The last time I had any words in Gay Times, it was a classified ad placed with my dear departed friend, advertising that we were both available for hire for massage services. Truthfully, trading standards should really have pulled the ad. We were the laziest masseurs ever and would really only countenance jobs if there was nothing better to do. We were, effectively, subsistence workers. Both of us knew we were trans and neither of us really enjoyed sex at the time, so flo©ing massage on the side seemed like it should be easy. It wasn't. We ended up very poor, on drugs, dancing at Kinky Gerlinky and soon after, my dear friend died of an overdose. I miss them and I'm still the laziest masseuse in town.
Fast forward twenty-five years and here I am writing about sex in Gay Times - sex which still confuses me as much as it ever did when I presented as gay but was, in fact, a woman in the body of a gay man. Back then, my partners always told me it was hard to be faithful to me but they didn't know why. I did. I never wanted my penis and I never wanted anyone to touch it, so I was a strangely unfulfilling prospect: a person who presented as gay, wanted to be loved, said they loved sex with men, could commit and do Christmas with gusto, but who would spend their whole time hiding the parts of their body that were male. Love me but don't touch me there.
Relationships were tough, no matter how many baubles were hanging on my tree. Sex was physically complicated and emotionally complex; I could do everything that involved a body part that wasn't gendered. I imagined that if only I had a vagina, my whole life would make logical, sexual and maybe even spiritual sense.
Many years later, I'm happy to report that I am the proud owner of a beautiful pussy. She - without doubt - rocks, and nestled there between my legs for the past few years, she has been locked and loaded for action like a newly buzz-cut recruit, although in true retro styling, she wears a full 70s mop. But, and this is tough to admit, she hasn't led me to an easier sexual place. I think I expected too much of her. Looking back, I imagined all my gender would be located in my vagina. I accept my naivety in this; I went about this process with a binary mindset, and travelling through the dating and sex scene post vaginal landing, I have found knitting and poetry far more accessible than easy-breezy sex.
A very good looking man very recently contacted me via a dating app (I love the pretence of romance) and asked me if I was “pre- or post-op.” I replied that, “I am post” and therefore had a beautiful vagina complete with eager lips. “Fantastic,” he replied, “I'm definitely straight, so only interested in fucking.” “Fabulous,” I replied. We then had a series of those messages: the ones which always appear to up the sexual ante, and often employ mild, playful kink to intensify the sexual content. A few exchanges later:
“You must do as I tell you,” he said
“So, when I tell you,” he continued, “to put on a strap-on, you must do it.”
“What happened to fucking me?” I thought. My first reaction was to block and move on, but then I thought about the courage it had taken him to create the scenario in which he could introduce his desire and I felt - strangely - caring towards him. He somehow trusted me, as if my being trans had allowed him the space to admit to something he couldn’t elsewhere in his life. Here was a man who wants to be fucked, but has to go on a convoluted journey to ask for it. I realised that if my process had opened up possibilities and space for me then I should get better at doing that for others. And he's got a great arse.
For far too long, we've been ashamed to talk openly about our desires, which is perhaps linked to our bodies being described as wrong in the first place: born into the wrong body, for example. But, as encounters and experiences like mine show, it's beginning to feel safe enough to both talk about and celebrate how our lives intersect and weave on so many different level: sexually, spiritually and personally. Trans lives are making their way out of the shadows. There are spaces where trans lives are desired and cherished.
All the negative press and media attacks targeting the trans community make it easy to forget quite how brave trans folk are and how we are creating new spaces within other communities and creating new spaces of exploration within sex. I just need to remember that as spaces open up for me that I can open up spaces for other people. Now, where is that man and his strap on?