Why (Some) Gay Men Won’t Date Transmen

Transphobia doesn’t quite explain it

M. J. Murphy
10 min readFeb 5, 2020


In response to a piece I recently published on Medium (“Are Gay Men Cisgender?”) a self-identified transman related the following experience at a gay nightclub:


When I read this comment I was reminded of the many social media posts I’ve read about discrimination against transgender people on gay men’s ‘dating’ apps. Some users reportedly block all transgender users in advance, refusing to consider them as romantic or sexual partners. Others use app filters to exclude transmen or state outright “no trans” in their profiles.

Alongside the high level of violence against trans people, such experiences have contributed to an ongoing debate about when to disclose a transgender identity to prospective partners. In a dating app profile? During a first or second date? Only when a relationship gets serious or physical? There seems to be no perfect answer. All options entail risk.

So, when I read the above response, I was saddened. But I wasn’t exactly surprised.

I know some gay men are happy to consider transmen as possible romantic and sexual partners but they seem to be a minority. One 2018 study found only about 12% of gay men, 29% of lesbians, and 48% of bisexual/queer/non-binary people say they’d be willing to date a transgender partner. Even with those dismal numbers, transmen were seen more favorably than transwomen, even when that seemed to contradict a respondent’s sexual orientation (i.e. lesbians preferring transmen over transwomen as partners, etc.). The researchers attributed these results partly to “transphobia.”

But where gay men are concerned, I’m not sure that explains it.

Image by Darko Djurin from Pixabay

Academics have long been interested in transgender people because their existence and experiences reveal unspoken truths about how gender operates at the individual, group, and societal level.

Though gendered behaviors, identities, and appearances are highly regulated, the specifics of those regulations are rarely expressed directly. Rather, social norms regarding gender become…



M. J. Murphy

Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies, Univ. Illinois Springfield