by Joanna Poppyfield, student
Note: This post contains images that are NSFW.
Since I began my transition from living as a male to living as a female between my sophomore and junior year of college, my mother often expresses her pity for me at my “disability,” as she calls it. She refers to my penis.
When I began my medical transition — that is to say I started taking hormones — it was assumed that I would have surgery to “fix my problem.” Sure, there was always the option to not have the surgery, but it was often presented as less valid. I felt like there was no other option but to have surgery, or else I’d never be a “true girl.”
I’ve been living the past four years as a trans*woman — someone who is assigned a male sex and gender at birth, but instead identifies as a female — but I’ve felt feminine ever since I comprehended what feminine meant. I attached the words feminine and girl later on in my life.
As a result of my transition, I’ve grown hips, breasts, longer hair, smoother skin, my lips have plumped ever so slightly. Most importantly for me, my waist grew curvier, more feminine. I was so delighted in my junior year of college when I showed off some new curvy jeans I had just bought and made my girlfriends jealous of my curvaceous hips and butt.
But the most important part of my transition for me was having people come to understand me as a woman. I can’t describe it all that articulately, but I loved how people treated me. It felt right. Sure, the sexism can get just a tad bit annoying at times, but I felt like I now had a license to be me.
All of this happiness is not in spite of having a penis. Rather, my penis has no bearing on my happiness. If I lived in my perfect world, I’d be equally happy having a penis or a vagina. I honestly don’t think it would affect my personal happiness. But the reality is that in the world we occupy today, my having a penis has made me horribly unhappy and depressed, not for internal reasons, but because of the challenges it presents in my everyday life, and the way people treat me differently as a result of it.
First off, in the media’s coverage of transgender people often focuses around surgery and medical care, like Lisa Ling’s portrait of five trans*people . And when they chat with younger kids, they always frame their angst in terms of their body, specifically their genitalia.
I want to state very clearly — I don’t think that surgery is bad, either way. I think for many people it is not only incredibly healing, but absolutely necessary to their mental health and survival. However, my problem is the dominant trend in media coverage to always contextualize transgender people in terms of their physical transition from one sex to another, because not all trans*people have surgery, nor want surgery, nor can afford surgery. And by largely ignoring that aspect of the transgender community, the media makes that choice seem less acceptable and less valid.
Secondly, dating and sex suck. I’ve been asked onto many dates, and have had every single offer except one revoked when I told them I had not (yet) had surgery. They always tell me they’d be interested “if it weren’t for the dick.”
Every guy’s greatest fear is that they’ll be about to bag a girl, only to find out — GASP — that she has a dick! Which means that she’s a dude, which means he’s gay, etc., etc., down that rabbit hole of bullshit. (I’ve been told similar phenomena happens in the lesbian community, although to a much lesser extent, but I wouldn’t know from first hand experience.)
Of all the shit I’ve gone through post-transition (trust me, it’s been a lot), nothing compares to having guy after guy telling me that they like me, they’d even go as far as fuck me — missionary, of course, maybe cowgirl if I felt adventurous — if only I didn’t have that extra limb down there.
I’m not saying that every female-oriented guy needs to be attracted to trans*women, or needs to be ok fucking someone with an atypical female body type. But I do think this demonstrates how we as a society need to seriously grow up.
First, genitalia do not determine your gender, or even your sex. There is often a lot of tension around this subject, but I feel like more and more people are starting to understand that gender and sex are constructed spectrums, not scientific dichotomies. (Which is also why I find the terms male-bodied and female-bodied highly cissexist, although that’s a topic for another post)
So if you fuck a “chick with a dick,” you’re not automatically gay (or straight, if a lesbian). You are someone who was attracted to and fucked a female identified person who has different genitalia than most women do. But she’s still a woman. (Also, what’s so bad about being perceived as gay or bisexual? Again, topic for another post.)
Secondly, as a society, we all need to reevaluate how we understand our sexual desire.
The one time I had sex was with a mostly straight guy who’d never had sex with a trans*woman before. He was polite, he asked questions and we learned from each other. It was a new experience for both of us.
In the end, he said the sex didn’t really differ, me having a penis instead of a vagina, from the rest of the girls he’s had sex with. Granted, he wasn’t sure how things would work out in the beginning, but we had just as fun a time.
Often, the fear and stigma of being with someone who has an atypical body type, especially the fear and stigma about having sex with trans*women, clouds a person’s ability to allow themselves to be attracted to that person.
Most guys don’t give me a chance, when in fact, they might have a really fun time with me (both in and out of bed.) And that’s what kills me — that they are putting their fears and ignorance before their genuinely expressed attraction for me.
I’m not saying all female-oriented people should jump at the opportunity to fuck a trans*women. Some people genuinely hate penises, and I can’t argue with that. But we should all ask ourselves, what’s really important when choosing a partner/s? Does their genitalia REALLY matter all that much? If yes, then that’s totally fine! I won’t try and change that. But if not, then consider giving me and other trans*women a chance.
So in short, I’ll probably have surgery, just because I want to hook up and sleep with random guys I meet at parties, or maybe someday, have a significant other. But I just wish I didn’t live in a world in which I had to go through an expensive surgery and months of hell so I could be packaged in a way that didn’t threaten people’s baseless insecurities.
“Joanna Poppyfield” loves to challenge the world and challenge herself.