My body froze. At first I mostly felt confused. The only thing I was sure about was that something felt off in my gut. There was a buzzing feeling radiating outward, filling my torso. After giving this feeling some spaciousness and tenderness I realized that the comment made me feel fetishized.
With comments like these, I can’t help but imagine that my transness is the source of someone’s anxiety. It’s funny, because when I first admitted to myself I was trans, one of my deepest fears was that I would be unlovable or undateable. And, in a way, this was my worst fear happening in a watered-down way. But with much gratitude, I’m happy to report that I’m a different person now. With the help of beloved community, therapy, and coaching I genuinely love and adore myself. I’ve come a long way since wanting to end my life early in my transition. I love who I am and anyone who dates me is genuinely lucky. I’m a fucking catch!
Perhaps this is why I felt angry. Yea, you heard me. That feeling in my gut was actually anger. Shocking, I know. It surprised me too. I realized that when someone is focusing on what makes us different (i.e. my transness), it leaves me feeling misunderstood, dehumanized, and disconnected. Because, at the end of the day, we clearly have strong chemistry. And if I were a cis man (a man born with a penis) and we had this same chemistry, it would be no big deal. But the label “trans” creates this illusion of separateness in the subconscious mind.
Rather than being fully present to our chemistry and letting things unfold organically, I feel like people are projecting an archetype onto me. It makes feel invisible - like people are seeing through me. Like I lose my identity as Forest - the guy you were vibing with just a second ago - and now I’m a cookie cutter trans person. A first for you.
I’ve invested countless hours working through my own internalized transphobia and cultivating peace within myself. I don’t want to spend my free time helping you process my transness. Can you understand how that can cause anger? But what’s underneath the anger? Heartbrokenness. The anger is informing me that I have needs that aren’t being met. And that makes me sad. More on this later.
Before, I would relish in others’ clear enthusiasm about my genitals. My insecurity was hungry for evidence that I was loveable and it fed on the external validation. Yet, even with an abundance of love filling my spirit now, I still feel the need to grieve. It feels painful to know that someone genuinely cares about you and still has the capacity to fetishize you without intending. Transphobia is part of our collective shadow. It lives in the collective unconscious of all of us - a product of our environment. Naturally, I don’t hold this against anyone, but it does put me in a position where my role as educator bleeds into my personal life.
At the end of the day sex is about connection and play. Humans generally like their genitals being touched. No matter who’s genitals you're touching, the way you touch them is usually informed by listening for your playmate’s feedback (moans, verbal, body movement, etc.). Sex isn’t like a series of magic buttons you press. People have unique preferences and bodies regardless of sex or gender. It’s not a one size fits all.
In a world free of cisnormativity (assuming the gender binary as the default) and heteronormativity (assuming heterosexuality as the norm), we would be less concerned about genitals and more focused on letting the abundance of love course through our bodies, expressing itself through connection and play. We wouldn’t be so concerned about the specs of our lovers’ bodies. We would be so immersed in the energetic current of love that our bodies would inform each other of how to move. Pleasurable sex is a result of feeling in sync with one another and the universe. It’s something you feel into - not something you calculate.
When I’m in a space of play and connection with a partner and then I suddenly get thrusted back into the role of educator, I feel disconnected and hurt. It pains me to know that my loved ones unwillingly perpetuate the social systems that attempt to destroy me. European settlers have attempted to erase trans existence - and when 80% of Americans don’t know a trans person - my non-normative body suddenly becomes a novelty. I must mourn these invisible walls planted by seeds of hate that leave me feeling disconnected from my beloveds. The anger is really just my broken heart begging for relief.
To my lovers, my friends, and beloved community members of planet Earth - please choose love. Be kind to yourself. The system lives within all of us and I don’t hold that against you or me. You are not responsible for harboring this system of oppression inside of you, but you are responsible for doing the inner work to transform it, as I and many others have.
For those of us committed to embodying love, it is our responsibility to take inventory of our collective shadows and reprogram them towards love. I’m here to shine a light on a particular shadow - the one that shows up when you feel nervous to hook up with a trans person.
My request is: When you notice feelings of nervousness, doubt, insecurity or anxiety about having sex with someone who’s body is non-normative...
Speaking for myself - Don’t process those feelings with me. I am triggering these feelings in you, but I am not responsible for your feelings. I can’t tend to your emotions about my transness, because everyone has emotions about my transness. I cannot hold your hand during playtime or I’d have no juice left in me for paid work.
There’s some mourning for you to do as well. What is anxiety, but anticipating the future? Where there is lack of presence there is lack of connection. If you cannot be present with yourself, how can you be present with another person and receive their body’s feedback? The label of trans has created separateness in your subconscious mind. To no fault of your own, this is getting in the way of you connecting more deeply with someone you care about. That is worth grieving.
The more accurate and specific message to communicate in this scenario is not that you’re feeling nervous, but that you’re noticing you’re feeling disconnected. To which, I might ask - “What would help you feel more connected?” And whether or not there is something I could do to help you feel more connected, it is also your responsibility to find a way to process these feelings on your own so you can return to being present with yourself.