Trans men like craigslist’s w4w

September 18, 2008 at 7:58 am | Posted in dating | 21 Comments
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The subject pops up and simmers for a few days and then dies down, only to be revisited three months later. The place? San Francisco’s w4w category of Check it out for yourself, right now:

From a recent entry in this interminable debate:

Of course, Craig’s List could make this real easy and set this up in the posting process, but until they do… with the exception of the male-identifying biological men that post or search for their cheap thrills, I think we can say we’re all women seeking women (regardless of what label works best for us)

Except, of course, male-identified trans men–living life as men, receiving varying degrees of male privilege based on other factors–are not women seeking women.

On a usual day cruising the craigslist SF bay personals using the search term “ftm”, up to half the ads (and most of the ads specifically seeking female and not male partners) will be posted in w4w. The way it’s justified differs by trans man, but generally it’s a combination of “misc romance sucks” and “I never get any responses in m4w.”

Craigslist in general is kind of slim pickings for m4w. It has a sleazy reputation. It’s the bottom of the barrel as a dating site, no membership fee or vetting process, full of ill-disguised porn ads and other bait and switch come ons, no way of interacting with another person besides the ads themselves and the emails that result. While perhaps a hasty assessment, it is the dark alley of internet dating and hooking up. Many women (and men, for that matter) steer clear.

W4W gives women who date and have sex with women a place in particular in the craigslist world. Trans men’s continued participation in it even after their presence has been questioned is problematic for a few reasons.

  • As the quote above indicates, it reinforces transphobic ways of looking at trans men. It reifies our place in the category “women”, and how could it not?
  • it encourages a binary world based on the birth sex assignment. It assumes vaginas=women (see below on what this means for trans women), even though the genital status of anyone posting is unknown.
  • It reinforces the special snowflake syndrome of some trans men, who like to view themselves and other trans men as “not like other men” and indeed something of mascots of the young, urban, hip, technologically agile lesbian scene.
  • It solidifies the erroneous view of a lesbian gender scale that goes from femme-andro-butch-ftm, as if all trans men are just butches who took it a step farther, as if trans men themselves don’t have a wide range of gender expression.
  • it has a chilling effect on any trans woman’s claim to women’s space, to lesbianism. In fact it is just one example of many of this phenomenon. If trans men clamor to be included in women’s space regardless of their gender identities, if they purposefully lean on their (arguably untrue) female socializations and girlhoods and (some of) their histories in the dyke community–it draws that big biologically determinist line in the sand that tells trans women they should stay out and rewards some non-trans women for continued policing of the space based on birth sex assignment. It sows the seeds of transmisogyny.

Some more points I’m not going to bullet point include: It sets women who just want a space free of men up to claims of transphobia even though there is nothing transphobic about it; the fervor it creates diminishes actual transphobia; it engenders continued hostility towards trans men as fakes and opportunists; it creates this weird atmosphere where coding trans men under the rubric “women” seems like the nontransphobic thing to do.

Life isn’t fair. The relative paucity of good m4w catches is no reason to justify all this. If you are into queer women, deal with posting in misc romance, and identify yourself as ftm in search of queer woman. Similarly one could easily set up a m4w ad that reveals the trans status and specifies the sexual orientation of your desired partner. Continue to bug craigslist to add a t4w or ftm4w section, and encourage your friends to write emails too. Check out other websites like butchfemmematchmaker and okcupid.



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  1. To give a confirmation on your last bullet point, my ad was repeatedly flagged and removed from the w4w section, presumably because I was out about being a trans woman.

    Anyway, looks like an interesting blog focus you’ve got here. I’ll definitely be watching.

  2. To echo Tobi, from what I hear most trans women’s ads that position her as a woman–w4w, w4m, etc–and also as trans, her ad will be flagged and removed. (it hasn’t happened to me, but I don’t mention that I’m trans female spectrum in my ads, just “genderqueer” and everyone assumes that means FAAB. Then I imply being TFS by saying I won’t accept trans misogyny. …but it’s not just Tobi)

  3. This blog is bananas! Keep writing!

    -Down Ski Vests
    -Excessive Sideburns
    -Bike Culture

  4. Oh wow, what a blog. I too am sick of searching w4w for ‘trans’ only to find a bunch of dudes and women looking for dudes.

