This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 11th.
So, I’ve been having some difficulties with calling myself “woman”, recently. It’s not that I’m not a feminist or that I’m ashamed of being female. Far from it. Having been on a journey with my partner who came out as transgender almost two years ago now, I’m just finding it hard to know who I am in terms of gender. Jake’s transition was so courageous and deep that it made me view myself from a new angle.
That angle made me gasp.
In a recent post on a beautiful story called “On Some Maps, But Not on Others” by Annabeth Leong (in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, ed. Rachel Kramer Bussel), I said that “gender often feels like a bottle that I was forced into, when really I’m part of an unending sea.”
Yes, in terms of gender, I’m an ocean. But I think my female identity is part of that ocean. Perhaps I am a woman … and someone else. As folks who read my #BOAW16 post know, I have worn a mustache during sex, not to mention a rather studly tie — oh, and lipstick, as it happens, at the same time. I also love wearing a slinky nightdress. I love to don a silicone cock. All these expressions feel like me.
So perhaps I am a woman in the middle of an ocean. I always did call myself a mermaid. And you can’t take a mermaid from her ocean, can you?
In Mirages, my hero Anaïs Nin, who was also a mermaid, writes, “I am not writing for the elite, but for the confused ones. I would like to have the Encyclopedia Britannica. I need it now. I want facts and concrete images, earth, science, body. Everything made flesh, everything a story, everything animated and dramatized.” Beautiful! I am one of the confused ones. And like so many of her fans, her children, I always did feel Anais Nin was writing for me.
Confused as I am, I can see everything is indeed a story, just like Anaïs Nin says. Even the parts of us that we believe are simply facts — leg, belly, cunt, cock — are part of a story, a bigger, wider story. We tell those stories when we say, “This is female,” or “This is not sexual,” or “This is only sexual,” or “This looks female,” or “This does not look female.”
There’s always magic when we remove the either/or.
In Mirages, Anaïs Nin also writes, “Stories, stories, the only enchantment possible, for when we begin to see our suffering as a story, we are saved.”
Yes, yes, yes! From confusion and lostness, I will make stories. (In Maddie Aflame! I write about a giant, swallowing mansion that is sentient and sexual, and has no gender. What a comfort that story has been!) And I’ll make stories of my gender too. I’ll say my gender is a butterfly, a flying saucer, a stream of laughing bubbles, a spreading oak. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? And sometimes I will wear a cock and call myself a woman. And sometimes I’ll wear nothing and choose a different word.
But always, always, I will call myself an ocean.
And I think that, as an ocean, I’m beautiful.
What is the story of your own gender? If, like an ocean, it had no constraints, what would it be? Feel free to tweet me your thoughts at @foxlana tagging #BOAW2017 — I’d love to hear them!
When my partner transitioned, I was with him all the way, learning with him, listening to him, and supporting him as he faced the binaries that keep so many of us feeling small. In a way, I underwent my own transition with him. I still refer to myself as a cisgender woman, because I feel that’s as close as I can get to a truth that others will immediately understand, though actually the term “gender non-conforming” feels more comfortable for me.
Put it this way: gender often feels like a bottle that I was forced into, when really I’m part of an unending sea.
So where do I find erotica that speaks to my identity? Not always in the places I’d expect.
This week, I’ve been reading a copy of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year 2017, Volume 2, sent to me by editorial genius Rachel Kramer Bussel, and I had to pause my most enjoyable read to share one story that speaks to me in spades. In “On Some Maps, But Not On Others” by Annabeth Leong, the narrator’s opening line is, “My girlfriend likes to tie men up and torture their cocks.” She goes on to say that when they first started dating this wasn’t something she thought much about. It was just stuff her girlfriend “did with partners who weren’t me, using equipment I didn’t have.”
Immediately, I was grasped hard.
But I’m not going to ruin it for you. Let’s just say that the narrator decides to sit in on one of the cock-torture sessions, and in watching the tremendously hot pain play that emerges, finds a deep set of needs in herself that she can’t but explore — needs that relate to her gender and sexuality.
She buys herself a packer cock of her own. Her identity starts to shift.
“Gender still scares me,” explains the protagonist as she allows her own needs to transform her, “but now I think about it all the time. I don’t know what to call myself, don’t know what I am. The boundaries of my body shift and change. My cock is an island charted by sailors before Google Earth came along, appearing on some maps but not on others. My cunt is sometimes a depth, but sometimes a height.” She goes on to say, “Sometimes my cunt feels tough and masculine, ready to take any sort of abuse. Sometimes I put on my soft-pack and watch it tremble, so delicate in shape and color, and it feels like nothing could be girlier.”
It is rare that I feel so included in a story these days. (I will just mention Xan West’s extraordinarily beautiful and hot “The Tender Sweet Young Thing,” which makes me feel like I finally belong. I was honored to help publish it along with all the other amazing stories in West’s Show Yourself to Me at Go Deeper.) What I feel Leong does for us, her readers, is generous, kind, and powerfully erotic, especially when the protagonist wears her own cock. Genitals are not gendered in this story. Leong reminds us that boners and soft-ons are not of gender.
Gender is a construct. That construct does not own my flesh.
I am grateful to the talented author Annabeth Leong and the collection‘s thoughtful editor Rachel Kramer Bussel. Through Leong’s infinitely brave protagonist and her empowered, loving girlfriend, this author lets us come as we are. As I sit with the story, aroused and embraced, my identity comfortably shifts with the sands.
