Let’s look at some spaces where we can find sex and some safety tips we can keep in mind.
Dating websites, smartphone apps for hooking up, and social media platforms are just some of the online spaces where we can find sex.
Decide about disclosure
- Decide beforehand if you want to put your gender identity in your profile or disclose it later.
- Remember: you can change the details of your profile at any time.
Understand the language
- Confirm the meaning of terms that you or others use (e.g., someone may think that top surgery involves being a top).
- Look up online resources to help understand terms. Better yet, ask the person you’re communicating with to explain what they mean.
Communicate boundaries from the beginning
- Discuss each other’s boundaries—for example, if you want to use a barrier (like a condom, dam, or glove) to avoid exchanging body fluids (like semen, front-hole fluids, and blood).
- Practice how to say what you want, so you can feel more comfortable when the time comes.
- Any potential sex partner should respect your boundaries, and vice versa. For example, some people say online that they use condoms, but back out of this in person. This may be especially true of people who think we’re less likely to get STIs or that we can’t get pregnant.
Meeting up and having a backup
- Consider meeting first in a neutral, public space (e.g., a café).
- Enlist a trusted person you can call if you need support.
Take care of yourself
- If something feels off or someone’s constantly disregarding your identity and/or boundaries, trust your gut and rethink if they’re right for you. There are other people out there.
- It’s okay to care for yourself (e.g., by blocking transphobic people). Thank you—next!
- Take breaks if needed. Online spaces can be hard on our self-image.
- Remember: what’s online isn’t a full reflection of our worth and lovability.
Whatever bar you’re at (whether it’s gay, straight, mixed, trans-friendly, etc.), here are some things to consider.
Look out for each other
If you’re going out with friends, talk with each other about any precautions to take. For example, how do you want your friends to intervene if you need them to? Are any of you planning to take any substances? And at the end of the night, check that your friends are OK.
Plan your night
Try thinking about the kinds of sex you want and how you can prepare for this (see Making sex safer).
Watch your food and drinks
Avoid leaving your food and drinks unattended, especially if someone’s getting them for you (but remember: Perpetrators, not victims, are responsible for sexual violence).
Give yourself a chance to communicate
If you’ve met someone but it’s too loud to chat, you can ask to get some air or take a bathroom break to move the talk to a quieter place.
Sex on site? Know the rules
Looking for action in the washrooms or the backroom? Not all clubs allow sex on their premises. In some venues, if you’re caught having sex, you might be thrown out by security or banned from the venue.
As the night continues, keep your friends posted
If you want to leave with someone you’ve met, you could tell one or more friends where you’re going. If you have friends with you at the venue, you could introduce them to your date. Some people also text their taxi or car license plate numbers to their friends, or tell their friends via social media (sometimes in creatively coded language!) that they need someone to check on them later.
Cruising generally involves using non-verbal (e.g., eye contact, gestures) and verbal communication to let someone know you’re attracted to or interested in sex with them. Some people cruise when they’re looking for sex and others cruise when they’re feeling flirty.
Cruising can happen in public spaces (e.g., parks, beaches, washrooms) and in private spaces (e.g., clubs, parties, bathhouses). Some people use location-based apps, like dating apps, to pre-plan where to meet. Others prefer meeting people in spontaneous, unplanned ways.
Cruising itself isn’t illegal, but it can lead to sex in places where it’s illegal to do so. In those cases, you can be charged with a criminal offence if you’re caught. If you decide to cruise, here are some tips:
Common cruising signals
Cruising signals can be subtle or more explicit, but they allow queers to communicate in ways that others may not notice. There’s usually not much talk, so it’s important to read the body language of a person you’re cruising. Not everyone who, say, returns a glance wants sex.
To show interest, sometimes a person will:
- make, return, or maintain eye contact
- turn back to gaze at someone
- touch themselves and see if the other person does the same
- wait around or move closer
- touch their hand or leg against another person’s hand or leg
- nod or smile and/or follow someone to an area to have sex
- wait close to secluded areas that are used for sex, and then make or break eye contact to indicate who they’d like to have sex with
- when in a bathhouse:
- lay in a sauna
- lay on a bed in a cubicle with an open door or stand in the cubicle doorway
- when in a washroom stall:
- tap their foot to indicate they’re cruising
- at a urinal, start stroking their genitals.
To show no interest, sometimes a person will:
- avoid or break eye contact
- fold their arms or turn away
- move away from an area or away from someone’s line of sight
- verbally say “no” or “no thanks.”
Although it’s common in gay culture for cruising to involve body language alone, you can still use verbal or other communication skills to say yes or no. The principles of consent still apply.
Check if there are known issues (e.g., robberies, assaults) at any cruising area you want to use. You can do this by asking people who cruise or checking online.
Try cruising with a friend for mutual safety
You might split up to get action separately, but you’re still in it together and can look out for one another.
Avoid carrying a lot of cash and credit cards, but take your phone so you can contact others if necessary. If you’ll be cruising alone, you could let a friend know where you’re going and arrange to follow up later. Consider having a safety plan in case anything goes wrong.
Decide about disclosure
Depending on your situation (including the kind of sex you want), you may decide that disclosing you’re trans is unnecessary. It’s common for some people (whether trans or not) to give only oral sex and not allow their genitals to be touched.
Many cruising areas, like parks, are under in-person or camera surveillance.
Confirm the signal
Be cautious about acting too quickly before you have a clear signal from someone that they’re looking for sex. If you’re unsure, it’s OK to ask directly.
Be aware of your surroundings
Public cruising often starts in relatively open spaces, like well-lit parking lots, but can turn into sex in more isolated places, like unlit alleyways.
Bathhouses, sex clubs, and sex parties are great ways to find sex with one or more people and explore things like glory holes, spas, pools, and dungeons.
Certain gay bathhouses allow entry “to men only,” which may exclude trans men, and transmasculine and non-binary people, including those of us who haven’t changed our gender marker on our ID or aren’t taking T. Other bathhouses may have informal policies and attitudes that make us feel unwelcome. Some establishments are changing those policies.
Call ahead/check the website of the venue or party to learn about their accessibility (e.g., gender neutral bathrooms), dress codes, prices, and codes of conduct.
Plan your activities beforehand
What are your plans? Things that people do at bathhouses, sex clubs, and parties include watching porn, watching others have sex, meeting people, using glory holes, and engaging in hand-jobs and/or blowjobs.
Consider bringing your own safer sex materials and toys
If you’re at an independent party, bring your own condoms and lube. At bathhouses and sex clubs, free condoms and lube are often provided, but you may prefer to bring your own.
Consider reporting any problems
You could report problems to the venue management/event organizers. If they don’t back you up, you could seek help from queer and/or trans organizations.
We can also find sex while travelling, whether we’re travelling a few minutes away from where we live, or to another city, province, or country.
Look up the latest local laws about the issues relevant to you (e.g., gay rights, BDSM, sex work).
Learn about language and cultural differences
Body language can vary too. If you’re going to a queer spot or venue, look it up online and if possible ask any knowledgeable locals if the place is safe.
Rethink if required
If you’ve been asked to travel to a place that may be unsafe for you, consider whether you can decline.
Plan what to carry with you
Take caution when carrying safer sex products, medications, prosthetics, sex toys, or anything that can be questioned by customs staff and other officials. Taking prescriptions and a doctor’s letter (e.g., about your medications and/or gender transition) may help in some situations.