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30 June 2011, 2:00 pm 3 Comments

Sex: Getting Physical

Submission by Brennan, TNG contributor

The discussion of trans bodies and sexual identities is one that, understandably, comes up a lot. There are many opinions on how people should or shouldn’t react to trans bodies, and how such people can or should be able to identify. I think that these topics are very valid and should be talked about. I just want to say before I start talking that these are only my thoughts. Yours might be different, that’s totally okay, and I would love to hear about them.

Many trans people talk about sexual encounters and experiences with non-trans people and how they feel these situations should be handled. Some trans people feel as though they should be treated no differently than a cis person, and yes, I do agree that you shouldn’t be looked down upon or treated as any gender other than what you are. However, I personally accept that my trans body is different from a cis person’s. That’s not to imply that I can’t please someone, or that I’m not “as good” as a cis person. I’m merely stating that I have a different body. (I’m referring to my junk.) I might call it a penis, but I don’t have the kind of penis that most people have when they’re born. (I prefer the phrase “medically assigned penis at birth,” over “Male Assigned at Birth.”

This brings me to my next topic: Some non-trans people feel like they can’t sexually be with a trans person because they’re “not into that” or they’re uncomfortable with their genitals. Now, I don’t think that people should be so quick to judge, especially because they have no idea what’s in my pants. Regardless, I don’t think it’s offensive if someone doesn’t want to get with me because I’m trans. If they’re openly offensive and rude, like saying that I’m disgusting or something, that’s one thing, but if they don’t want to be with me because of my genitals, I don’t have a problem with that. My genitals are different than a cis person’s, and I can’t expect every person to be open to that fact.

I don’t think that people should be so obsessed with genitals and what’s in someone pants. If you like someone, you like someone. I’m not talking about long-term relationships here. I’m really talking more about hooking up with people. If someone’s not experienced with a body like mine, why should I be upset with them because of that? If someone doesn’t want to be with me because of my body, then whatever, it’s their loss. Honestly, I do have a different body than a cis person, and because of the (unfortunate) fact that people are largely obsessed with genitals, how can I blame someone?

I completely respect trans guys who want to be treated as cis guys, when it comes to sexual stuff. I think that’s totally valid and fine. This might be TMI, but personally, I like being penetrated. I like my genitals, and I think that could make things confusing for other people and how they feel they should/can interact with me sexually. For example, I want my manhole fucked — warned you about the TMI. I wouldn’t want to be with someone who was like, “But, I thought you’re a guy. Aren’t you supposed to want a dick? I don’t want to touch you like that.” Yeah, I am a guy, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like my junk and it doesn’t mean that I have to want to ignore my desires in order to feel validated.

I think it’s dangerous and somewhat problematic to have set standards or ideas of how people (trans or cis) should or can interact sexually with trans people. There is no guide! Not every trans person wants to be touched the same way, not every trans person feels the same way about their genitals, or their body, etc. It’s comparable to an experience with a cis person in that not every cis person likes the same thing when it comes to their bodies. People don’t walk around saying, “Do this and that and you’ll be all set.” No, that’s not how it works. You need to communicate with each partner to find out what they do/don’t like and what they’re comfortable with. It’s not different with trans people. Communication is key in any relationship (sexual or otherwise).

I do think that people shouldn’t be so quick to judge. I do think that people should be open to new experiences, and of course, I do think that people should respect my body and my identity, but the hard truth is that not everyone is like that. A lot of people aren’t open to new experiences. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t be able to “get past” my genitals and what they think they are. If someone was like that, I wouldn’t want to be with them anyway, even just as a hook up.

The next topic – can a lesbian date a transguy? Does that make her not a lesbian anymore? This topic gets a lot of attention with many different opinions. Please hear me out on this before you assume what I might be implying, because you most likely will have the wrong idea at first. My take on this is that, yes, I think a lesbian can date a trans guy, just like a lesbian could date a straight man or a gay man if she wanted to, or just like a gay man could date a woman if he wanted to. I’m not saying that it’s okay for a lesbian to date a transguy just because they’re trans, or just because of their junk. I’m only saying it’s possible because I believe that sexuality is mostly fluid, and I think that anyone could possibly fall in love with anyone, regardless of labels. The thing is, people flip out about labels. I understand that labels can be useful for meeting like-minded people or identifying with/to others, but I feel like sometimes people become too protective.

If a lesbian falls in love with one transguy or cis guy, or a gay man falls in love with one woman, who I am to say that they’re a lesbian or they’re not a gay man? Shit happens. Maybe the person is attracted to the same gender 99 percent of the time, they consider themselves gay, and they happen to fall for someone who is a different gender. Yeah, that might make them in a non-gay or non-lesbian relationship, but it also doesn’t necessarily imply that they’re attracted to other people of that gender, so why do labels matter so much? Why should their label be invalidated or taken away?

Again – I’m not saying that I think it’s okay for lesbians to be like, “Oh, I’m into pre-t transguys because let’s face it, they have a vagina.” That’s not what I’m saying at all, and I hope it’s being conveyed correctly. I’m merely saying that I think labels can be restricting and if someone falls for someone outside of that label one time, then why should their identity be revoked or invalidated?

I know that there are many takes on this whole topic, and I’d love to hear more thoughts. This stuff can be very controversial, but I don’t think that should stop people from talking about it or expressing their opinions.

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  • Michael said:

    Hey Brennan,

    Really interesting and well-written post, for sure. I’m a queer/gay trans man (see, there we are with the ‘right to self-identifying’ thing; I lean toward gay, so I tend to call myself that) lucky enough to be in a relationship with a gay cis guy who accepts me and my sometimes “unmanly” sexual desires 100%. So I totally agree with you on the majority of what you wrote, especially regarding finding a relationship (or a hookup) where you can be true to yourself and what you like. And of course we don’t want to shame cis people who honestly just aren’t attracted to trans bodies, or expect people to do things they’re not comfortable with as the only way to avoid being called transphobic.

    Where we differ though, is that instead of just saying “Well, I wouldn’t want someone that ignorant fucking me anyway” (which, granted, is an excellent way of thinking) I think it’s incredibly important to think about and discuss WHY, for example, a cis person might tell a trans person they’re not “into that” without any discussion or knowledge of what “that” even looks like. It’s rooted in assumptions about the appearance of trans people’s bodies, and assumptions of inherent unattractiveness. So yeah, we don’t want to shame people, but we certainly want to challenge where a lot of those statements are probably coming from, which is societal norms, not honestly-held preferences. It’s the same as when someone lays out a blanket statement of “I’m not attracted to (insert any other marginalized group here).” If we write off statements like these as general preferences, we are missing an opportunity to challenge the paradigm that keeps these groups marginalized.

  • M said:

    I think the “can lesbians date transguys” question can definitely be a delicate one. But I think that it’s mostly the “freaking out over labels” that makes it delicate. I am female, pretty in-touch with my masculine side, identify as a lesbian, date a transguy. I don’t really worry about how this affects how others perceive my sexuality, or how I identify, generally – while yes, it is different suddenly fall into this place of being seen as a straight couple, it’s not a big deal – we’re just two queers, and usually people on the street wouldn’t know if they were looking at two lesbians, two gay dudes, or a guy and a girl. It works out emotionally, it works out sexually – that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.

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