Those who love queer erotica that shatters the gender binary might be interested to know that The Swallowing Mansion is free right now on B&N and is also available at Amazon. Plus at Go Deeper, books 1 and 2 are on special.
Queers save the world. And so does the Mansion that swallows them.
First, there was Trump.
Then I went to the doctor’s.
Since I’m a new patient, I decided to tell my PCP that my partner is transgender and I identify as queer. She smiled warmly and said, “Is he biologically female?” Wow. I was stumped. I wanted to ask, What’s that got to do with it? But instead, I explained where Jake was and wasn’t in terms of testosterone, body type, and so forth, without referring to what was going on inside his pants.
I mean, why did she need to know that?
“Right,” she said, making a few mental leaps. “So in terms of a pap smear, you’re not a high risk.”
Here, it turned out, after further chit-chat, she was assuming that what we do in the bedroom doesn’t involve a six inch cock. Which, given the range of accessories on the market, not to mention the fact that I’ve carefully avoided discussing my partner’s genitals, is a big guess indeed.
She’s a nice woman, my new doctor. Really. She wasn’t hard to come out to. She also dealt sensitively with me when I told her I was an abuse survivor. But like many folks I’ve met, say the word “trans” and she chooses to focus on the physical. I’d be more understanding if she was Jake’s doctor. It wouldn’t be a sensitive way of broaching the topic, but I’d get it — she’s focused on biological stuff. That’s a huge part of her job.
But hell, you might as well ask whether my partner has a pierced foreskin. Or a butt tattoo of a naked angel. Or, you know, wood.
Of course, a lot of the world is obsessed with what trans folks have in their pants. Which means they’re obsessed with what all of us have in our pants. When they look at me, they think, “She has a pussy.” And even though they might actually be wrong, that makes them feel safe. The fact that one in 1500-2000 kids are born intersex seems to evade them, as does the notion that I might be trans, and, more to the point, that humans invented gender — it’s a social construct. We built it from scratch. And it’s different to biological sex. That’s why our dog, Lilly, has a biological sex, but doesn’t know which restroom to use, can’t apply lipstick, and would eat any skirt you handed her.
It also explains why she doesn’t care when she drops her food all over the floor.
But I digress.
Let me share what we’re watching on TV, right now. Suspects is a very gripping British TV drama. But when Detective Inspector Martha Jones and her team started referring to a guy who’d gone missing as being “a pre-op transsexual” because he appeared to be taking testosterone, it became decidedly less gripping. (Unless you think of ‘gripping’ as being characterized by the gnashing teeth of an angry werewolf.) “Did you know that your daughter is a pre-op transsexual who is taking testosterone?” is a terrible thing to say, Martha Jones and team. Check out your language, for starters. Quite frankly, it’s all very triggering stuff. Advice to TV detectives and their creators:
- Get your gender markers right. If they’re taking T, they’re less likely to be going by “she” pronouns. Have the decency to use “they” before you make any more assumptions.
- “Transgender” and “transsexual” mean different things. Check it out, screenwriters.
- Once you’ve discovered he is actually a transgender man, use his male name, goddammit. The name he used before now really isn’t relevant and is probably highly triggering for him.
- Don’t assume that when Mum finds out her son is transgender, it will be “a bombshell.”
- Remember, directors and screenwriters — I can’t stress this enough — that your audience likely comprises of both cisgender and transgender folks who all deserve respect.
- Could we please have a crime situation where transgender characters are involved in an investigation but don’t actually kick, maim, or murder anyone? That would be really nice, especially in a society that is so determined to be judgmental towards trans folks — one where, I might add, trans people are being attacked on a daily basis rather than doing the attacking.
- It’s okay to make mistakes. I’m sure I make ’em myself all the time. But when you make twenty of them in the same TV show, enough is enough. Research, research, research!
Now, rant done, this brings me back to the Trump thing. I mean, let’s face it, he got in. My spouse is trans and relies on receiving a vial of testosterone each month in order to survive. (Yes, it is a matter of survival. You’ve seen how we are about gender — we’ve made it a life and death issue.) Will someone try to take that away? That is my big fear. My God.
The Trump thing also scares me because I am an immigrant. Fortunately for me, I’m a privileged Brit with white skin and a certain kind of accent. I’m one of the lucky ones. My heart goes out to those less fortunate than me. But I’m still scared. For myself. For my partner. For all of us.
Please God, keep my family together.
Please God, let my partner be safe.
You know what I expected my doctor to say when I told her my partner started transitioning over a year ago? I thought she’d say, “How’s it going? Is he doing all right? Are you doing all right? Do you both feel safe right now? Have you both got support? Have you been okay since the election?”
Instead, she essentially asked about his crotch.
Thank you, gender. This is where we are.
Pic courtesy of Miss Fit Academy, with thanks.
This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest run by the delightful and talented August McGlaughlin. Check out the official blogfest page to read other posts and enter to win some fabulous prizes. Picture credit: “Watercolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon.”
Why do I wear a mustache during sex? Because I’m playing with gender. Because I’m being me. And because I’m also being Steve-O Bing.
When my partner Jacob came out as transgender last year, I didn’t realize how deeply it would affect my own identity — I was simply too focused on helping him live his truth. But my own gender identity started to shift, and it continues to do so. As our therapist so wisely told us, “Coming out as trans can queer the whole family.”