Why Another Trans Woman Wants to Discuss Sex After Surgery

This week Vogue released an article discussing trans women’s sex lives after vaginoplasty. There were some things I found impressive, in the my-expectations-can’t-get-much-lower sense. The cis reporter was respectful, in fact she used more respectful language than the trans women she interviewed. And although there was still plenty of hemming and hawing about whether she should be reporting on the subject (she really shouldn’t but here we are), I thought she did as good a job as I could expect from a cis woman reporting on trans women’s lives.

The meat of the article, the interviews with trans women who have had vaginoplasty, I found limited and unimpressive. Both women interviewed, Nomi and Charlie, were straight trans women. And both women would seem to have only discussed their sex life with straight cis women. Despite the article’s initial bemoaning that trans women aren’t having this conversation more openly. And perhaps because of this, the article follows the same tired “vaginas are so confusing how do you make them cum” narrative that is in so many heteronormative discussions of sex. So this is me, a trans woman, initiating a conversation about sex for other trans women. If you are not a trans woman, you are still welcome to read, but this is not written for you.

Straight trans women are not the norm. Seriously.

Less than a quarter of trans women identify as straight, according to the most recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which is some of the largest collection of self-reported data about trans people to be found. This means any attempt to have a well-represented conversation about sex and trans women must involve queer trans women. The fact that both of the trans women interviewed at no point discussed sex with anyone other than straight men, frankly says more about straight men as sex partners than it does about sex after vaginoplasty.

Your mileage will vary.

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the lament that, by expanding the conversations about trans women beyond what our genitals look like, conversations about sex have somehow become taboo. This has not been my experience, or the experience of any of my trans friends. We talk about sex a lot. Regardless of what shape our genitals are or have been. We’re all trying to figure out how to get where we’re going and none of us were given a decent road map when we were born. If anything, the understanding that surgery is not a given has actually helped us have better conversations about sex.

When I was preparing for surgery, vaginoplasty was intensely important for my happiness and well-being. I would often go into dark pits of self-loathing because of disgust at my own body and how others would perceive it. Now that I’ve had surgery, I can acknowledge it was a good decision but only that it was a good decision for me. Every time a trans woman asks me about vaginoplasty, I tell her the honest truth. It was really fucking difficult, quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve done in an already hard life. And it hasn’t so much improved my life as it has simply removed some obstacles that were significantly troubling. Other than that, not much in my life has changed. I’m still trans and always will be. I will still deal with oppression and obstacles cis people never will, and that’s true of all trans people. The only person who can know if vaginoplasty is right for them or not is the individual contemplating it. For me, that’s more important information than whether I can get wet or not.

My experience will not be your experience. And a cis woman’s experience won’t be your experience either. So rather than wondering if what you experience is “normal”, it’s better to ask if it works for you.

Sex before vaginoplasty can be weird. Sex after vaginoplasty can be weird.

Before surgery, I had a pretty active sex life. I had several regular partners that I enjoyed infrequent sex with in various ways that worked for my and their preferences. Because of intense dysphoria, I never used my genitals during sex before surgery, but I gave lots of head and took lots of anal from people of various genders. Although having the initial conversation of “how do I fuck you?” was awkward, actually having the conversation ensured we had an enjoyable time.

After surgery, I’ve had a pretty active sex life. I have several regular partners of many non-male genders that I enjoy infrequent sex with in various different ways. I still don’t really like having my genitals touched most of the time, which many people find surprising. And I no longer enjoy penetration except in very rare circumstances. But I still give lots of head, and now I love strapping on. My sex life has gotten more creative, but also possibly more confusing, since surgery. But that’s because I’ve expanded what is and isn’t “sex”, not because my anatomy boggles me or my partners.

I still have “how do I fuck you?” conversations with new sex partners. This could be why, at worst, I’ve had unremarkable but never bad sex. I’m not afraid to tell someone “Yeah, your tongue isn’t working for me. Let’s get out the magic wand instead.” And there is still plenty about how sex works for me that I still can’t really articulate or understand, but because I discuss that with the people I have sex with, and not straight cis lady friends, I’ve never had anyone tell me that boring sex is just part of figuring out life with a vagina.

Vaginas aren’t rubik’s cubes. Not even neo-vaginas.

Look, I’m not gonna act like figuring out how to achieve an orgasm isn’t a thing that a lot of women and fems struggle with. We’re socialized to put our (presumably male) partners’ pleasure and needs above our own, with their orgasm being assumed and ours being nice-if-it-happens. Unpacking all that and learning how to speak up for your own needs can be an ongoing process. But none of that means I don’t know how to touch myself and figure out what feels good and what doesn’t. That was how I decoded sex before surgery, and it’s how I decode sex after surgery.

