Vagina monologue

All bodies are beautiful.

Fat bodies and thin bodies, the stretch marks and the rib cages, babies whose heads need supported because their necks are not strong enough yet-
Oh! So Tiny!
and old bodies, grey hair, wrinkles, laugh lines and frown lines, bent backs, arthritic hips

the record of struggle and delight being and doing
the record of our humanity

We are human because of our bodies, created in the image of God so loving, creative, powerful, beautiful, male and female,
created over fifty million years of primate evolution so that we fit, here, now,
creating wonders
Voyagers beyond the solar system saying Hello! Is there anyone there?
the Svalbard Global Seed Vault so that we preserve something of the species we are destroying
a self-portrait of Clementine Helene Dufau whose eyes follow you round the room
Georgia O’Keefe’s grey lines with black, blue and yellow- is that a vagina?- surrounded by women contemplating the beauty of the colours.

I did not know my body’s beauty
I was brought up to Be a Man, a lawyer in a world of men in dark grey suits and white shirts with golden cufflinks, where bodies are denied.
To be a Real Man, a Christian Gentleman, cultured and educated
disembodied, nerveless below the neck, a mind seen as a computing machine,
a Cartesian intellect.
I am a body! I feel therefore I am! I did not know it then.

I was ashamed of my body, too thin, too weak, too slow, not at all manly, best kept hidden.
What created this shame- nature, or nurture? Nature, or Torture?

Sex was something I did, not because I wanted it, but because men were supposed to do it. I was in my head, my disembodied mind, doing it in the way men were supposed to, because I had to pretend to be a man. I did not do it much.

My mother wore the trousers in her relationship. My dad just loved that.
They were terrified of anyone finding out. This screwed me up.
My mother was a harridan, a strict, bossy or belligerent woman; a virago, a woman of masculine spirit; a termagant, a domineering or overbearing woman. My father was a pansy, a milk-sop, a namby-pamby, effete, feeble man.
I wish I had positive words for their specific, queer-hetero sexuality. My mother was powerful. My father was gentle. It would have been beautiful, but for the fear and denial, the false idea of the “real man”, that fake, false, fanciful, fictitious, fraudulent, oppressive, ridiculous ideal of a Man.

I needed to be a Man. So many trans women do. My friend was a fireman, my friend was a soldier, my friend was a police firearms officer.

What I wanted more than anything else in the world was to be myself, to be Abigail, a woman. I plucked up all my courage and devoted two years to planning and preparing, and I could.
I laid aside my act, my pretence, the heavy stiff armour with spikes on the inside, and could Be.
The world changed, from monochrome to colour. My body was alive. My fingertips felt Beauty in wood and metal, grass, earth and stone.
I became human.

I came to love my body. I saw its beauty. It is slim, and lithe.
It is effective, cycling fast in the sun, or in a warm and gentle cuddle
and on Stage! Hello!
I changed from being a fragment of a person, just an intellect
to a person almost whole. I was like a dancing doll, with legs, arms, fingers, but
It was as if my vagina did not exist. I did not look at it. I did not touch it except to clean it.
It might as well not have been there.

And then in the garden, in the summer. There had been a barbecue, there was a marquee, carpeted with rugs, deserted except for Carol and me. Everyone has gone to bed. And I am scared. I become the head, the intellect, again, not a body, for my body is curled up tight, turned away, trying not to exist. Oh! So tiny!

She knelt behind me and touched me on the shoulder. She caressed me on the arm. She spoke softly to me. And in the next hour I uncurled, I opened up, I flowered in her sunlight.

Wishing to be desired

The variety of human sympathy and desire, with men loving men, women loving women, and men who wish to be desired as women… We insist it is a question of gender identity, not sexuality. Trans is who I am. Some people cannot and will not see it that way. It is a matter of sex.

Miri Rubin’s article sees sex as the heart of the relationship between men and women, almost to the exclusion of anything else. She is opposing patriarchy and seeking agency for women, but imagines that friendship between the sexes has rarely been possible with even old folk tormented by memory of lust and satiation. “It is better to marry than burn” wrote St Paul, but then marriage is two people thrust together uncomfortably by sexual need. I have a romantic idea of two people becoming one as a team working together and supporting each other in family love, not just as the beast with two backs, but some people see sex as the imperative towards union. Then transgender is seen as sexual, because everything is.

