Wherein you will find a log of the daily sex- and gender-related experiences of a fem-identified male with a vagina and a femme female with a majestic clit.
Background Illustrations provided by: http://edison.rutgers.edu/

Socialization (my back story, Part 1)

When talking about sex and gender, there’s always a lot of talk about socialization, and who is socialized as male versus who is socialized as female, and what that entails. Even having read about it so many times, I am still confused as to whether or not my socialization could be gendered (even though I myself have a gender), and so I decided to write about it here as much as I am able. I will write Part 2 another time.

I don’t remember much before I was 2 years old. My earliest memories include a puzzle that I loved to play with that had four pieces: two baby ducks, (presumably) a mother duck, and the mother duck’s gingham bonnet. I used to play with it in my crib, so I presume I was about two years old. I had a mobile of stars and a moon above my crib, and when I couldn’t sleep I would cry until my dad would come over and pick me up and sing to me. I didn’t like when my mother would try to comfort me, because she was always irritable and would yell a lot. I remember my half-brother and half-sister coming to visit, and I remember asking them a lot of questions. My mom worked as a waitress and my dad had a job as a manager in the parts department of a marine supply store. We lived in a run-down house that my dad had bought, and we had racked up a lot of debt. Neither of my parents had a college education.

When I was 3, I had my eye surgery and was given a plush Hello Kitty that played music. From all accounts, I was able to read immediately after I got my first pair of glasses at age three. I was given a tricycle that year as well.  It had a compartment under the seat, and I had a “garden” that I would keep in there (it was just dirt). I remember watching news reports regarding the Gulf War on television and hating George Bush (my parents were apolitical).

In preschool, my friends were PJ and Casey. I was closer with PJ and wanted to be “bathroom buddies” with him when we had to pick people for that, but they wouldn’t let me because our genital configurations were different. This upset me, but I ended up being bathroom buddies with Casey instead. Later, my parents referred to PJ as having been my boyfriend at the time, but I don’t remember that necessarily being the case. I could read really well by age 4, but the teachers didn’t believe I could, and I was apparently slow to understand that the other kids in my class couldn’t read yet.

I have some memories between the ages of 4 and 7 that I can’t put specific ages to. I remember I used to spend a lot of time outside, playing in the dirt. I used to catch frogs and tadpoles at the pond until I was about 12. One time I brought one home when nobody was looking and tried to keep it in our kiddie pool as a pet. I used to help my dad chop wood and rake leaves. I loved shooting hoops and climbing trees. My dad and I built a birdhouse, and he built me a playhouse in the backyard… I hung a picture of a cat inside it and put some plants on the windowsills. I had Barbies and My Little Ponies and Moondreamers and Lady Lovely Locks toys, and I loved them, but I also wanted Transformers and Ninja Turtles and Hit Sticks and video games, and I wasn’t allowed to have any of those. I had a keyboard that I loved to play with, too. My mom had a glass picture of an owl that I hated, and I remember asking her how she would feel if it broke, and she angrily said that she would feel very sad and that she would cry and I had better not break it or I would be in deep trouble. I hadn’t been planning to break it anyway, but I was terrified. I tried to make friends with a girl who lived up the street, but she would threaten me with violence, and one time she dumped a bowl of animal crackers on my head. I ended up spending most of my time reading alone in my room and listening to my mom yell at my dad. I liked to read books about animals, nature, math, words, jokes, and customs/mythology/cultures. I was in Brownies for a short while, but my mom took me out because she didn’t like the girls in the troop.

Just before kindergarten, I was tested for something, though I’m not sure what. My mother once told me they had tested me to find out if I was “r*tarded”, but that I obviously wasn’t, and that it was just because they hadn’t “met their quota” for the year or something. Due to the fact that she has repeatedly failed to believe doctors with regard to various health issues of mine, I don’t necessarily trust her to know or remember one way or the other.

