Hard Handed Femme, Guest Post by Dena Hankins (Excerpt from Lysistrata Cove)

This story contains consensual BDSM play, including choking, punching, and foreplay.

As she circled the large structures for rope play in the middle of the room, she found him.

Jack stood with his feet spread like a sailor, arms crossed over a black chest harness that came together in the middle of his back at a shiny ring, probably stainless steel. His compass rose tattoo covered the bulk of his skin, with the light scribing of chart details radiating along his shoulders and sides, disappearing into his dark blue jeans. He was in three-quarter profile, and she could see the tattooed chain loop around his arm and cross his shoulders, but not the anchors on his forearms. His tousled hair caught the light over the scene he watched, giving him a nimbus that contrasted with the dirty-boy tone of his presentation.

She must have come into his range of vision, because he started and turned toward her. His arms dropped away from his chest, covered only with the leather straps and a buckle so that she could see his nipples harden. She’d planned to start aloof and make him work for her attention, but she couldn’t contain her sly smile. No reason to stick to a plan when an opportunity stared one straight in the face.

She wanted to walk right to him and grab him by the neck. She wanted to see his eyes widen and feel his breath catch, but, yes, a DM wandered close by. She’d have to give the impression of negotiating.

Eve stared into Jack’s eyes as she approached, daring him to look away. She stopped so close his short breaths warmed her neck. The couple of inches she had on him gave her the high ground and she took it. “I want to beat you with my hands, open and fisted, and fuck you with your granite cock. Do you agree to that and the conditions for play that we set out both the night at my house and in our video chat conversation?”

“Yes, Eve.” He didn’t hesitate.

“Are you ready to start?”

“Yes, Evrim.”

The joy burst through her. To be heard and understood, for him to remember and value her ways. What a gift.

Not that it softened her. Anything but.

“Get the cock and take care of any side trips you need to make. Meet me in that corner,” she pointed, “with two bottles of water and your cock as soon as you’re done. Don’t change anything you’re wearing.” She dropped her eyes to the lump in his pants, either a packing cock or stuffing. She’d find out later.

“Yes, Evrim.”

Evrim watched him walk away, nearly laughing out loud at the skip in his step. No second thoughts from this one. Evrim draped the sling with an absorbent pad and put another on the spanking horse for good measure. She turned to find Jack at her side and struck as swiftly as a rattlesnake.

A groan tore through her throat at the feeling of Jack’s throat under her hard hand. She squeezed the muscles on either side of his trachea and his wide eyes flickered. “Give me the cock.”

He handed it over and she put it on the table without looking away from him. He kept his hands down and stood still, waiting for her to do what she would.

Evrim drew out the moment. He flushed slowly, though she wasn’t cutting off his blood flow. She stared at him from inches away until his throat jerked hard against her palm and his eyelids fell to half-mast. That was the signal she’d been waiting for.

A hard, thudding blow to his chest with the side of her fist. He shuffled his feet to lean into the blows he correctly expected, and she tenderized him, beating him slowly, heavily, between his collarbone and his nipples. She switched sides, releasing his throat to do so, then used both hands, simultaneously and in a rhythm that drew the first sounds from him. Grunts, groans, signs that it was starting to hurt, that his reddening, swelling flesh was signaling its danger to his brain.

She kept going, finding the edge where he groaned without screwing up his eyes, then going over it. Her hands glowed, receiving just as much of a beating as they were providing, and Evrim gave herself a break by switching it up.

With her palms flat on his tenderized chest, she shoved hard enough that he swayed, then brought himself back with a flex of his stomach muscles. Fucking hot. She made him do it again, for the sheer pleasure of watching his body jerk, then dug her fingertips into the area she’d beaten. He flinched, his shoulders curving in as though to shield himself from the pain, but his hands remained by his sides.

“You may put your hands on my waist.”

His eyes darted to hers, his surprise clear. “Thank you, Evrim.”

Hmm. Telling, that. He wasn’t used to having permission to touch his top. What kind of services had he performed in the past?

“But keep your shoulders back. If you need me to slow down or wait, tell me.”

“Yes, Evrim.”

When his hands touched her corseted waist, she could barely feel him. Not at all what she was after. She put a finger out and pressed it lightly against the end of his nipple. He stiffened as though electrocuted and his hands tightened on her. Better.

Evrim stroked both his nipples, squeezed them, gathered them in her hands, and pulled. Everything she did brought him to a higher level of tension until he was strung far too tight to maintain it. She punched him hard with the sides of both fists, three times in a row, and he shouted.

At that sound of release, Evrim unleashed her craving. She beat and pulled and twisted and squeezed, moving too fast for Jack to process one sensation before another crashed over him. She overwhelmed him, and his cries became nonstop repetitions of two words that flew into her like thunderous rain.

“Please yes please yes…”

His unfocused eyes drifted with the rain of blows, then flashed their shock when she reached around to grab what she could of his short hair and pull his head back. She pinched his nipple hard at the same time she pulled him into her body. She bit the strong muscle of his shoulder, and the combination made him hold on to her as though he would fall otherwise. She pulled him in and squeezed hard.

Breath sobbed from his open mouth against her neck, hot and damp. His body shook and twitched in her arms, and she held them solid for him. When his arms went slack, she nudged him with her hip, got him moving backward, and bypassed the spanking horse for the sling. She’d beat his ass and thighs another day. He was primed for a deep, hard fucking.


Pick up Dena Hankins’s new book, Lysistrata Cove, and read all about the adventures of Jack and Evrim.

Satiated (Mistress Elise Winter & morgan #3)

Content warning: mommy/boy play, breast and nipple play

Elise wakes slowly, her body a little stiff in places that were stretched and thrust and pounded and tightened last night, still nude under her silky sheets. The boy is still asleep, face relaxed, breathing light next to her, his butt snuggles up into the crook of her hips, his body curls and folds nearly in half. A faint cloudy morning light shines behind the lightweight curtains.

She doesn’t quite want to wake him, but she can feel a stirring in her cunt for more. When will she get enough of him? It would be so easy to take him, now, thrust her fingers into his hole, strap her favorite cock on and enter him again and again until she was spent. He is hers now, she has that kind of overarching permission to take him whenever she wants him—in fact, he likes it even more that way, when she uses him unapologetically, when she demands her own pleasure from his body. That is what gets him off the most.

Shifting, she pulls her arm out from under morgan where it is starting to cramp, slides it under his neck where it has more room, and wraps her arms around him. He moves too, sighing softly and turning to face her, sleepily nuzzling against her armpit and breast and the crook of her shoulder.

“Mama,” he murmurs, soft consonants and long vowels, kissing wherever his mouth has landed. He’s very close to her nipple and she wants him to suck for a while. “G’morning.”

She kisses his forehead. “Morning, my sweet boy.”

He sighs again, snuggling closer. His mouth is doing that suckling thing already, the leftover of how he grinds his teeth at night, and she shifts against him again, turning her body so she is a little more on her back. His hands are already tucked up next to his chin and he catches her breast in his hands, feeling the nipple against his lips before he opens his mouth to suck.

Soft, so soft at first, just the slightest pressure from his mouth. Just the hardness of her against the softness of him, just the way she grows thick against him, just the way he opens soft under her. And then more pressure, and more, how he urges her deeper, how he starts to swallow. She thinks about milk coming out and down his throat, she thinks about it filling his mouth and spilling down his chin. His hands squeeze a little too, almost unconsciously, like a kitten kneading. Her cunt is hot and starting to swell.

“That’s good, baby. So nice. I like how you do that,” she says quietly, the hand under his neck smoothing his hair, touching his cheek. She can feel his jaw and lips contracting under her fingers. She can feel the want of him sucking it out of her. Sometimes he uses his tongue, but mostly he just sucks. A little harder now, and she squirms, rubbing her legs together.