Even if Blanchard is wrong, and trans women are not motivated by sexual desire for ourselves rather than others, transition is so difficult that it consumes our attention, first deciding to transition then doing it. When the word was permissible, someone said “There are two ‘s’s in ‘transsexual’, and both of them stand for Selfish”. Then the medical treatments we receive blunt our libido, sometimes to nothing. The distinction is clear to us: it is a matter of identity. I am a woman. It is not that I want to be a woman, or that I want to be seen/desired as a woman, but that I am one. She confounds me by using the word “patriarchy” and then “desired as a woman” as if women were mere objects of desire, rather than sexual beings with desires and pleasures in their own right- though perhaps she thinks trans women, being men, think of women that way.

Hers seems a patriarchal view. Men overcome the resistance of a potential sexual partner. Some men want to be desired by a woman as they desire her, so that the two come together freely without force. Or, want trust and friendship in a couple first, so that sex follows naturally. The fear and resistance has gone before desire arises. Perhaps, though feminist, Prof. Rubin wants to be desired and overcome: perhaps that is not just a patriarchal construct, but the nature of some women.

Exclusive trans folk, who imagine themselves in some way true trans, say that others are just playing at it, out of a sexual perversion, rather than having the true trans identity. Calling others perverts is a way for them to project their insecurities around this. We are insecure. I do not make distinctions among trans women, but say “It is a matter of identity”. Prof. Rubin just does not understand. Well, we tell ourselves stories in order to live, and perhaps we do not understand. It really is all about sex, but we cannot admit that.

I do not know Prof. Rubin’s attitude to trans folk. That line I quoted ignores trans men- but then I do, mostly, some of what I write applies to all trans people but I rarely employ inclusive language. She appears to think it is all about sex. When we say it is all about “Identity” we seek to make ourselves safe. No, we are not perverts flaunting our sexual perversion in your faces as we walk down the street. We are women (or in the case of trans men, men). But these are two separate issues. Someone may think we are sexual perverts, but support our right to live in society. Someone might even accept it is about identity not sexuality, but still think we are not Normal so want to exclude us.

Some people accept difference, so accept us; some are simply not enraged enough at us to bother opposing us. Some people will never accept it is about gender identity, but that may be OK.

Miri Rubin.

Masks III

The greates reason for transition is that you can be your true self. Of course, you can never not be your true self, or anything other than You, but you will admit it, and be happy with it, and freed from that dreadful act of pretending to Be a Man. (Or a woman in the case of trans men- I never want to exclude anyone, but as gender is so important to us inclusive language is cumbersome. And the experience is analogous, but different.)

It might seem that the Man is a mask, a painful one like the Iron Mask which could not be removed, and when its rivets are finally broken there will be only freedom.

Yet the Real Self is elusive. It is important to maintain a professional attitude, including professional detachment. We have a job to do in whatever place of work, it is usually defined by others- unless you are an Artist, and extremely fortunate- and the part of you you express is that professional person. I wondered whether you might be your real self with a partner. Not before transition, in my experience, possibly as I approached it. But then even in those Spiritual Growth workshops where I am told to look into the eyes of another, and hold their gaze, I know the rules of the situation, I follow the rules, my face is calm, the time passes. Whether there is any real contact or communication I don’t know.

Though I judge myself harshly, and do not want to claim anything which may not be true.

Possibly we can be ourselves when we escape words. Words might trap us in our masks, words to explain ourselves to ourselves or to others, words to reach a common Understanding, words to define what we must do in this moment. Then again words are how we are with each other, and I found myself forming a connection even as I spoke to someone. I was aware of the subtext later. The words may have some part in that.

Can you be yourself by yourself? We are made real by others. Possibly when outside, where there is life and unpredictability. There is the moment of the task, which is using yourself to some end, and the moment of perception, which is receiving rather than being.

Or, we are not made real by others, we have been forced into masks through childhood with continuing reinforcement so that a human face is an impossibility, there are only masks.

I said,
I am this person
This individual
Myself, and no other
and felt I was looking out of my own eyes. It is a particular state. I can ease myself into it, then I go to sleep again.

