Dysphoria – Or Not

I’ve been thinking a lot about dysphoria lately. I’ve written before about how my dysphoria has not disappeared with introduction of radical/material thought, but that it had become more manageable. Now, I feel like my relationship to “my dysphoria” is again shifting as I come even more fully into accepting myself as a woman and as a Lesbian.

Fair warning here, I’m going to get a bit into how I relate intimately to my body.

Generally I have thought of my dysphoria as feeling mismatched and disconnected from my body. I’ve worked through enough of my body issues to fairly well remove the idea that my body/physique/musculature ideals are at all male, but issues of relating intimately to my body have been much more stubborn. Specifically, the way that I relate to my genitals and the way I want my body interacted with intimately is something that I have experienced as being the “active” or “insertive” partner and have therefore drawn the easy connections to male sexuality in the past. The more I dig into my relationship with my body and tie connections to the way other Lesbians before me have experienced their bodies, the more I come to find that experiencing my body this way is not at all related to male sexuality.

Pulling apart these threads has taken me to a point of reconciliation where I’m not sure I want to use the word dysphoria to describe how I relate to my body any more. The more I realize that experiencing my Clit as an active participant and driving force behind intimacy is a healthy female experience, the less disconnect I feel from it. The more I internalize the idea that I am far from the first Lesbian in the world to desire and derive my primary pleasure from interacting with my genitals in the way that I do, the less I want to describe these feelings as “dysphoria” because it has stopped feeling like a “non-female” or disconnected way of expressing myself. If I can wrap my head around the idea of the Clit as an active player in both giving AND receiving pleasure, then I can more easily come to accept the way I relate to my Clit as a healthy way to relate intimately with my female body.

I still struggle with the fact that my genitals are different now than they were prior to HRT, and that I know the difference in her function accounts for a lot of the healthy way I have been able to come around to understanding and accepting my genitals and sexual expression. I never tried to relate to my genitals in the way I do now before testosterone, but I wonder if I could have been able to come to a healthy sexuality on my own without medical intervention if I had some of these tools and knowledge  beforehand. If I had *ever* heard of truly Clit centered sexuality before transition, I wonder if I would have been able to see myself in it and latch onto some new understandings of my body rather than being convinced that the way I experience my sexuality is more akin to males than females.
I threw out the idea that I was “stone” early in my social transition when I realized I wanted to be touched and to be intimate, but “not in the way that one touches or is intimate with women.” I started learning to verbally communicate the way I wanted to be interacted with, although honestly I remained pretty “stone” in practice even for years after I stopped taking testosterone. I’m now to a place where I am lucky enough to have a partner who understands me and interacts with my body in the way I want to be interacted with, and it’s made such a wild difference in my bodily comfort to be treated this way without the idea that I’m being treated as “male” or “masculine.” Between us it is natural and easy, which further helps me internalize the idea that the way I relate to my body is not “outside of female.” This intimacy has the power to affirm my desires and my female reality in one swift, deeply healing movement and I’ve never felt anything like this freedom and acceptance before in my life.

I used to believe that I would never be rid of my dysphoria, but now I’m realizing that if I can accept the way I relate to my body without trying to change it or relating it to male expression, that I might just be able to settle down into living without feeling so disconnected.
Honestly, I’ve been feeling a lot more whole and integrated lately. It feels like it’s been a very long time in coming.

5 thoughts on “Dysphoria – Or Not

  1. This post made something “click” for me… I’m glad you were able to share this with us even though it is very intimate.

    I’ve never been sexual with another person for a whole host of reasons, but part of it is that my sexuality has never “made sense” to me. I assumed since I very strongly did not want to be the insertive partner (especially not to a man/penis) that this then meant there was basically no sexuality that I could have as a female person. I thought any sexuality I could have would only be intelligible if I understood myself as a different gender, since I thought women had vaginal-focused sexualities. Or maybe not “focused”, I think I understood that there was a lot of diversity in women’s sexuality and that many women got more pleasure from clitoral stimulation than from sex that prioritized other areas, but still, what my thoughts amounted to was that if you were a woman predisposed to take vaginal sex off the table, something must be “wrong” somewhere with your femaleness/womanhood…

    I realized too, eventually, that I do have desires to be touched (so I am not “stone”) but societal narratives about how female and male sexuality are supposed to operate seriously fucked me up.