    Some further ideas for posts:
    – bandannas around the neck
    – ear plugs
    – nose rings
    – trucker caps
    – youtube videos proudly showing off the latest chin whiskers
    – wondering if using the stall in the men’s bathroom will immediately out you to all men within a mile radius
    – complaining about how tough it is to be out at Smith

  5. Word.

    I’m curious about whether bisexual and gay trans men use the w4m section there, I mean, because they can apparently justify use of the w4w personals?? Zoinks. I sure wouldn’t use the w4m personals if I was looking for a mate. That can only lead to asshats that doesn’t respect your gender.

  6. The local equivalent of ‘Craigslist’ here in Austrlaia doesn’t have any FTM’s advertising in it, so I can’t comment, but I have to say I disagree with a lot of what you said in this post.

    That aside, if FTM’s posting under W4W is having a negative effect on trans women’s participation in lesbian spaces, it would follow that trans men who participate in a lesbian website like butchfemmematchmaker would have an EVEN more negative effect, right?

  7. What do you disagree with, Raicalyffe? I agree with everything he said but think you have a point about butchfemmematchmaker too.

  8. To make a short and sweet answer, I think it’s a yes and a no. I do think ftms (and some, but as far as I can tell fewer, male-identified transitioned men) participating in a space by virtue of genitalia or chromosome status (add an “assumed” in front of both of those) or nebulous ideas around socialization *does* harm trans women who wish to participate in those spaces (particularly if they identify themselves as trans women). that’s the yes.
    but the no is — butchfemmematchmaker is not a “lesbian” website as far as I can tell, and many people in butch femme communities don’t identity as women and would be offended and think it presumptuous to be assumed to identify as women.

    Butchfemmematchmaker explicitly allows trans men to take part if they are willing to label themselves ftms—-women’s space seems to me to be different. I think if craigslist could be moved to create a queer4queer or ftm4w category, that might be a slightly more apt comparison to butchfemmematchmaker.

  9. Great post. Seems to me that besides participating in transmisogyny, enforcing binary gender ideology, and undermining the “realness” of a trans guy’s male status, what posting in W4W does is *stop trans men from transforming masculinity from the inside.” OK, so there’s mass frustration that women avoid M4W because tons of guys are creeps. Well, if people actually tapped that frustration and collaborated to change the creepculture, then it would serve women who use the board and trans men who want female partners well. I mean, that’s a lot harder (collective action, work) then just freeloading on W4W. But in the long term it would be sooooo much better for everyone involved. Even creepy cis guys who could benefit from a little consciousness raising.

  10. What about transgender indidivuals, id’d as female at birth, that have a female sex id and a gender id of man? (e.g., Man in the streets, dyke in the sheets; been on hormones but had no surgery and no plan to do so) According to you, do they fit in the wfw section?

  11. Well, I could easily pick apart your comment due to terminology. My focus in this post wasn’t on female assigned genderqueers and other non-male identified, female assigned transgender people. But taking your comment as is, I think given that what “woman” means is “identifying as a woman” then anyone identified as a man would necessarily be included in what I was talking about here. Frankly, the W4W category is binary, so i am talking about people in the binary (in one way or another) here.

    Honestly, I also have met plenty of trans men who will twist their own identities just to continue accessing space where cissexual men would not be allowed.

    But in general, i didn’t write this post to try to police women’s spaces. It was a piece to encourage further thought.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  12. thanks for this post. It helped me a lot. Btw How you get ideas for such posts. sorry if it’s out of topic.

  13. Various of guys talk about this subject but you wrote down some true words!!

  14. Is there any interest among transmen for a transwoman? Any transman want to learn to act like a man? As a transwoman, I knew what it was to be and act like a man. I did hate it though.

