Since I like talking about sex, I thought I’d talk some more about sex ;-) — this decision after two weeks of several false starts on other posts whose topics ranged from the draft of my surgery letter to my breast cancer scare (I’m okay and cancer free!) to why God is *still* a cocksucker. So, going with the theme of the latter, but not the content, I’ve been… trying some things.

I want to talk about sex specifically absent the talk about crying. I want to examine my own (perceived) gendered behavior and my gender identity in both my fantasies and in my interactions with others*.

In real life, I’m always a bit flirty in social situations. If sex is a taboo subject, I tend to be pretty awkward, never knowing what to say, and never interested enough in the weather. I don’t always tend to believe everything in my horoscope, but Scorpios are supposed to be intensely passionate and sexual, and I find those to be particularly accurate descriptors. If I can talk about sex, that’s a great way for me to open up, and then I can help to keep a conversation going**. I know that immediate run for the intimate details turns some people off, and while I can try to tone it down, it seems that I can never completely shut it off. And just like in social situations, my private sex life is very similar—sex is an integral part of who I am. And I’m not talking about just my body, but my mind as well. I don’t necessarily tend to get bored easily, I just have to be thoroughly engaged with my lover in order to be happy—I prefer sex that involves my brain, not just my body.

In fact, as I’ve transitioned, the former has become much more important. It is often said in gender circles that the biggest sex organ is between your ears, and while estrogens very frequently cause erectile dysfunction in pre-op trans women, some of us are still able to perform in that capacity if our brains are sufficiently engaged.

For myself, being intimate with my wife requires a lot more than the quick ask-and-answer that it used to, especially where I’m concerned. While her needs (and buttons) haven’t changed much (though probably some), mine are drastically different. And it’s not that I require an extensive amount of foreplay. In fact, all the foreplay in the world can be quite useless sometimes. She can jill me off all night long, but as long as my brain can go elsewhere, it will, and nothing will happen. And some nights, I’m just not that into it, and even if everything else is right, we might still end up joking afterwards that Houston we have a problem.

What I usually need is something that pushes my brain, urgently, into the now, the situation where we’re both in bed, where she says or does something and my brain doesn’t just wander in from whatever recesses, it is compelled. Sometimes, it’s as simple as her cumming during oral sex—her getting off gets me really turned on, and I go from semi-interested to oh sweet merciful just fuck me now.

The problems don’t tend to start until it’s my turn. There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance going on—I’m presenting as a woman all the time, even to my wife, even when we’re intimate. I don’t talk about having a penis anymore. For example, if we’re flirting, or I’m thinking about her in the middle of the afternoon, I might tell her that I’m wet and that I want her when I get home.

When we’re actually having sex, and I say something like that, I inevitably start crying—the point where my body is directly contradicting what I’m feeling, and I can’t brush it aside with a quick and simple hand wave. But the thing is, when I say that to her, that she gets me wet, I really do feel wet—my brain is just sort of in a different gear, synced up to a body that doesn’t exist.

What I’m trying to bring into the discussion at this point is the concept of a brain-body map. And like I’ve said before, it’s not that I think I’ve got a vulva, but there are instances, in fantasy, or when I’m particularly aroused, that my brain starts acting like I ought to have one. It’s the simplest way I can explain it, even though it’s not entirely correct. Much like being a woman trapped in a man’s body, I just don’t think we have words for how I feel. If there are words for it, they’re jargon in some lexicon I don’t understand, and they’d be useless here anyway. So, I’m stuck with saying I ought to…. But however I put it, I feel it as distinctly as I can scratch my elbow with my eyes closed. The interruption of that connection between my brain and what should be is jarring, the realization that what I’m experiencing is more like the descriptions I’ve heard of phantom limb phenomenon, that what I’m feeling doesn’t exist. And despite all the wishful fantasizing, there’s an odd persistence in my mind that says it ought to be this way, not that way. That’s what makes me want to cry.

But I don’t just want to talk about crying. In fact, since I want to talk about sex in ways that aren’t entirely related to crying, I’m going to step out of real life for a bit. In solitary fantasies, my imagination is already in high gear—I can hand wave away the discrepancies I feel as just part of a story. If I’m touching myself, I process the sensations from both my hand(s) and pubis as though I was touching a vulva and not a penis. It’s completely unsupported by the physical reality, but I’ve been doing this for a very long time and have gotten quite good at it. In fact, when masturbating, I very rarely get upset to the degree that I do during normal sex. Part of the problem with sex when a partner is involved is the juxtaposition of her cis body on my trans one—I’m confronted with my fantasy construct and its world breaks down before my eyes—this is what a vulva really feels like, and even if she says something to me such as, “oh my god, you’re so wet” I know at that point that we’re both just playing along with something that’s untrue.

For some, roleplaying to that degree just results in laughter. If a straight couple is role-switching, a cis guy might just think it’s ridiculous for him to be wet. For me, wanting and needing so desperately for it to be true just makes me sad. It’s possible that what I really need is more experience at roleplaying something that is distinctly opposed to what my senses tell me, and to see if I can find a resolution to the problem from that angle.

The path I’ve been exploring lately, though, is one that just disengages my body completely. Writing (or even flirting with someone online) is a way of taking my perceived self, a trans woman that is already post-op, and putting her in an interaction with another human being, even if the entire thing exists only in my head. I project how a different person, such as a lover might react to me, how I might react to them, how I want to be treated as female by them, how I want to treat them. The lack of physical contact in writing makes it distinctly unlike sex with my wife, but it also frees me from the fear, confusion and embarrassment of a body that doesn’t match my presentation.

Thinking about my behavior when I interact with a man, for example (even an imaginary one), I notice that I automatically assume a more passive role than I do with most women, though I should add that’s not necessarily a submissive act. If he wants to take me, I let myself be taken, but I’m quite active even as a bottom, and will top from the bottom when it suits my mood.