There’s still plenty I’m figuring out, such as whether I’m polyamorous, whether I’m aromantic, whether I’m asexual, why some people turn me on and some don’t, and why that might change suddenly without warning, but I don’t try to figure myself out by sleeping with clueless men and hoping they magically know how to fuck me right. I figure it out by openly discussing those issues with partners, and in therapy if I really need help.

Before surgery, I was able to achieve orgasm after about half an hour of self-stimulation through anal penetration with toys. After surgery, I can achieve an orgasm in less than five minutes if I have my magic wand vibrator and the right mindset. Both of those didn’t come easily right away, but I held myself responsible for my own orgasms and found a way.

Sex is easy, except when it isn’t.

When I think about my major roadblocks in regards to sex, it’s not what gets me off or how my anatomy works or even finding someone who is interested. So frankly, an article that focuses on these aspects is just boring as hell to read. For my sex life, it’s about what relationship, if any, I want to maintain with my sex partners outside of bed. How much personal autonomy and emotional distance I need in order to feel aroused and not suffocated. What forms of communication are effective and what aren’t. How to express my sexuality and still be respectful of my non-binary partners. How to maintain a balance between indulging in fantasy but unequivocally respecting consent as a Domme. Why my sex drive is very high for some periods and then non-existent for other periods of time. Why I have such a difficult time allowing myself to be the focus of attention by a partner. Whether my methods of enjoying sex are healthy but unusual, or a sign of emotional issues I still need to work through.

At no point have I wondered “Is it normal to just feel like you’re rubbing on a carpet when a guy is eating you out?!”

Because regardless of whether it is a “normal” experience or not, it doesn’t mean I or any other trans woman have to put up with it.

Why Another Trans Woman Wants to Discuss Sex After Surgery
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“Sir”: Misgendered as Dyke

CN: Reclaiming of queer-antagonistic slurs, misgendering, transmisogyny, lesbophobia

Like many people my age, I work many jobs to try to make ends meet. But although I have several side jobs, recently I’ve secured a primary job in retail where I actually receive benefits and insurance and other things befitting of an adult while I work toward grad school.

I like this job. I actually like retail better than other “customer service” jobs I’ve had. I totally grok sales, most of my coworkers end up being women or queer or both, and I love putting people and mannequins in outfits I would never wear, but still look great. It’s like dressing life-size Barbies and getting paid for it.

The last time I had a customer service job I was younger, “straight-ish”, and had a very feminine presentation. Now I am Grown, Gay, and have a very butch presentation. The job is still the same, with the same challenges and frustrations I expect and navigate while dealing with the public. Only now, I occasionally get called “Sir” after I’ve finished helping a customer. And it fucks me up sometimes. Continue reading ““Sir”: Misgendered as Dyke”

“Sir”: Misgendered as Dyke

Smooth Transition

Hello everyone, I’m Dori Mooneyham and welcome to The Orbit!

I am thrilled to be surrounded by so many talented writers who are both personal friends as well as role models from afar. This is a great opportunity for so many of us godless do-gooders to do a little more good together, and I’m so excited to be a part of it!

A bit more about me. I’m a trans lesbian psych student who loves pop culture and getting worked up about her academic queer ponderings. I’m also the former host of Secular Shethinkers, a now defunct podcast that gave me a good excuse to drink and go on feminist rants once a week. I’ve also written a few things for other atheist blog sites. I get around, is what I’m implying.

But as some (or most) of you may be unfamiliar with my work, I thought it best to include a little list to give you an idea of what I’m all about over here at Trans and Godless.

Continue reading “Smooth Transition”

Smooth Transition

Beyond the Swagger: The Serious Play of Lesbian Expression

The appearance and gender expressions of sexual-minority women, and lesbians in particular, has been of academic interest for a considerable time (Clarke & Spence, 2013; Esterberg, 1996; Hutson, 2012; Huxley, Clarke, & Halliwell, 2013). Are there noticeable differences between heterosexual and homosexual female expression? And if so, what are the explanations and functions for deviant expressions among lesbians? By analyzing an inter-disciplinary collection of studies on lesbian gender expressions, I hope to begin to draw some patterns and new insight into what makes a lesbian “look like” a lesbian, and why she may (or may not) adopt such an expression.

