[Guest Blog] “Open to Trans Girls?” by Velvet Divine

I put out a call for guest blog pitches at the end of July and oh my, you folks delivered! I received some brilliant ideas and would have loved to accept them all. I’m absolutely thrilled to be sharing today’s fantastic piece by a new-to-me writer, Velvet Divine (fae/faer.) You can follow faer on Twitter!

To me, this post really highlights the experience of trans folks and the misconceptions and bigotry that too many cis people still hold. We have a long way to go. I hope that by uplifting trans voices in this space, I can make a very small difference.

– Amy x

Open to Trans Girls?

“Velvet Divine. Fae/Faer. Non-binary. Trans femme. Pan. Aro. Poly. Domme. Targaryen. Actress. Writer. Artist. Vegetarian. Trash fire. Nerd. Gaymer. Goth. For the Horde.” (My dating app bio.)

Due to living in a fairly small, Conservative town and working with clinically vulnerable populations, I am not yet out in my everyday life. I’m sure my identity as a non-binary trans person would compromise not only my employment but also maybe my safety. So, my main method of connecting with people for ventures north of the platonic is via online dating apps.

“Are you open to trans gals?”

Six little monosyllabic words, typed with practiced trepidation or tired resignation, depending on the day. More often than not, this is my first message to women I connect with on dating apps (specifically, cisgender women). Sometimes, it’s the third or the fifth message, following an initial volley of back-and-forth compliments. But it’s always something I feel the need to clarify as soon as possible. Part of it is in the spirit of transparency (pun intended). I like to get it out in the open in the event that it’s any kind of a deal-breaker. But the other part is a visceral fear of coming across as predatory.

Bigoted people have long been pushing a narrative that trans women and trans femme people are predatory, using their transition to gain access to vulnerable women and female spaces in order to sexually harass or assault women. A lot of us have, unfortunately, internalized a lot of this transmisogyny. When you combine that with my hyperawareness of how masculine I still present, you get a knot of anxiety at being perceived as the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

I had my first taste of this in college, soon after breaking my egg (trans lingo for “coming out” or realizing one is trans). I began attending the LGBT+ Center’s Women’s Group. The second of the two sessions I attended consisted of the facilitators addressing “concerns” that some were there for the wrong reasons. Cue all eyes on me. I was the only trans feminine person and, more importantly, I did not look the part yet.

They went around the circle, asking everyone to share why they were in the group and what they hoped to gain from it. I don’t recall my answer verbatim, but it was something along the lines of wanting to connect with other LGBTQ+ women and femme-aligned folks. I looked around for some measure of commiseration or solidarity, but met only silence and a crowded room of women who wouldn’t look me in the eye.

So I never went back to the group. After a few times, the facilitators stopped asking me when I would come back whenever we ran into one another. Maybe the others thought that I was there trying to pick up a date and took my lack of feminine clothing and makeup as admission to this perceived grift. Maybe I just projected my own insecurities and completely misinterpreted the situation. Regardless, that pit in my stomach never left me. I continue to feel the need to question whether or not I am intruding upon a space that isn’t for me, or offering my company to someone who is merely tolerating it.

I ask women who match with me if they’re cool with or open to trans girls and they’ll reassure me, many vociferously and graciously, with “trans women are women” or “I love ALL girls”. Others will make a crack about how it’d be silly if they weren’t, considering it’s plastered all over my profile and hard to miss.

I will continue to ask them if they’re comfortable. I will ask them when we plan a date and I explain that I will not be dolled up because I’ll be coming from work or getting a ride from a relative. I’ll ask them again if the subject of sex comes up and we discuss desires and boundaries. I’ll ask them again during the act itself.

“I am Non-binary and trans-feminine. At the current moment, I am unable to access HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) due to my housing and economic situation. I’m on the chubby side and I still have my bio dildo. If any of those are an issue, feel free to exit stage left.”

That’s what my usual “disclaimer” looks like on my profiles. I add these because, again, I want to lay my cards on the table. Because I’m afraid that otherwise, people will feel misled somehow. Logically, I don’t imagine that these disclaimers are anything but obvious. I’m thick and, even if cis women thought I was just butch, the mention of being trans and the bio dildo euphemism would make it clear. (I used to use the expression “fleshy strap-on” but that kept going over people’s heads). But you’d be surprised. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that cis Sapphics also often feel like they need to “disclose” that they’re on the thicker side up-front. Solidarity, sisters.

Even among the LGBTQIA+ community, there is a staggering amount of ignorance regarding the trans experience on the part of cisgender folks. I’ve had many people mix up trans women and trans men. Most recently, I had a woman ghost me after I corrected her misconception by reiterating the fact that I have a “bio dildo” and explaining the euphemism. Some of my favorites, though, are the ones who think that being trans is like a Magical Girl transformation and that by shouting that I’m trans into the ether, a la Greyskull, I will immediately undergo years of HRT and surgeries. I wish that were the case.