“You get mama all wet, boy,” she murmurs, so soft she is barely audible, but her lips are close to his ear and he can hear. He moans a little in response. They are in a sweet bubble here, wrapped around each other, his legs around hers, rubbing his hips against her. Her right knee is bent, lifted a little and draped open to the side, pressure building in her pelvis.

He keeps sucking, mouth fully open and hungry now, sucking down as much of her as he can hold. Little sounds from the suction and the skin, little murmurs from his throat. She slides her hand down her body and cups her cunt with it, feeling how her lips are swollen already, her opening slick and needy. She circles her hole with two fingers and brings them up to her clit when they are wet.

“Ohhh god,” she moans, arching her back and sliding her legs against his, just centimeters of movement but enough to feel their bodies pressed against each other, enough to feel the friction and heat building. Her hand tangled in his short hair. Mine, she tells herself. Mine mine mine.

Her clit is hard and hot and he is still sucking like a good boy, like a hungry sweet boy who will devour everything she pours into him, like he is oblivious to how it turns her on and just needs something in his mouth. He paws at her gently, holds her breast in his hands to get the angle right, works his jaw to swallow. Elise flicks at her cunt harder, faster. She’s close, she’s always close when he is like this. Feeling the hole of his mouth open up to pull it out of her is so different than using any of his holes to shove inside. Somehow equal and opposite, somehow the thing that lets her relax, receive, be taken, be used—but still be in charge. Feeding her boy, filling him up with her milk.

“Good boy, my good boy,” she murmurs, working her hand faster, that way that only she can do.

“Ummm,” he moans a little, rubbing against her, sucking harder now, so hard it almost hurts, she almost pulls away, but it’s good, he needs it, and she does.

Her clit pulses under her fingers, cunt contracting and thick with want. She’s close, and she holds his head with more pressure, feeling her stomach contracting as she pulses, her nipple hard, sore, so sensitive, her clit hard, it’s almost too much, almost too much—. Until it isn’t, and she’s coming, her mouth open and gasping, eyes squeezed shut, lifting her shoulders a little off of the bed as all of her focus pours into her clit and her nipple, the nipple in his mouth as her boy still softly laps.

She shudders—once, twice, four times—wringing the orgasm from her body, and kisses his forehead. He sucks deep a few more times, as if cleaning off her nipple, as if tidying up the mess he made. “Mama,” he sighs happily, cheek against her chest, raising his face to be kissed. She brings her mouth down and sighs back on the bed, zings of aliveness running through her.

“Baby,” she replies. Hollowed, satiated, awake.

The Bootblack Boy (Mistress Elise Winter & morgan #1)

Elise is so over these regular play parties. She sits in the corner drinking sparkling water through a straw—no need to muss her lipstick over a drink—and surveys the dungeon. There are a handfull of young kinklings, giddy and drunk on flesh and feasts and possibility; a smattering of couples who haven’t left each others sides, their slightly widened eyes giving away their nervousness under their I’m-cool-I-got-this external demeanor; and a handful of former (and perhaps future) of her own play partners. She starts to regret that she ever let Hannah talk her in to coming. Hannah is right—of course, she always is—that it’s been too long since Elise played, but Elise just isn’t sure if what she wants is out there—or maybe more accurately, how to find it. She is starting to feel old at 35, as if everyone has found someone by now, so nobody’s left to find. Except, of course, her.

Tucked into the corner Hannah is up on the high bootblack chair, wearing her favorite blood red Agent Provocateur matching lingerie set and her stiletto thigh-high leather boots. A bootblack is buzzing around her feet, soaping the leathers, expertly massaging Shay’s feet and calves while cleaning the leather. Elise heads over to tell Hannah goodbye and hit the road. It isn’t even midnight yet, but she’s done.

“Hannah,” she starts, a few strides away, “I—”

The bootblack and Hannah both flick their attention over to Elise. The bootblack pauses, just for a moment, blinking, as if he is caught off guard, then quickly re-focuses on Hannah’s boots.

Elise tries again. “Hannah, I’m going home.”

“What? No, you can’t go yet! They haven’t even done the demo,” Hannah protests. That means, it isn’t even midnight. “Stay until then, at least. Barely anyone is here yet. You never know … ” Hannah flashes that seductive smile full of unspoken promises, and Elise gives in immediately, rationalizing it in her head. Well, someone new could show up. The demo could be really hot.

“Hannah, may I lick your boots, please?” The bootblack boy pauses his work again and waits, without expectation, for Hannah s permission. The boots are sparkling clean, oil and some high-quality polish lined up and waiting obediently on the tray for the next step. The boy stands still, focusing, not nervously fumbling but calm and collected. Even at the feet of one of the most powerful dommes in the room.

“You may,” Hannah answers. Though her tone was clear, Elise could hear underneath it that Hannah was a little bored, too. There really isn’t much notable going on tonight.

Elise’s attention drifts to the bootblack, watching as he takes his time getting into just the right position before he gently places his tongue on her finest leather. His tongue is long, thick. Like it barely fits in his closed mouth. He licks in smooth, elegant strokes, almost deicate, though the boy himself is not. He looks like he could be thrown into walls, wrestled to the ground, torn open until he bled, and he’d only say thank you and beg for more.

He licks one boot: the seam of the leather on her insole, and the line starting at her pinky toe; the textured design of abstract flowers that snakes up her calf; and even the seam at the top of the boot, past her knee, well on to her thigh. Hannah sighs, and Elise can see her hips relax and her legs fall open just a little more.

The boy kisses back down her knee and calf, and begins to lick the other boot.

Elise realizes she is staring. Almost drooling. Fuck, why hadn’t she worn her best boots? Hannah didn’t come with him, she picked him up here, so he’s probably unattached and doing anyone’s leather. How hadn’t she noticed him before? Damn he’s cute: quite a few inches shorter than Elise, probably almost the same height if she took off her towering 4″ heels. Light brown hair, light skin, fine fingers and small hands. He had a thin wisp of facial hair, the kind on teenage boys before they can grow the real thing. Elise hopes he isn’t as young as he looks.

“A little longer,” Elise tells Shay. “I’ll stay for the demo.” She heads back over to the perch on the other side of the room and tries not to keep watching Shay and the bootblack, but mostly fails. He is deft, supple, and Elise craves to be in that chair. Her hands start pulsing in her lap, twitching with ache and desire.

The demo starts at twenty after midnight, because kinksters are never on time. Elise loses sight of the boy by then. Probably off playing with somebody else, probably he’s the one making the grunting yelps from the back room, probably he’s already left the party and Elise won’t see him again. A butch daddy-type and thick-thighed curvy gorgeous femme demonstrate a rough blow job for the whooping crowd, the butch standing up high on the bench, the femme kneeling on it, her lipstick wrecked and drool down the front of her bright thrift-store vintage dress. Elise watches half-heartedly, giving up on the party for the second time. That’s what everybody really wants, right? Some sweet, submissive femme—not the towering domme Elise presented. No wonder she had no dates. Play was easy enough—usually—but that wasn’t really what Elise was looking for. She wanted romance, courtship, love, a partner. A wedding, even. And also a servant, a submissive, a boy who would do his proper worship, and obey all her orders to the best of his ability. Even more so than play, she wanted companionship, wanted someone to walk through life with. She’d played with poly and open relationships, and that’s a possibility, but it isn’t necessarily her preference. She is too possessive for that, she wants to go too deep and too all-out with ownership and vulnerability.

It is a hard thing to date when one’s needs are so specific, especially in a community that usually values different sorts of pairings.

Elise turns to make her way through the crowd and head to the coat check.

“Hey, you’re not leaving, are you?” A voice cuts through the noisy dungeon from someone close to her ear. It’s not Hannah s voice, who else—? She turns, coming face to face with the bootblack boy, the crowd so thick that they are almost touching.

