The subject of sex can often be overwhelming or, at the very least, a little awkward but when you throw dysphoria into the mix it could become downright panic-inducing for either or both partners. Whether you were together before the transition started or you became aware that you’re trans, or you’ve already started your transitional journey and are looking to date, both scenarios can be daunting. Here are some quick tips and words of advice on handling the situation delicately.
“As scary as it may be to go through life without a partner it’s worse to go through life not being yourself.”
First, and most importantly, speak with each other. Being upfront about yourself on dating sites or during the initial date while maintaining an open dialog about what you’re comfortable and uncomfortable with will help your date right from the start. It will also save you a lot of time and potential heartache if that person makes it clear early on that they have any issues. In fact, some potential partners may feel betrayed and lied to if a trans person purposefully deceives them and that’s not the way to start any relationship. While you don’t have to wear a sign declaring your trans status it is very important part of who you are and any partner you have should be understanding and supportive of you and your journey. It will also become their journey as well, even if you’re already in the process of transitioning. For those already in relationships, it’s especially important to be open and honest with our spouse or partner about feeling dysphoria and what steps you need to take in order to feel complete as a person. From there, your spouse or partner will need their own time to find ways to adjust to this life change and continue the journey together or make arrangements to separate. Hiding who you are, such a largely fundamental aspect of your self-identity, from potential or existing partners is extremely damaging to your own psyche and could eat away at your personal well-being. As scary as it may be to go through life without a partner it’s worse to go through life not being yourself.
Next up – words. Words have always been powerful whether it is to soothe, to hurt, to create allure, and desire or to give a sense of foreboding or fear. When speaking about genitalia most people, regardless of gender or sexuality, stumble, mumble, and blush. When you experience dysphoria about your body or in a relationship with someone who feels that way, using specific terms for genitalia could throw them into a deeper dysphoria, depression, or – at the very least – ruin the mood. Let your partner know which words they should avoid and which ones you prefer. Just because you’re a trans man doesn’t mean you can’t use the word vagina, but for many FtM guys referring to their bottom half as such could be a major trigger. Just because you don’t have a “schlong” between your legs doesn’t mean you and your partner can’t say penis (or any other term you want to use). It’s your body; you get to call things anything you want.
For cis-partners, some helpful tips on verbiage would include:
- Instead of Breasts say Chest
- Instead of P-word or Vagina use Junk, crotch or more sexual language like penis and so forth
- Most guys don’t like having “peach fuzz,” especially if they’re just starting to grow facial hair so try something like “scruff” instead.
- In general most guys don’t like to acknowledge their internal junk either such as the uterus and ovaries, so for those guys who still experience menses we tend to call it “Shark Week” and the more you can sooth a guy during shark week while delicately balancing things so as not to necessarily draw attention to the fact that it’s happening is a great talent for a partner of a trans guy to possess.
- Nipples vs. nips: this really is more of a personal preference as it technically is the same term regardless. Some trans men prefer nips while others don’t care one way or the other.
Sexual pleasures are unique to each person and, as such, only you and your partner can discuss what you do and don’t like. If you’re about to start or newly started on hormones such as testosterone you may experience an increase in libido and sensation. This could amount to all new pleasures or dislikes so allow yourself a safe place to learn and explore your own body either alone or with your partner. Some still greatly enjoy penetrative sex while others never have. Some used to like it but found after testosterone they no longer find pleasure in it. Your mind and body are undergoing a lot of changes so don’t you or your partner worry if things start to change. Think of it as a fun adventure to learn together.
“I am of the school of thought that as a trans person you’re more enlightened to the fact that gender is not truly a binary thing and is more of a spectrum.”
There’s a great debate about whether HRT “changes” one’s sexuality. I am of the school of thought that as a trans person you’re more enlightened to the fact that gender is not truly a binary thing and is more of a spectrum. As such, sexuality itself can no longer be a binary thing and also runs on a spectrum. Sometimes you are rigidly in place and that’s fine while others have learned that they enjoy playing and being intimate across the entire stretch of the rainbow. There is, however, the aspect of potentially having your sexuality changed on you as per society standards during your transition. If you were a trans guy who formerly identified as a lesbian and still only want to partner with women, now society sees you as a heterosexual male. If you were straight and then transitioned but still want to be only with men, then society sees you as gay (Check out Show Your Pride).
If you’re in a well-established relationship that has handled the journey, then you are in a great situation that could lead to a long-term and happy relationship. If you’re just starting out in the dating scene, with a new partner, or just coming out to your partner it can be a long and rocky road. It can be scary and overwhelming. You both will need a learning curve, and you will begin to discover many things about you, your body, and your pleasures. Look forward to these moments as exciting steps and try to shed the expectations of society.
Love As Thou Wilt – Jaqueline Carey