Though these hiccups are more common than I’d like, I’m grateful that they tend to come from places of ignorance and misunderstanding rather than malice. I’ve been using these apps for years and can count on one hand the number of times that women have been intentionally rude or hateful towards me (men are a whole other story). Women are always a treasure to connect with. Even people for whom the bio dildo and transition were deal breakers have generally been perfectly respectful about it.

I want to thank Velvet again for sharing faer insights in this fantastic post. I pay all my guest writers and would like to increase the rate, hire more amazing writers, or both. If you want to see more new voices on C&K, head to the Tip Jar to support the blog.

Five of the Best Virtual Date Ideas

I resisted writing this post for some time, because it felt too close to the whole “moving our entire lives online during COVID” theme I was trying to avoid. However, there are many reasons beyond lockdown restrictions and public health fears why people might need – or even want – to go on digital dates. Long-distance relationships, limited funds, and illness are just a few of the ones I can think of.

So I wanted to share five of my best virtual date ideas with you guys today. I hope you find something here to inspire you. And, of course, you’re always welcome to share your own in the comments.

Movie night

You can use an app like Watch Party to share a virtual movie night, but it’s just as easy to sync up and hit “play” on your Netflix or DVD player at the same time… or even both watch the same movie as it’s being shown on TV.

You can video, voice or text-chat while you watch, if you wish, or just call each other afterwards and talk about the movie.

Get some popcorn and dim the lights for the full cinematic experience!

Looking for movie recs? Check out my friend Livvy’s blog, Sex Love and Videotape, for some inspiration!

Virtual museum tour

Did you know that museums all over the world have virtual tours of their galleries and exhibitions available online? Meet online to explore a virtual museum and video or voice-chat while you wander around.

The Albertina in Vienna, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the London’s Natural History Museum are just some of the world-renowned museums offering online tours right now.

Night at the theatre

Prior to the last few months, many of us could only access live theatre if we could get to a major city and afford the exhorbitant ticket prices (or get to one of the handful of cinemas that showed live-streamed versions.) Since March, however, tonnes of productions have gone online.

Pick a show, sync up, and hit play. Bonuses of the virtual theatre: you can wear your pyjamas if you want to, your bed is probably comfier than an actual theatre seat, and the drinks are cheaper!

Timeout‘s theatre sections have listings that refresh every couple of days!

Cheese and wine party

If you’re feeling fancy, why not share an online cheese and wine tasting? Get some interesting cheeses on your next trip to the supermarket (or order them online.) Pick up a bottle of wine (or two.) Enjoy them and compare notes on your favourites while you video-chat.

To take it up a notch, dress in your most over-the-top fabulous outfits.

Hot virtual sex date

Of course I wouldn’t be me without saying that some hot online sex is one of the best virtual date ideas of all!

Set aside the time to completely focus on each other, and get lost in some deliciously hot phone sex, sexting, or cyber-sex. An app-controlled sex toy can put your pleasure in your partner’s hands, no matter where in the world they are.

This post contains affiliate links. All views, as always, are my own. If you haven’t signed up for Coffee Date, my biweekly newsletter, yet – what are you waiting for!?

How to Write a Killer Swinger Dating Profile

Whether you’re just starting out in swinging, or have been around on the swinger sites for a while but are not having much luck, you might be wondering how to write the absolute best swinger dating profile you can.

For the purposes of this post I will assume you’re looking for play partners as a couple, but most of the advice works just as well for singles and polycules, triads and groups as well. Read on for a few tricks and tips to help you!

Be honest!

I can’t overstate the importance of honesty! It’s no use saying that you’re 6 feet tall if you’re actually 5’7″, pretending to have tonnes of experience when you’re actually brand new to the lifestyle, or – and yes, I’ve really seen this – pretending to be a couple when you’re actually a single person. Not only is it usually really obvious, lying will be an absolute deal-breaker for most people.

Being honest doesn’t mean you have to be self-deprecating. If you’re struggling to describe yourself in positive terms, try writing descriptions of each other to go on your profile. You’ll be amazed how many sexy things your partner will have to say about you!

And if you’re inexperienced, just say so. Most people won’t mind. Try something like this: “We’re just dipping a toe in right now, so please be gentle with us! We’d love to meet a sexy couple for fun, laughs and maybe a trip to a swingers’ club.”