While I like being more passive when interacting with men, I do still like being an active instigator, and I like being on top (at least sometimes). As a man, I was always sort of top-by-default (as a friend of mine put it), but I really consider myself a switch. I like being on top and bottom, and as I’ve already said (more or less), I’m very active. Furthermore, I find that I can start to feel a little resentful after a while if I always default to one position or the other.

When I was talking to my therapist about this during my last session, he was very interested to compare and contrast my behavior with partners of different genders. I think my automatic assumption of passivity around men derives from a societal expectation that a man wants to feel in control. Whether that’s true or not isn’t something I’m really all that positive about. Certainly when I was a man, I didn’t mind a woman taking control, at least occasionally. In fact I kind of liked it, though it seems like most of the messages we get through media portray men battling back against the control that women assert over them, so I always just assumed I was an outlier.

Contrasting my feelings towards men with my perceptions of women, I find that I’m more inclined to be submissive to a dominant woman than a man. I think it has something to do with the fact that women are already expected to be submissive to men in so many other facets of life, that this is one place where I’m just not willing to do it. That, in itself, is an attempt to wrest back control of my own life, but only in miniature. It is my transition writ small. I’m taking sexual control of my body from men (to an extent) and I’m taking complete control of my life from my family, the church, and society.

From the perspective of being transgender and feeling like I’ve missed out on a lot of experiences, I also wonder how much of my willingness to be submissive to other women is an attempt to learn something from them, an effort to learn some of the socialization that I missed the first time around, or to understand how my body works now that it’s more appreciably female. In essence, I would trust Christine (or a domme, or any woman, really) to know how far she can push my body, what feels amazingly heavenly, and how to touch me just so, while I’m much more reluctant to try something new with a man (even in fantasy).

Not to say that those are things that men can’t know and can’t learn, but it’s more like trusting a woman’s experiences with her own body, that she can appropriately apply them to mine. In fact, my experiences (both real and imagined) with other women, especially in cases of being on bottom, tend to be quite educational for me. She might say something to me that gets my heart pounding, blood racing, and oh god yes that’s good. Just thinking about having Christine touch me, bringing me to the heights and brink of ecstasy is enough to get me in the mood.

On the other hand, I know that there are women who are pretty ignorant about what’s in their underwear, and there are some guys who really know their stuff (I like to think that I used to be one of them, at least to a degree, but I also realize how intensely ignorant I really was), so I should point out that those statements above are just generalizations. They’re by no means applicable to all people and relationships, and they’re really even only rules of thumb for me, not hard and fast boundaries. When I write, there are some characters to whom my self-insert would always be submissive, and others for whom she would never be(such as a man).

As I’m contrasting my thoughts and feelings about men and women, I may as well discuss how my sexual preferences have changed during the course of transition (I’ve sort of talked around this subject before, so forgive me for repeating myself). When I first started out, I wasn’t really interested in guys at all, but after Christine and I saw our priest for the first time, and talked about getting an annulment, we were told that both of us would be able to marry again if we so chose. I sat there with a funny look of shock on my face, my jaw practically on the floor, the idea of being married to a man so unfathomable to me at the time. It was the first time in my life I ever considered what it would be like to be romantically involved with a man. The idea was a little repugnant at first, partly because I was trying to stop being a man, and involving myself with one seemed like a cruel reminder of the life I was trying to get out of.

I don’t know if it’s hormones or all the socialization that we receive, but a lot of trans women change orientations when we emerge out the other side of this process, just so we can at least fit the heterosexist mold, even if we don’t fit the cissexist one. I’ve noticed for myself at least, that I like the idea of men. I’ve been at the pub and had a guy talk to me, and I flirted back, and liked him enough to think that if I weren’t married, and if he weren’t married and if I didn’t have a penis… and then I realized there were a few too many stipulations for an afternoon fling with the cute investment banker.

While those problems hold me back in real life, my fantasy life is not so fettered. There are even people that I interact with online who know that I’m trans, and also know that I’m pre-op. Where that would interfere in real life, these people never knew me previously as a man, and that means that there’s no adjustment period. They don’t go through a phase of misgendering me or calling me by my old name. The information processes and we move past it. If anything, the fact that I’m trans is something they forget, and some of my best experiences are friends that tell me that I’m all woman to them. If I flirt with them, there’s no difficulty with it– they’re as readily able to imagine this post-operative-reality as I am (they may even have less trouble with it than I do).

It’s really that, the ability to be someone else, or more properly, to be myself, that’s truly important. Being myself is the entire point of transitioning, and understanding how all these pieces fit together is a huge part of it. Figuring out my sexuality is something I put off for a while, understanding that there would probably be time to work it out. And now that I understand a little more about who I am, I’m trying to learn a little more about who I like. My sexuality feels like the face of a Rubik’s Cube, like it’s an integral part of figuring out who I am, but not the entirety of it.

At some point, I may talk about some of those things I mentioned way back at the beginning of this post, but this is the thing that is in my foreground right now. It was kind of getting in the way of all those other topics, so maybe now that it’s out, some of the other ideas can escape as well.

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*By others, I’m really only talking about my wife, though possibly past lovers, too. I flirt quite a bit with my friends, and I also have been writing some erotica on the side, so some of that might creep in, but when I’m talking about physical sex, it’s primarily Christine I’m talking about.

** Just today, we went to lunch with an LGBT group consisting of a lot of people from our church. I said wildly inappropriate things about handcuffs, bed restraints and then stuck $60 down the pants of the guy next to me as we were leaving (I had to pay for our food, after all). I may have made a fool of myself in the process of all those things, but at least it wasn’t a dull lunch.

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