You put your arm round me, and I reacted in an instant, I felt and knew what I felt, I could see myself and be seen without a mask. There was a moment when one aspect of The Real Me was visible to me, and possibly you- No! Not a habitual response! You put your arm round me and I relaxed into your shoulder, and felt intense misery. I hate my sexuality. I am ashamed of it. It merely humiliates me, it distances me from others rather than bringing me together with anyone, it is weakness, I do not know what to do with it. It would not be so hard for a woman- as vulnerable, as fearful, but not as ridiculous, or Impermissible. So I lay back on your shoulder, needing the contact, a few drops of water in the desert. And on stage a woman conducted a woman’s piece, Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia. She was professional, as an artist perhaps her true self, sufficiently in control of the orchestra. One of those white shirts in the audience is mine, but I can’t quite be certain which.

The “Cotton Ceiling”

Of a thousand people, only a very few might want to have sex with me. For many of them, they would feel an obligation to be faithful to a partner. For many more, I would be the wrong age. Even if they would not want sex with a trans woman, or not with a post-operative trans woman, that might not be the main reason. People have varying strengths of sexual response, but I can imagine that most would not be that into me. You need to feel it to want it.

Because most people in any group would not want sex with me, I tend to feel that need not be said. I can accept it that people simply like my company without wanting more; I do not find it an insult that they do not want Heughmagandie. I don’t want sex with them, either.

This is why lesbians saying they would never have sex with a trans woman, or a pre-operative trans woman, is transphobic. It need not be said. When I meet someone I expect they will not want sex with me. If they feel the need to say so, it feels vaguely insulting, either assuming that I do not accept their non-interest, or implying I am uniquely repulsive: it’s not just that they don’t want sex, but sex with me would be impossible or unimaginable. “I would never have sex with a transwoman because I am a lesbian” is saying I am a man, or at least not a woman, and I find the statement that I am in no way a woman insulting. I am culturally a woman. That I am generally treated as a woman makes my life bearable. There is no need to say it. It is transphobic.

Possibly, a trans woman has come on to that lesbian, and not taken no for an answer. That is an unpleasant experience. I sympathise with the lesbian in those circumstances. The trans woman has no right to behave like that. But imagining that other trans women will behave in the same way because one has is transphobic. We are not all the same.

Many lesbians have had relationships with trans women. That does not make them not lesbian.

Transphobia can also make someone imagine that she will never fancy a trans woman. Generalised trans phobia might mean others never check us out, or try to get to know us.

The origin of the term was the cotton of women’s underwear, that we would never get inside. I find it an unpleasant term; I am demisexual gynaeromantic (ie not that interested physically but wanting heart-connection with a female partner) so the term seems a bit coarse to me. But it was one seminar by Planned Parenthood, with seven attendees. Here is a history of the term, and the transphobic overreaction. If you google “cotton ceiling” you find lots of TERF stuff, a lot of which is quoted on that link. It’s pretty horrible. We never meant any harm. We never did any harm.

Sex and Gender II

Sex doesn’t matter.

Sex is physical, gender is cultural. Sex does not matter unless you are having it, looking for it, or looking for someone to have it with. Sex, maleness or femaleness, is so little of human experience that, compared to gender, it does not matter.

Gender is how we relate to each other. Arguably it is gender rather than sex that men generally ask women out rather than the other way round. Gender is how we present ourselves to each other, or even to ourselves. Gender is our whole lives.

So if you are forced into a masculine gender, when it does not fit, it is as oppressive as to be forced to be someone else, pretending all the time, never allowed to be yourself.

That does not mean that you would be happier in a feminine gender. It can be as restrictive. It probably fits you better, but there is that small matter of sex, a tiny part of life but important all the same, and the fact that the feminine gender is not “opposite” to masculine. It is not binary, On or Off, 1 or 0, but a huge range as diverse as all of humanity. Your gender does not fit the culture, male or female, and you can try to make it fit or be yourself. Those are the choices.

“Transsexual” makes no sense at all. You cannot get female sexual organs, only a rough simulacrum of them. You might think that customary ways of using what you have don’t really fit your gender, but alteration can’t make it better. If you want to be passive, having The Operation does not suddenly make that permissible.

