Warning: This piece contains references to transphobia and quotes transphobic comments.
I have no compunctions around making the claim that I am trans first and foremost because I want to have gay sex with men. I was raised to see the entertainment value of embellishment; besides, someone out there is going to accuse me of it anyway. While this claim is not strictly true, there’s something to be said for desire and eroticism as a powerful motivating force. Just ask Our Father of Transfaggotry, Lou Sullivan. Should eroticism not, at its best, compel us to become truer versions of ourselves? Alternatively, in the unforgettable words of George Michael:
This being established, I feel it is important to acknowledge that for as long as I have been out in the world as a transfag, there have been chasers popping out of the woodwork, as though to initiate a perverse game of whack-a-mole. A chaser, for the uninitiated, is a general term used to refer to someone who fetishizes members of a specific minority group, and seeks them out (often covertly) for sexual encounters. To a chaser, any member of that minority group is interchangeable. There’s a distinct power-trip aspect at play here. Chasers often prey on people with shaky self-esteem. A chaser who pursues trans people understands very well that their own social standing as a cis person lends them credibility that society may not afford us. They approach their sexual interactions with the mindset that any trans person they pursue should have very little leverage in the dynamic.
Pretty bleak, yes? The good news here is that chasers are easily spotted, and, on occasion, bafflingly entertaining. Over the course of my run-ins with them, I’ve noticed some patterns in the ways they show up. I thought it might be useful to put together a little field guide, if you will, to the phenomenon of chasers who specifically pursue queer trans men.
This is by no means a complete list; I’m drawing exclusively from my own experiences and those of close friends.
1. THE “STRAIGHT” GUY
Let’s get the “STRAIGHT” GUY out of the way first. He is the sleaziest of them all. He is King Sleaze. His sideburns, should he have them, are a portent. Do not be fooled by his penchant for bright nail polish or jewelry. He is a close cousin of that hardcore guy who dates high school girls.
The “STRAIGHT” GUY may or may not overtly identify himself as straight. He may artfully avoid the question altogether, because it benefits him to do so and allows him to avoid closely examining his relationships. When he says he’s tight with folks in the local drag scene, what he means is that his most recent ex-girlfriend is a burlesque performer who kicks it at drag shows once in a while.
He only hooks up with trans guys if they haven’t undergone medical transition to an extent that would prevent him from secretly misgendering them in his head, and sometimes out loud behind their backs. He shows excessive and targeted interest in trans guys who fall under this category, particularly if they are younger than him. If he ends up dating a trans guy, he may attempt to control or curtail his trans boyfriend’s transition, or make up an excuse to dump him immediately preceding or following a major transition milestone.
I want to punch this guy in the nuts SO BAD. SO BAD, OH MY GOD. This guy sucks. There are no benefits to breathing this guy’s air.
2. THE “PLEASE TURN ME GAY” GUY
This guy is outwardly adamant that he’s straight. He continues to be adamant that he is straight over the course of his habitual pursuit of other men. He does, however, have a breaking point: the vast, unforgiving free-fall of his profound horniness. He brings himself to the brink unprompted, perpetually peering longingly over the edge.
What makes him a chaser — as opposed to simply closeted, which would make me feel sympathetic — is the way he approaches trans men in particular. He fixates on us as an in-between, a way to secretly fulfill his gay desires while remaining in a perceived safe zone of plausible deniability. This is the guy who, at 9:18AM on a Wednesday, sent me a Grindr message that read “My dream is for a ftm to make me GAYYYYY”, and then followed up at 9:54AM with “Let’s be gay together… call each other faggots as we do things to each other.” When I checked his profile, it said he was straight and looking for the right woman to date. Okay, dude.
Full disclosure, when I originally received this message, it was just saucy enough to genuinely catch my interest, but the denial killed it for me.
3. THE “I’M FTM EXPERIENCED” GUY
This guy wants you to know how good he is at fucking trans men. He’s so good at it. He will transform you into a font of orgasms, he claims. He is so good at sex. Specifically, he is so good at sex with trans men. Mysteriously, none of your local gay trans guy friends have ever met this dude.
While the general definition of chaserdom is that they consider us all interchangeable to some degree, this guy raises it to an art form. If he has a trans ex-boyfriend, he will bring this fact up constantly, like it’s the pièce de résistance of his selling points. I have a theory that he’s had sex with, like, two of us, and he assumed that because they rocked his world, he rocked theirs. He did not.
4. THE “I JUST WANNA TRY” GUY
This is the hapless “before” picture of the “I’M FTM EXPERIENCED” guy. He’s never been with a trans man, but he wants to SO BAD, oh my god, he wants it.
This is a broad group that includes gay and bisexual cis men as well as “curious” straight cis men (borrowing their words, not mine). The aspect that binds them together is that they see us as something new to try. They may range from relatively subtle (benign, reply-guy status) to completely out of pocket (see following example):
5. THE “TRANS ONLY” GUY
The “TRANS ONLY” GUY is exclusively interested in trans people. He does not seem to differentiate between trans men and trans women. If you engage him in conversation, it may become apparent that he might not even have an effective understanding of the definitions thereof. As long as someone is trans, he’s on board. It’s not entirely clear to me what the thought process is here.
And, for our bonus round, I have found myself at a loss regarding how to categorize the following example:
This is almost alluringly incomprehensible.
Writing about chasers always conjures up an inauspicious feeling. I think the most harmful effect chasers have had on me is making me self-conscious about verbalizing what it is I find so attractive about other trans guys, lest I sound like a chaser myself. So I’ll just say this: the way chasers express desire for trans men is far, far removed from the way I experience it. Gay transmasculine desire and eroticism is good. It is powerful. It is liberating. The reason chasers miss out on accessing its full potential is because their desire strips us of our humanity. Chasers turn the targets of their pursuits into objects. This couldn’t be more different from the way that I, as a trans guy, desire other trans guys.
Identifying and avoiding chasers is a useful step to take. The next leg of my journey, in a much more exciting turn of events, involves getting to know my own desires better: preferably in the sexy, sexy company of other transfags. What do I want? How does my knowledge of what I want change when there are no longer any chasers up in my business, or in my bed, expecting me to perform a fantasy? Whenever I manage to do away with the nauseating background noise of my fantasy is a pussy boy, I instantly discover three new ways to jack off. It’s like leveling up. It’s like getting a new pair of glasses and realizing the old ones were covered in shit.
How can trans guys fucking trans guys change the way we experience intimacy? I consider myself lucky to be able to live through this question: there is something deeply sweet and special about intimacy between gay trans men, away from the intrusive gaze of chasers. A cis person saying trans guys are so sexy feels cumbersome, like a burden to bear. When another trans man says it, I feel free.