In kindergarten, I was nervous because I wasn’t going to know any of my classmates, and my mother became incredibly overbearing. I was discouraged from starting conversations with anyone, and if I came home crying because I was teased, I was told by her to ignore them and to stop being so sensitive. This didn’t help, but I didn’t talk to almost anyone for several years except to answer questions in class. I had my first crush, and I wrote him a love letter, but he couldn’t read it, and so everyone made fun of me for that.

In first and second grade, I was excellent at math and spelling (though I was bad at doing math quickly), but terrible at anything that involved spontaneous creativity. I was the scapegoat of my class along with this kid Derek (who ended up writing me death threats years later, or else someone wrote them and signed his name to them, but I was accused of writing them to myself either way). I was in a ballet production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I wanted to take ballet lessons, as well as tap lessons, horseback riding lessons, martial arts, and guitar, but I wasn’t allowed (likely in part due to a lack of money, though my brother was allowed to take lessons, likely because he was six years older). I would dance in my room while listening to records. I mostly kept to myself. During recess, I would pretend to be a pony and I would gallop around the playground.

When I was 7, my parents divorced and I had to live with my mom and brother. I was given the option of living with my dad, but my mother emotionally manipulated me into saying I would live with her because it was made clear that if I chose to live with my dad it would be because she was a “bad mother”. The next year was spent learning how to give her relationship advice.

(To Be Continued)

-Dominic


Why I refuse to call my clit a “dick”

The most common misconception made about my body can easily be summarized by the classic transmisogynistic slur “chick with a dick”. Because of the popularity of this slur in porn and other media, most people that encounter my body have been trained to think of me as something akin to a woman who has a cis man’s penis grafted to her groin. “But, wait a second,” I can hear you proclaim, “what’s the difference? Isn’t that basically what a trans woman’s body is like before surgery?”

The truth is, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I have heard things from other women, and have good reason to believe that at least some of my experiences are shared.The following are ways in which my clit is different from a cis man’s penis:

1. My clit is softer than a penis; even when I am as hard as I can get, I am still softer. That is to say that my skin and tissues are in fact more delicate, sensitive, and softer than typical of a penis. Sometimes I actually find erections to be painful. When people think that my clit is a penis, they tend to treat it roughly and expect it to be harder than it is. They assume that I am going to like rigorous and hard stimulation, when actually I like soft and slow stimulation and find the former to be painful and often resulting in soreness and a decrease in my sexual desire.

2. My clit doesn’t ejaculate the way a penis usually does. Quite often, people will really want me to be capable of producing large amounts of white creamy cum like most men can. Here is the problem: creating thick white cum is made possible only through testosterone, a hormone that trans women often are trying to purge from their systems, and that many trans women who have been on hormone therapy for a long time no longer have much if any of in their bodies. My cum is thin, clear, and a little sweet. It oozes out of my clit over time, with only a slightly greater quantity produced at the point of climax…You know, kind of like most cis women. A thick, white, creamy cum shot is actually physically impossible for most trans women. You would be more than surprised at the number of techniques trans women in sex work have used to compensate for this asinine expectation. Please, grow the fuck up. Trans women usually don’t produce thick creamy loads of cum. Get the fuck over it. My cum tastes better now anyway.

3. My orgasms take longer to achieve. A lot of people expect me to be able to cum (ejaculate) within 15 minutes or less. This is average for a cis man, but honestly, I could keep going for hours. It takes a lot of concentration for me to ejaculate in under 15 minutes, and it is never enjoyable. You want it sexy? You want me to actually enjoy myself? THEN HAVE SOME FUCKING PATIENCE.


I have been on estrogen and progesterone for 4 years. My clit will not get hard quickly, it will never enjoy rough attention, and when I finally climax, I will not produce gallons of creamy white cum. I can fuck people with my clit, and I can do so for long periods of time. If this is not a reality you are prepared to deal with perhaps you are not looking for a woman. This mythology you have bought into is a lie. You are being fooled. Please stop hurting women with your ignorance.

-Antoinette

Alcohol

Back when my body had less testosterone in it than it does now, my emotional responses were a lot different, and therefore, alcohol had a different effect on my emotions than it does now.