“Yes, I think it’s about time,” she replies, smiling. Unless …

“I’m Morgan,” he offers his hand to shake. She takes it, palm to palm, his hand warm and smaller than hers, nesting nicely into her grip. She doesn’t let go.

“Elise,” she says.

He nods, not meeting her eyes, shyly looking down. “I saw you watching me.” Elise flushes a little—was she so obvious? She usually keeps her hand much closer to her chest. But there is something about this kid, something intriguing and so very hot.

“I was,” she says. “You made quite an impression. I liked how you treated Hannah’s boots.”

He nods slowly. “I liked it too. I love to be useful.” He shifts a little, foot to foot. Someone knocks into Elise from the back and she almost falls into Morgan, but catches herself.

“Well, I don’t want to keep you. I just wanted to make sure to introduce myself. I hope I run into you again,” Morgan says.

“I’m not sure I believe in fate,” she says, taking one of her trick cards out of her tiny pocketbook.

“Oh, I do,” says Morgan. “Absolutely.” He smiles and almost looks directly at her, for just a blink,, and Elise sees his eyes sparkle.

“You do, huh,” Elise flicks her arm back and holds the card close, tapping it against her cheek, considering some options. “Then I guess your fate is to call me tomorrow.” She hands him the card, keeping ahold of it, their fingers almost touching. “Not too early, I sleep in on Saturdays,” she adds, setting up a challenge: What would “too early” be to her? 9am? 11am? She lets go of the card.

He swallows, pulling it up to his face to read it in the dim dungeon. Mistress Elise Winter, it reads, with her email address and phone number in embossed blue text on a cream background.

“Yes, uh, Elise. I will. Thank you.”

She leans in close to his ear. “Ma’am will do just fine, Morgan. Thank you for introducing yourself. Goodnight.” Husky, low, sweet. She felt his knees tremble, saw the rumble through his body.

“You’re welcome. Goodnight, Ma’am,” he whispers back.

She kisses his cheek, and disappears into the crowd.

The Sugarbutch Guide to Cock Confidence: Soft Packing (Part 2)

Mr. Softy packer comes in four sizes: mini: 3-1/2", small: 5-3/4", medium: 6-3/4", large: 7-3/4"
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Before we get too much into the products, I want to make it clear that this is by no means an exhaustive list of packing products. I wish I could keep up with them all, but there are many! Please leave links or your suggestions or recommendations or your experiences with different types in the comments.

What do I pack with?

Just about anything can be packed into your briefs and worn as a packer, but fear not! Plenty of queer genderfuckers have already done hours of research about what kind of DIY options work really well, and there are plenty great (and pretty affordable!) options out on the market, too.

If you’re looking for a packer, the first thing I recommend is to go check out your local feminist queer-friendly sex-positive sex toy store. There are dozens around the country, and more and more each year, so I hope you have a good one near you. The folks who work there are often sex educators themselves, with tons of knowledge on the particular materials of what they carry. They can recommend one based on your skin sensitivities or what other toys you want it to go with.

The Mr. Right soft packer made by Vixen Creations is silicone and beautiful. Pair it with the Aslan Packing Strap!
The Mr. Right soft packer made by Vixen Creations is silicone and beautiful. Pair it with the Aslan Packing Strap!

Generally, packers are made out of a composite elastomer plastic. These aren’t bad for you—most of the time, they don’t have the dreaded phthalates in them—but what it does mean is that you can’t boil the shit outta them to sanitize them. If you want to share a packer with a partner, if you have STIs, or if you have sensitive skin, I would recommend silicone.

Silicone is, when it comes to sex toys, pretty much always a better choice for ingredient: it’s hypoallergenic and good for those with sensitive skin, as often it’s medical grade silicone. But it’s more expensive and way less squishy, so it feels less like a soft penis and more like … a sculpture of a penis. What kind of material you choose just depends on your personal preference.

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Silicone Elastomer
ProsEasily disinfected
Sharable
Long lasting
More realistic
Squishsy and fun to touch
ConsNot as realistic
harder texture
Can’t be disinfected
Material will more easily tear
Won’t last as long

What size should I get?

Mr. Softy packer comes in four sizes: mini: 3-1/2", small: 5-3/4", medium: 6-3/4", large: 7-3/4"
Mr. Softy packer comes in four sizes: mini: 3-1/2″, small: 5-3/4″, medium: 6-3/4″, large: 7-3/4″

One of the most common versions of packers found at feminist queer-friendly sex-positive sex toy stores is often called Mr. Softy (also known as the Classic Packy or Mr. Limpy). They tend to come in mini, small, medium, and large sizes.

The Mr. Softy soft pack is the one I recommend most. Because it’s usually a fairly personal toy, the silicone material isn’t that important to me, and I’d rather have the more pliable material. It won’t last as long as silicone, but if you take good care of it, it will stick around a while—I’ve had mine at least ten years now and it’s still in pretty good shape.

Having a large packer is not important when it comes to packing—in fact, it can make your packer a little bit harder to pack, as it can be unwieldy in your undies. If you want the most realistic packer—by which I mean, if you want a packer that looks the most like a cis guy’s flaccid cock—go for the mini size.

If you want to make an impression, by all means, go for the medium or large sizes! I have found personally that I really like the weight and feel of the small sized packers.

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A note about color

Most of the packers come in colors like “vanilla, caramel, chocolate.” This vastly under represents the huge range of skin tone that exists. That sucks. I hope product manufacturers will continue to expand the colors they offer and stop centering whiteness as the norm.

Many of the packers that don’t come in multiple sizes are approximately the small size, 4-5” in length. This is plenty!

GoodVibes makes two different packers: Sailor (which comes in 2 sizes, or with a hard core), shown above
GoodVibes makes two different packers: Sailor (which comes in 2 sizes, or with a hard core) or Private (silicone)
Good Vibes silicone packer Private
…. or Private, the Good Vibes silicone packer, which comes in vanilla, caramel, and chocolate (photo from Early2Bed)

The other good thing about packers, however, is that because they are often elastomer, they are frequently $20-40, so even if you go for one particular size now, you can always save up or allot a bit more to try out the other size.

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What if it looks like I have an erection?

Or, oh hey, I want a big ol’ bulge!

If you’re trying to be read as a cis man, keep in mind that cis guy’s penises hang at different angles depending on what’s comfortable for the guy. If having it straight down isn’t comfortable for you, try it off to the side or slightly up.

If you want a big ol’ juicy package, and your packer just isn’t having the effect you are seeking, consider: a) tighter pants, b) stuffing your pants with extra bulge, or c) upgrading your packer to something bigger. You can always go for a hard pack, if you really want that very obvious bulge!

But if you’re more of a DIY kind of person, it’s pretty simple to make your own packer

Socks are sometimes so much hotter than anything else. Packing with socks and a having a black unbreakable comb in your pocket. For me, it’s the heightened artifice [of masculinity]. That teenage feeling. Having to roll up that pair of socks just so. Butch. And maybe it’s also an homage to the past. I’m old fashioned.” [email protected]

There are a variety of methods of making your own packers, particularly by filling condoms with hair gel, or through rolled-up socks. But just about anything can be made into a packer—I’ve heard of folks using beans for added weight, or building a custom shape with three ankle socks (for balls).

I made clay packer last year, wrapped it in a small sock and stitched it to a waist band I cut off a pair of boxers. Custom!” [email protected]

Personally, I am not extra experienced at making my own (aside from the occasional rolled-up sock), so I’m not going to go into the DIY methods here. Be creative—I’m sure you’ve already got some extra something lying around that would be perfect to use to try it out.

What about Extra Special Packers?

