The essential life-affirming commitment to pursuing my own femininity
Trigger warning: there are discussions of sex reassignment surgery, castration, sexual politics and TERFs.
It seems like yesterday. When I began the transition process, I would say to people who asked that I was “open-minded” about how far I would go. This was in relation to the inevitability of bottom surgery. This was most likely part of the cook ‘em slow strategy—the frog in the hot water metaphor, but in truth, my own conviction of the outcome, that I will have surgery, was not yet fully formed.
Privately, as in, to myself, I would admit that this was my intention, but it wasn’t so fully formed or certain as to come out that way. But as I have stepped into myself, as hormones have recreated my sense of certainty, I have been able to speak more openly about it.
I will say that pretty much everyone in my life comes out against it, or at least expresses contra opinions. “Can’t you just leave that part?” is a common refrain.
I can’t always unpick their motive, if they have one other than altruism, but it has forced me to think a lot more explicitly about my own.
One of my therapists, co-author of a letter of support, has frequently asked me about this—why I would visit such extreme trauma on my body. “What happens with the tissue they throw away?” she has asked. “What are the intentions of the surgeon? Do they have any spiritual practice associated with it? Do they respect what they are about to do to your body, treat it with the reverence and holiness that it merits?”
I love her questions even though they make me feel uncomfortable.
In truth, I welcome them all, as being forced to think things through is what will ultimately support me through what is likely to be the most challenging physical part of my life. Vaginoplasty is serious business. And while the answer might very well be, “I want to be able to look good in a bikini,” that doesn’t seem to satisfy my questioners.
Men with ulterior motives
One of my favourite topics (men with ulterior motives), but in this regard, their questions are sweet. They stem from fear. Castration anxiety. It is no longer a theoretical concept.
And I draw the parallel very explicitly. I have already chemically castrated myself with a cocktail of hormones and blockers. I make the very explicit connection between my feelings about men, my own manhood, and my submission to women as the only way I can be with them. In some ways, taking this final step is both my final apology, but is also my final act of preparation to be with women in intimate ways and without ulterior motive. In this case, somehow I have conflated the male sex organ with ulterior motive. Is it perhaps because of how I perceive the insidious tendrils of male sexual desire?
Star Child is throwing a real cat amongst the pigeons with her thoughts on male sexuality. She is not bothered by the ‘ulterior motive’, “it’s okay to be desired,” she said, “I like that a man is turned on by me even if I don’t fancy him. It is honest, open, and without guile. He can want to get into my panties. It’s flattering.” I’ve never had this said to me before. It is rather beautiful.
One male member (no pun intended) of my family said bluntly, “don’t do it.”
“Because it’s so final.”
“Having a pxnxs is final too. This is final,” I said gesturing to my own body, “I was born final.”
“I’m just saying.”
“It has to go. I’m not doing all of this to play, to put on a surface persona. I want it all. And even though I don’t like men, don’t want to use it with men, I do want to cross that line, to have made that change.”
“It’s a big decision. I urge caution.”
“I’ve waited my whole life for it.”
This is not dissimilar to conversations I have had with other men. They seem to struggle with the idea of wanting to do it. Disturbed by giving up the simplicity of the penis, its visibility, utility, for something that is dark and mysterious, the source of health problems, source of joy. Why would someone want that kind of vulnerability? Do they fear for my own rape?
My children don’t want me to do it either, but their stated concern is how serious an operation it is. Their fears are legitimate. It is serious. It scares the bejesus out of me. It also scares me that all of the top surgeons in the West, with some of the best in the US, all seem to create vaginas that need a second operation for cosmetic reasons…as in, they get the plumbing right, but have to work on the aesthetics twice. If there is a sister reading this who is ahead of me on this path, please reach out, I could use the advice.
I contrast this apparent disconnect between technical and aesthetic performance, as in Thailand it does not seem to exist. Thai surgeons do more of these operations than anyone else in the world, and they seem to be very concerned about making it look “good”. I don’t know how I feel about the politics of a male surgeon making me a vagina that looks “good”—that is a really personal rendition of the male gaze!