It used to be the case that when I had strong emotions, either positive or negative, they would be able to be expressed through my body language at least slightly better than they are now (though the manner of expression has always varied). When I was sad or frustrated, for example, I would cry. Now, when I am sad or frustrated, it is as though there is a small person in my head who is crying just as loudly as I would have been, but it never seems to manifest externally.

This change in emotional manifestation has altered the degree to which I enjoy alcohol in various situations. Previously, if I drank while I was upset, the alcohol would shut down many of my “logical” functions and I would become even more emotional. Subsequently, drinking while I was upset would actually make the situation much worse. Now, however, since my emotional responses are mostly internal and reside in my mind rather than my body, the tendency of alcohol to dull the mental faculties makes it a much more adequate means of relaxing when I am stressed, nervous, sad, or frustrated (though I can’t speak for anger, since I haven’t been angry in quite some time) than it had been.

Obviously this shouldn’t be a sign that alcohol will work the same for everyone, but it sure is helping me relax right now.

-Dominic

Uncanny

When discussing my gender with people, I generally tell them that I am a man. Sometimes, if I think they will understand, I will tell them that my sex is male and my gender is fem. Recently, I began wondering if this dichotomy would necessitate me identifying as nonbinary, or at the very least as solidly genderqueer.

The other day, I was contemplating my uneasiness with the term “queer” as it pertains to myself. Generally when I hear the term “queer” used as means of self-identification, it is used by someone who is DFAB who is only (or primarily) interested in other DFAB people, or who at the very least is disinterested in cis men. This, at the very least, is inaccurate of me. There are other things that differentiate me from most people who self-identify as queer, but this is the easiest to put into words.

This usage of the word “queer” upsets me. My first experience with the word was when I was very young. I’ve been reading classic literature from the time I was about three, so I am used to “queer” meaning odd, peculiar, curious, or unexpected, and it is with these definitions that I primarily identify. I understand that it has been used as a slur for non-heterosexual and non-binary people and that it is now undergoing a period of reclamation, and I have no problem with that usage, but that is not the context in which I identify with it most strongly even though I am not heterosexual (and quite arguably non binary).

Since I do not feel comfortable identifying as queer for these reasons, I set out to determine what a good descriptor of my identity would be by consulting a thesaurus. After determining that “uncanny” seemed to suit me best, I thought I’d read the official definition to make certain it didn’t have any unintended connotations.

The definition of uncanny according to Wikipedia is:

The uncanny (Ger. Das Unheimliche - “the opposite of what is familiar”) is a Freudian concept of an instance where something can be familiar, yet foreign at the same time, resulting in a feeling of it being uncomfortably strange or uncomfortably familiar.[1] (See Uncanny valley.)

Because the uncanny is familiar, yet strange, it often creates cognitive dissonance within the experiencing subject due to the paradoxical nature of being attracted to, yet repulsed by an object at the same time. This cognitive dissonance often leads to an outright rejection of the object, as one would rather reject than rationalize.

This is an experience I strongly identify with, as someone who people tend to make incorrect assumptions about. Because my gender and personality and body and sexuality look like things people might be familiar with, it leads people to thing they can make assumptions about how to deal with me rather than making the effort to get to know me in depth.  Unfortunately, no matter what assumptions people make about me, they always seem to be wrong.

People often think they can understand me, and then when they get a glimpse of me, they are terrified by their own lack of understanding.

For these reasons, I no longer identify with the word queer; I am uncanny.

-Dominic

What they don’t know:

In 2009, I finally pulled together the confidence I needed to tell my mother that I was actually female, and that I was pursuing hormone replacement therapy and considering possible surgical options. I told her that I would go by a different name and that I would like different pronouns used for me. Initially, she seemed okay with the whole prospect, but half a week later, everything fell apart: my mother yelled at me and wept, my father stopped talking to me all together, and my brother said that he wished that I had died instead…It was a mess, but honestly, I made it through, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared it would be.