There are a few packers on the market that do more than just sit in your pants—they could also be STP (stand to pee) devices, for example. Check out a few of the options for specialty packers.

I highly recommend all the toys from New York Toy Collective, but in particular I am very attached to my little Pierre. I never really thought about it much, but an uncircumcised packer fits me really well, and I really like how it feels to the touch. (Photo by Early2Bed)
I highly recommend all the toys from New York Toy Collective, but in particular I am very attached to my little Pierre. I never really thought about it much, but an uncircumcised packer fits me really well, and I really like how it feels to the touch. (Photo by Early2Bed)
Number One Models A & D
Number One makes some of the best STP packers (I tend to call them “pissers”) that I know of. They’re really comfortable, and I get a frequent secret thrill of being able to piss through it, even if I’m still sitting.

I also really love that Number One has their own packing strap built just for the Model A or D.

Speaking of packing straps …

Keeping your packer in place

I would love if my partner did this outside the home, but she is always worried it might fall out.” [email protected]

One of the most common fears about packing and packing-gone-wrong stories that I hear is about packing falling out of one’s underwear. And yes: this can and does happen to the best of us. It just does! The more room we have in our underwear or jeans, and the more active we are, the most likely it is for the packer to snake its way out of the careful place in which you nestled it, and the more likely it is to fall down your pants or shorts or skirt.

But there is a super easy, pretty much failsafe fix for this: A packing strap or packing pouch.

You can very easily make your own with a sock or little pouch and a safety pin, or, if you want to step it up a bit, affix a piece of velcro. But if you’re not the DIY type, there are lots of products out there to keep your packer in place, too.

TranZwear has all sorts of trans gear, but their collection of packers and packing straps and STP devices is fantastic. (You just have to ignore the ugly interface of the site.) Their modified boxers and briefs are excellent—they have basically sewn the Y-front shut so that the packer won’t fall out, and it works great.
TranZwear has all sorts of trans gear, but their collection of packers and packing straps and STP devices is fantastic. (You just have to ignore the ugly interface of the site.) Their modified boxers and briefs are excellent—they have basically sewn the Y-front shut so that the packer won’t fall out, and it works great.
Velcro Top Packy Sac
Velcro Top Packy Sac: A DIY product by a discreet trans guy who saw a need for somewhere to put his packer and made a product happen. I bought my first one at Babeland in 2002 and only recently lost it, and was very glad to see he was still around and making straps, so promptly ordered two more. I don’t love that my packer is affixed to my underwear rather than my body, but I prefer it to having an elastic strap around my waist all day. I use it often.
SpareParts Pete
SpareParts makes some of the best harnesses available right now (everybody raves about the Joque), and they have a line of packing underwear, too. These are particularly made to hold packers in a secret little pouch inside of the fly of the undies. Very cute, good material, good sizes. They are mostly spandex, so they feel a bit more like swim trunks than underwear. Very comfortable, machine washable.
DIY brief harness
You’ve probably seen the brief style harnesses around—you can easily make your own and use them as a packing holder! Very comfy, pretty cheap, quite easy to do. The only negative is that in this particular style, the packer would hang outside of your briefs, so there is extra risk of getting your packer caught in your zipper. Just be careful and you’ll be fine! Get an extra small O-ring if you want to particularly use it as a packer and that will help it stay in better.

The straps are mostly elastic and cotton, so they can easily be machine washed or washed by hand.

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A note about keeping your packer clean!

Silicone packers should be cared for like other silicone strap-on products: use soap and water to wash it down before and after use, and disinfect it on occasion (I usually do a big batch of cock soup and disinfect silicone toys I’ve used about once a month). You can immerse them in boiling water for 5 minutes, or you can put them on the top rack of the dishwasher (no soap!), or wash them in a 10% bleach/90% water solution—all of those will disinfect silicone.

You can’t disinfect elastomer, soft skin, and other composite plastic packers, however, so please don’t boil your packy … you’ll melt it. They need a simple washing of soap and water before and after use, and regular corn starch dustings. After they are dry completely, put them in a plastic bag or your storage bag with a tablespoon or so of corn starch and make sure the corn starch covers the whole thing. Corn starch will help it stay feeling velvety, and not be sticky to the touch.

From soft to hard packing

If you want to go out packing soft and then switch to something hard in order to get your play on, well, I salute you! Is there an easy way to do that, aside from taking off your pants, taking off your packer and strap, pulling on your harness and strap-on, and putting your pants back on?

Not exactly. While there are some really excellent pack and play strap-on cocks out there, none of them are universally loved, and none are as comfortable as soft packers like these.

Honestly, hard packing is a whooooole other subject, and one that I willingly and eagerly tackle. (You know. For science. For you.) Stay tuned for the next installation of Sugarbutch Guide to Cock Confidence all about hard packing.

P.S.– This post is brought to you by readers like you, and sponsored by tranzwear.com, who have generously offered to give away cocks to three lucky commenters. You get your pick of size and color for the Mr. Limpy, Masho, or PackIT soft packers. Just comment with your favorite packing advice or product or story to enter. Winners will be drawn at random one week from today (Aug 14th).Good luck! The contest is over! Thanks to Tranzwear for providing the excellent packers.

pornparty-logo P.P.S. – If service and/or gangbangs are your thing, make sure you don’t miss the #pornparty AUGUST 13th at 6pm PST. It’s a free way to enjoy some sexy, feminist porn with your favorite internet friends. Learn more here, and I’ll see you on Twitter!

The Sugarbutch Guide to Cock Confidence: Soft Packing (Part 1)

I don’t pack, but I love when my girlfriend wears her packer. It makes her stand a little taller and it really turns me on when there’s a little something extra to squeeze. Mmm.” [email protected]
“Packing” is short hand for stuffing something in one’s pants or underwear to make it feel or look as though the wearer has a factory-installed dick. As the trans movement and awareness has grown in recent years, there are significantly more commercially available products one can buy for that experience of packing, but there are plenty of easy and affordable ways to do it yourself.

But why do you want to do it?

There are plenty of different reasons to explore packing. It can be a turn-on! Or it can be something only you know about, that affirms your gender identity and expression. Or perhaps your dominant shoves your packer into your briefs before you’re going out and then you both know that your dick is right there. Or perhaps you can use it as a tool for passing as male, or for gender validation from others.

Trans and/or masculine-identified folks aren’t the only people who are experimenting with packing. You can be feminine or trans or butch or diesel femme or queer or sugar butch or defy labels or girly or all of the above or none of the above and still explore packing. I know plenty of femmes who pack, sometimes or all the time—one particular leather girl told me recently that she likes to use a Hello Kitty knee sock in a jock strap. Hot! I don’t know about you, but that gives me a very unique impression of her gender and sexual expression.

For folks who were assigned female at birth, we don’t have the experience of that weight pulling down between our legs unless we add something extra there. Particularly for trans and masculine-identified folks, having some sort of weight or bulge between our legs can be incredibly validating, both internally within ourselves and externally through how we are perceived. But it can be validating and useful for anyone of any gender, and can be a really interesting tool for self-awareness and expression for any body.

As someone who often fucks those who pack, it turns me on knowing what’s coming.. I love the swagger, the forcefulness it brings.” [email protected]

I know for me, when I started playing around with packing around 2000, I found it kind of indescribably … Comfortable, and comforting. There was something about it that just fit, like a really cozy sweatshirt. The way it shifted when I did, the way my legs stayed a little more apart, how I led more with my hips than my shoulders … it just felt like me. I’m very internally motivated about most things related to my gender and sexuality, so feeling that internal click for me was more than enough to interest me into exploring it further.