And my main desire, to lie on the beach, to float in the ocean, to just heal afterwards, will not be possible, as even taking a bath is forbidden for 6 months after while the neo-vagina heals. This is not for the faint-hearted.
Women with ulterior motives
My female friends have also attempted to dissuade me, but once they have heard me out, they come out in support. Many others are with me from the beginning, just in support from the outset.
I love that. I love the welcome that it implies. I love that some women see it for what I see it, a deep commitment to my own femininity.
But others who ask, who I might be sweet on, make me wonder about whether their motive is that being with me without the male organ forces them to think differently about themselves and their own desires. The one with whom I have discussed it explicitly has said to me after talking about it, “I am okay with that.”
I have begun to discuss this with Star Child, and I am loving what she is teaching me through her own sexual groundedness. And also making me wish that I had known and loved women like her in my past…that being with her is profoundly grounding and healing. But I also fear that her own legitimate questions will make me think about things in relation to my own desire, and that this will be clouded by my feelings for her. That I would do something for her, not for me and me alone.
And this is a real risk. I am a slave. I cannot help it. When I get my slave knickers into a twist, there are few things I wouldn’t do for a loved one, someone I cherish. I love to please people. To take care of them. To dote on them. All the more so when this can be simply how we are.
In other words, when a domme asks for it, expects it, or even just experiences it with me, it is less fulfilling than when a friend or a love interest who is not connected to me through D/s allows for this expression and knows it for what it is. It makes me feel as if I am not being objectified, that we are just experiencing one another for who we are.
And while sexuality and sex are the most extreme examples of this, it can be in relation to all aspects of life. This is good.
Forging our Own Identity
My main therapist has asked me to consider becoming my own slave. This is happening. It is a process which began some time ago. It requires of me to become a Domme as well, the Domme that this slave needs.
My favourite therapist has told me to learn to mother myself, to find baby me, and to cherish, love, and cradle him.
I am telling transgender me to find my own tribe, my own self, and my own essential way of being. This is taking me to a number of beautiful places, in relation to my body, health, exercise, to my spiritual practice, to my friendships, to how I live my life.
Silly but significant debates such as bathroom use are just distractions. I support utterly the Stonewall Organisation’s desire to have sex markers removed from ID’s. After all, what do the external genitalia have to do with our identity from a legal perspective in an age of fingerprint technology in every mobile phone or computer, sophisticated iris scanning. Nobody needs to really carry ID anymore, as “who” we are is already known by the surveillance state. I am just some random individual represented by an endless serial number.
Does any of this have to do with who we are?
My friend the TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist)
One of my closest friends and longest-standing allies, deepest bosom buddies, has said some things to me over the past months that show me that TERF-thinking is deeply embedded into even many of the more enlightened female psyches.
My guess is that most trans women are naturally and deeply aligned with the feminist agenda. Logic would suggest that most women, especially feminists, would find that trans women are allies in the fight for equality and justice. The TERF phenomenon is hard therefore hard to explain.
In conversations with my friend, I have begun to understand it. The female experience is lived. A woman’s journey to her politics is based on what she has discovered over her life—her body, her position in society, so much of what is both good and bad in her collective experience has been lived through the unique lens of her circumstances, but in particular that she is a woman. Inequality is gallingly all around us, and this affects a woman’s experience in micro-ways and macro-ways every waking, and even sleeping moment.
Along comes an interloper, a trans-woman, one who might have lived as a man for most of his/her life, or not. No matter. Aspects of the trans-woman’s lived experience will be different, tinged with male. As my friend said, “I’ve lived as a woman my whole life. That’s not something you could possibly understand. You’re new to this.” In other words, because I haven’t grown up feeling those micro-aggressions, dealing with those same issues, threats of violence, sexual abuse, casual and formal sexism, etc, that I have no idea.
