Funny how things that change overnight often are years in the making. Earthquakes, for instance. Plates deep beneath the surface move, shift, bump, and grind for ions. All that subterranean action sends up warning tremors, little rumbles that are often too small to notice. Until the big one hits, the one that shatters windows, brings down buildings, and snaps bridges in two.
Mac was my earthquake.
Loving a transgender man has rewired my brain and changed how I look at sexuality and the world.
For most of my life, I identified as "straight". I married young and had kids. I lived a pretty hetero-normative looking life. My first out of the box, "crooked" move came in my 40s, when I began to explore the world of Tantra, Erotic Massage, Bd/Sm and told the story in "Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure and Somehow Got Home in Time to Cook Dinner" with a major publishing house.
Yet somehow, I still straddled the fence between the mainstream and everybody else. Maybe "Fifty Shades of Gray" saved my respectability. Suddenly everyone wanted a spanking. And now, I find myself nervous once again telling this next chapter; because you see -- there are "Haters".
I connected with Mac on Facebook. We had lots of mutual friends and I was coming to his area to do a presentation. I was exploring the idea of a new "playmate", and I travel through his city frequently.
And so, I reached out. I'm not shy. He was adorable in his photos and had a kick ass pedigree. He is a well known LGBT activist, a sex educator with a delicious dominant bent towards Bd/Sm. Oh, and he was a world champion marital artist before he transitioned from female to male.
Right. "Transitioned". Well, that was different for me. I remember sitting looking at my computer screen and staring at the words "Transitioned" and "Transgender". And for a minute, that stopped me in my tracks. I took a breath, and I continued to scan his page. I looked at Mac's pictures and I knew in my soul that something was there for me. This doesn't happen to me very often. My body was responding and my heart was melting just a little. For my body who tends towards the heterosexual model of erotic and romantic desire; this man rang my bell. Hard. Before I knew it, I was across the country sitting down to lunch.
It's almost a year later, and this is what I have learned about sexuality, gender and loving a Transman.
1. First, I learned a brand new vocabulary that is now framing how I see the world. I didn't know that I was considered a"Cis-Gender" human, which means that my genitals match the gender identity I was assigned at birth. Even as a sex educator; I was not familiar with the term: "Binary Spectrum of Sexuality". I knew all about a spectrum of sexuality and gender; but "Binary"?
For those of you that do not know what "Binary" means when used to describe the gender spectrum it's like this: Binary means that there are two polar sides to something and when we talk about binary gender we are talking about female and male. In the middle is the spectrum of gender identity that some activists and educators call gender fluid or gender queer. And there is more! Some people are now calling themselves "Non-Binary" and this can refer to anyone who are not men or women, or are both men and women. It can get confusing until you understand some people are a combination of things. Gender is not always about having all of your bits match your presentation anymore.
2. On my second date I was marching in the Transgender Parade during PRIDE in Seattle that Mac was helping to lead, and I took in how people were looking at me from the sidewalks. Now THIS was different. I could almost hear them wonder what gender I was born into. Was I Trans? Was I a female identified woman who was assigned "female" at birth walking for a child, friend or lover? People were questioning my gender! Now that felt really strange. Imagine people doing this to you all time? It must be really uncomfortable. So, If you are concerned about what someone's gender or gender of origin is -- stop worrying. They have it covered.
3. Address people as they present themselves, such as: if they dress as female then address them as female or if they dress as male then address them as male. Or better yet; ask people what pro-noun they would like to be addressed as! Some people on the gender spectrum prefer to use "Them or They". Who knew? Not me! And that's okay. No shame in not knowing what we are not taught.
4. As odd as this may sound to some; masculine and feminine energy is not always tied to how your genitals look. Genitals are physical and sexuality is energetic. Mac is one of the most masculine entities that I have ever experienced. When I look at Mac's body, I see a man.
As I have previously stated, my brain has been re-wired. I remember near the beginning of our relationship taking a bath with Mac, and he asked me "How does it feel for you to be with a Transgender man?" I remember catching my breath. "Oh right! He's Transgender". The truth is; I often forget. I'm just with this man that I love and find very sexy. I have had some very nasty people say to me "Oh you share your lover's delusion." Really? Screw them. My lover identifies and embodies the masculine and that is exactly how my mind, heart and body reacts to him. I have been completely taken aback on the few occasions when people have used the pro-noun "her" or "she" to address him. It stops me in my tracks. Can't they see/feel him as a man as I do?
6. If your partner doesn't tell you; ask how they would like their genitals "named". What you may name as a "clit", they may name as a "cock". Your transgender lover may have their own language to talk about their genitals. If this is someone that you want to have sex with; ask them how they speak about their body.
7. If you are nervous about doing something "wrong" in bed with your transgender partner (I was terrified that I would say or do the wrong thing) start with these questions: "How would you like your body touched?" How do you like to have an orgasm? How may I touch you? Are there places on your body that you do not want me to touch?" Ask you partner to show you how they would like their genitals to be touched. Have a beginner's mind. Cis-gender/Transgender sex can look different; and that's normal.
8. Body shame is universal. Most people are worried about how their body will be accepted. When I was naked with Mac, it never occurred to me not to find his body sexy; I was worried about him finding me sexy. Know that your partner may have the same feelings as you. We all want to hear that we turn on our partners. Heap on the praise.
9. Even if you have the same "looking" genitals as your lover -- don't assume that they want to be touched the same way you enjoy being touched AND don't worry if you feel like you should simply know how to touch your lover because you may -- "have one of those" or because "You have been with many people who have genitals shaped like these genitals". Don't assume and try not to take things personally. It's okay and normal to feel shy or nervous at first, just like you would with any new lover. The beauty is in the curiosity and the willingness to be playful and loving with each other.
10. There is always a line of privacy vs secrecy. Don't "out" your lover. Ask how they want to share their gender story with your friends and family. I got into hot water a few times here with Mac. He has his own way of sharing his story. If you are not sure how your transgender lover, partner or friend shares his/her/they gender journey: ask. And then do your very best to honor their boundaries.
11. We live in a gender apartheid world; where transgender people are fighting to be able to pee safely in public restrooms, not have their passports questioned, use the locker rooms in gyms without harassment, and the list feels quite endless. I often confront these issues like walking into a glass door. I had no idea. Mac and I teach about sexuality and gender identity around the world, and I've had moments of worrying about our safety.
12. People have asked me if I have changed my sexual identity since I have been with Mac. Do I now identify as "Queer", "Gay" or "Lesbian". I struggle with this question. Am I different now? Not when it comes to what turns me on. I have never been interested in a romantic relationship with a woman. And that could change. Never say never! What I do know, is that I'm a sexually open and receptive being who loves what she loves. So maybe I'm now Queer ... or something else. Have at it!
Yes, the unexpected and never imagined has happened and has blown open my world. I'm a Cis Gendered woman who erotically prefers men over women and I'm in a relationship with a Transgender man. This magnificent being has changed how I look at sexuality and gender forever. Thank you Mac S.McGregor for being such a beautiful teacher to me.
And by the way, I'm having some of the best sex of my life.