Write in full sentences and check your spelling and grammar

No-one is expecting your swinger dating profile to be a literary masterpiece, but making an effort is important. Triple-check it for obvious typos and spelling errors before you hit “submit.” Break up your sentences with punctuation and use paragraph breaks to make your content easier to read. If you’re not skilled with words, ask a trusted friend to give your profile a once-over.

Don’t use your genitals as a profile picture

Swinger sites are about the only place in the internet dating world where I’m going to tell you that posting pictures of your genitals is okay. But don’t use them as your main profile picture, please! Put them in your gallery! And limit the number – my rule of thumb is that no more than 1 in 10 of your pictures should be a close-up of genitals.

Your main profile picture could be your faces (if you’re feeling brave,) a clothed body shot, a tasteful nude, or a picture of something that reflects your personalities.

Talk about what you can offer, not just what you want

Nothing is more of a turn-off than a profile from a couple who have clearly not thought beyond what they want us to do for them. By all means, state what you’re looking for, but remember to show what you can offer too.

Sex, whether in a long-term monogamous relationship or a swinging context or anything in between, should be a mutual exchange for the enjoyment and benefit of everyone involved. This means viewing your partners and potential partners as full human beings, not fantasy-fulfillment machines.

In practice, what this means is that posting your super lengthy, scripted scene idea to your profile is likely to scare a lot of people off. As is posting an absurdly specific description of your imaginary “third.” Instead, talk more broadly about the kinds of people you’re looking to meet, and give plenty of information on what you can offer.

Try this: “We’re ideally looking to meet other couples within 10 years of our ages or at a similar life stage. With us you’ll find an educated, friendly and kinky pair who are just as happy enjoying good wine and excellent conversation as getting down to some fun in the bedroom.”

Keep the judgemental comments to yourself

You’re allowed to like what you like. But shaming others for not conforming to your tastes makes you look like a jerk. I’m fully aware that some people won’t want to sleep with me because I have body hair and am carrying a few extra pounds, and I am at peace with that – but it’s still upsetting every time I see my body-type described as “disgusting” on a swinger dating profile. If someone isn’t for you, scrolling on by or replying to their approach with a polite “thanks, but not for us” is all that is required.

Similarly, you might not be into any kind of kink or BDSM – and that’s absolutely fine! – but describing other peoples’ kinks as “freaky shit” is rude.

Being responsible is sexy

When I’m browsing swinger dating profiles, those who mention their sexual health testing regime or that they always use barriers go straight to the top of the list!

Pro tip: don’t use “clean” to describe yourselves as being free from STIs. This language is stigmatising and STIs aren’t dirty! Try “we test every three months and last tested negative for everything on [date.] We use barriers for… [insert your protocols here.]”

If you do have an STI, such as herpes or HIV, it’s important to be upfront about this, too. Don’t be apologetic – there’s nothing wrong with living with one of these conditions! Just briefly mention it as a fact of your life and state how you manage it. I’d personally much rather have sex with someone who is (for example) HIV-positive and knows their status and can take the appropriate precautions than someone who hasn’t tested in a decade and insists they “just know” they’re negative.

Offer something of yourselves beyond the sexual

It’s great that you have an 8-inch penis or F-cup breasts, that you eat pussy like a champ or give the best blow jobs in your state… but that’s not everything! Most people in the swinging community want to meet human beings they can connect with (even if the connection is brief,) not walking sex machines.

So talk about what you’re into! You don’t have to get extremely deep and personal at this stage. Try something like “we love fine dining and would love someone to show us the best restaurants in town,” “our hobbies include board games, 80s B-movies, and salsa dancing,” or “he’s a gym-bunny and loves to run, she’s more likely to be found with her nose in a book!”

The key is to let your sparkling personalities show through!

This post was sponsored by Swingtowns, the world’s largest non-monogamous dating site. Join up now – it’s free! All opinions are, as always, my own.

Swingtowns banner ad, for a sponsored post on swinger dating profiles

Ten Things Not To Do on OKCupid*

*or the dating platform of your choice.

We all know, by now, that our profile picture shouldn’t be a picture of our genitals. (We do, right? Please, God, tell me everyone knows this by now.) But what about the less obvious but equally offputting things people do that sabotage their chances on dating sites?

I’m a woman on the internet. I get a lot – a LOT – of unsolicited contact on OKCupid and the other dating sites I’ve used over the years. Aside from dick pics, there are a number of things which will immediately turn me off somebody’s profile. And no, it’s not just me: dozens of the other women I’ve spoken to agree with me.

So what should you avoid?

“I dunno, if you want to know just ask me.”

