I think it’s false to say transitioning allows you to experience the world “as a man and a woman.” While is has given me insight into how those around me treat people they perceive as men and women, I never 100% thought of myself as a man and am not 100% confident of myself as a woman – I would say I’ve only rarely experienced the world “as a man” or “as a woman” to begin with.
(Fortunately, the insight on how people see me has mostly been “Wow, I’m surrounded almost entirely by really awesome people who basically don’t treat me any differently.”)
However, transitioning has given me the opportunity (or inevitability, depending on your point of view) to experience the world hormonally as a man and a woman. At least, that’s what my endocrinologist tells me, seeing as I had normal testosterone levels and now have normal estrogen levels. Some of the effects of that have been the standard or expected stuff: heightened emotions, redistribution of body fat, loss of muscle (particularly upper-body muscle), etc. And as I’ve said before, “heightened emotions” means I cry easier, yes, but I also laugh easier. I used to really pride myself on being able to keep a straight face, and it’s much harder – often impossible – now that I’ve been on hormones for two years.
What no one really mentioned (at least, no one I’ve really been able to find) is how all those hormones effect your sex drive, sexuality, and experience of sex.
Lets talk about testosterone first. I, as far as I could tell, had a regular male sex drive during my teen years. I wasn’t really presented with the opportunity, but I certainly had the desire. (And, as I mentioned in the previous “protected” post, I’d discovered pornography and erotica pretty early on.)
I’ve also never been particularly disgusted or repulsed by my penis. I’m not a huge fan, and I’d rather have different equipment, but I never considered chopping it off or anything. I know trans women who have, and I completely understand that, but it simply wasn’t my experience. (Body hair, on the other hand, has been a much bigger concern and definitely made me feel less sexy/sexual, and I don’t regret the $5,000+ that’s gone into removing it.) So I didn’t have problems masturbating or being sexual – rather, I enjoyed it quite a lot.
Being sexual was very much a penis-focused experience. Orgasms came at a peak of sensation, and pleasure died off almost immediately thereafter. I enjoyed sensual touch elsewhere – nipples, lips, ears, and so on – but it didn’t really compare with direct stimulation.
I also met the stereotype of being able to cum easily, whenever I was interested in doing so. Certainly, I could have better or worse pleasure, but the idea of not being able to come – of being turned on and just not getting there – was totally foreign to me.
Which isn’t to say I was totally stereotypical ‘guy.’ I’ve always had weird issues with whether I want my legs together or apart while being sexual. It’s almost like I was getting mixed signals, where part of my body would say “legs together! we should be penetrating right now!” and other parts were saying “legs apart! we should be penetrated right now!” Probably as part of that, I sort of didn’t see what the big deal was about sex. Sure, it was enjoyable and I could reach a climax, but it seemed like there were so many more fun things that could be done with what I guess would technically be described as mutual masturbation. (Although I’ve come to think “sex” is as much an emotional act as it is a physical, so I’d still call what I was doing “sex.”)
All in all, I wasn’t particularly unhappy with the sexual experiences and pleasure my body gave me. I did fantasize about being a girl, about having breasts and a vagina, and that’ s a big part of trans-themed erotic fiction I liked (and like). But I certainly wasn’t in a situation where I was constantly bemoaning my inability to orgasm because of my dislike of my body, or unable to receive pleasure from the equipment I did have.
How has going on hormones changed all that? Stay tuned for part two!