    I remember reading a forum for trans men where the people there were talking about just this sort of thing, how they had a “male sexuality” and “male sexual responses” because they wanted to penetrate, because they thrusted/humped during sex, because they didn’t have a desire or propensity to arch their back and wiggle around… I think I ate this stuff up totally, hook, line, and sinker, because I became neurotic about it. I believed my desires to do these things were proof of some innate tendency in me that made me less female, and I also started being frightened that any tendency to do the opposite, the so-called “feminine” thing, secretly meant I was a straight girly-girl underneath it all. I couldn’t enjoy solo sexual activities any more because I developed a self-monitoring problem where I was constantly wondering about the gendered implications of what I was doing.

    I’m so glad you’ve been feeling more integrated lately. I hope to get to the place you are at some day, too. Your words have been helping me a lot to (re)think about things deeply and to understand that I am not some freak, that there are females like me out there.

    You know where to find me if you want to talk at all. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yep, I can relate a lot to reading descriptions in ftm forums of having “male sexuality” and how much that just clicked right in for me. All of a sudden the way I felt about and related to my body sexually made perfect sense if I was a man! I latched on to a lot of those things that seemed to me to be such strong indicators that I was, indeed, a man (including my body type, which I also thought proved that my body somehow “wanted” to be male).
      Thank you for taking the time to come through and add to this, I think it’s so important that we hear and collect each others’ stories in order to help us all feel not so alone. The more we describe these experiences as female experiences, the more other women will be able to recognize that these feelings do not put them outside of female.


  2. I’m also glad you share about these more intimate things. It’s kind of a shame lesbians don’t come with a handbook, because I honestly think so many of us grow up just not knowing what to do with ourselves and how we fit with others. It takes so long to learn and figure it all out.

    When I was a kid my parents had this set of medical encyclopedias, and being a curious twelve-year-old I received a good portion of my sex education from a cross-section diagram within. The accompanying text stated factually “During sexual intercourse the man inserts his penis in the woman’s vagina” and there it was in a detailed black and white drawing. That was how it was done, apparently. That was sex.

    And yet it didn’t make sense at all in relationship to what I actually discovered about myself straddling the arm of a sofa one day. Or how I related to myself for years and years afterwards, always confused because I was never acting out the “receptacle”. I would try to convince myself I was but it was like my body wanted something else, I just didn’t know the words for it or how it could be perfectly right for a woman to feel.

    When I finally realized I was a lesbian a well-meaning bisexual female friend enthusiastically advised me to buy a dildo – “You don’t even have to get one that looks like a penis!” and I was like sorry, but I am not interested in that at all. At ALL. Was there something wrong with me? I was roleplaying lesbian characters, but made the mistake of partnering with a male player of female characters for romantic partnerships, and all their scenes would always have to wind up with some kind of penetration. But it just wasn’t working for me. I got so sick and frustrated with it I eventually called off all sexuality entirely and said I must be asexual. Because none of this was making any sense to me.

    It’s been such a… RELIEF to read and learn about real lesbian sexuality. Just like reading your experiences, it’s just like, oh, thank heavens, I’m not the only one. There is something true and real I’m feeling even if I’ve been ignorant of it for so long. You know what I love? That metal sculpture of the clitorus – it goes around tumblr from time to time. And I’ve been thinking, I’ve got that, that’s me, that’s what I feel and respond to, and so much love and sensation has been centered around it all my life. Clit-forward thinking, I was calling it. And it’s just such a natural, empowering relief.

    I hope that’s what you’re describing. Learning that something is right instead of wrong. And it’s wonderful you have a partner to share it with and work through it all with, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Just discovered this post recently, thanks to This Soft Space. It breaks my heart that women are going around believing they must have a male sexuality because they are clit-focused. Female sexuality certainly comes from the clitoris, of course! And being penetrated isn’t for everybody. Women who get pleasure from their clits and who enjoy being the active participant in sex are normal women. Even straight women can be that way.


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