The Heat
Adult DVDsAdult GamesAdult ToysAdulttoymegastoreAnal BeadsAnal LubricantAnal ToysAnal Training KitsAnal VibratorsAnsell CondomsApp ControlledAustraliaB VibeBaby DollBathmateBen Wa BallsBikini SetsBlindfoldsBlow Up DollsBody PaintBody StockingBodywandBondageBondage KitsBucks NightBullet VibeBullet VibratorsButt Plug TailsButt PlugsChastityChemiseChristmasClassic DildosClassic VibratorsClearanceClitoral ToysClitoral VibratorsClone-A-WillyClothingCock RingsCock SleevesCollars and LeadsCondomsCorsetsCouplesCouples Beginner ToysCouples Sex ToysCouples VibratorsCrotchlessDildosDoc JohnsonDouble Ended DildosDouble Penetration ToysDurex CondomsEdiblesElectro SexElectrosexEnema and DouchesFemale Anal Sex ToysFemale Beginner Sex ToysFemale CondomsFifty Shades of GreyFinger VibesFlavoured CondomsFlavoured LubricantFleshlightFour Seasons CondomsFull RestraintsFun FactoryG Spot ToysG-Spot VibratorsGagsGarter and HoiseryGlass DildosHardcodeHens NightHerHisHot GossipHuge Butt ToysHuge DildosIciclesJewelled Butt PlugsJo LubricantKing cockLatex Free CondomsLay-onsLELOLiberatorLifestyles CondomsLingerieLove EggsLubricantMale Anal Sex ToysMassage OilsMasturbatorsNew Couples ToysNipple playOhmibodP SpotP Spot Anal ToysPacking DildosPeggingPenis EnlargementPenis ExtensionsPenis PumpsPenis Urethral PlayPlus Size LingerieQueerRabbit VibratorsRealistic Body PartsRealistic DildosRealistic VibratorsRope And TapeSatisfyerScandalSchool GirlScreaming OSex FurnitureSex KitsSex MachinesSex ShopSex SurveySex Swings and PolesSex TipsSex ToysSilicone LubricantSkyn CondomsSquirting DildosStrap OnsStrapless Strap OnSuction Cup DildosSuction VibratorsTaint StimulatorsTeddiesTengaThrusting vibratorsTokidokiTom Of FinlandTop Couples VibratorsTop Female Sex ToysTop Male Sex ToysTrojan CondomsTunnel Butt PlugsUberlubeVac U Lock DildoVibrating Cock RingsVibrating MasturbatorsVibrating PantiesVibratorsWand VibratorsWaterbased LubricantWe-VibeWhipsWomanizerWomens PantiesWrist Restraints
Adulttoymegastore Authors
Adulttoymegastore Media and Reviews
Our Customers
Shipping: $10 Standard 1-3 business days. Includes delays due to Covid-19
Log In
  • Products
  • Articles
Free standard delivery over $150
Easy returns
Discreet packaging
Earn loyalty dollars
Paypal + Credit card

The History and Impact of Transgender Men in the Leather Community

The History and Impact of Transgender Men in the Leather Community

Leather has always been something of deep fascination and awe in my life. I grew up listening to a lot of 80s metal bands, where leather was very much embraced. It wasn’t until I was a teenager, I discovered kink through the internet, and it started to click that my love of leather went deeper than just an aesthetic appreciation. 

Being a trans man, this history is important to me, as I would not be where I am without those who came before. There may not even be a community that is accepting of trans experience without the advocacy of these men and others. Keep reading to learn more about the impact and experiences of transgender men in the leather community!

What is leather culture?

Leather culture, as described in Leatherpedia, is the practices and styles of dress around sexualised activities involving leather garments, such as jackets, vests, boots, harnesses, chaps, and other items. Leather culture is most visible within gay communities and most often associated with gay men, but can also be found in lesbian, bisexual, and straight communities across various contexts. Leather is often associated with BDSM practices, but it isn’t always, and some individuals just enjoy the sensory experience of leather. 

The leather culture was born out of WWII, much like the biker culture it sexualises. It’s widely speculated that the appeal of leather reflected some gay men’s dissatisfaction with effeminate/camp representations, as well as a “façade” or “armour” against gay bashers who expected them to be weak. It could also just be a good excuse to have a bunch of dudes together in a bar at night when gay bars were illegal!

Visibility of transgender leathermen

You might expect there to be a list of well-known trans leather men for this time. However, most trans men were what we now refer to as being “stealth”, meaning no one knows you’re trans, or you’re out to very few people. Just because there weren’t many, doesn’t mean there weren’t any.

Lou Sullivan

Lou Sullivan, born in 1951 was an AIDS and transgender activist, known to frequently cruise leather bars. Lou was openly gay and transgender in a time when that identity was seen as contradictory. His visibility in writing, activism, speeches, and media appearances made him incredibly visible as a gay trans man. Lou’s journals provide great insight into both his life as a gay trans man, but also his exploration of kink identity. I would highly recommend reading ‘We both laughed in pleasure’, a selection of his journals. As such an important and radical figure in trans, gay, and leather history, it’s important to remember and celebrate the lives that paved the way for us today.

