Many moons ago, several months before I came out or even began my transition, a dear friend told me about his experience with a tantric massage. The words tantra and tantric conjure up all kinds of things: spirituality, eastern cultures, exoticism, but above all, sensual-physical pleasure. At the time, I thought, ‘gosh, sounds fun, I’d like to try that’.
Well, fast-forward to now and to all that is going on in my body, and the concept of tantric massage is not just about fun, it is an existential necessity. First off, my whotsit is dead. It is just some thing through which I pee. I never liked touching it to get off, but I can’t deny the enormous pleasure it gave by just being hard…it positively ached to please me. So, I shall sing a dirge for its passing. But its absence has left an emptiness, not for itself, but a huge and fundamental question.
Will I ever know sensual pleasure again? Will I ever have an orgasm again? Can I face life without the prospects of an orgasm?
Yes, there is beauty in chastity, fun in denial, and I do find the spiritual aspects of the question quite appealing. But chastity implies that you are really holding back, are truly capable, are actively sacrificing. But once you have taken the step to change sex, have utterly suppressed your drive, even before a surgical intervention, you are passively chaste. It just happens. Is it the same?
To tell the truth, my trans sisters, most of whom are years ahead of me as I am still relatively new to this experience, all say that GAHT follows a cycle (that’s Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy as opposed to HRT or Hormone Replacement Therapy which is for women who were born women). This cycle, including, as it does, testosterone suppressors as well as oestrogen, begins by absolutely nuking the libido. We are the fortunate ones who don’t go into a depressive crisis over it. I wrote about just that happening the first time I started GAHT, and was following the New Zealand protocol, which involved starting with blockers for a month before starting on oestrogen itself. Not recommended. I restarted the process doing it all at once, and all was good.
In a recent conversation with my surgeon (at least, one of the ones I am speaking to), I learned something really important. Oestrogen, the sex hormones, are one of the chief signalling systems in the body. Practically every cell in our bodies has a receptor for the sex hormones, whether we are male or female, and the cells behave according to who is talking to them. Take away testosterone and add oestrogen, and all these cells that were listening to the drumbeat of the inner male, begin to dance to a different tune. This happens quite quickly. Almost immediately. The half-life of hormones in the system is about 12 hours. And this change is beautiful by the way. At least for a trans woman who wanted this their whole life. And the longer it goes, the better it tastes…it isn’t like we get used to it and that makes it ho-hum. No, on the contrary, the more used to it we become the better every second tastes.
I think back about how after 6 solid weeks of true hormone therapy I woke up one morning and knew that my brain was no longer thinking in male mode…that I had changed. At the time, I described that as a mental thing, a knowing, but in truth, it is as much a feeling if not more so. I feel female in every cell, and oestrogen explains why. And yes, it feels totally different. It just feels right. Who cares what I look like…I care how I feel, and the she that I see has nothing to do with the person in the mirror, the woman inside of me is very there.
I will linger here one moment longer. Dysphoria has many facets, but one of them is a physical feeling that our bodies are wrong. Something isn’t right. Like a suit that just doesn’t fit. In my case, it felt like a baggy shell, loose and ungainly. That is part of why I have been so relentless about exercise and tone my adult life—to not lose sight of her while I was enduring my male form. And this is a felt thing. And it is felt very strongly. Very. Just imagine waking up every day and the first thing you think about is how uncomfortable you are in your own body.
Well, after a while, in my case it was about 6 weeks, I felt my brain was working differently. I know plenty of people talk about a change in their emotional expression. I was already a crier, so I haven’t noticed that I am more likely to cry than before. But I do notice that my emotional register has changed. Like our emotions are a full set of piano keys which have just had a few octaves of keys added to the top and bottom of the range, and plenty of extra half-note keys in the middle. Everything is just so much more subtle all of a sudden.
I have talked about what is happening in my body. A short recap. I don’t smell like a man anymore. Even after a workout, my body odour is not odoriferous. I smell good. My skin is the main thing, though. It looks completely different…it is thinner, smoother, and my nails are more fragile. Yes, boys, women break their nails not because they aren’t tough people, but because they break easier.
The most important part of the changes to my skin have to do with sensation. My skin is way more sensitive than before. The feeling of fabric on my skin, freshly washed sheets on my naked legs. I can feel it in ways I never felt before. It feels pretty great.