    Many of the tmen I have known have been like way grumpy and mean. As a Man, I was never mean or grumpy to anyone. A doctor friend of mine told me that the life expectancy of a Tman is way less than a twoman. I am so sorry for that. Could you perhaps take less testosterone?

    I really need a partner.

    • I suspect this comment is half-troll, but I will respond anyway. I don’t need to learn how to “act like a man” (whatever that means). I already know, because I am a man. I don’t know a single published study indicating a lower longevity for trans men on testosterone; I don’t see why that would be the case, unless you are just speaking of the gulf of average life span between (any) men and women–and if so, then yes average life span for trans men is probably a few years lower than cis women. But comparing us to cis women doesn’t seem accurate. Testosterone is as not negotiable for most trans men as it would be for most cis men. Sure, chemical (or bodily i suppose) “castration” might give a cis man a few more years of life, but I know few who would take it, as if becomes an issue of quality over quantity. I know I feel the same way. The fact is, though, no long term study has shown modern exogenous testosterone as dangerous. Oh and lastly, I don’t see why trans men and trans women shouldn’t date. [?]

  15. I’m called “sir”. Is that a “privilege”? My long time lesbian no longer friends, treat me like some sort of traitor, when frankly, I’m more feminist than most dykes I know. Is that a privilege? I get to hear white dykes disparage anyone who isn’t white, in front of me, because they think I am white. Is that a privilege? I get to hear so called “good guys” call women by their female body parts instead of “women”, not knowing I have a “cunt” myself, and being the only one to challenge them, while cis gendered good guys remain silent, and then get called a “fag” for it; is that a privilege?
    So please explain this so called “male privilege” to me, because while some male identified female bodied people seem to hop on that wagon in agreement.I guess being politically correct is more popular than being HONEST. I don’t. And I won’t hop on that wagon. I’m in to truth. Not theories that people spew but don’t really experience.
    I don’t find I have ANY privilege, being poor, unable to work, unable to access the services I could, when I was just looked at as a butch dyke. And, I WAS socialized as female, so I was trained to be silent. And, it’s not the T making me less so, it’s the frustration and anger of being rendered invisible by queer sisters, simply because I was born looking like a boy. I was kicked out of dyke bars long before I was on T. This anger and speaking out came long before the T, so don’t be predictable and blame in on testosterone. I’m so sick of that shit too. Anyone with a clue, should know that anger is a HUMAN emotion, not a male or female one.
    It’s not the T making me angry, as I was pissed off before and sick of being rendered invisible, and of always having to acquiesce to whatever transwomen (especially of a certain age, and I’m of that age too, when I grew up not even having name for who I am ) say of transmen. You have no right to deny my experience of being socialized to shut the fuck up as a female, and of being RAPED as a female, to “make me more of a woman”. It wasn’t your experience, so kindly stop speaking for me/us. Getting just a bit fuck and sick and tired of it; just like I am sick of binding my breasts for all these years, because I am too poor to do otherwise. Like another poster said, “male on the streets, dyke in the sheets” And if a transman who spent most of his life being called lesbian, like the awesome Victor of Uganda, well then, more power to him. He’s a male lesbian. And proud to call himself such. He’s experienced REAL suffering, while north american cultures whines about the trivial.
    . My life , my choice to express gender how *I* experience it. and I will no longer sit down and shut up due to my socialization. And worse, unchallenged ridiculous politically so called “correct” speech of the day. After all these years, and being ostrasized because I REFUSE to submit to some white dominant culture theory of the binary. If I want to call myself a tranny dyke. I will. And no form of language police can stop me. The gender binary is a delusion. ANd if ti pisses off the loud mouths in the FtM and MtF “cool” groups, I don’t give a rat’s ass.
    Just because I choose to stay close to my roots in the queer women’s community, doesn’t make other trans men less of a man. Stop making my life about yours. Stop all your navel gazing and just others live their lives the way they want to live their lives. I frankly find there’s more vitriol towards transmen accessing the w4w sections of craigslist, then there is towards the cis men who plague the place pretending to be women. And that, I have to wonder about. Hmmm. More hate towards transguys in the w4w section than the pigs who are dishonest pretending to be women. Things that make me go Hmmmmmmm.

