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I remember thinking many years ago that getting fucked vaginally would be the pinnacle of ease in my life—not just physically easy and straightforward, but also emotionally and maybe even spatially easier.
I presumed that merely exchanging 'a' for 'b' or, more accurately, upcycling my penis into a neo-vagina would answer all of the questions that had floated around my messy head for many years. I presumed it would all make sense and would be the party of all parties in terms of my life aims and in terms of sex. I would vagina-come and the whole world would be in its rightful place.
It was binary and reductive thinking on my part. I honestly believed that if I just crossed over a genital-gender divide, my body and mind would synch and become logical. What I didn't and perhaps couldn't account for was the bubbling life within my trans-ness and quite how capital-letter Queer that life could become—and how empty and distant the media-defined “transgender tipping point” would subsequently feel.
Whilst the trans community continues to fight to be afforded simple dignity and respect in our everyday lives, the tipping point heralded our acceptance into a patriarchy already consumed with attempting to divide and rule over women. As the tipping point handed out awards and magazine covers, it encouraged a media frenzy for our stories without really affording us the respect to go deeper below the skin.
Watch: The Reality of Trump's Trans Military Ban
I've never felt that comfortable with society’s desires to control me and to make decisions about my suitability for entry into their spaces. Queer, by definition, has always been rejected by society. For me, it’s starting to feel much more like home.
I was raised at a time when the narrative around trans identity was about moving as quickly as possible from a “wrong” body to a “right” body, never stopping to take the temperature along the way or see the sights. The words “stealth” and “passing,” and the sentence “they'll never know,” were aims to aspire towards. Being trans was treated like an unwanted label, one to hide and to discard. I distinctly recall being angry at the words “transgender” or “transsexual” because I felt that the process of becoming me was deemed so desperately shameful, terrifyingly open, and vulnerable. I wanted to feel natural, perfectly puss-ied and smooth. I reduced the “trans” in my life to the very thing that held me back and not the very thing that gave me life.
The tipping point worked in the same way. It celebrated the actual reduction of trans-ness by highlighting just how much we could look like cis people. It shamed many more than it welcomed by default. Caitlyn Jenner's now-famous Vanity Fair photo shoot and Laverne Cox’s Time magazine cover are so wrapped up in normative beauty and sexual appeal that their contributions to the conversation around gender identity appear slight by comparison. If political change could be encapsulated in a magazine cover, we wouldn't be so moved by the rarity of a black model on the front of Vogue.
Over the past few years I’ve found truth and life in my wonkily queer body. I exist in my wonderful trans-ness. My neo-pussy isn't a cis vagina. No, to me it is far more elegant and multifarious than any simple copy or simulation. It is a work of art, a vaginal-sculpture created from the parts of a penis and balls that are useful and dynamic enough to contain a second life. The scars that run along either side of my labia are my medals of honor. They hold the proud truth that I had the courage to seek wholeness.
My neo-vagina is a feminist work, and reaching that understanding was my own quieter, queerer tipping point. It feels womanly to understand, accept, and embrace that my neo-vagina isn't actually a vagina. I adore her now for all that she is and not how much she may appear to be the “real thing.” Perhaps now we could work towards getting advice and care for our vaginas as they truly are. Safe sex advice for trans folk is so woefully inadequate it would almost be laughable if it weren't for the astonishing rates of HIV within the trans femme population. Currently, we sit globally as the most high-risk group for HIV transmission—a fact not lost on me, as I have been HIV positive for over 25 years.
For the past couple of years, my writing has allowed me to find a place for myself in a growing community of queer trans and gender fluid people. These are people who do not want to extinguish their trans-ness or queerness in a cis-normative hashtag—these are folks exploring the innate power of our difference, our “otherness.” None of the people who I've recently spoken with want to please or “pass,” but they want and deserve safety, be that in work, on the street, or between the sheets.
I feel enriched by narratives in which previously owned cocks are discussed with respect and not horror; in which trans femme tops can openly discuss the art of using strap-on cocks to become adept in fucking; in which queer identities are the first point of celebration, and discussions where our bodies are seen as utterly beautiful in and of themselves; in which surgery is seen as a means to create new lands, rather than facsimiles of cis-existence.
There is a growing band of trans folk who reject a cis narrative and hierarchy that is subjectively based on us doing just enough to fit in. The reductive idea of being “just like them”—of being a cis copy—is growing ever dated. Many trans people, like me, hold on to their surgery scars as totems of their travel and accomplishments. Many are on a quest to seek new words and a new language to describe ourselves and our bodies. Our tipping point is yet to come.
We are creating new spaces and new orgasms—multifarious things that might involve genitals, breath work, fantasies in our heads, or just old-fashioned sweat and dripping. The narrative is truly inclusive and non-judgmental because it posits as its start point undiscovered lands—not borrowed, hierarchical ones.
In this new space, we are deciding how we wish to celebrate our trans-ness and how to define the changes we might make to our bodies. We are moving away from simple binaries to a time in which many different models of trans-ness have equal value; in which fluidity and binary uncertainty are OK. When our tipping point finally does arrive, I truly hope that the daily grind of having to fight for space will come to an end. After all, I didn't have a vaginoplasty merely to gain entry to patriarchy. Fuck that.
Queer Sex out in the UK on 19 April and available to pre-order now on Amazon.