While I am masculine and butch identified, I’m not male identified, so packing for me personally has nothing to do with passing as cis male. However, it’s a frequent reason that trans guys pack, and in circumstances where dicks are supposed to be or accidentally on display—like at a gay boy dance club, or at the beach or swimming pool—having one to actually display can be thrilling and validating. I’ve also heard trans guys say that it helps support them in walking, sitting, or holding themselves in more male ways, particularly since cis guys often walk and sit such that they don’t squash their penis.

Packing can assist with the feeling of dysphoria, of feeling disconnected from one’s body in part due to gender identity (or presentation or perception). But for other people, packing actually increases the feeling of dysphoria. Your milage may vary—and however it feels for you is just fine.

Let’s not forget: Even though it can be externally and internally validating and empowering, it can also often be very vulnerable to pack. It is a way to experience our genitals outside of our bodies … and those of us with most of our genitalia on the inside tend not to feel that very often. There’s a reason kneeing a guy in the groin is effective: those soft tissues are soft, and sweet, and vulnerable.

And if you’re like me, and you have a bit of a vulnerability fetish, you might love it even more because of that.

So wait: Is it about sex or gender?

Yes.

For me hard packing is about sex but soft is about swagger, how I relate to myself.” [email protected]

Both, of course. But which it stimulates in you totally depends on you and how you relate to it. I have heard people talk about how they see their packy as completely platonic, not sexualized really at all, but more of a cross between a masculinizing accessory and a prosthetic. And I know some folks for whom packing is inherently sexual, all the time, and they immediately get turned on by it.

It just depends on you, your circumstances, your body, your relationship to your sexual and gender expressions.

I loved my ex’s. When he wore it he obviously was more confident. It also gave me something even bigger to squeeze and tease.”
[email protected]

It’s kind of like wearing a tie. When I was transitioning to and exploring my own butch identity around 2000, I started wearing ties when I dressed up. At first it was awkward and uncomfortable, but as I got more used to them, I made little rules for myself about where was “appropriate” to wear a tie. I wore them when I went on dates, and I wore them when I was doing a performance (usually reading dirty smut or poems in a dyke bar, so that was a particular association). I got really used to ties (and, later, suits) being an incredibly hyper-sexualized, externally validated, amplified masculine experience.

So when I was working at a finance firm in midtown Manhattan and we had a black tie holiday party, it was a given that I would wear a suit. The first time I went, I felt super uncomfortable because I had only worn a suit and tie in the context of, well, SEX and queers and gender-radicalism. Wearing it in this totally heteronormative environment (with coworkers looking at me just a little more sideways) was not sexual, but my association with the suit and tie was absolutely.

It’s a personal confidence thing for me, I don’t feel comfortable without it.” [email protected]

When your only context for a thing is sex and erotics, then it begins to perpetuate itself, like Pavlov’s dog. If the pack is only for going on dates and then getting it on, your system will start to associate it with getting it on. If it’s worn day-to-day like a special watch or favorite pair of shoes, it will be a slightly precious object for love and care. If it’s an every single day practice, it’ll become weird to not have it, and it’ll fade into the background, like brushing your teeth or putting on socks. I betcha those things happen most days, but can you really remember the details of teeth brushing or sock-putting-on-ing? Probably not—because it’s automatic, an ingrained habit.

Packing could be about your own private gender expression, or about others seeing you as male, or it could be about turning yourself and your lover on.

Let’s not forget: It’s hot!

[When my partner packs,] it’s one of my favorite things. it turns me on all day thinking about it, knowing what it’s doing to them to watch my reaction.” — @rexicon

Maybe your lover knows that you have a soft packer in your pants (because you revealed it as you were getting dressed), so they get to fantasize and squeeze and touch it while you’re going about your day. Or maybe you press up against them hard and take their hand and press their palm to your bulge. Maybe they don’t ever know that you have had a packer on all day, or maybe they find out. Maybe they don’t even have to know—maybe you knowing is enough.

I often pack when I want a little extra swagger or confidence, particularly to social events, parties, kink events, queer community stuff, or anywhere that I want to have a little more oomph to me. I often request my boy to pack if I want to work him up for a little while, if I want to have him squirming by the time I get him home and stripped. I try to always remember throughout the time I’ve asked him to pack for me and to touch it, reference it, and tease him about it—mostly because he likes that, but also because if I make a request, I don’t want to forget that I’ve made it.

Soft packing is mostly, for me, about turning me on and building up for later.” — @rexicon

So now that you know all about why you might want to pack … What kinds of products are out there? Can you make your own? How do you keep it in place? What if you’re a femme and you want to pack?

Such good questions! I’ll explore those all in next week’s post, part 2 of the Sugarbutch Guide to Cock Confidence for soft packing.

Read it! The Sugarbutch Guide to Cock Confidence: Soft Packing Part Two


Is genderqueer (or butch) a stepping stone to transitioning?

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Question: if you had been assigned male at birth, all else remaining constant, do you still think you would have identified as genderqueer? i.e. how much of it do you think is an innate identity inherent to who you are, and how much of it political? In a hypothetical society where we actually had full gender equality and the boxes of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ were much wider than they currently are, do you think you would still consider yourself genderqueer, or would you then be comfortable being one or the other?

I’m a trans guy who used to identify as genderqueer, but for me it was more of a stepping stone because I was afraid to come out all the way (like gays who falsely identify as bi at first). A lot of what you’re saying resonances with my own gender history, so I’m curious where the difference lies, given that I’m someone who continues to be uncomfortable with misogyny and male privilege but still wants very much to be seen and treated as male. Or is *that* the difference?

—ASQ, on Coming Out Genderqueer

It is definitely true that I don’t have investment in being seen and treated as male, but I DO have investment in not being seen or treated exclusively female. There’s a subtle difference there. And sure, maybe that is the difference between me and a trans guy. Definitely a few of my close trans guy friends have a very similar gender history to mine, too, and then at the final step 128 or whatever, mine says, “and that’s why I’m butch!” and theirs says, “and that’s why I’m a guy!” Being seen or treated as male doesn’t feel important to me or my sense of self, at least not currently. I reserve the right to change my mind on that at any point, if and when it shifts, but that’s been true for almost fifteen years now, so I am starting to relax into thinking it will remain true for a while. Butch feels good. Genderqueer feels good. Trans feels good, but mostly as an umbrella descriptor, as a community membership. More trans-asterisk (trans*) than capital-T Trans, but either are okay. (Kind of like how lesbian and dyke are okay, too, almost good, but mostly just adequate, though not quite accurate.)

I have a LOT of thoughts about all of this—especially how I identify, and my own gender journeys—that are way more complicated than the “Coming Out Genderqueer” article above. That article is purposefully distilled, attempting to talk to people who aren’t in any gender worlds. It’s a rough sketch beginning of all of that, at best, and sometimes broken down more simply than I mean to for the sake of accessibility.

Honestly, there’s no way I could answer “if I had been born male would I still be genderqueer” etc etc. I have no idea. For as much as I study gender constantly, I’m not really sure what being born male would have changed. Everything? Nothing? I just don’t know. I have speculations, but it seems unnecessary to entertain to me. And “if we had full gender equality and the boxes of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ were much wider than they currently are, do you think you would still consider yourself genderqueer, or would you then be comfortable being one or the other?” I have no idea. A society which had wider expression of gender than ‘man’ or ‘woman’ wouldn’t be where I live, so how many other things would have to change too? I’m a buddhist, I believe in interdependence—I don’t think we could change one big thing without a whole lot more changing, too.

I’d say that my most important identification is in being in-between, or outside of, a binary system. Would that still be true if I was male? I don’t know—probably. Assuming that I would have roughly the same personality, would still be a writer, would still really love satsuma oranges, would still crave the ocean, would still get stunned looking at the stars, would still find so much joy in swing dancing—assuming all those personality things were still true, then yes, I assume I would still crave being on the outskirts of things, the margins, where the weirdoes live, on the borderlands (to borrow from Anzaldua). I like the view from here. I get a better view, though it disenfranchises me a bit, too. The edges of things, more than anything else, seem to be where I am drawn. Not to one particular thing—masculinity, or genderqueerness, or transness. It isn’t about those things so much as it’s about being on the edge, for me.