    • You do seem angry and that’s fine. I don’t give a fuck about anger and I certainly am angry some of the time. I am also keeping your comment up just because I think it’s kind of hilarious, sorry. You are exactly the type of trans man (if that’s what you even are) I wrote this for, so it’s a good thing you found it and read it. If you can identify so many other types of privilege (and there is a difference between the concept of privilege and something being “a privilege”) to deny having them, surely you can accept that you may have privilege somewhere in your wretched life. Thanks for the comment.

      • Oh, you are exactly the type….”wretched life”, eh that is so beyond privilege, you don’t even see your own. You MUST be white. Well, I don’t take my orders from dominant culture white privileged types. And I will march in the trans march, the dyke march and the gay pride march. And if it pisses your kind off……ALL THE BETTER. I know I am doing something right if it pisses off the dominant culture small minds who are so blind they speak of the wrongness of perpetuating the gender binary while perpetuating it even more, by deciding who is male and female by looks alone and ostracizing transmen without bothering to ASK how they identify…..just ASSUME by looks alone. Too blind to see that there is more then male and female …..stuck in the binary. I guess there’s comfort for you in knowing you are not alone. You and many others are too blind to see past two genders. More dominant culture bullshit. You know how you are privileged? You are profiting this minute from the holocausting of the first nations of Turtle Island. Many of those nations understood long before the asshat white men came and tried to kill off those of us who were two spirited. And to this day you try to force us into binaries. Don’t tell us how to express gender. We had a sacred place for those of us who were neither, or both or all. A concept too hard, I suspect, for a privileged white person to understand. Way Way beyond your comprehension I suspect. Thank the Creator, that the advanced women in my area know enough to not exclude transguys from the bathouses. Only cis men are not allowed. I guess my city is leaps and bounds more advanced than yours. But then again, we weren’t the country that invented those dumb ass country and western movies that taught the american imperialists that “indians” (because Columbus couldn’t follow a compass) were the bad guys….”whoo whoo whoo whoo whoo”….yeah we all do that, and scalp people too! But then, history is written by the oppressors, and the oppressors to this day still try to dictate to the rest of us how to be. I’ll be as I please. If it bothers you…..then all the BETTER.

      • Cool story sib. You don’t mention trans women and trans female people once. That was the ENTIRE point of this post. Trans men and trans male people who have our heads so far up our asses we can’t even see when we are enacting male and masculine privilege to shit on trans women. If you are only fighting for your own ass to be in women’s spaces, you are the problem. And this never was about castigating nonbinary people. This was clearly about MEN which I repeatedly stated. I think nonbinary people also have some issues in women’s spaces, but it’s less my cause to call out. Some trans men claim nonbinary status when it suits them. Finally, why shouldn’t a cis man who feels more comfortable in women’s spaces be allowed in them if we are saying it’s totes fine for trans men to be there? There are only social distinctions between cis and trans men, and I am a masculine male. My birth status assignation is part of my oppression. If we rely on category assigned at birth we are reifying the same oppressive system that mistreats us. I never said I didn’t benefit from white privilege. I know I do. I’m also saying that I benefit from male privilege, and the kind of system that venerates the trans male at the expense of the trans female.

        It once again amazes me the kind of bile this four year old blog post brings up in people. Are trans women and trans female people integrated in the same spaces you feel you apparently belong in? Or is it more of the same.

  16. Let me point out that frustratingly, Craiglist has a t4m and m4t category under casual encounters. they don’t have a t4w or w4t category.

    i am a cis woman who often dates trans women, and this invisibilizes my desires too, not just trans men who seek cis women (and vice versa).

  17. I have had the top surgery done for FTM. Probably not going to do the bottom. I have at this time decided not to do hormones. This leaves me in a difficult spot, as I would like to be with a straight woman who would be okay that I have no penis. Sex is not the primary for me, I want a loving relationship. I too have found it difficult to find sites that would have what I am looking for. As stated above,Craigs list did not work. FYI, I am 58 and finally happy with my appearance, including the buzz cut !

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