This is the most boring cop-out of an “About Me” section possible. You might as well have written “there is nothing interesting about me whatsoever.” The “About Me” is the first bit of your OKCupid profile someone will read, so you need to grab their attention and make them want to read on. You don’t need to tell your life story, but a few carefully chosen tidbits that will intrigue a potential match and make them want to know more. “If you want to know, just ask me” sidesteps the process of putting any actual effort in and expects that your theoretical reader will be so blown away by the desire to get into your pants that they’ll put all the work in. Spoiler: they won’t.

“I’m just a normal guy/girl.”

What the fuck does this even mean!? There are seven billion people on this planet, what on earth is “normal?” Again, you might as well have written “I’m really boring and can’t think of a single thing that makes me unique or interesting.” You are NOT “just a normal guy/girl.” You’re YOU. Tell me about YOU rather than lumping yourself in with some nebulous category that you somehow think defines your entire gender

“I’m really good at eating pussy.”

Want to know a secret? Of all the guys I’ve dated, the ones who bragged about their superior cunnilingus skills were always, without exception, the ones who left me cold. That’s because every vulva is different and there simply is no such thing as being universally good at eating pussy. That thing that had your past girlfriend moaning in orgasmic bliss that one time in 2004 is not necessarily going to do anything for the rest of the women you will fuck throughout your lifetime. I don’t want a guy who is “good at eating pussy.” I want a guy who is an enthusiastic, curious and attentive lover and who  will pay attention to what *I *like, not what they think “girls like.” Bragging about your skills makes you look clueless at best and brimming with toxic masculinity at worst. Don’t.

“I don’t read.”

That section where you list your favourite films, TV, books etc? Nothing will put me off faster than “I don’t read” or “I haven’t read a book since high school.” You don’t have to be a classic literature aficionado, but come on, you must have read SOMETHING!? Even if fiction leaves you totally cold and you’re a complete computer geek and all you read is technical manuals, say that! It gives me an insight into your interests, which is no bad thing, and it doesn’t leave me going “…what, AT ALL!? How can someone not read AT ALL!?”

“I’m looking for a real man/real woman.”

Again, what does this even mean? What’s the alternative, a “fake” man or woman? It reeks of toxic gender roles – the implication, of course, is that a “real woman” is demure and submissive and wears skirts, heels and makeup, and that a “real man” is a football-loving, beer-guzzling, lawn-mowing, domineering Manly Dudebro. Come on, people, we’ve moved on a little since then. These are but two among a universe of valid gender expressions. (Also, if you’re using “real” to mean “cis,” fuck off forever please and thank you.)

Disregarding someone’s stated preferences.

If she says she’s a lesbian, you are NOT the exception. When her stated upper age limit is 30 and you’re 50, move along. If she says she wants local and you’re in another country, don’t waste your time or hers. When she says she only dates older men and you’re barely out of high school, DO NOT MESSAGE THAT WOMAN. There is a certain degree of common sense at play here – if her stated upper age limit is 45 and you’re 46 but you’re a 99% match with loads in common, it’s probably worth a respectful first message as long as you’re willing to accept a no (and no reply IS a no) with grace.

Text-speak.

Are you twelve? No. There’s no excuse. Type in full words that form actual sentences, and use punctuation. Grammatical perfection is not necessary but making an effort is. Srsly m8. K?

“We’re a really low match but hey opposites attract!”

No, that’s not how this works. The match percentages on OKCupid or (insert the algorithm on your dating site of choice) are actually really good if you use the site properly. Mr CK and The Artist are both 99% matched to me on OKCupid and Evil Genius is 80-something percent. If we’re a ~20% match and/or have a high enemy rating, that implies we have hardly anything in common and probably at least a few fundamental differences.

Asking to meet right off the bat.

I get the desire to see if there’s chemistry in real life before you invest too much energy in someone online. I really do, and I share that desire. But – and this applies especially if you’re a woman or read as female – meeting someone from the internet in real life can be a risky endeavour. At best, you’re risking an awkward coffee date that neither of you feels able to extricate yourself from, and at worst you’re risking meeting someone genuinely  dangerous and having a real problem on your hands. Get to know each other at least a little bit first. Exchange a few messages. Don’t say “hey want to meet for a drink?” in the first message. And if you’re in the more powerful/taking-less-risk position of the two of you, respect that they may want to move at a slower pace than you’d ideally prefer.

Mentioning sex immediately.

Nothing tells me “this person doesn’t care about me as a human being” more than them asking about my fetishes, telling me about theirs, asking me to fulfil theirs, asking me to hook up, or even (ew!) sending me explicit sexual fantasies in the first message. Approach someone as a human being. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t say it to someone you were interested in getting to know at a party, then don’t say it online. Would I throw my drink in your face if you walked up to me at a bar and said this thing? Then don’t drop it in my inbox on OKCupid either.

What have I missed folks? What else makes you go, “ugh, NO” and click that little X in the corner of an OKCupid profile?

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