And, a part of me is softly hurt by your comment, of yet another person asking me yet again, basically, if or when I am going to transition. Or rather, if butch is a stop over on the train to maleness. Or, if I was male, would I “have to” be genderqueer. I can’t tell you how many dozens (hundreds?) of people—butches trans men femmes, genderqueer agender androgynous queers, all sorts of genders, over the years, friends and lovers and people who talked about me rudely behind my back, so many of them at one point or another said something, either directly or indirectly, about my—and often, EVERY butches’—inevitable transition. I think butches get this all the time.

I think it’s quite a common story for many trans guys to spend some time presenting as butch, or as masculine identified women in some way, or as genderqueer, or as rejecting gender in some way. Like you wrote—(like gays who falsely identify as bi at first). Yes, that is sometimes part of the story. But it doesn’t apply to everybody all the time, and just because it happens sometimes doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who find a butch identity and stay there, people who never transition to male, who never secretly wish for maleness, or to be seen and treated as male.

Folks in the bisexual identity—to continue to borrow your example—get this all the time too, with people around them assuming, at least for quite a while in the beginning, that bi will be a stopover to gay town. Sometimes it is. But sometimes, it isn’t.

So, is genderqueer a political identity for me? Fuck yes it is. Is it an innate identity? Uh I mean how can we know what’s “innate” and what’s learned, especially when it comes to gender? But say, for a minute, that I do know—I would answer, Absolutely yes. Which one is more powerful? Fuck, I have no idea. That’s like asking me to rank my oppressions, or tell you whether I identify as an Alaskan or a writer first. I can’t hierarchize those. It is a radical, political act to reject the two-party binary gender system, and I like radical acts. I get off on ’em. It also feels like home in my body in a way my body never felt like home when I was dressed up more femininely, and never felt/feels like home when people refer to me by he/him pronouns. They/them and genderqueerness and in-between feels like all kinds of parts of me can be acknowledged—not “the man and the woman,” because for the most part I feel like those don’t even apply. None of the above. But the writer and the Alaskan, the swing dancer and the cockcentric top, the pretty good cook and the freelancer, the stargazer and the reader, the masculinity and the love of ice cream. The traits that I have that are traditionally masculine, the traits that I have that are traditionally feminine, and whatever in between.

I want to be able to pick + choose whichever ones suit me from whatever possible category. And I want others to have that ability, too, should they want it. I think it’s possible.

Also, I’m sorry—I don’t mean to be snappish about this, and I explicitly DID say, go ahead and ask questions. So, thank you for asking. I’m trying to answer honestly as best as I can, and honestly? Part of me is frustrated with that question, and the commonness in the queer worlds. I am heavily invested in butch as an identity all its own, regardless of the other genders or identities that that person carries too. I am invested in butch identity not only politically, not only for other people, but for my own sake. I am invested in my butch identity. Am I going to always be butch? I don’t know. Do I have secret longings to be male that are unrealized? Not currently, from the best that I know about myself, no.

Do I reserve the right to decide otherwise in the future? Fuck yes.

But … I hope, if I do decide I want to transition, to identify as male, to be perceived as male and treated as male, that I will honor the 35+ years (or, I suppose, arguably, the 15+ years, since I was mostly some other figuring-out-puzzling-frustrated version of me until I was about 20) I spent as a female genderqueer trans masculine butch. One of my most touching moments at BUTCH Voices in New York City in 2010 was when someone, during our ritual/keynote, held up a stone and offered: “My commitment to my trans voice is to honor the butch woman I was for 40-some years.” I know that many trans men were never butch, that if they were a masculine-presenting-woman for some length of time it might’ve been part of their transition, part of their path to male, part of survival, the only option they had, or who knows what kind of other things, and perhaps they never fully occupying the claimed identity of butch. And, similarly, some butches are never secretly wishing to be men.

I only speak for myself, but I, for now, am eagerly comfortable and loving the in-between of genderqueer.

Gender, Poetry, and Smut: Current Recommended Reads

I have stacks of books on my lists to tell y’all about, and so many other things to write to you about that I often don’t update you with what I’m reading. But, I know some of y’all are book nerds, so here ya go. Some beginnings of my attempt to get through this backlog.

And hey, who knows, maybe it’ll be a perfect last-minute dark-time-of-the-year holiday gift for somebody.

bk-butch bk-troubling bk-excluded

Butch Geography by Stacey Waite (Tupelo Press). A poetry collection … I read the review over on Lambda Literary and ran out to snag my own copy. It really is as beautiful as the review says. Waite writes with precise language and beautiful turns of phrase and enjambment about gender, navigating the world as a masculine of center person, and love. If you’re into gender and butch things and poetic words, this is for you.

Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetics TC Tolbert & Tim Trace Peterson (Nightboat Press). This anthology includes a wide range of poets, some examples of their work, and some statements (“poetics”) of their purpose and intentions behind their poetry. I find those essays in particular so compelling. The whole thing strikes me as very academic, so there is a lot of theory and big, fancy words that I feel like I could squint and strain to understand but I just kind of don’t bother (unless, you know, I really want to), but even so, I love reading the words and seeing two of my favorite genres—genderqueer theory and poetry—come together. Fascinating—and, as far as I know, the only book of its kind.

Poets include Samuel Ace, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Micha Cardenas, kari edwards, Duriel Harris, Joy Ladin, Dawn Lundy Martin, Eileen Myles, Trish Salah, Max Wolf Valerio, John Wieners, Kit Yan, and more.

Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive By Julia Serano (Seal Press). I’ve said for years that I consider Serano’s first book, Whipping Girl, required reading, and this, her sophomore publication, is likewise just as essential. Feminist and queer movements can be so exclusive, can reproduce all sorts of misogyny, racism, transphobia, transmisogyny, classism, and dozens more -isms—I have experienced and witnessed so much of that first-hand, and it frustrates me, as someone who is deeply committed to feminist and queer movements. And yet … sometimes I have no idea what to do about it. Serano puts forth all kinds of theories and concepts that I really like—the first one that comes to mind is explaining feminism through the concept of double standards. Keep up with Serano through her blog, where she’s got information about book signings and readings, and where she’s been posting excerpts and definitions of terms she coined or is using extensively in this book. It’ll give you a good sense of the tone and concepts included in Excluded (see what I did there? Ha ha!).

bk-bbe14 ble14

Best Bondage Erotica 2014 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Cleis Press). Oh! It looks like this is technically released January 1st, though I did just see that Rachel received her box of copies to send out to Amazon reviewers (get in touch with her and get a copy of the book in exchange for writing it up on Amazon!). I’m not sure what the last Best Bondage Erotica collection was that I read … maybe I haven’t read any of them? I’ll be honest, I’m not very into bondage—but that’s partly why I absolutely loved Laura Antoniou’s introduction to this book, which basically said, “Uh, I’m not that into bondage.” Hah! Cracked me up, and also, I identify with that. “I’m much more into power,” Antoniou writes. Yeah, me too. And yet … and yet. She goes on to explain the value of these stories, and I admit they kept me turning pages. I particularly loved Kathleen Delaney-Adams story “Tart Cherry,” but that’s because I am a sucker for a kinky femme bottom who knows what she wants. Still, it’s beautifully written and sweet and dirty, and it stood out.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2014, edited by Kathleen Warnock (Cleis Press). There was a bit of news about this year’s BLE collection, and while I have a lot of questions and confusion and thoughts from that article, I don’t really need to go into that here. I mean, I am kind of the lesbian erotica cheerleader (despite having complicated relationships with both the words “lesbian” and “erotica”). But still, I come back to BLE year after year, I submit my stories, and I always, always look forward to reading it. This year, the story I submitted is the kick-off piece, the first one in the book (thrilling!), and I was lucky enough to be part of the release party here in San Francisco and hear almost ten of the stories read aloud. I think this year’s is a good collection, well-written and well collected, though there aren’t very many stories in here that I’ll be going back to for jerk-off material, mostly because they aren’t Daddy/girl or heavy BDSM based (which tends to be what I seek out these days—I know, SHOCKER). Still, Cheryl Dunye & Sarah Schulman’s script for the full length campy porn Mommy is Coming is included, and that’s fascinating.

