Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 597–605 | Cite as

Use of the Internet to Meet Sexual Partners, Sexual Risk Behavior, and Mental Health in Transgender Adults

  • Eric G. BenotschEmail author
  • Rick S. Zimmerman
  • Laurie Cathers
  • Ted Heck
  • Shawn McNulty
  • Juan Pierce
  • Paul B. Perrin
  • Daniel J. Snipes
Original Paper


The purpose of this study was to examine the use of the internet to meet sexual partners among transgender individuals and examine correlates of this use, including sexual risk behavior, discrimination experiences, and mental health. A sample of 166 transgender adults (112 male-to-female transgender women and 54 female-to-male transgender men) were recruited in community venues and anonymously completed measures assessing these variables. Most participants (64.5 %) were HIV-negative, 25.2 % were HIV-positive, and 10.3 % did not know their HIV status. Overall, 33.7 % of participants reported having met a sexual partner over the internet, which did not differ significantly between transgender women and men. Among these individuals, transgender women reported significantly more lifetime internet sexual partners (median = 3) than transgender men (median = 1). Use of the internet to meet sexual partners was associated with lower self-esteem but not with depression, anxiety, somatic distress or discrimination experiences. Among transgender women, use of the internet to meet sexual partners was associated with each of the 11 sexual risk behaviors examined, including having multiple partners, sex under the influence of drugs, number of unprotected anal or vaginal sex acts, and history of commercial sex work. The use of the internet to meet partners was not associated with sexual risk behavior among transgender men (0/11 variables assessed). Although the internet is a common mode of meeting sexual partners among some transgender adults, it may also be a potential venue for prevention interventions targeting transgender individuals at particularly high risk for HIV acquisition.


Transgender Internet Sexual behavior HIV Commercial sex work 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric G. Benotsch
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Rick S. Zimmerman
    • 4
  • Laurie Cathers
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ted Heck
    • 5
  • Shawn McNulty
    • 6
  • Juan Pierce
    • 7
  • Paul B. Perrin
    • 1
  • Daniel J. Snipes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Drug and Alcohol StudiesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Women’s HealthVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  4. 4.College of NursingUniversity of Missouri–St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  5. 5.Virginia Department of HealthRichmondUSA
  6. 6.Fan Free ClinicRichmondUSA
  7. 7.Minority Health ConsortiumRichmondUSA

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