Fast forward 4 years…

My mother and I are now talking, and I have attempted to make connections with some of my extended family members. As I continue to try and build new connections with many of them, some things become so clear to me; though many of them, including my mother, work hard to use my pronouns and name when I am present, or manage to avoid using any form of specific reference to me altogether, they do not do this when I am not around. My mother does not use my name or my pronouns when I am not around. She calls me the name she put on my birth certificate, and she calls me by the pronouns the doctor gave me.  She has, in fact, never referred to me as her daughter. 

I started to think about this odd form of denial: the fact that there are all these people who think of themselves as family in relation to “me” who don’t even see or respect me at all. I used to be so angry about this sort of thing and the fact that it would happen so often because I felt as though it was somehow a reflection upon me. The truth, however, is so much less aggravating and infinitely more depressing. These people can’t see me. They can’t hear me. They don’t talk about me. To them I don’t exist. They focus so much on the ghost of a concept of a person that never was. These people, including my mother, have erased me from their lives in favor of the illusion within them that shares a handful of features with me. It feels so odd to be outright rejected by the very same people who claim to love me. It is only a love for someone I am not- words for someone who is not standing here.      


-Antoinette

Chest

I have an odd relationship with my chest.

I don’t have an inherent dislike of it. I think it looks pretty ridiculous on me, but it doesn’t cause me nearly as much dysphoria as one might expect. In fact, when I am just sitting around the house by myself or with Antoinette, I can almost maybe sometimes enjoy it.

Unfortunately, I can’t (and don’t want to) spend the rest of my life inside the house by myself. I need to go out and do things. I need to get dressed. I need to see people. While my chest doesn’t cause me much dysphoria on its own, getting dressed does, especially when I have to get dressed in such a way as to accommodate my chest.

I wear a binder almost every day. I don’t like wearing a binder. They are expensive and they don’t work well on me. My shoulders are wide enough and my back lacks enough flexibility that it is nearly impossible for me to pull one on that’s tight enough to function properly. In the summer, wearing the one binder I do have means I can’t wear sleeveless shirts.

If I am sick or if I have a headache, I can’t wear my binder. If my binder is too dirty to wear, it can only be washed by hand. If I am not wearing my binder, my options are to wear a bra or to wear nothing at all under my shirt.

About five years ago, when I was 24, I would have been able to get away without wearing anything under a shirt. Somehow, when I was 25 (just after the time I came to terms with the fact that I really just was not a girl), I ballooned up to a C cup from not even a B. At this point, if I go without any undergarments under a shirt, my chest bounces around ridiculously. If I opt to wear a bra, the bouncing isn’t as much of an issue. On the other hand, my chest sticks out farther. Either way, I am put on edge for the entire duration of the time that I am out of the house (unless I am in full drag).

Suffice to say, while my chest is moderately fun in private time, it needs to go. I cannot deal with the levels of anxiety it causes me so much of the time. Unfortunately, I don’t know how I’m ever going to afford top surgery; I don’t have insurance, and I’d like to go to Dr. Garramonde for the top surgery/ManSculpting combo surgery (to minimize my hips, too, which DO cause me massive amounts of dysphoria) if at all possible, and that’s probably going to run me upwards of $7500 all told, not including airfare.

I just don’t know what to do. I know a lot of people do fundraisers and stuff like that for surgeries, but the people I know don’t really have money to be spending on me like that. It just all seems incredibly hopeless. 

-Dominic

Dysphoria, dissociation, and other body stuff.

I have never been fond of the way I look.

To be fair, I am aware that I don’t have a clear grasp of what I actually look like. My visual imagination is terrible, and I can’t draw up a clear mental image of someone I see all the time, let alone a clear image of myself. While I can recognize my face as being My Face when I look in a mirror, I couldn’t describe it to you in very good detail when I am not looking at it. In addition to this, I’ve always thought of my body as something similar to a vehicle (or a mech suit, if you are into anime); I am inside it, I move it around, but it is not me.

Unfortunately, for my entire life, I’ve been fed the idea that my body is the most important thing about me, and that it should either be attractive or strong. I would like it to be both, but I’m a lot closer to being strong than any traditional definition of attractive.

