry goat for dinner last night.

It felt like a moment in which my until then disparate gay and trans worlds were colliding.

Events like T-Boys and Testo Hunkie are for trans mascs of all sexualities, but are no doubt driving an uptick in transf*g visibility outside of the trans community. There’s a cross-cultural and cross-community exchange between cis and trans gays taking place, and it’s gathering speed.

Now, it goes without saying that cis gay men being into trans men is nothing new. What does feel new however, is the idea of transf*gs and cis f*gs connecting with each other beyond the relative anonymity and secrecy of hook-up apps, saunas or darkrooms. 

We’re witnessing a shift from the private to the public space. We’re also seeing a satisfying reversal of the dynamic in which transf*gs have historically attended cis gay centred events. Now the cis gays are coming to us.

Gay cruising spots and saunas are welcoming trans men

I’ve felt this while dipping my toes in the cruising waters of London. While organising a trans masc sauna trip last year, I was encouraged by an image of someone wearing a binder in a Sweatbox social media post, and had a warm response to my email enquiring if we would be welcome there.

The Lord Clyde – a south London gay cruising venue hosting events such as Come2Daddy, Punishment Block and Bear Sunday Social – is explicit about its transf*g inclusion policy. Every event description signs off: “Gender identity respected. This is an event for all those who identify as male.” 

Other venues I know are planning, or are open to, events for trans men and their admirers.

In terms of British transf*gs becoming a more visible fixture in gay spaces and more widely recognised among the community, it feels as if the wheels are in motion.

Next month Harry Nicholas’ book A Trans Man Walks Into A Gay Bar will hit shelves across the UK. Despite only being available for pre-order it’s already garnered plenty of attention and praise from the wider gay community.

Adam Zmith, the award-winning author of Deep Sniff: A History of Poppers, says Nicholas’ book “shares a trans gay experience in a way that welcomes cis people into the conversation”.

Adding that there’s still a way to go in terms of transf*g acceptance, Zmith also says that “Harry is showing us the way”. Cis gays are not just hearing our stories, some want to be part of them – joining us on the journey of bringing our communities closer together. 

It’s exciting. But as with the ‘transgender tipping point’ of 2014, heightened visibility without power or protection comes with risks. It’s unsurprising then, that this transf*g tipping point seems to be coinciding with a rise in gender critical gay men.

As queer trans men and trans mascs edge ever more into the spotlight, we’ll need more solidarity from the cis gays who see our shared gay identity and struggle.