I felt it did. I felt sexual passivity and post-op trans organs went together. After the operation I could give myself permission. If only I could have given myself permission to be passive without the operation.

Only non-binary can fit a human being as they is. No-one fits gender stereotypes, some people can sort of fit just for a quiet life, some of us who don’t fit at all have to rebel and create our own gender, idiosyncratically ourselves.

I wrote a post called “sex and gender” in 2013, and put it completely differently. At the time, I felt a strong need to change sex in order to feel permitted to change gender. I associated the feminine gender too much with the female sex, and denied my own idiosyncrasies to try and fit the feminine gender as I had tried to fit masculinity. What a shame I could not realise any of this before now.

Pansy

After the election, where I anticipated an increased Conservative majority, I am overjoyed. At the station, that woman asked how I was.

“I’m delighted,” I said.

“I can see that. It shines out of you. It’s beautiful” she said. I offered a hug, and she accepted.

I was already overjoyed, and my cup ran over. I spasmed with it. Feeling happy, walking along, I have sashayed; sometimes I turn my wrists outwards, as if the Qi in me needs to flow out; now muscles tense and flex expressing it. Joy ripples through me like aftershocks, on the train. I don’t tend to notice other adults doing this sort of thing. I am still doing teenage, but here going right back to being a toddler, a different kind of toddler-hood which teaches me to integrate rather than suppress feeling.

It seems to me that I could call what I am a “Pansy”. The word has little baggage, unlike “Sissy”, co-opted to describe non-penetrative sexual services offered by some discreet older women. I can make of it what I will, add my own baggage to it. I am a pansy. I like viragos.

We went to the Giacometti exhibition. Man and Woman, which he created in his late 20s, fits this idea.

You can’t see it from the photos, but that sharp point is not touching the female. She bends backwards, but does not retreat, and a flower opens to accept the point. It is vulnerable and proud. There is a meeting, and a balance, between the two.

Sexually, I identify with the flower not the point. Yet calling me transwoman, trans woman, woman, whatever, is only an approximation. That vulnerable flowering is overwhelmingly seen as Female, but rather it is feminine, and I am a feminine male. A pansy. I should not need physical adjustment to actualise myself, just to find how my body can work with my spirit.

This is not normal, but “normal” must be resisted. It is a cultural creation of powerful folk who cannot conceive that anyone could be other than they, or that what is best for them might not be best for everyone. I don’t fit the norms, or rules, so have to make my own rules. It might have helped if I had not been so indoctrinated so strongly into the value of normal. Discretion protects the abnormal, it can be good not to be noticed, and one can take that too far.

Yvonne points out that all the active sculptures in the Giacometti exhibition- pointing, walking, even falling- are men. Some of the busts look childish in execution. One of his wife reminds me of a sex doll, or at least the cliché I have seen on TV: wide eyes, mouth like an O, flat caricature face. Before marriage she had worked in an office at the Red Cross. From the 1930s, here is a narrow sculpture (The more I wanted to make them broader, the narrower they got, he said) about four feet tall, her head slightly raised to meet the eye of an adult observer about a yard away. It’s not assurance, exactly, nor apprehension: she does not know what that viewer will do. She will respond appropriately, to whatever requires a response. The mind of that figure contains no story about what thing feared or desired will happen next, or what ought to be happening now, so will see what is happening and respond to it. I see capability in that standing figure.

Across the room is another standing figure on a plinth which would be chest height on her, if she stood beside it. This relatively huge imposing plinth supports her slender figure, which is an inch tall. “She does not know she is tiny,” I exclaimed, and a woman says “I would never have thought of it that way”: here we are open, so that talking to a stranger seems natural. It is one of the most moving works of art I have ever seen, and she has the same naturalness, lack of constraint, and capability.

I do not need to be constrained by Manliness. I can be a Pansy. If I relax and lose my stories of how the world is or should be, I may even be able to be myself.

We ate on the South Bank at an outside table, and I loved the Sun gilding the edges of the clouds. When it was a bit cool to stay there, but still light, we walked across the bridge. “Love the T-shirt,” I said of a passer-by. It was blue with an EU circle of stars and the words “Member of the Liberal Elite, established 2016”. He stopped to enthuse about the election.