And this was and is my hope for orgasmic connection. And also that my sexuality has gone from one whose fulfilment was predicated in part on fetishes to one based on human-emotional connection and physical touch. And the little bit of touching I have done with others since this process began has been unbelievable. Way more powerful. It isn’t an afterthought, it is the main event.
Now, I suppose a woman feels this way, and if I think about how satisfying it is to kiss in this mode, to touch in this mode, it is pretty darn wonderful. But is it enough?
My children tell me, “that isn’t sex.” Silly children. Of course it is. But the tyrannical view that sex is genital (and usually between male and female) is pervasive. The problem is that an awful lot of women and men crave genital sex because it feels good.
I have a fear that I won’t be able to please a woman unless I become a black-belt in erotic touch. I don’t know if this is the case, but I am likely to continue my learning path. If for nothing else than it will be a boost to my own confidence that I can give pleasure in a deep and meaningful way even without a pxnxs.
You can guess where this is going. Tantra and tantric massage are the ideal outlets to both give and to receive.
Seeing a Tantric Massage Provider
So, I vowed to find someone. And I did. I went about googling in the same way that I did when I first began looking for a Domme, and found a few of them near where I was going to be, that had the right feeling about them, the right level of professionalism.
I wanted to feel it, wanted to feel what my body felt, as my new body takes shape. I also wanted to learn about tantra. To learn how to do it.
My favourite therapist is actively encouraging this as well and has introduced me to a practitioner who seems excellent. She has also recommended books for me to read, and that I learn yoni massage. I will and will find someone who will teach me…if not doing this with a partner first.
The screening process to meet her was even more onerous than it was to meet a dominatrix. The difference, amazingly, is that tantric massage is illegal and BDSM/kink is not. At least in New York State. It is the touch part that makes it illegal.
It goes without saying that I sent my driver’s license, gave my linked in profile, gave full bona fides…immediately, without asking, and then took a call from her to confirm identity. We had a lovely chat. I then paid a deposit, and she promised to confirm and provide the address an hour before our appointment, as well as the protocol to getting to her.
She asked me to wear a mask in her building, and to avoid contact with anyone else. I was to go to a certain place just near her incall, was to text her precisely at a certain time, and then she would give me exact instructions of what to do next. This was similar to what I did when I went to see the dominatrix who ate me alive.
I am all in for this from a safety standpoint…hers. I should perhaps not be naïve, but I have never feared for my own safety in any way with any provider…for being outed, for being hurt, or anything else that our fantasy can lead us to. When I read about clients, men, who champ and stomp at the idea of clearing her security, it kind of amazes me. Here you have the chance to experience something amazing with a delicate and beautiful creature who has put herself out, and who is going to show you things that most people never get to to experience, and you are going to give her a hard time about telling her who you really are? Get real. To be anything other than who you really are is so beside the point…and I don’t care who you are, we are all nobodies. The sooner everyone realises that we are all nobodies, the sooner people will begin to realise that how we are is the only thing that matters, and the world will become a better place.
She apologized after for all the steps, but I reassured her that it was more than fine. I had shared everything she asked for exactly as she had asked, exactly when she asked. I told her of my experience with Dommes. She told me that she too was a domme on occasion, a “foot domme”. Something I have heard of before.
Her incall was suffused with beautiful soft coloured light. She asked me to remove my shoes, and to shower. Something which I gladly did though I had already done before travelling to her. There is something about ritual cleansing that has always mattered to me before seeing anyone in this world. It feels “right” and underlines my own feelings about sexuality as a spiritual practice.
I came to her with towel, and thankfully the incall was nice and toasty, so that I was warm. This is a big deal for me, as any provider soon finds that I get very cold very easily. Something about being utterly and truly naked before someone, and I mean the emotional state, not just the physical, puts me into a low heart rate state of calm that makes me respond by shivering. I know I am ready for someone in this world when that happens to me.
She asked me about my sexuality, about my body. I had cried when we first spoke on my screening call with her, and I did again now. These are not sad tears, but ones of relief, of the joy of being open, of feeling. I had asked her to help me feel my body, to discover it. That it was changing, and that I wanted to feel it, to open up to it, and to open my heart to touch.
I learned from her as well that what she does is considered far more “illegal” than what I do/have done with a domme…amazingly, fisting is legal in NY, but not someone placing her hands on your genitals. The morality police are without logic, and the very idea that the government, our representatives, have anything to do with what goes on in our own homes, in our bedrooms, is far more scandalous than anything we might do with one another.