Patrick Califia

Patrick Califia, born 3 years after Lou, was a sex-positive activist, feminist, and erotica writer. He initially came out as a lesbian and wrote a lot of kinky lesbian erotica (which is definitely worth reading!). When he came out as a bisexual trans man, he ended up writing a lot of leatherman erotica (also worth checking out!). A full list of his works can be found here. He also wrote a sex column for Drummer Magazine, a gay leather and kink magazine. Patrick is an important figure in kink history as a whole but is especially important for his impact on transgender men, as well as his previous work in the lesbian kink movement. 

Billy Lane

Billy Lane was the first openly gay leatherman with a trans history to compete in competitions. He was inspired after a conversation with Tony DeBlase (creator of the leather pride flag) to change the minds of cisgender gay men through his competition in leather contests. He was the first out trans man to compete in IML (International Mr Leather) in 1998. He continues to work in gay leatherman communities for the inclusion of transgender men within these spaces.

What was life like for the average trans leatherman?

There’s no doubt that activists like Lou Sullivan and Patrick Califia were vital to the progression of queer, transgender, and kink rights. However, what was life like for the average trans leatherman?

For some, it was a fantastical time that is still yearned for by many men today. For others, not so much. It depends on the groups the individual was involved in and the general acceptance in the local scene. This is still pretty much the same today, with variations of acceptance for transgender folks in leather scenes. 

Some contests, such as Mr Drummer or Drummer Boy (from the previously mentioned magazine) banned transgender men from competing. If a stealth trans man were to compete, he would not be awarded. However, if he were stealth, how would they know? 

Current day and the future

Recently, there have been significantly more transgender men active globally in leather communities, as well as trans men with leather titles, including two International Mr Leather wins.

Tyler McCormick won the title of International Mr Leather in 2010. He was the first transgender man as well as a wheelchair user to win this title – so a huge inspiration for me personally as a disabled trans leatherman. 

Jack Thompson won the title of International Mr Leather in 2019 as the first POC trans man. I would highly recommend listening to Jack’s "I am enough" speech at IML. This speech resonates deeply with me and earned a well-deserved standing ovation at the event. I was lucky enough to meet Jack on his Australian trip in 2019, and I can confirm he is a lovely human and so deserving of this title! 

There is an overall improvement with trans inclusivity compared to historical accounts. Transphobia is often not tolerated, such as in the case of Craig McCode being ousted from his presidency of the Southeast Conference of Clubs after transphobic comments regarding Jack Thompson’s win. Similarly, the most recent International Mr Bootblack contest winner, Alistair LeatherHiraeth, has faced some backlash as a trans man winning the competition but has also had immense support from the community. This representation matters so much in showing that trans people are people – we have just as much right to take up space and express our kinky selves as our cis peers. 

I spoke with the President of my local leather club (Adelaide Leather and Fetish), Zac Cannel, who is also an openly transgender man and previous Mr Adelaide Leather 2019 title holder. 

Our history as a leather community has come such a long way, but still has a ways to go in terms of inclusivity and embracing genuine diversity. We are a subculture within a community and my goal, and that of Adelaide Leather and Fetish is to bring our community together through a mutual interest - leather and fetish. I am proud to have been able to stand on stage as Mr Adelaide Leather 2019, and then to be elected President of Adelaide Leather and Fetish. Being trans doesn’t define who I am, but it is an important part of my lived experience for me. I can only hope that my visibility, just like that of those before me, helps others feel they will be welcomed, accepted and celebrated for their authentic selves.

Illustrations by Aimée Sullivan. Follow her on Instagram: @aimeeisokay


  • The Body - Reading the Diaries of Lou Sullivan, a Racy and Determined Gay Transgender Ancestor

  • Wikipedia - Patrick Califia

  • Wikidat - Patrick Califia - Free Info

  • Transmaculinepodcast - Billy

  • Leatherati Online - Tyler McCormick, International Mr. Leather 2010

  • Leatherpedia - Leather Culture

  • The New Yorker - Lou Sullivan's Diaries Are Radical Testament To Trans Happiness

  • Out - Jack Thompson is the First Trans POC to Win International Mr. Leather

  • Leather Club President Ousted After Transphobic Comments About New IML

  • Wikipedia - Drummer (magazine)

For more product examples - shop all our sex toys here.
Evan Johnson, Queer Sexuality & Disability Advocate
Was this information helpful?

Please select why:


Thank you for your feedback!

The Heat Sex ArticlesThe Heat Sex Articles
Guest, Dunedin
10th August 2022
rating 5.0
Verified Purchaser
Super fast shipping, ordered on the Thursday and received it Saturday morning
Jennifer, Rolleston
10th August 2022
rating 5.0
Verified Purchaser
I love their toys. And the delivery was fast.
Ange, Upper Hutt
10th August 2022
rating 3.0
Verified Purchaser
Happy with my purchase but free gift was broken...
Guest, Kaikoura
10th August 2022
rating 5.0
Verified Purchaser
ATMS is super easy to navigate and super efficient. Love the wide range of products and how affordable it is.
Adulttoymegastore reviews are verified and powered by
Subscribe and be in to win a Cosmopolitan gift pack.Value $475.60. Valid all August. T&C's apply