Personal Growth

Hello, I am Clare. Some of you know me. I transitioned male to female in 2002, and I have a gender recognition certificate. However, for the purpose of gender balancing this weekend, I am a man. So, if you are a woman, and asked to find a partner of the opposite sex- Hello! And if you are asked to find a man- Hello! I feel my Y chromosome is as good as anybody’s.

I am not the most macho of men. I rather like women who “wear the trousers” in a relationship, and if you know a way of expressing that which is not contemptuous, please let me know. So, if there are any viragos, termagants, harridans or hoydens here,

Hello!

I have done HAI before. I went this time with the specific purpose of exploring my own sexuality as a-

there’s an adjective needed there, and I don’t know what it is, qualifying the word “male”. Someone asked me what I meant by “wear the trousers” and I had to say I don’t know how to explain it. I have just read this on cognitive dissonance. Grossly generalising, if you want to see yourself as a good person, you will not change your mind because you cannot admit you had been wrong; and once you commit to a course of action, you will never alter to a different goal. If I do not see myself as a good person, I am able to change my mind but have difficulty taking action towards clear goals (except that of transition). So the adjective could be something like, “supportive”. I can back you up but not take decisions. Thoughts: is that what people mean by “co-dependent”? And- Hooray! That’s what makes me a Woman! Of course I am a woman!

Um. A radical feminist might not like that one at all. Onywye.

There is an adjective there, and I don’t know what it is. Someone said to me she felt safe with me, and that frustrates me; would I like a frisson of risk? I am not sure of that either. However, people did praise my felicity with language, and I explained what a “hoyden” is.

Exploring my own sexuality is particularly difficult. I live in the country and rely on bicycle and buses, so dating is difficult to start with; I may be a minority taste; being unemployed is unattractive. My anatomy is as it is. I have little experience, and am better able to say what I don’t like. Opening up is necessary yet makes me feel vulnerable. I really don’t like feeling vulnerable, I associate it with getting squished. I am inhibited, though there comes the hack:

Oooh!
Disgusting, humiliating, ridiculous, shameful!
Yum!

And- Here are an accepting group of people, and one gave me a cuddle. Hooray for cuddles. I don’t like the idea of coming back here again and again for connection with other people with no strings, and no ordinary life getting in the way, but people do, again and again. I am here to learn and grow, I insist, with my best Puritan face on; and a little pleasure is OK. Cuddles. And I chose someone because I found her attractive. The task was to find a person you would not normally choose, and I gained what I wanted by the twisted logic that I would not normally pick someone I really wanted to be with (for fear of getting rebuffed). Oh well.

At the end of that I am a little reassured: there is no cause for complete despair, there is the faintest hope, I may see things I want to do to make my situation better. I know I want to make my situation better. I am on my own side.

Fulfilment

I understand some people get pleasure from sex. Not everyone, and not all the time, but some people occasionally. It is not only a source of shame, self-loathing, misery and isolation.

My strongest term of condemnation has always been “self-indulgent”. It is the height of wickedness, the sin against the Holy Spirit from which all other sin proceeds. One could reframe self-indulgence as self-care, exploring or accepting.

“It is being creative,” says Tina.

Then again, some people find sex a burden, a compulsion they wish to escape. I escaped the compulsion with surgery. And then I found myself masturbating to climax. It took over an hour, and it did not happen often, but it happened. I used pictures of women in the trappings of Domination- leather, pvc, whips etc. I find my choice unobjectionable- everyone has quirks, “normal” is a moralistic not natural concept, ought not is. I like the DSM idea that a sexual predilection is only pathological if it disrupts the person’s life, or the lives of others.

Have you ever been to a kink session? she asked. She tells of an asexual colleague who went to a weekend gathering, with seminars on consent or techniques, and stalls. One had a “Wartenberg wheel”, used for stimulation. “Turn round,” he said, and ran it over the back of her neck- and “though I am asexual, I tingled all over,” she recounted.

The thought of being passive and vulnerable terrifies me. It makes me freeze.

