When people ask me what it’s like to take enough testosterone to grow a beard and have a nice bass growl, I say, “Now I actually enjoy heavy metal music” or “I’m fascinated by anything that involves throwing a ball around.” These jokes are a way of fending off more explicit questions, such as: What do I look like without my pants on? What do I do in bed?
I’m not sure if shooting “T” into my body with an intramuscular injection makes my physicality anything like that of a genetic man. But there does seem to be a lot of overlap. My physical needs have become shockingly insistent. If I’m hungry, I have to grab something from the closest source of food. If I’m horny, I have to duck into a rest room and jack off. Of course, this impulse isn’t entirely new to me. When I was living as a dyke, I liked a lot of things that aren’t associated with the average woman: public sex, pornography, strippers, s/m. But on T, my libido is at least twice as intense.
Now I understand why so many men pay for blowjobs on their way home from work. The difference between sex and love was always clear to me, but my pelvis will frequently strain to have its way with someone that my head and heart have rejected. Is this what it’s like to have your cock get hard in inappropriate situations? Dirty stories in books are less compelling than they used to be. I want the visual, and I’m amused and appalled by my fetishes—big tits, battering-ram cocks, and orifices stretched as wide as possible. No foreplay, just in-and-out slammin’ sex. Every time I see a cum shot, a little cheer goes off inside my groin.
There’s the rub. What do I call all this convoluted tissue between my legs? (No, I haven’t had “the operation.”) T has enlarged what I used to call my clit. But I don’t like the cute tranny slang “dicklet.” Everything works just fine, except that I can’t wrap my fist around the invisible cock that’s been in my pants for as long as I can remember. My chest is as flat as any other fat boy’s. T has made my nipples so sensitive that for the first time in my life I can enjoy having them touched. (My surgeon, bless her, did not insist on a nerve-numbing nipple graft when I told her sensation was more important to me than size.) Post-T orgasms are so intense that my muscles cramp and it feels like my eyes are melting. T has also made me feel, even more strongly than I did before, that the natural way for me to come is to put my hard cock inside something slick, willing, and tight.
During masturbation, fantasy is usually enough. It’s when I try to put my body next to someone else’s that my genital ambiguity can become a crisis. A functional and handsome phalloplasty costs as much as a down payment on a house. I’m a big queeny leather fag who is also a sucker for pretty girls of all sexual orientations. But how would a lesbian femme feel about dating me if being seen with me erases her queer identity (and mine)? If I let a gay man go down on me, will he honestly feel like he is sucking my cock? And what about the presence of that extra hole, which has given me a lot of pleasure despite my prissiness about her? I’m not one of those lucky trannies who relishes taking it up the butt, and I’m not sure my male identity would survive getting fucked in what some FTMs call the “front hole.” It helps me to remember that there are men who are impotent, men who have really small cocks, men who have big cocks who scare off more people than they nail, men who don’t like using their cocks at all.
Being even partially naked with another person is terrifying to me right now, but it’s also healing. The people who have accepted my performance of male identity and desire not only give me sexual pleasure; they mirror the self that feels most authentic at this point in my life. Gender is never just a matter of who you believe yourself to be. It’s also a social contract between you and every single person you see. Running the fuck is an integral part of maleness in our society. So it’s my partners’ pleasure, and the erotic solace they give me, that makes me feel entitled to my hard-won title: transman.
Patrick Califia is a queer theorist, author of kinky porn, therapist, parent, pagan priest, and avowed bisexual.
GETTING AND GIVING TOUCH
The term transgender potentially includes just about anybody who chafes at the parameters of sex roles. A straight guy who likes to wear women’s panties when he logs on to forcedfeminization.com does not have the same agenda as a post-operative transsexual woman who does not disclose her XY past on the first date. A dyke daddy gluing on a mustache and binding her chest won’t see sex through exactly the same eyes as a self-declared FTM. Someone who doesn’t want to be perceived as either male or female strives to bring sex without gender into being. (And I think I have it rough.) One clever little article can only begin to touch on how gender resisters manage to have a sex life.
For some of us, it takes so much energy to figure out why we feel weird about our bodies and obtain professional assistance that once we are able to pass, we run out of gas. When I asked one transsexual woman about her sex life, she said, “Oh, I don’t have time for personal things. This [meaning the counseling agency she had founded] is everything for me.” I might have chalked it up to estrogen’s dampening effect on the sex drive or the possibility that her genital surgery had left her unable to have an orgasm, until I met two Belgian transmen who had “you-can’t-tell-it’s-not-butter,” state-of-the-art phalloplasties, and heard to my dismay that neither of them had taken his studly beauty for a test drive.
All this malaise is unfortunately consistent with a very retro picture of what transgendered people can realistically expect. But activism has begun to spread the legs of tranny lust. There may not be a drag king bar on every corner, but every protest rally or courtroom vigil is a cruising opportunity. There are hotbeds of bed-hopping like the True Spirit conference and Fantasia Fair. There are Web sites and lists catering to every splinter group in the trans community, from Filipina Ribbon Dancers for Jesus to Republican Pagan Organic Gardening Gay Dads. You can, I am told, cultivate a steady stream of trade by heating up the DSL lines.
An MTF or FTM who wants a lover, a fuck buddy, or just a trick has to sort through the misconceptions of “straight” men looking for “well-hung, fully functional she-males,” femme dykes seeking a “butch or FTM lover” they refer to as “she,” and oddballs like the poor man who frantically IMd me with questions about how big testosterone had made my “clit” and demanded that I stop whatever I was doing and measure it for him. Some of us choose other trans people as partners in hopes of avoiding objectification. But there are also openhearted and adventurous genetic men and women who give us a chance to stick around till morning or deliberately seek out transgendered partners.
Nowadays, I suspect, for every high-minded tranny celibate there’s a high-powered slut who has more euphoria than dysphoria in his, her, or shim’s boudoir. The narratives of transgender desire today include a group of trannyfags in Seattle who incited both consternation and delight when they took their pants off at a local bathhouse, a boisterous miniskirted non-womyn-born-womyn who has suckled and finger-fucked her way through practically an entire chapter of the Lesbian Avengers of a certain East Coast city, and the people in long-term relationships that I see interacting tenderly with one another at support groups and conferences.
It amazes me to see so many transpeople who have retained the ability to love or even just the optimism it takes to give an attractive stranger a phone number, despite all the abuse that we have endured. We have become so much stronger than anyone ever told us we could be. The determination to fulfill our desire is a vital component of that power. -P.C.