I understand the point of view but find it sad. Our experience doesn’t need to be the same. As she concluded, “we’re on the same side,” but coming after a diatribe that reminded me of the uneasy acceptance of a trans-woman into the female fold, it sounded out of tune.
It is not a zero-sum game. The discrimination, life difficulty, angst that I and my trans brothers and sisters have felt are different. Who knows whether they are more or less significant. The main point to me is that the perpetrator is the same in all cases…whether on a micro basis, 99% straight male, or on a macro basis, a patriarchal system, the effect is the same—to reduce our humanity, our utility, our voice.
So, I don’t get the TERF agenda. It strikes me that a woman who excludes a trans-woman is dealing with demons of her own, and that she is ultimately undermining the cause of feminism anywhere…after all, feminism is about equality, equity, and stamping out bigotry. This seems an odd way of going about it.
The need for resistance
And you know what? It makes me sad, but if we are in your face and you find us being out makes you uncomfortable, well, then simply let us be…let us have the rights of any other human. Stop making this tiny minority a significant political punching bag. Treat us like everyone else and we will be like everyone else. Treat us like freaks and we will fight to be heard. And shame on you if you deny us our freedom…bigotry starts small. Micro-aggressions begin when I am asked to try and understand the people who are having trouble relating to me as coming out. Sorry, no, I won’t. Your feelings cannot be my problem…they can never be anyone other than the person who feels them. And I hate having to be this way. I just want to be. But you know what? I will fight.
As one of the women who inspired me most in life said to me…”we get used to micro-aggressions,” she was describing a moment in her career as a powerfully successful black woman. “The simple gasp that a room full of white men give off when they see that I am not just a woman at the top, but a black woman, they might come to an event, not knowing my name, not knowing who I am, but are simply drawn to my achievements.” She inspires me. She draws strength from the disconnect. For every mico-aggression she experiences, she gains in power. This is mindset. It is how to live.
When I have sat with my trans brothers and sisters in support groups, I have often wondered to myself, “what am I here?” and “I have nothing in common with these people,” as we come from all walks of life…and then one of them opens their mouth, regardless of age, race, socio-economic status, starting sex, destination sex, and I hear their words, and feel their unique pain, and see myself in it. We all do. And we all end up crying or testifying to that common feeling.
The sad thing is how few of us there are. I know some politico might twist that sentiment into saying that trans people are “groomers”, which is so far from my lived experience, it would be risible if it were not so disgusting. No, we need protection too. Mainly from cis white men, mostly straight. I say “mostly” straight, because even the LGB community at times doesn’t know what to do with us. I get it, sexuality is not the same as gender identity, and people with gender dysphoria are just as potentially disorienting to someone who identifies as straight as to someone who identifies as gay or bi.
Thank goodness for the kink community, whose blessing is to be open-minded. Thank goodness for Sex Workers who as a tribe have shown more support to us than most any—and this has echoed with my lived experience. And bless the other marginalised people, the downtrodden, particularly the out-of-Africans—no stronger support have I found in strangers than in African-American women.
But all of this is to say that we need our own tribe. We need our own culture. We need to celebrate what gender diversity is and means. We need to share and understand our strengths and our weaknesses, to tap into our spirituality.
As a practical example, I have no doubt that my trans-ness is directly connected to my connection with God. That my faith was born as part of my trans nature. That my since birth belief in the power of magic and of energy has come from seeing things, whether real, imagined, or imaginary real that other people have either chosen not to see or simply cannot.
I watch my children grow, how some are open to energy and are beginning to learn how to cultivate it, and how others are not, not because they don’t feel it or have power, but because they choose not to. The rational dominates, and is in line with existing power structures. I’ve been there and allowed my voice to be silent so as to fit in. But such process of fitting in achieves its opposite, accentuates my otherness.
No, I will not fit in any longer. I will not listen to those of you who don’t want me to up-cycle my pxnxs into a vagina. I will open myself utterly and completely, bare my heart and my groin to the world. I will be vulnerable. This is my path to enlightenment.