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Why do men send women pictures of their penises? Dan investigates.
By Dan Savage
I'm a twenty-two-year-old FTM. I will become a legal male this summer. WOOT. Useless hole but still no pole. My friends — all straight — don't know I'm FTM because I don't feel it matters. I don't know any other FTMs, and I really don't care to. However, I like men. I have never had a boyfriend or been on a date. I go to gay clubs and flirt, get hit on, dance, and make out with other gay men. But when I am up front about being FTM, I never hear from a guy again. My question is, when do I tell a gay man I have been flirting with that I am not a bio male? I don't want to deceive them, but I at least want a chance for them to get to know me a little bit first.
— No Pole, No Go
The first thing Buck Angel — trans activist, public speaker, and porn star — wanted to say, NPNG, was congrats in advance on become a legal male. The second thing Buck wanted to say was that hole of yours isn't useless.
"If he isn't familiar with my work, maybe he should check it out," said Buck (www.buckangel.com). "I get tremendous pleasure from my hole and I am comfortable sharing that with the world in my movies. Whether a transman plans on getting a penis or not, there still has to be a time that he realizes that what's between his legs does not define who he is."
It seems to me that time — the time you realized that you're not defined by what's between your legs — had to have come before you began transitioning, NPNG, otherwise you wouldn't be transitioning at all. As for how the guys you're meeting in gay bars now, post-transition, feel about what is or isn't between your legs, Buck has some advice for you about that, too: "If he meets a guy and tells him about himself — which is the right thing to do — and he doesn't hear back, then that wasn't the right guy for him."
If you're not having any luck with messy face-to-face meetings/make-out sessions in gay bars, Buck suggests you consider online dating.
"If he's looking to hook up," said Buck, "here's a site where he can start: www.ftmlover.com. He'll see that there are tons — and I mean TONS — of men out there who are interested in guys like us!"
But before you start meeting those guys, NPNG, Buck thinks — and I agree — that you have to become more comfortable in your own skin. "Be proud of your body," said Buck. "When you feel confident that you are a man, no one can tell you otherwise."
Do you know what might help you feel more confident? Getting to know some other trans guys.
"There are many reasons that someone might isolate themselves from other trans and gay people," said Ezra Goetzen, a mental-health therapist and trans-community activist. "Some folks identify as male-to-male, seeing their transition as a medical procedure rather than a path to a transgender identity. Others, due to the fabulously flattering cultural/media images of trans people in general, internalize the shame, indifference, and disgust — and they don't want to be reminded of these feelings by hanging out with other trans people."
Whatever your particular reason for avoiding transmen, NPNG, you're doing yourself a disservice.
"Being isolated from other trans folks leaves little room to find support and role models for loving yourself," said Goetzen. "And it makes getting invaluable tips on how to get laid safely and carefully harder."
You know, invaluable tips like the ones Buck provided you with today. Want more tips like those, NPNG? Then get to know some of the guys out there who have successfully navigated the path you're stumbling along.
Getting married soon. We want to put a note in the invitation requesting donations to organizations fighting for marriage equality in lieu of gifts. Which organization is fighting the hardest/most effectively in your view?
— Gonna Get Married
I'm wondering whether you have any thoughts on the male tendency when sharing "naughty" photos to go straight for a close-up shot of the penis. Representative Anthony Weiner's tweeting disaster has brought to mind a number of recent cases where high-profile men — such as Kanye West and Brett Favre — sent other women similar shots in an apparent attempt to seduce them. However, the response I've heard from women to such offerings can be summed up as "Ew, yuck!"
Do you have any insight on why some men think this sort of overture would work?
— Totally Confused Female
Some men think this sort of overture works, TCF, because sometimes it works.
Before we get into that, I want to say a few words about Anthony Weiner: nothing the gentleman from New York said last week made him sound like a man who hasn't taken a picture of his cock at some point and sent it to someone for some reason. Nevertheless, I'm confident that Weiner is going to beat this thing.
Watching Weinergate unfold is like watching the voters-getting-over-politicians-who've-smoked-pot story play out all over again, only this time at warp speed and with sexting standing in for THC. With pot, we went from exposure resulting in an instantaneous resignation in 1987 (Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg) to a tacit admission being a survivable mini-scandal in 1992 (Bill "Smoked, Didn't Inhale" Clinton) to a collective shrug in 2008 (Barack "I Got High" Obama). With dirty pol pics, we've gone from instant resignation in February 2011 (Representative Christopher "Craigslist Congressman" Lee) to a tacit admission looking like a survivable mini-scandal in June 2011 (Representative Anthony "Beat This Thing" Weiner). At this rate, we'll be shrugging off the dirty pics of a congressman-to-be-named-later sometime before Labor Day.
Getting back to your question, TCF: the cock-shot overture doesn't work on most women, I'll grant you, but the sort of guys who send cock shots aren't interested in most women. They're interested in the sort of women who this sort of overture works on. And the sort of men who think only with their photogenic dicks — and not all men are that sort — figure the quickest way to determine if a woman is that sort of woman is to send the cock shot.
Despite a unanimous "Ew, yuck!" from your friends, TCF, there are women out there who do respond positively. One of the women you talked to about cock shots may have thought, "Well, it depends on the guy," but told you, "Ew, yuck!" because it was clear from the "Ew, yuck!" look on your face that "Ew, yuck!" was what you wanted to hear.
Gentlemen: the existence of a handful of women who welcome cock shots does not give you license to send cock shots to all women. Cock shots are for women who have expressed a clear and unambiguous interest in receiving cock shots.
Speaking of Buck Angel: documentary filmmaker Dan Hunt (Cruel & Unusual, Dangerous Living, Bear Run) is working on a film about Buck Angel's life, work, and activism. Hunt has been following Buck for six years and now needs to raise $6,000 to hire an editor to help him shape the film. Please join me in helping Hunt to finish Mr. Angel by making a donation via Kickstarter.
Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.