Actually, speaking of Mommy is Coming, here’s the trailer:

Um yeah. Definitely recommend that one.

Aaaand that concludes this current book round-up! What have you been reading lately? Anything good to recommend?

Review (& Photos!): Aslan Leather TG Chest Harness

Last year, Carrie Grey, creator and owner of Aslan Leather, custom built me one of his leather TG Chest Harnesses. I’ve worn it a few times over the past year, like at IMsL and to a couple of smaller play parties, but just this month I wore it to Folsom Street Fair—and whoa that was quite the experience!—with rife and his dog.

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I really don’t like crowds, or hot weather, so being in an extremely crowded blocked-in couple city blocks on a sunny day was not my ideal situation. But it was really fun to see so many kinky people in one place. Fascinating, really. (I particularly liked Vivian Fu’s photo essay of this year’s Folsom.) We eventually made it to the women-and-trans area, and then promptly camped out and didn’t leave that space until we were ready to head back to Oakland. I liked their gender policy: the women-and-trans tent included anybody who does identify as a woman, has identified as a woman in the past, or will identify as a woman in the future. Clever, I thought.

I got a lot of compliments on the Aslan Leather chest harness. It’s hot and comfortable and unique for someone with a chest like mine (36DD) to be wearing something like that. I left it over my binder and tee shirt all day, but had it as a possible option to wear it bare chested.

Here’s the Aslan description:

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Ever wish you could wear a chest harness out to a party or event without a T shirt underneath? ASLAN’s new TG chest harnesss is designed to function like a binder and a chest harness. The 3- 4″ wide leather chest strap can effectively flatten up to a C cup chest. The harness pictured has a 4″ wide strap. This harness is made with comfortable heavy weight glove leather, wich allows you freedom of movement for all types of play situations, and because it’s an ASLAN you can be sure it is guaranteed for life!

To order please provide the following measurements: Chest, cup size (if applicable), height. This is a custom piece made to order so please remember to include your measurements.

Please note! The measurements part is important. When I wrote to Carrie requesting this piece, I gave him my measurements, but I was wrong. Very wrong. I gave him old measurements that I thought were accurate, but did not account for the weight I have recently gained (lots of which, let’s be honest, ends up in my chest). That sucked—the first binder he built for me didn’t fit, and he had to go back and basically remake the whole thing.

Don’t send the wrong measurements. Get someone who knows how to measure bodies for outfitting well to measure you, and get a current measurement.

Carrie snapped a few photos when I tried it on in the Aslan studio in Toronto last fall:


aslan2 aslan aslan1

I kept hoping to wear it during a photo shoot and get more better photos of it, but I haven’t had many (any?) photo shoots since I picked it up (oh except for that one with Meg Allen, but we were taking professional shots and not really kinky ones, which is why I didn’t wear it then). I’d still like more better photos of me in it, but I don’t want not having the perfect photo to hold me up in telling you about how awesome this is. And hey, the holidays are coming up, right? Don’t you need a great present for somebody in your life, or yourself?

I like the way it looks! And it feels really good and fun to wear. I even like the way my chest looks naked underneath it. I wouldn’t have expected that.

Thank you, Aslan Leather & Carrie Grey! Pick up your very own Aslan Leather TG Chest Harness over on Aslanleather.com.

Outside the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic in Philadelphia March 1-3

boxesI’ve been working with The Body Electric School since 2000, since I was just barely out and hadn’t even slept with a girl yet, since the year after I left my high school boyfriend of six years right before I had an abortion and decided that was how certain I had to be in order to become the me I was meeting in dreams.

Body Electric changed and formed and forged my adult sense of both sexuality and spirituality. It has interwoven the two of those things, my callings and my desires, my body and my understanding of god, such that I can almost not untangle them anymore—my sexual explorations are a way to deepen my spirituality and sense of energy and self on the planet, my love of and relationship with the planet is a way to fuel my relationships with and energetic exchanges with (read: fuckfests) other people.

Since I got involved almost thirteen years ago, the work has been divided into “men’s workshops,” “women’s workshops,” and “men and women’s workshops.” But the teachers that I’ve been learning from and am coming up under—Alex Jade and Lizz Randall, namely, who are both queer and genderqueer, Alex being on the dandy masculine side of things and Lizz being a femme—along with my friend and butt buddy (long story) Amy Butcher, the coordinator in San Francisco, and I have all decided that we want to bust open the binary gender system within BE, create more room for trans and genderqueer folks to be able to be included in this work, and to start doing more work with those populations.

And voila, the Outside the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic workshop was born.

It is based on the Celebrating the Body Erotic (CBE) workshop model, which is a finely honed workshop that builds on itself from very gentle interaction on Friday night to an intense community experience on Sunday afternoon. It is a clothing-optional workshop where some erotic touch is invited and possible. Everything is done with deep consent, with lots of checking in with one’s self and lots of trust that the others in the workshop are doing that too, and the work is deeply trauma-informed, meaning that we know and expect that we hold a lot of trauma in our bodies, and when we are working specifically on our bodies and our genitals and our relationship with them, we know many things come up. Feelings of shame, fear, being threatened, memories. Lots of things that we may have the ability to actually bring up in a safe enough container that we can let it go. That, to me, is part of the essence of the healing.

But, the integration of new gender policies into the larger Body Electric School has been very hard. The organization is majority run by gay men and serves gay men, probably 80% of the workshops are men’s workshops, and yes, that pretty much means cis men.

We are trying to change this.

The women’s teams have made the decisions to go forward with the women’s workshops as including ALL WOMEN, all trans women regardless of body or surgery or whatever, and all people born female who can bring our female or women-identified parts into the circle. There will be an ALL MEN’s workshop coming soon, hypothetically, that BE is working on. And as we are offering more “mixed gender” workshops, like the Power, Surrender, and Intimacy workshop I’m doing in New York this fall, we are making it “all genders” instead of “mixed,” and inviting anyone with a body to come.

And of course, there’s the Outside the Boxes workshop. It (or another CBE or equivalent) is a prerequisite for any of the more advanced or intermediate workshops. It gives an amazing introduction to how this work is done and what we do with it. It teaches all sorts of basic tools, like consent and breath, and encourages deep embodiment.

I am so in love with this work. I have been working so, so hard to bring this work to my people—you genderqueer trans queer genderfluid gendernonconforming folks whom I adore and whom I am dying to be in erotic circles with. Please come. There are still spaces available in this workshop, though we are going to cap it at 24 to keep it a manageable and good size. Please come. I know it’s expensive, but it is worth every dollar and probably more, and we made it a sliding scale so that we can get as many people there as possible. Please come. Prove to the Body Electric School that this work is worth it, is lucrative, is needed in the world, and is received when we offer it. Please come.

Dear universe, please send a full, abundant, explorative group of people to explore this work in Philadelphia in March. I cannot wait to meet them all. I want more colleagues on this path, and I want more playmates, and I want more support as I pursue this work. I believe so deeply in the power of this to heal us, and I know that my people need this healing as much or more than anybody. It is my calling. I know it’s important in the world. Please send abundance. Love, Sinclair.

