by Daniela “Dani” Capistrano (they/them) for TransLash Media
What does T4T love mean? As noted in TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly’s ‘The T4T issue’ (2022), “t4t” originated in Craigslist personals to indicate a trans person seeking another trans person. The term “t4t” has come to describe not only circuits of desire and attraction but also practices of trans solidarity and mutual aid.
Logan Crews writes that intentional romantic relationships between two trans people sometimes come under fire for being a form of separatism. Some argue that t4t is a product of cis disgust rather than a choice we make. In reality, t4t is a continuous, embodied celebration of trans beauty and survival.
T4T: A THREAT TO THE ALT-RIGHT & GOP
To love yourself as a trans & gender nonconforming person is a radical act of resistance. When we are able to love ourselves and each other, it gives us energy and helps to sustain the work of healing and organizing—individually and collectively.
Those who want us to disappear are counting on us to not love ourselves enough to fight back against the #AntiTransHateMachine. According to The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, more than half of transgender and non-binary youth considered suicide in the past year and nearly 1 in 5 attempted suicide. Tragically, fewer than 1 in 3 trans and non-binary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.
T4T love (romantic, platonic, and self-love) is our best defense.
Folks searching for “t4t” (trans for trans) on Google might be surprised to know that as of February 14, 2023, most of these searches in the United States over the last 30 days are coming from Iowa, a state with over 8 new anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed as of January 2023.
In February 2023, Iowa Republicans have introduced a flurry of anti-trans bills this session to prevent Iowa schools from accommodating LGBTQ+ students and teaching about trans identities, LGBTQ+ history and issues, and social justice concepts.
Over 100 bills restricting LGBTQ+ rights were introduced nationwide in 2023 before the end of January. With so much at stake, it makes sense that transgender and cisgender people living in red states—including minors—are especially curious about what “t4t” means.
TransLash’s Guide to T4T includes resources for parents and educators of all genders in the United States. If you’re TGNC and found this guide by searching for “t4t”, we hope it helps you feel seen and supported. Let us know if there’s anything else you’d like us to add over time! We’d love to hear from you.
THE HISTORY OF T4T
The term “t4t” arose in the context of early 2000s Craigslist personals, working to both identify trans folks away from the categories of “m” and “w” and enable trans and gender nonconforming people to find one another for hookups, dating, and long term relationships.
But T4T romantic relationships have been documented for decades, long before the advent of the Internet. Roberta Cowell and Michael Dillion even had a publicly documented love affair in the 1950s.
From the trans newsletters and zines of the latter half of the twentieth century to the work of contemporary trans authors, artists, and scholars like C. Riley Snorton, ALOK, Casey Plett, Kai Cheng Thom, and Torrey Peters, trans-for-trans love has always found a way to thrive despite many obstacles and dangers.
Here are just a few examples of t4t love stories in the United States reflected in the media:
Original Plumbing, also known as OP is a quarterly magazine focused on “the culture and lifestyle of transgender men.” Original Plumbing was the first magazine for trans men made by trans men and was created in September 2009 in the San Francisco Bay Area by editors-in-chief Amos Mac and Rocco Kayiatos. Mac and Kayiatos wanted to bring visibility to the trans man community. At the time of the magazine’s conception, trans men received little to no representation on TV, in mainstream film, or in other “LGBTQIA”-focused magazines.
Original Plumbing‘s first issue, with the theme “Bedroom,” sold out before it was even published in 2009. The final issue of Original Plumbing was released ten years later in 2019, followed shortly after by the release of an anthologized “best of” book, published by Feminist Press.
Alphonso Mills and Ja’Mel Ware
In June 2022, Alphonso Mills (she/he/him/her) and Ja’Mel Ware (he/him/his) became parents. They first shared the news of their expanding family in a short video posted on their social media accounts on Feb 22, marking the 22nd week of their baby’s development. Ware, who identifies as transmasculine, carried the couple’s first child. Alphonso and Ja’Mel’s story is another important possibility model of Black trans t4t love and parenting.
Miss Major and Beck Witt
Back in January 2021, Stonewall veteran and trans icon Miss Major Griffin-Gracy announced that she and her partner, Beck Witt, had become parents. The couple’s first child, Asiah Wittenstein Major, was born on January 9, and in an Instagram post, they noted that the baby’s first name rhymes with “messiah.”
The (then) 79-year-old activist Griffin-Gracy’s story proves that it’s never too late to find t4t love and to create a family on your own terms.
Myles and Precious Brady-Davis
Back in 2020, a transgender couple in Chicago shared their journey to parenthood on the TLC special “My Pregnant Husband.” Myles and Precious Brady-Davis welcomed their daughter, Zayn, in December 2019.