I lay on a massage table. It was heated. I was warm. And she began to touch me. Knowing for my happiness in the world of BDSM, her touch ranged from almost imperceptible to quite present, all of it suggestive. I felt as if I was suffused in a warm, gentle glow. My mind and body drifted, as if floating, utterly placid and calm. It was dreamy but not at all sleepy, and the two hours I spent with her in this state were relaxing bliss.
She had asked about any limits I had, and I had explained to her that while I imagine that most of her male clients might have a sexual response, get hard, I would not, could not, and that she should not be bothered by that. I also explained that I had never really been fond of touching myself down there, but that I wished her to treat me as she would anyone else. There were no taboos. And so, there was a “happy ending”.
At least, there was an indication of such. What she did felt pleasurable. I did not have an orgasm. There was no release in that sense, as there was when I have been with the reflexologist. What happened, however, opened up a seam in the universe for me, and is the real reason for this post.
When she played with my male bits, made them feel good with her expert hands, the sensation was indescribably different. It no longer felt like a pxnxs. There was nothing about it that was familiar in that sense. I felt sensation that I imagined would be like a woman putting her hands on “my” vulva or labia. I asked myself, “is this just wishful thinking?” And the answer came back, “no, this is really real, genuine sensation.”
It was curious and felt so different. It was not urgent or with the ache that came with an erection. It was sensual bliss but felt much more diffuse. I could understand exactly why the mood takes time for a woman and also can be lost so easily. It was very subtle.
This whole physical sensation stayed with me for days after. I couldn’t shake how different the feeling was. I had a video call with my future surgeon, and when “any questions” came up, I wanted to talk about sexual function, wanted to know if I have given up orgasms forever, and what it would feel like.
“Preservation of sensation” is the clinical term that doctors use to describe their prime goal in both vaginoplasty and vulvoplasty. I asked him about the vast true structure of the clitoris, all those inside bits that we don’t see (the “clitoris” we see is quite literally the tip of the iceberg), whether anyone is using stem cell therapy as a way to support tissue growth in trans patients, in particular whether anyone has grown clitoral tissue, what happens with the erectile tissue of my pxnxs as a vagina is lined with erectile tissue, etc.
It is clear that science is not yet close to what nature provides on her own, when things flow as we need to, but that doesn’t deter me from the path I am on. But when I described what I felt with this woman, what he told me showed that I wasn’t imagining it, that sensation really is changing.
He explained to me that the slowest part of transition is nerve growth. But that already, my brain is signalling to my body where blood flow should go, where nerves should grow, what signals should be received with which intensity, etc. He said that my brain is already processing my body as female, and that the signals I received when she touched me down there are being processed as if my anatomy were female, which is what the brain expects. He said, that this process takes several years, as nerves and circuitry grow slowly, but it will accelerate when everything is in the place that my new female brain thinks it should be.
This is truly fascinating to me. And what a gift. If it takes 7 years for every cell in our body to be replaced, in roughly six and a bit years, there will be nothing left of the male that I was or am…that cells which lived in a male body will all be gone, replaced by cells that have known their entire existence as part of a female body. I think this explains why I feel so good, and that every day, good is on a new level.
Perhaps someday science will catch up and be able to offer “more”, but what lies ahead of me is enough, what is happening now, for now, is enough. And perhaps someday society will allow for those of us who are born trans, to recognise that it isn’t a curse, but an extraordinary gift, and celebrate us for who and what we are, rather than cursing and marginalising us. Where I come from, different and unique are beautiful, not reasons to “other”.
mmmm i would love to try tantric massage but i think here is just too small for there to be a practitioner
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If you are in London, there must be many such practitioners, and from what I understand of the law in the UK, it is not illegal in the same way that it is in the US…the quirks! In the US it is legal to hit, so impact play is okay, but not genital or sexual contact…in the UK it is the other way around.
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As someone with friends going through gender affirming transitions, I very much appreciate the incredibly informative and open discussion you have shared of your experience. There are too many experiences in life we must face alone, not knowing what to expect or perhaps unable to process the experience in a healthy way on our own. I plan to share with loved ones.
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That’s very sweet of you. If there is a reason for writing all this, it is for this…that someone might find relief along what can be a difficult path, or if not difficult, at least filled with unknowns. Thanks for stopping by and for spreading the word. It is much appreciated.
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yesss but the problem is i have moved from london to the isle of man – do you know of it ??
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Hello dear. I have not been. Would love to. One of my American ancestors is believed to have come from there, Miles Standish, a figure of some repute in the early history of the colonies.
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