Continue reading “Beyond the Swagger: The Serious Play of Lesbian Expression”

Beyond the Swagger: The Serious Play of Lesbian Expression

Dichotomous Deviants: Relationships Between Gender and Sexuality Binaries

Social dichotomies are constructed binaries used to categorize groups in opposition to one another, typically due to believed mutually exclusive behaviors or characteristics. Two of the more pronounced dichotomies of our society are related to gender and sexuality: Male/Female and Heterosexual/Homosexual.

Although gender and sexuality are not directly related, both of these dichotomies share similar uses and histories in our society. For example, both dichotomies have a privileged/deviant model in terms of one group having the majority of sociopolitical power. Because the privileged groups, Men and Heterosexuals, have more to lose by being seen as members of the deviant groups, Women and Homosexuals, they are frequently defined in direct opposition to the deviant. In other words, one of Heterosexuality’s key characteristics is not being homosexual (Seidman, 2015). The same can be said for Maleness not being female or feminine. In this way, deviant groups tend to have more freedom of expression than their dominant counterparts, if only because they have no social power to lose if their identity is not validated. A straight man has much more to lose if his identities are not validated compared to a lesbian being mistakenly viewed as male or straight, for example (Seidman, 2015; Epstein, 2002). Continue reading “Dichotomous Deviants: Relationships Between Gender and Sexuality Binaries”

Dichotomous Deviants: Relationships Between Gender and Sexuality Binaries

Underdogs Hijacked: Stonewall Riots’ Commemorability

The Stonewall Riots of 1969 and their annual commemoration, in the form of Pride Parades, are arguably the most well-known queer rights events of the 20th century. But what makes Stonewall unique compared to similar demonstrations of the same decade, and what factors combined to ensure its commemoration continued over 40 years later?

I would argue the unique combination of an oppressive environment, a memorable resistance to that oppression, and community access to resources for future commemoration of the event, all worked together for the Stonewall Riots in a way that had not been replicated before. Two previous events demonstrate the importance of an environment oppressive enough to spark a memorable resistance from deviant minorities. Continue reading “Underdogs Hijacked: Stonewall Riots’ Commemorability”

Underdogs Hijacked: Stonewall Riots’ Commemorability

Vaginaversary: One Year After SRS

Today marks the day I had vaginoplasty last year, a date which will henceforth forever be known as my Vaginaversary.

Earlier this month I made a list of 10 Brutally Honest Tips for those seeking SRS based on the hardest aspects of having and recovering from surgery. I did this because SRS is probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to go through and I wanted to help other women avoid my pitfalls as much as could be controlled.

But today I want to give a more generalized review of my surgery with Dr. Chettawut and my results because I know there are lots of other trans women out there who need to do research on who is the best fit for them. So without further ado, let’s start talking about my snatch.

Continue reading “Vaginaversary: One Year After SRS”

Vaginaversary: One Year After SRS

Hate the Sin, Hate the Sinner

CN: Religious Abuse, Queer-Antagonist Slurs, Violence, Sexual Assault, Self-Destructive Behavior, Disordered Eating, Suicide

Long before I knew I was queer I only knew I was “different”. But not the praise-worthy kind of different. This was the kind of different that had adults muttering and whispering behind raised eyebrows. I learned euphemisms like “creative”, “artistic”, “chatty” and “expressive” were not compliments in rural Arkansas, they were warning signs. Warning signs of what, exactly? I had no clue, but I knew from their expressions and hushed tones it was serious. Before I knew what I was, before I knew there were others like me, one word I used most often to think of myself was Freak.

Continue reading “Hate the Sin, Hate the Sinner”

Hate the Sin, Hate the Sinner

Butch Is Not Just For Cis Women

I am a trans woman. I am also a butch lesbian.

Despite what you may have heard, these are not contradicting identities.

A trans woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth by the medical industrial complex. This assignment is based entirely on the appearance of a phallus, specifically a phallus at least half-an-inch in length. That’s it.

A cis woman is a woman who was assigned female at birth by the medical industrial complex. This assignment is based entirely on the lack of a phallus (or a phallus less than half-an-inch, therefore acceptably small enough to be considered a clitoris). That’s it.

So forget whatever the hell you’ve heard about chromosomes, gonads, gametes, fertility, or anything else. (Chances are good you and your doctor have no idea what half of those are for you personally, anyway.) If you can accept that, it’s easy to accept how greatly variable everything else we take for granted about “sex” and “gender” is per individual.

Continue reading “Butch Is Not Just For Cis Women”

Butch Is Not Just For Cis Women