As I pack up my physical life in preparation to move house, I’m doing unpacking elsewhere – namely, my sexuality, and trying to make a little sense of it. (Again.)
I say this because gender and sexuality is very tightly linked for me; it was getting into the headspace of writing a sexually confident dominant male character that pushed me past the event horizon of being trans. I had, for the first time in my life, suddenly experienced what it’s like to feel both simultaneously sexy and sexual, instead of just one or the other. For the first time, I had positive feelings associated with being libidinous.
I felt good. I felt sexy. I felt confident. I felt a rush of energy that wasn’t being strangled by a mysterious something that I was always looking to others to help me straighten out.
As a woman, I tried very hard to be submissive. Because being in control required some semblance of comfort with my body and comfort with my desires, it made me feel gross and anxious (ie dysphoric) to assert myself, so I assumed that the opposite of control would make me happy. In a number of ways, it did – I thrive in a highly structured domestic environment and wither when rules aren’t enforced, and being submissive is by far the easiest way to scratch the masochistic itch. But I still chafed for reasons I didn’t understand.
Now it’s plain to me that I lean heavily towards dominance, and I… don’t really know what to do about it in my LTR. And I don’t know how to re-integrate the submissive and masochistic tendencies I do still have into the new whole that’s emerging.
While finally being able to be a healthier sexual human being feels better than I ever could have imagined, it’s still scary as fuck. Because I’m having to re-think everything I thought I was, everything I thought I was into, and everything I thought about how my brain worked for more than a decade. A lot of the larger setpieces are coming together with unsettling ease, but the details remain fuzzy. Right now, the answers are just as uncomfortable to confront as the questions.
Being a storyteller more than anything else, I make sense of things by turning them into stories; myself and my life included. If I can weave these loose lengths of weft back into the warp of who I am, then I’ll feel better about where these otherwise disparate pieces are urging me to go. The tapestry will take a shape, rather than be a chaotic mess of color and broken threads.
The main thrust of the story I’m moving through right now is probably this: that I’m going to learn how to bottom and take orders all over again. I’m going to learn how to set aside my pride, swallow my ego, and do the right thing for my long-term relationship, which in turn, will also mean doing the right thing for my long-term sense of stability.
It’s nuts to think about all the things my brain did to try and correct the underlying dysphoria for all those years, though. It’s like the mental equivalent of a keloid scar: the gross over-buildup of tissue on top of a comparatively minor injury. My inability to assert myself in most areas of life, including my sexuality, must’ve contributed to the formation of my kinks and paraphilias – essentially subconscious protocols put in place to favor the sorts of relationships and sexual encounters that worked with my extremely deep-seated dysphoria rather than against it.
Hence, the macrophilia: a way for me to escape the usual hyperfocus on secondary sex characteristics as well as the specific sort of performative largesse expected of feminine sexuality, all by way of making the female partner’s body, and by extension, her physicality, smaller.
Hence, the robophilia: a way for me to recontextualize myself via the vague and androgynous concept of “human” instead of “female”, in contrast with a machine personhood rather than a specifically human “male” personhood.
Hence, the emphasis on submission: a way for me to avoid taking emotional ownership of my body because it “belongs” to somebody else; it becomes my dominant’s problem to deal with, and whatever I do to it is in service to his ideals and not mine.
Hence, the obsession with masochism: a way for me to reinterpret dull or painful sex as being “hot” and “pleasurable”, so I could continue to think of acts and activities made unrewarding by dysphoria as “actually” being sexually fulfilling.
That last point created the most problems for me, to be honest. I would often get pulled out so far from the actual immediate experience of sex from all the brain power I was using in order to justify what I was doing. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have a “third-person” experience of sexual encounters, where I would feel like I was watching myself have sex, and be narrating what was happening in real-time, like a TV chef describing what the food tastes like because the picture can’t do it justice. In those moments I wasn’t a sexual human being – I was a derealized storyteller, spinning a yarn and hoping that I would buy it.
I have so many things to learn in the years ahead… and hopefully, some new and exciting sex to have too lol. But even if I inadvertently take myself off the market by transitioning, I can at least say with absolute certainty that, with the help of a Feeldoe, masturbation also now feels good for the first time in my life, and I can at the very least look forward to a fulfilling future of solo play.
I don’t really have anything of note to say right now, but I will be posting every once in a while. Mostly, my focus moving forward will probably be concerning the particulars of transitioning while having a naturally masculinized hormone profile (in other words, my body produces more androgens on its own than a textbook cis woman). Because information on this shit is hard to find – actually, I haven’t found any.
I do currently have questions that will only be answered once I start taking testosterone. Questions like how much more body hair will I expect to grow, and where? How much more masculinized will my face get? Will being on T feel all that different than what my baseline hormonal profile already is? And so on.
