Why are some transsexual women afraid of sex, or even afraid to discuss it? (I hesitate talking about the men, since I haven't talked with them on this subject very much. But, I haven't noticed any of them afraid of sex, or afraid to discuss it. If there are some, I would like someone to write about why.)
It is interesting to hear the various reasons trans women give for forgoing sexual contact with another person. One thing I hear some say is, "Estrogen made me lose my libido." There is indeed a physical change in the libido level when a male-to-female transsexual begins hormone treatments. However, we have more control over our libido levels then we are sometimes willing to accept.
Sex and the Single Trannie
In the spring of this year, Haworth Press will be releasing a new book called "Trans People in Love," edited by Tracie O'Keefe and Katrina Fox from Sydney, Australia. This book has 25 chapters, all written by different authors from around the world about their experiences with love. I am one of the contributing writers for this book and my chapter is called, "Sex and the Single Trannie." In my chapter, I speak about libido and how I vowed not to lose it when I started hormones. Here part of what I wrote:
While writing my autobiography in 2005, I had a chance to scrutinize the experiences I had with women while living as a man. I didn't have many encounters with women, so the ones I did have stood out rather vividly. A connecting thread between all of those loves began to emerge, surprising the hell out of me when it became obvious. This thread occurred because Mother Nature had endowed me with such a miniscule "tool" that it forced me to find more creative ways to satisfy women. Not surprising, many of those ways have been used by lesbians since the dawn of time. It appears that Mother Nature actually gave me a gift, preparing me for my future life as a lesbian.
As a man, I truly enjoyed making love with women and I enjoyed the pleasure they gave me. But, as I approached the time to start hormones, I became more and more worried that I wouldn't even feel like making love to anyone because of losing my libido. To not find intimacy exciting any longer sent a chill through the Italian blood coursing through my veins. My brain couldn't conceive of the idea of being asexual, so I decided to do something to ensure I would still desire lovemaking with another person. At that time, it could have been with either a man or a woman.
According to the dictionary, the word "libido" means: 1.) The psychic and emotional energy associated with the instinctual biological drives. 2a.) Manifestation of sexual drive. 2b.) Sexual desire.
If there is a psychological component to a person's libido, then couldn't the brain be trained to maintain the same level of libido after a male-to-female transsexual begins hormone treatment? I felt truly motivated to find out the answer to that question.
I can hear some trans women already screaming at me, "TMI! TMI!" I think the reason O'Keefe and Fox decided to put their book together is that in our community, there isn't enough "I." My motivation came in the form of locating places on my body that would provide me sexual pleasure without even stimulating my penis. It worked, far better than I would have ever expected. In later years, I was told by Dr. Virginia Erhardt Ph.D. that this is the same method used to help paraplegics and quadriplegics find sexual pleasure.
What's the reason?
If a transsexual can overcome the affects of estrogen by finding new ways to have pleasure, then what holds them back? I spoke with Dallas Denny, who has an M.A. in Psychology, and she gave me some interesting insights to what she has learned over the years. In many incidents, before transitioning, trans women are not comfortable with the genitals they were born with.
Not surprising. Many do not experience sex until after their teenage years and usually after they are married. They cannot stand what they have and want it gone as soon as possible. However, the inability to get surgery right away can cause some to experience even more frustration and depression in their lives. And, there are some trans women who make it even worse by putting those people down for not getting surgery.
This disconnect with their genitals - and in some cases, inexperience with sexual pleasure - carries over to their new life as a woman. This happens even after they have had Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) also known by some as Genital Reconstruction Surgery or Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS.) Another less used term is Sex Affirming Surgery (SAS.)
Decades of living with the wrong genital configuration can play havoc on a person's psyche. Even many who did not have a disconnect with their body still had issues over the years. As time went on, I found little desire to make love as a man. When I discovered female-like orgasms, a whole new world opened up to me.
Society is to blame for a lot of what ails the transgender community. Fear and misunderstanding causes hate crimes and job discrimination against transgender people. However, some of the issues for transsexual women start at an early age, with how their own families treated some of them.