Now, my idea of attractiveness doesn’t completely mesh with normative standards, but since I don’t identify with my body at all, it is difficult for me to have standards for myself other than those set by society. Hence, since I have been told from a young age that I am ugly, fat (though I am currently the largest I’ve ever been and my measurements are 36”-34”-45”), and generally undesirable, it is difficult for me to not internalize the idea that it should make my body “bad”. If my body is more important to others than it is to me, then their standards are the ones I am more likely to consider.

Some of this has changed since I started testosterone a year ago. I feel slightly more at home in my skin, and I am pleased with many of the changes that are taking place. I’ve become less curvy, more muscular, and hairier. This means that as I am developing more of an awareness of my body as my own, it is slowly taking a form that I am more comfortable with it taking in addition to growing stronger. Conversely, however, I am dealing with the fact that if I fail to be able to accept my body and love it completely by my own standards (or change my standards to encompass my body) or unlearn my prior conditioning, then I will always feel ugly and therefore ineffective.

Some of the things that bother me about my body have stayed the same. Others have changed. I am still upset about my weak jaw, but I am no longer upset by my body hair. I am not bothered by my nose anymore, but now my eyelashes seem a bit too long. I am still upset at how small my mouth is. My thighs still bother me, but I am slightly less dysphoric about my chest. My genitalia causes me dysphoria sometimes and not others, and similar things can be said of my gut. My ass is becoming less of a problem, but I still feel too curvy. I am still proud of my hands and feet,  and also my shoulders even though I feel as though they should be wider.

If I analyze myself by the standards of society at large, I have to acknowledge that I will never again be able to be acceptable as a man OR a woman because of cissexism. I will never be able to access any dating pool without wondering what is being assumed about me. I will never be able to be naked around anyone without wondering whether I am being seen as a man or a woman.

With that in mind, I claim my maleness, and I expose my body freely. I will continue to post nude selfies on my main account on here. I will continue to work on camera. Tomorrow, I am going to sit in the park without a shirt on, and I am going to fight back feelings of dysphoria in the name of exposing the general populace to a less typical configuration of maleness.

-Dominic

4/24/2013, Dominic’s update

For the past month or so, I really haven’t had to deal with much in the way of active misgendering outside of work. Up until then, I’d had to deal with just about everyone assuming that Antoinette and I were a lesbian couple, and thereby constantly and unnecessarily addressing us as “ladies”. I had assumed that this behavior had mostly stopped because I have been growing more obvious facial hair and my fat has been redistributing away from my hips.

Unfortunately, seemingly unprovoked, I have been referred to as a “lady” three times in the past three days, including once today while I looked exactly like this:



I really don’t know that it’s possible for me to look like less of a lady.

Really, it just makes me never want to leave the house or talk to anybody in person ever again.

So if you are reading this, this is your reminder to not use gendered forms of address for people whose gender you don’t know.

-Dominic

4/24/13: Antoinette’s breakfast with an old friend

 Today I met with someone from my past- a casual friend of mine from when I used to work retail. We always used to share comfortable conversation, and her company was always something I viewed as pleasant. As often happens with friends made through work as an adult, we grew distant for a number of years (3-4) after going different directions in our work choices, and have only recently become reacquainted. Today was the first time we have actually been able to share anything substantial with one another in all that time,   

Every once in a while it seems that someone from my past who is not familiar with me as female will re-enter my life, as was the case today. I have become accustomed to a number of anxieties that tend to accompany these meetings. At the very beginning of the day, I spend a lot of time considering what I will wear and how I will present myself. It occurs to me today that this anxiety stems from having been conditioned to expect a period of validation. When I spend time with cis people from my past, no matter how kind and understanding, I always anticipate scrutiny on some level, and almost always experience it to one degree or another. Because sex and gender are seen as oppositional, I will be in competition with their past perception of me. I chose to to wear light make-up, a blue blouse and vest, and a nice pair of fitted sailor style slacks.