I had nocturnal emissions as well, and then a couple of times, including a day or so ago, I have awoken after what I think is an erotic dream even though I have forgotten it, with no emission but a painful sense of pressure in the bottom. I understood the prostate gland drained into the urethra. I wondered if scar tissue from my slowly-healing neo-vagina was blocking its exit, and if that could cause a health problem. I should see a doctor, I hope to set my mind at rest.

Though “Will bad things happen?” is never a good question for expert or ignoramus. “Possibly, but not certainly” is usually the best answer. “Worry if they do.”

I think deferring gratification is a good thing, and can talk sensibly about it. One should just enjoy onesself sometimes. It is a balance, and which is right at any time depends on circumstances. One can be right enough- mistakes are often acceptable, as they do not have terrible consequences. I put a very high premium on talking sensibly.

I had deep pain and shame around sex, expected and experienced. There have been a few moments when I liked something, when I might have found a way into enjoyment- holding hands that time, that evening… To imagine that sex could be pleasurable, but that I could have no possible path to that pleasure, and that scar tissue might take even my faintest hope from me! It is alright to like what I like– only to realise that when it is too late! Finding a path could be impossibly complex and difficult! Only now do I see myself at all clearly, rather than repressing…

I value moderation. Moderation is not enough, she says, all parts of you need space and a voice and time. You cannot be moderately self-indulgent. It makes me think of the quote from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground (1864). The nameless narrator says,

I, for example, would not be the least bit surprised if suddenly, out of the blue, amid the universal future reasonableness, some gentleman of ignoble or, better, of retrograde and jeering physiognomy, should emerge, set his arms akimbo, and say to us all: ‘Well, gentlemen, why don’t we reduce all this reasonableness to dust with one good kick, for the sole purpose of sending all these logarithms to the devil and living once more according to our own stupid will!’ That would still be nothing, but what is offensive is that he’d be sure to find followers: that’s how man is arranged.

Moderation could be rational, and imposed from outside- a prison you would do anything to tear down- or organic, arising from within.

I value understanding, and being able to talk of these things intellectually.

I got that quote from the New York Times. I love the NYT, and read it a lot- fascinating topics and good writing style, with the occasional gorgeous sentence or trick of article construction.

Integrating the self

I have not spoken to my counsellor for over a month, so have a lot of material to work with. I tell her of my dispute with Quakers, lunch with my friend, my holiday.

-I did a little light bullying.
-I don’t think anyone has ever said something like that to me. “How was your holiday?” “Oh, I did a little light bullying.”

I worked quite hard to make sure my friend had as good a holiday as possible, and when I could not find a way threw my weight around to make sure I got what I wanted from it. In particular I was not going to do boring things because conventionally they are supposed to be fun, especially as my companions had such limited ideas of what those were. And because he values my company so much, my friend has to take a certain amount of shit from me.

-You are very hard on yourself.

Yes. “Bullying” and “giving shit” are harsh words for me. I was kind. I was reasonably self-assertive. I was as creative as I could be. My judgment of myself is harsh, and I am allowing the judgment and trying to stop it preventing me doing what I want. Bullying is wrong. My inner critic calls my action bullying, yet I do it anyway. In unsatisfactory circumstances I am happy enough with my conduct.

At one point we reach a stop, and she says she has a question. Fire away.

-You said your internal policeman tasered you for not being sufficiently manly. Did he not get the memo?

We laugh. Apparently not. It is good to be conscious of him, though, rather than just being paralysed. I love the way I make her laugh. I am telling my stories as elegantly and quickly as I can, wanting to get the meaning over, but enjoying how I word them well.

Before lunch, H told me a coat would look good on me. I am playing control games. I like them. If that is her controlling me- what does that do for me? It is what I want. It gives me a sense of connection.

-Would you have bought the coat yourself?
-No. Never. But I love it.
-So she is appreciating a part of you which is usually silent, and giving it a voice.

I am addicted to attention. Or at least that is approaching the truth, one facet of it.
-You are being attractive, and valuing that.
-Crying in public could be that addiction. Yet it seems to me that when I cry my unconscious communicates to my conscious how strong my feeling is, and if I can fully accept my depth of feeling I need not show external symptoms. That can be useful.

She does not demur to that.