Cameras follow the couple during Myles’ third trimester as he expressed discomfort with his changing body, faced pregnancy complications, and recounted a “heartbreaking” encounter with anti-Black police officers he said mistook his baby bump for stolen merchandise. Myles and Precious Brady-Davis’ t4t story exposed millions to the reality that trans families exist—and that we don’t all experience oppression in the same way as TGNC people.
Precious Brady-Davis broke barriers as the first transgender mother to be correctly gendered on an Illinois birth certificate, and she shared her story in her memoir “I Have Always Been Me” (2021).
Listen to Imara Jones interview Precious Brady-Davis about her journey on TransLash Podcast and access the transcript here.
Col & Ari
Social media sensations Col & Ari (they/them) are the t4t couple behind the latest #freethenipple campaign and the creators of wholesome & creative t4t content that encourages self-love and mutual aid.
With over 200K TikTok followers, over 38K YouTube subscribers, and over 50K Instagram followers, Col & Ari are a possibility model of what it means to love, work, and organize within a t4t relationship.
The first T4T flag was created by mod Kau at Tumblr blog Beyond-MOGAI-Pride-Flags in 2018, and was adjusted by polyamaesthetic in June 2020.
Another flag was created by Tumblr user guiltyidealist in 2021 that has the colors pink, blue, and yellow as the core colors to represent trans women, trans men, and nonbinary people, as well as diversity and inclusivity.
T4T AS SELF-LOVE
Self-love doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We first learn what love means from our parents/primary caregivers. Those lessons in healthy love (or lack of) inform our understanding of how to love ourselves and others.
What does it mean to apply “t4t” to your own understanding of loving yourself as a TGNC person? The good news is that YOU—not anyone who doesn’t wish you well—are in charge of creating new maps for yourself to access healthy self-love and healing.
Possibility models of t4t self-love exist in all sorts of places, but here are some resources, along with two trans people to draw inspiration from today:
Check out Mars’ Love Collection: whether you’re in love or pissed about everyone else who is, this collection is for you!
@ajclementine_ (she/her) is very public about her journey as a model/actress/trans advocate and her complex relationship with her mother.
AJ is an Australian creator known for her LGBTQ+ advocacy, along with her sense of humor and fashion content. She is passionate about breaking stereotypes and helping the next generation feel confident, supported & heard.
In 2021, AJ hit the ground running with her brand partnerships with Mecca Brands, Disney, L’Oreal & Pandora. She also officially became an author, with her book titled Girl Transcending available online now & in stores. AJ’s content demonstrates that it is possible to cultivate a strong sense of t4t self-love even when your parents don’t always understand or support you. Family dynamics are nuanced!
MORE T4T RESOURCES
- T4T relationships give trans students hope for the future, TRINITONIAN (February 9, 2023)
- Trans Joy is Listening to Your Body, News & Narrative (October 21, 2022)
- How Growing Out My Body Hair and T4T Sex Helped Me Find Self-Acceptance, Autostraddle (October 13, 2022)
- “Trans Love is a Celebration”: Three Trans 4 Trans Couples Share Their Love Stories, Bust (Fall 2022)
- T4T Magic, News & Narrative (June 16, 2022)
- The Timeless Fluidity of T4T Love, Them. (May 16, 2022)
- T4T: Trans Love: TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones (February 10, 2022)
- For office’s March 2022 Digital Cover, they chose to mobilize Trans for Trans as an expansive definition to include and reflect the vast forms of relationships that exist between trans people.
- Wiki: Trans Loving Trans (t4t) – What is it? What does it mean? (last updated October 2021)
- 4 devoted and loving transgender couples who will make your heart melt: ‘Trans love is a revolution’ (Yahoo! News, November 2020)
- How Queer Sex Liberated Me by Britni de la Cretaz (November 2020)
- T4T (Trans for Trans) is an online space for peer-to-peer support weekly on Wednesdays from 6:30p-8p. These groups are for trans Marylanders 18+.
- In 2019, Friday Olympia and Sasha co-led ‘t4t: loving beyond the binary‘ with Xaelah Jarrett at Gender Conference NYC.
- t4t and trans separatism: the politics of radical love by Rachel Anne Williams (2018)
- Relationship by Zackary Drucker (She/Her) (2016)
- The First Man-Made man: the story of two sex changes, one love affair, and a twentieth century medical revolution by Pagan Kennedy (New York, 2007)
Never forget, TransLash family: t4t love is valid & important on Valentine’s Day—and every day.
This guide was originally published on February 14, 2022, and was updated on February 14, 2023. Did you find this resource helpful? Consider supporting TransLash today with a tax-deductible donation.