When I arrive, she greeted me with a hug and told me how beautiful she thinks I am, and we were shortly thereafter seated at a corner booth next to the kitchen. Immediately, we began to exchange stories about how things have changed over the last 4 years or so. I recounted my work history, telling her about how I lost my last two jobs due to transition-related discrimination, how things have been with my family, and how my romantic relationships have progressed. She recounted the same for me, discussing her children, work, and marriage. At one point she told me about her daughter breaking down over not wanting to grow up, to which I responded with “precious”. A near by waitress refilled my coffee, and made a quick remark about how the comment reminds her of Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, she recounted the classic line “It puts the lotion on its skin”, and asked if either of us remembered the title of the movie. I replied curtly, with a smile. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was being jeered, but chose not to show any offense, because what if she wasn’t intentionally jeering me? We received our bills and began to close our conversation.

Before we left, the topic of the weather came up and I mentioned that I have become very sensitive to the sun as a result of HRT. I also mentioned that my skin has changed in a number of ways since starting HRT. At this point, my friend responded that she noticed how soft my skin was after we had last hugged, and mentioned with a frown that it is even softer then her own skin- A comparison that did not go unnoticed by me, but seemed all too casual in tone. Similar things have been said to me many times. I wonder why so many cis women believe it only logical that my skin would be less soft then theirs, as though they are the measure of femaleness that I will never be able to match. They never for a moment question their assumption that my identity as a female or woman is somehow less valid than theirs and will always be apparent in some physical way. I let the remark slide unchecked. I have learned to pick my battles.            

She kindly offered me a ride home, which I accepted. We continued conversation on the short drive back to my apartment, and topics fluctuated between art, feminism, and humor. Right before I got out of the car, she referred to me using my old “given name” and quickly corrected herself and apologized, making several excuses for why it may have happened, but mentioned that she hoped that she didn’t hurt me. I opted not to mention that such a slip-up two years ago would have guaranteed that I would never spend time with her again, and instead offered her some advice as to how she could practice my name so that it doesn’t happen again. I am tired of fighting with the ghost of who I was for space with friends I once had. It’s no surprise to me that some folks just give it all up and find a fresh start somewhere else, but I want my history. I am just tired of fighting for it.    

-Antoinette

4/21/2013: Dominic’s account of the day

11:30 AM- We get ready to leave the house to go to the store. Just like every day, I prepare to dress in a manner that I expect will prevent me from being misgendered: I decide on a button-up shirt and one of my two pairs of jeans. As usual, I prepare to put on my one binder (at $35, I only own one), but it needs to be washed, so I opt to not wear it and hope that my low voice, outfit, and facial hair will be enough to distract from my chest. Regardless, I spend the entire trip thinking about it anyway.

2 PM: We start work on our cam show for the day. I can expect that I will not be called out for very many shows. We are listed in the trans category of the website, since we are both trans, but I know that customers looking through that category are expecting to see trans women, so I opt to do promo work off camera while Antoinette takes solo shows. On multiple occasions, I notice that people ask about whether or not I am available to join for shows, but when they find out that I have a small dick and cannot ejaculate, they lose interest. Remarkably, I am called out for shows several times throughout the evening anyway. I am misgendered no less than 8 times over the course of the evening, even after the clients were told my proper gender, pronouns, and ways of labeling my genitalia. In some cases, I can tell it was intentional. We correct them, and in one case, we block them so they can’t harass us, but it doesn’t make it hurt less.

Interspersed throughout the evening, I peruse OkCupid and Fetlife, two websites I have accounts on, and am caught up in the thought of how exactly a fem trans male is supposed to navigate dating sites when there are either too many or too few ways of navigating sexuality. After  spending more time falling into depressive modes of thought than actually managing to look at any interesting profiles, I give up and go back to Tumblr.

Just now, Antoinette was reading a chapter from Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl which is a wonderful and important book, but left me feeling even more beaten down and drained than I did beforehand.

I know that before I go to bed, I will want to masturbate, but I also know that my dick has been super finicky since it has grown so much on testosterone, and I can’t guarantee that I will be able to achieve orgasm. Even when I am in control of my own orgasms, they are sporadic and can take a very long time (though they are, in a way, better and more satisfying than they used to be when they do happen). I hear tell that this is a thing that can happen early in transition, and that it will likely resolve itself within a year or so. Last night I had to stop because I overheated.