Dr. Erhardt says, "Then there's the issue of early sexual harm. I think it's possible that the percentage of trans women who were sexually assaulted or molested as children is higher than the percentage in the general population. Again, guessing, as children there may have been an obviously vulnerable quality that tends to attract predators. Some people who are sexually abused become hypersexual, others become fearful and avoidant of sexual contact."
Marriage: Do you?
If a transsexual woman survives those early years intact, they still have to survive adult life. I have heard from so many trans women that in order to try to live up to society's expectations of a male gender role, they got married. Some felt that this would "make a man out of them," which turned out to be the farthest thing from the truth. Some marry the first woman who came along, only to find out what a big mistake that was. They start to hate sex even more, seeing it as their "husbandly duty" and an unpleasant chore. Marriage also soured some when it came to love.
I have heard horror stories from trans women on how badly their wives treated them and how they would use the threat of taking their children away, or brow beat them with guilt trips. My ex wife did both to me. I survived because I refused to have her threats beat me down. She was not as strong as I was. But, many of my sisters were not so lucky. They had wives who knew what buttons to push and what threats worked the best.
Dr. Erhardt has seen various situations in the 14 years of her practice helping transgender people. "I can speak of 3 couples who stayed together, and whom I continued to see post-op. One couple lived more like sisters as they had for years, but once the natal female spouse accepted her partner's need to transition, the relationship became much more loving and affectionate.
"The natal female spouse of another trans woman did a remarkable 180 after spouting a great deal of fundamentalist fire & brimstone for a year, claiming that the cross-dressing was just a sexual addiction, and insisting that her spouse attend a 12 Step group for that "problem." The trans woman is now post-op and the couple has a very loving relationship.
"The third couple I'll mention were together for many years, and had maintained an active sex life of a sort throughout the marriage, i.e., one that respected the trans woman's preference not to involve the male organ in any traditional manner. The trans woman was very interested in sexual activity with her spouse after surgery and the natal female spouse was willing, so, having read up on the how to's of lesbian sex, they have an active and creative sex life."
I have also met many transsexual women who remained married to their spouses because the spouse stayed in love with the person, no matter what.
The love and sex correlation
I brought up sex, but Dr. Erhardt touched on the other subject I mentioned in the title, "Love." Love and Sex are two separate stories in the same building. You can have sex without love, but you can also have love without sex. Most people understand this. However, as with sex, many trans women are afraid to open their hearts to accept love from someone and equally afraid to give love back. There are several factors that affect "love" with transsexual women.
Again, Dr. Erhardt, "Most of the trans women I know seem to be quite capable of feeling and giving love. Some may, however, have greater difficulty risking vulnerability, opening their hearts to others, allowing themselves to be known (flaws and all), allowing themselves to need others. After all, this is a challenge for everyone . . . how much more so for people who have been rejected by family and friends when they have opened up and shared their true identity?"
Trans women guard their feelings because many have had their hearts broken by friends and family members who started off saying they supported them, only to turn around to viciously stab them in the backs. I met one trans woman who had a cold heart because her friends went out of their way to destroy her AFTER they said they were okay with her transition.
Another woman could not recover from a 30-year marriage where she was emotionally abused by her wife the entire time. Just mentioning her marriage would send her into fits of rage. Sadly, I got a glimpse of the love she had to give, only to see it quickly sealed behind the doors of a vault.
The weakest sex?
They say that "Time heals all wounds." This maybe true in most cases, but Time cannot grow back something that others have torn out. Many in our community who have had their hearts ripped from their chests by others they trusted. Loss of trust is not a wound that Time can heal so easily.
If, stereotypically, women are suppose to be the "weaker sex," then trans women may be the weakest segment in the world of women. Society does not want us to exist. Our families do not want us to exist. Our friends do not want us to exist. And, our co-workers do not want us to exist. The only thing that does my heart good is to know that not all trans women have experienced these problems.
I have a friend who has said in the past that her transition was so smooth that she didn't even lose the family members she wanted to lose. I pray that future generations of trans women experience that kind of life, but we know many will still be afraid. Sex and love don't rate very high as a life priority if they have to concentrate on just surviving.