I have known I am screwed up and at war with myself all my adult life. I am closer to finding the cause of that than I have ever been, and to finding ways round it. My father was feminine, my mother liked that, they both knew it was utterly shameful and no-one must ever find out. I had one honest conversation with my father about it, three months before he died.

This is my work. It is intensely valuable, because I am valuable.

Being controlled, and passive. My best experience of sex so far was with a man who let me lie back, doing nothing, and with gentleness, empathy and generosity opened me up. I was curled up and self-protective, and he got me to open myself to him. He licked me out. “You taste Goood,” he said. I want to do none of the work, and be accepted.

Bullying. It is a harsh judgment. I am crying.

She says it is difficult to integrate the self when it is so repressed. At her request, I show her my yellow coat. It is very yellow.

We arrange another appointment, and then I watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine. I like it. It is decades-old SF entertainment for teenagers, and I still like it. It is beautifully done. I pause it to think.

Do I need it to be in some way objectively good, before I am allowed- can allow myself- to like it? Now I am weeping hard. NO! I like it! Yet this is an exceptionally good episode, ep 3/7, “Civil Defense”. I love the clever ways they come up with to reduce the threat, always making it worse until the end. I love the way the characters respond in ways like themselves: Quark and Odo flirt together beautifully, subtly showing their regard and care for each other as they bicker. It is funny. At the end, there is surely the tiredest cliché- the computer counts down the seconds to Self Destruct- and the tension of it grips me. I love their heroism: continually knocked back, everyone keeps buggering on. I loved the sense of the characters, and see it is the only DS9 writing credit of Mike Krohn- his only other credit is one TV movie, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct: Lightning. I may watch that episode again, however ridiculous the whole world might find such a complete waste of time.

Labiaplasty

It is not necessary to have a vaginoplasty, unless you wish to be penetrated. The alternative is a labiaplasty.

When I was considering the operation, we called this the “cosmetic op”, as if vaginoplasty was not also cosmetic surgery. Surgeons competed to create the orifice- should they use penile skin, or scrotal? What about hair removal? How deep would they go? Dr Suporn of Chonburi, Thailand regularly achieved seven inches. A friend was angry at her psychiatrist for recommending orchiectomy more than a year before vaginoplasty, because she felt this caused her penile skin to shrink so that she could only get one inch. Then, colo-vaginoplasty is the option.

The neovagina needs to be dilated. There are no rules. I spent four hours a day with a stent in me, which I found painful and debilitating, and which was not enough. The body does not naturally cleanse the orifice, so you need to wash it out, and it can be smelly. I was told not to have my anus penetrated sexually, as that could breach the wall of my vagina. If you do not want to be penetrated, it may not be worth it. Yes, you may want to be penetrated later, but if you are not interested in a relationship with a man, consider labiaplasty.

Here there is a small orifice, about an inch deep, and labia are created from penile skin, which is more sensitive. Most or all of the glans can be retained, so that you may still be sexually aroused, and stimulated. You can make love.

You will no longer be able to swive. You will not penetrate another. And you cannot lie back and be ridden in the same way as you might have before. And, before, you could lie back and be stimulated- the glans has only changed position a few inches. It is worth considering what you gain.

I found my desire to be passive and receptive in lovemaking mindblowing and distressing. I knew that as a Real Man I should be active. It seemed to be what women wanted. A line from radio comedy- a woman asks derisively, “You want me on top, waggling my hips up and down?”- stays with me, as archetypal female contempt for someone less than a man. Well, now I can’t swive, though I could use fingers or tongue on another. Either operation frees me from that Manly role, though perhaps finding the right partner or accepting my desire might have freed me in a better way. Sex with another was unpleasant, and I did not see how it might be better. And when I was passive, and a woman played with me, I found it humiliating.

I did not consider “the cosmetic op” a serious option, seeing it as less than vaginoplasty, as what an older person might choose, or someone with health difficulties restricting the time they should spend under anaesthetic. I wanted to resemble a woman as much as possible. If there is an option, think what might be good about it, however ridiculous it seems.

The other alternatives are orchiectomy, retaining the penis, and no operation at all.

What do you want?
Why do you want that?
How might it be achieved?

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