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What I Learned as a Trans Woman Trolling Needy Men on Grindr

Being female on a gay hookup app isn’t easy — but when you can make men feel this uncomfortable, it’s all worth it

If you’re lucky enough to spot Chase Traub on Grindr, don’t send her a grimy dick pic or a pixelated headless torso. Send her your best ASMR. 

The 19-year-old from Orange County, California, works at a coffee shop and runs a hilarious Twitter account — but she’s also the self-appointed Grindr-Trolling Superstar. On a hookup app known for aggressive, terse messaging, Traub is slowing down her sexting. Her art form is something more vulnerable, even absurdist.

In mid-November, an anonymous, faceless Grindr profile bombarded her with 20 self-pitying audio messages pleading for Traub to acknowledge him. She never did. Still, she’s not one to pass up an opportunity to create viral content, so Traub launched a vocal-cord crusade and began primarily responding to men on the gay hookup app with… audio messages.

The conversations are satirical. In her first conversation, Traub jokingly remarks that she holds down the record button with “the scar tissue where her right thumb used to be.” In a holiday-themed series of messages, she offers to deck a man’s Christmas tree — “I don’t mean shit. I swear.” 

Traub has stumbled into one of the most intimate corners of the internet on an app drenched in misogyny. Grindr, a cesspool of (s)cum, is the home of the more problematic masc4masc scene, the no-fats-no-femmes-no-Asians guys who reject anyone who doesn’t look or act like a straight bro. Even though heterosexual men use Grindr to meet trans women like Traub, she says, gay men often tell her she’s not welcome on the app.

So I couldn’t resist — I matched with her myself.

I found her through Grindr’s Explore feature and interviewed her over audio message, and I too fell under spell. On an app where men seriously act a fool in the name of heteronormativity, Traub is trolling men into being sincere for once.

Here’s the text transcription. — Joseph Longo

Hey! It’s Joseph Longo with MEL. Glad I found you.
Hi Joseph. This is @ChaseTraub speaking. How ya doin’?

I am great. How are you? This is quite an interesting way to chat. Hope you’re up for this convo.
I’m doing pretty great myself, Joseph. Thanks for asking. But I’m no stranger to chatting in this format, let me tell ya.

Yes. So give me the story. How did you even come up with this idea?
Well, it all started when in the middle of the night some random guy sent me about 20 voice messages that were just really, really weird and creepy and kind of hilarious. Like, it’s such a weird way to communicate with somebody. Especially someone you don’t know.

So for my own amusement, I decided that night I’d respond to every guy who hit me up, saying I’d only respond to voice messages — just to see what kind of response [I’d] get out of them. I really didn’t know what to expect.

If they were so creepy, what made you say, ‘All right, now I’m gonna do this’? I can already see this is kind of a slow process…
I don’t know — I was a lot less calculated. I didn’t expect anyone but me and maybe a few friends to see. I honestly thought it would be funny to see what men would do when a woman kind of puts them in a vulnerable situation. And they’re so desperate to get a response that they kinda just go along with it. And I had a lot of fun with that, for sure.

So what were the type of responses you got from these men? It seemed like they were up to chat, which kind of surprised me. I thought they might have been turned off by it.
I was surprised to get the kind of response that I did. Especially because the first three guys I tried it on are the three guys in the original thread. It all happened to go off without a hitch and everybody had, like, brilliantly hilarious responses to it.

It is very hit-or-miss. A lot of guys who are looking for a quick hookup will just straight-up ignore it or try to only respond with things like, “Hey, can you come to my house like now?” Those ones are not interesting, so I don’t post them.

That’s really fascinating. In this process, have you noticed that men are more vulnerable over audio than over text? Are they willing to be more open?
Ya! I would say guys are a lot more vulnerable over voice message. They have to actually say what they usually would just type out in a second or two without necessarily even thinking about what they really mean, ya know?

But I also think the concept of voice messages in itself is very silly. It’s almost kind of like way, way, way too personal, especially when you don’t know somebody like that. That adds a whole other layer of vulnerability, which is really, really fun to play with. [Especially] when you’re just trying to make jokes for Twitter.

Are you a twitter troll? Is this your brand? What’s there to troll about?
Well, Joseph, there’s everything to troll about. But I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a troll. I would say that I use trolling as a way to get my comedy across in like a palatable fashion.

It’s really just fun to mess with people. It’s like the joy you get from making a prank phone call in eighth grade, but, like, on crack.

So, you’ve started a bit of a trend. Your tweets have gone viral, and since then, a couple of other people have done this themselves. Your impact!
Yes, my impact. I find it absolutely hilarious that other people are putting guys in these uncomfortable situations. I just… I love it. I love seeing those tweets. I will say, though, I don’t think anybody is doing it quite like me. But you never know. Maybe somebody is gonna take my crown and be the next Grindr-trolling superstar. Who really knows.

Among all your audio conversations, did any turn out to be really vulnerable and personal? Are you still chatting with anyone beyond the trolling?
Ya, I actually ended up having a very deep conversation with one of the guys I was trolling. [He was] kind enough to give me permission to post his video. He gave me some really good advice on the situation I was in, where some girls were saying some mean things about me and just starting rumors, talking trash. It was really nice, because at the end of the day, trolling is all fun and games, but I’m also a person. I’m totally down to have a real conversation with somebody too, and not just for Twitter likes. I think that’s kind of the cool side.

I will say, though, one of them had a really, really interesting reaction. He actually got a kick out of the fact that the video went viral. He thought it was funny that so many people had something to say about him. It was kind of cool that he liked the response.

What is your experience of like of being a woman on Grindr? I know that’s not always the easiest thing. Have these audio conversations helped or hurt that?
Well, Grindr is not necessarily something I take seriously in any way, shape or form. I mostly use it for amusement. The kind of attention I get on Grindr is very, very unique. You log on to your phone and all of a sudden have 50 different messages from 50 different guys who you know have 50 different things to say about you and say to you. And, um, it’s really funny.

But, funny enough, I’ve gotten a surprising amount of hate from gay men online who are angry at my presence as a woman on Grindr. [They feel] like I’m invading their space and taking their men. All I can say to that is, honey, if I’m gonna get in the way of you finding true love on Grindr, it wasn’t meant to be.

Is there anything else you’d like to say that I didn’t cover?
Thank you so much for this opportunity. Um, stream Charli XCX and follow me on Twitter.