It occurred to me that I will have a slightly different trajectory than other trans men who aren’t starting with a previous diagnosis of endocrine-based polycystic ovarian syndrome (versus a PCOS caused by medication or insulin-related issues, to which I can’t really speak on). For instance, when I decided to stop shaving my leg hair, my husband was surprised to note that the level of terminal hair growth around my lower legs was strikingly similar to his, even though he suffers from a mild degree of hyperandrogenism/hirsutism. When I go on T, will I have even MORE hair, then, or will these already androgen-sensitive follicles fail to change much? Since my natural, baseline state is already so masculinized – including, I might add, a predominantly mesomorphic body shape, which caused me quite a bit of distress in my teenage years – what changes will I actually see? And, conversely, what changes will I maybe not see because they’ve already happened?
T is still a long ways away. Months, at least, and it might even wait until early next year due to logistical reasons more than anything.
Seeing as how I’m probably one of the few NB folks who have had a hysterectomy and wish to continue to have PIV intercourse, it’s really no wonder I haven’t seen this addressed at all in the transosphere. (Granted, it’s not like I’ve really gone looking all that hard either.) But after you have a hysterectomy, and probably especially with a complete one (removal of uterus, tubes, and cervix), the vagina can narrow, shorten, and/or atrophy.
And, as I discovered a couple of weeks/months ago, that is exactly what mine has done.
Penetration, as brief and slow as it was, was so painful for me that I was sore to the point of cramping for the rest of the day. Now, I probably would have been warned about this had I not lost my insurance right after the surgery and actually gone to my follow-up appointment, so I had to find out the hard way. Please don’t find out the hard way. If, for some reason, you can’t make your follow-up and everything else about your recovery seemed to go just fine, a word to the wise: check to see if your vag has changed since the surgery. Do it with your fingers, because honestly, even just one might be too much anymore.
There are a few remedies for this, and it’s definitely not an unsolvable issue. If you do go to your doctor, they might do either or both of these things: put you on vaginal hormone therapy, or tell you to get a set of dilators. The hormone therapy is basically a cream and/or pill that you insert into the vagina that will help change the thickness and elasticity of the tissue, and as far as I can tell, it’s almost always used in conjunction with dilator therapy. Dilators, as I’m sure you guessed, are exactly what they say on the tin – a series of plastic tubes with rounded ends, that you insert into the vagina for a few minutes each day to help retrain your muscles. You start with the largest one that can be inserted without pain, and work your way up from there.
For some reason, dilator sets are ridiculously fucking expensive for what they are: 4-10, sometimes hollow, pieces of plastic. And that’s it. What’ll this run you if your insurance doesn’t cover it? Oh, anywhere from $50-100. Another bit of proof that the medical industry doesn’t give a shit about vaginas. Here’s a set that costs $90 for no good reason:
Like seriously, they’re little more than silicone tinker toys. I guess you’re paying for the box.
At any rate, because of this, and because I’m too broke to be able to afford even the cheaper sets and not get angry about it, I’ll be using fingers. (Though on second thought, there’s really no reason that you couldn’t use veggies or another similarly-shaped household object if you also have access to condoms. Just be sure that the thickness doesn’t vary, and that the end is ROUNDED. If it’s tapered, I imagine that it could be pretty painful if that tapered end hits the end of the vag where the cervix used to be.)
Oh! And one more thing: I read something about taking vitamin D supplements while doing the retraining/dilation therapy, as it has something to do with improving the strength and sensitivity of the vaginal walls.
At any rate, none of this is in any way ideal. But I can’t possibly be the only NB kid who has been left high and dry after a surgery, so here’s some thoughts and advice in that case from a very-not-medical professional. Oh, and good fucking luck.
[ March 2016 note: I’m no longer in the same place as I was when I wrote this. I no longer identify with the term “epicene” either, as I’ve come to find that any word that attempts to approximate a gender, either as a goal, space, flavor of embodiment, or social role, is insufficient and irrelevant to me. Even words like “genderless” are too much like soundbites to me and encapsulate nothing about my lived experience, which I actually do get into a bit here otherwise. Also, now that I’ve had my hysterectomy, and am off medications, I no longer want any more surgeries, let alone colpocleisis. ]
I’ve always had a pretty decent understanding of what the “inert nothingness” feels like within the context of myself; it’s just finding words to describe that experience that’s always been sucky. It’s made engaging with trans* spaces sucky.
But a word caught my eye the other day (two, actually, from different places, and they are related in a way): epicene. You can google it to get the jist of how it’s generally used. But it has this quality to it that really interests me. For one, it doesn’t have the word “gender” or “sexual” in it. And that is a HUGE bonus, seeing as how I’ve recently referred to myself as being not quite transgender, not quite transsexual, and not quite cis; over the course of about a month those words suddenly ceased to have any meaning for me, like a house of cards come tumbling quietly down. It wasn’t an identity crisis at all; I’d just become allergic to that sort of language almost overnight without having gone through anaphylactic shock. It was time for me to move on.