For transgender people, hookups are often fraught with obstacles

As the age of technology progresses, so does the age of online dating, and with that the age of hookups. With just a few clicks, your behind-closed-doors desires can be fulfilled — if you’re cisgender. For transgender individuals, hookups can be few and far between, and even potentially dangerous.

Almost 1.4 million transgender adults live in the U.S. as of June 2016, according to a census performed by University of California’s school of law. The term “transgender” refers to anyone whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Transgender individuals are subject to far more violence, self-inflicted or inflicted by others, than cisgender individuals, those whose gender identity aligns with their assigned-at-birth sex. Transgender women see the worst of this: 72 percent of all anti-LGBTQ homicide victims were transgender women, according to the Anti-Violence Project.

A transgender man, who wished to remain anonymous, related his experiences of dating.

“You never know in today’s climate who’s going to be okay with you being trans and who’s going to react badly to it,” he said. “Trans people are still being murdered, trans women of color at a disproportionally higher rate. Meeting up with people you don’t really know is something you have to be really cautious about when you’re trans.”

Because of this immense amount of discrimination and violence, trying to engage in the growing hookup culture as a transgender person can be difficult. Tinder isn’t especially trans-friendly, and other hookup apps made specifically for the LGBTQ community, such as Grindr, exclude transgender people altogether.

Our anonymous source believes dating online provides other challenges that cisgender people don’t have to face.

“You could be messaging back and forth with someone and they would be super interested in you. Then when you come out to them, they could respond immediately with ‘Oh, no thanks, I’m not interested,’ ” he said. “It’s understandable and it didn’t bother me personally, but I realized then how closed-minded people are and how set they are in what they want.”

Many people are closed-minded in this way because of societal expectations put forth in the media. The anonymous source believes these societal norms do not need to be taken to heart.

“Standards set by society of what sex and intimacy look like don’t generally include trans people, so we kind of have to make our own standards so we can be sexual in a relationship, if that’s what we want,” he said. “Knowing you don’t have to follow societal roles in intimacy or in a romantic relationship is very important to dating when you’re trans.”

An app released in June 2016 was designed to cater specifically to transgender people. This app is simply called Trans and, while it seems to have been designed with trans people in mind, does not appear to be incredibly successful.

The creators of this app seemed to angle it toward helping transgender individuals find someone they connect with and could possibly date, rather than just hook up with, but that does not seem to be the main purpose for the users. Many user descriptions and pictures clearly show their hookup intentions. For transgender individuals, even with the help of apps, simply hooking up is scary.

“When I went through a single period, I wanted to try the hookup thing but there was that huge barrier that existed because I didn’t feel I could trust anyone that I met online,” the anonymous source said. “It felt like I didn’t have any options because, logistically, it didn’t work and ultimately it didn’t feel safe.”