Finding my sexual self as a trans person
Sex and sexual desire are seen by most as just parts of life. However, for a lot of people it’s rarely that simple, including trans people with gender dysphoria, and people on the asexual spectrum with little or no sexual attraction. I myself fall under both of these categories.
There was a time in my life where I could never imagine wanting sex, much less actively having it. Now, one and a half years of hormones and a relationship later, I’ve found myself not only engaging in sex, but also working towards my needs and desires with it.
As a trans woman, I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my body, having had lots of dysphoria, especially with my genitals. Meanwhile, being asexual for the most part meant I never really wanted sex, and was confused at how others did. My body had some sexual needs of course, but getting that release was far from pleasurable. It was an obligation, one that would end with a massive wave of dysphoria. I didn’t see it as a realistic expectation to get pleasure from my own body, instead of just constant pain.
A few years ago, I realised that I did sometimes experience sexual attraction. At the very least, I did hope to have sex someday. But I couldn’t do that with my body the way it was. I would never feel happy with the sensations, never feel comfortable showing my body to someone. Part of me has often thought my asexuality is linked with my transness, that if I had the ‘right’ body I would feel sexually attracted too. It turns out, it wasn’t about it being right, so much as it felt like my own.
Hormone replacement therapy changed my relationship to myself and my body forever. Feeling at home in your own skin is a very powerful drug. When I stopped hating my whole body, I became more confident and comfortable about it. I could finally imagine myself having sex with it, and even found myself deriving pleasure from it.
The other recent change of course is that I fell in love with someone. I started actually feeling sexually attracted to her and actively wanted to have sex with her, something I hadn’t felt before.
I now exist in a world where the questions of what I need and desire from sex and love are no longer foreign. Being in a committed relationship and actively having sex now (pandemic notwithstanding), I’ve had to understand how to pleasure not just my partner but also myself.
Figuring out what actually feels good, what I like and dislike, what is possible to do, has been a whole journey. Especially with understanding the same for my partner simultaneously. I’ve even read a couple books about sex, which were surprisingly very inclusive of trans bodies. My takeaway has been that it’s not about orgasm, or about specific acts; it’s about the connection between me and my partner. The feeling of sharing all of your body with someone, of touching skin to skin, mouth to mouth; that is a magical feeling that supersedes any of the technicalities, and THAT is what I like about and need from sex.
To be clear, sexual acts still give me dysphoria. I still have genitals that I do not resonate with, that do things and function in ways that can make sex very uncomfortable for me. Half the time after sex I start crying from dysphoria. However, I’m now at least able to enjoy the act. In the moment of it, when it’s just me and her, I can forget about the failings of my body. In many ways, my partner makes them not feel like failings. She makes me feel loved and she makes my body feel normal. There’s always an internalised fear that my genitals invalidate my womanhood, but she makes me feel so seen and so wholly a woman.
There are still many avenues of sex I have yet to become familiar with. One of them is protection. As it stands, I’m likely infertile, and with my partner I rarely do anything that could even result in pregnancy. But the fear still stands, and condoms do come with their share of dysphoria. A further complication in the matter is that I’m polyamorous, so if and when I end up exploring sex with other partners, protection will suddenly become a much more prevalent and pertinent part of my sex life.
At the same time, being openly poly has put me in the position of rethinking my ideas of love. Of having to understand what I need from both my current relationship and any future ones I might enter at the same time. I’ve realised that I want domestic life with my partner, but still want love and companionship with other people. I have so much love to give, and there’s so many lovely people to share that with.
And that’s where I am now. I’ve learnt so much about what I need from relationships and from sex. As the pandemic clears up, I’m likely going to explore even more. And as I get older and become more independent it’ll affect my needs and desires too. Lastly, bottom surgery is on the horizon. Once that happens, I hope to become truly comfortable with my whole body. Even though it will mean rediscovering some things from scratch. I’m still just part way through this journey to understanding myself in these respects, and there’s still a long way to go.
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About the author: Asis is a lesbian, demisexual, polyamorous trans woman from India. She loves animals, board games, and pop culture, and writes often about queerness in her life and in the media.