Are you buzzing? Are you intrigued? Get in touch with me, even if you aren’t sure if you’ll do it or not. I can tell you more about it. I want to give it to you, want to give you this gift of this work. Are you feeling called? Listen to that place beyond the “oh I can’t make that happen logistics logistics” “ugh it’s too expensive” “I don’t know I’m so scared!” chatter, and see if it’s time.

Here’s the details on the workshop. Please share this widely with friends and folks you might know near Philadelphia!

Facebook event

Qcbe postcard 2013 rev

Your gender. Your body. Your energy. Your beautiful self. How often has the world tried to force you into the gender binary, asked you to assure it that your pronouns matched what it saw rather than what you felt, required that your genitals conform to expectations, demanded that you deny the complexity of all that is you?

What if you could come into a community in which all expressions were possible? Where gender, sexuality and expression were aligned according to your truth? Where no one assumed what parts would go where? Welcome to Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic!

Come explore your erotic potential through the mind, the body and the heart using conscious breath, movement, process work and massage. Awaken the erotic energy that lies within all of us. Through a queer tantra lens, explore archetypal masculine and feminine energies and the myriad ways they can be expressed. Break down silos of gender and sexuality.

This workshop focuses on the entire body and is conducted in a container that is playful, safe and reverential. Using carefully designed experiential embodiment practices participants will:

  • explore the innate wisdom of your body
  • expand awareness, sensation and pleasure through conscious breath, movement, touch, and communication, where each person’s choices and rhythms are honored
  • learn how to more deeply tune in to your body, mind, heart and spirit
  • to receive more fully from yourself and others, and to give without losing yourself
    learn to give and receive full-body massage and to focus on the healing potential of sensual/spiritual energy
  • learn from your own and others’ unfolding, and feel awed witnessing and supporting our uniqueness and commonalities

Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic is a 2 1/2 day workshop (Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday), often clothing-optional, for those who are ready to vigorously explore new levels of feeling and aliveness, both within themselves and within a community of queers. Space is limited, so please register early.

NOTE: Couples are welcome to attend Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic and have the option of working together or with the other participants.

WORKSHOP FEE: $250-495. This workshop offers a sliding scale fee dependent upon personal financial circumstances. We believe the work is important and those who need it be considered. Please contact the Coordinator to discuss.

March 1-3, Philadelphia, PA: contact Sinclair Sexsmith, [email protected]
October 11-13, Oakland, CA: contact Amy Butcher, [email protected]

Register on the Body Electric website.

Review: TranZwear Packing Undies

TranZwear sent me three different packing undies—their most popular models—to check out: two different models of boxers, and one jock strap type. TranZwear alters already existing briefs, boxers, and jock straps to get them to more securely hold packers. In this case, the Dockers are the TSW PackRight Harness with the secure packer, which means it’s got elastic bands and an o-ring sewn into the front of the briefs that will keep a packer in place. The Champion black boxer briefs are the PackNGo athletic boxer briefs, so instead of cotton they’re “moisture wicking” and have that slick nylon feel. Instead of a harness inside these, the front pocket is sewn shut. TranZwear describes it: “Modified performance mesh interior pouch provides support and ventilation, and holds your packer secure without any movement during the day.” The jock strap has a security strap to hold the packer in place.

I’m totally in love with the Dockers briefs and they fit so perfectly well that I’m going to look them up and get some more of the same in the same size. The others aren’t quite as much of a perfect fit, though I do like the sewn-shut “interior pouch.” After losing a packer because it rolled out of my briefs into an East Village toilet, I pretty much never pack without attaching it somehow, either in these briefs, in the SpareParts Pete undies, or with a packing strap or pouch, and I do go back to these TranZwear products frequently. They’re simple, and high quality work. I frequently forget I’m wearing anything modified or special and just feel like I’m wearing regular undies—which is exactly how it should feel.

I kind of prefer having a packing strap or harness, something that keeps the packer attached to my body rather than attached to my underwear, since it feels more like clothing or an attachment when it comes off, but I would still much rather have it secure than not, and these are great options. Thanks, TranZwear.

Trailers: Orchids, Hit & Miss, Tomboy

Three trailers have come through my inbox recently, and they have piqued my interest enough that I thought you might like to see ’em, too.

HIT & MISS, from Paul Abbott, creator of Shameless and State of Play, is a high concept and ambitious new series that follows Chloë Sevingy as Mia, a contract killer with a secret: she’s a transgender woman. Mia’s life is sent into a tailspin when she receives a letter from an ex-girlfriend dying from cancer revealing that Mia fathered a son eleven years ago. Faced with a difficult decision, Mia becomes the guardian to a new family forcing her to mix her killer instincts with her newly developing maternal instincts. HIT & MISS tells the story of a lethal killer at the heart of a troubled family and how all of their lives will be dramatically changed forever.

I’m pretty skeptical, but I love Chloe Sevingy and I’m kind of a sucker for contract killer shows (Alias!), and I am curious about this. Will they pull it off? How awful will it be? And ethically is it a good idea to cast a cis woman as a trans woman? I don’t know. But I’m glad something like this exists, because it’s encouraging these questions if nothing else. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Gen X filmmaker Phoebe Hart always knew she was different growing up—but she didn’t know why. This award-winning documentary traces Phoebe’s voyage of self-discovery as an intersex person, a group of conditions formerly termed hermaphroditism. Learning only in her teens that she was born with 46XY (male) chromosomes, Hart now seeks to understand her own story and the stories of others affected by this complex and often shameful syndrome. Learn more about ORCHIDS here.

It premieres tonight on Showtime! Looks like a pretty intense undertaking, from the trailer, and I’m curious what it’ll add to the intersex discourse.

Ten year old Laure isn’t like most girls. She prefers football to dolls and sweaters to dresses. When Laure, her parents and little sister Jeanne move to a new neighbourhood, family life remains much the same. That is, until local girl Lisa mistakes Laure to be a boy. Indulging in this exciting new identity, Laure becomes Michael, and so begins a summer of long sunny afternoons, playground games and first kisses. Yet with the school term fast approaching, and with suspicions arising amongst friends and family, Laure must face up to an uncertain future.

This was released last fall, but was just released by Wolfe video on DVD and I’m excited to see it.

Review: Sexing the Transman XXX DVD

“Buck Angel, master of redefining gender, brings you never revealed secrets of transmen sexuality. This groundbreaking educational adult film consists of interviews and jack-off scenes with four different transmen (aged 20-35). Each scene starts with an interview in which the performers share intimate details about who they are and why they transitioned from female to male. Removing their clothes, they take you on a thrilling journey as they show you how their sexuality has been supercharged by testosterone.”

Finally sat down with Kristen to watch this video. It’s not the kind of thing I would turn on to get off to—and that is generally what I look for in my porn—so I wasn’t sure how to respond to it, but now that it’s been a week or two, I am still thinking about it and chewing on it. I loved the honest, openness in each of the scenes. I love how bold Buck is to ask probing, intimate questions about gender, sexuality, orgasm, bodies, pleasure, transition, and more. And then I loved how each of the guys in this video answered his questions in their own way. I loved seeing each of them do their thing, touching their body in their own way. It’s quite an interesting study in trans male sexuality. Looking forward to seeing the other non-XXX version, and in seeing whatever Buck does next.

When “Gender Expression” Means “Masculine”

So you’ve heard about Babeland’s new “Gender Expression” category, which I for one thing is awesome. But I want to call your attention to a couple comments on that post, because I think it’s important, and it crossed my mind as well:

Perry wrote:

Not to be rubbish, but shouldn’t it be called “female-assigned or potentially mtf-post-op-folks-i-suppose expression” instead?

And Krista from Babeland responded:

It is our intention to make this category a place to find products for expressing any and all gender possibilities. We welcome suggestions of other products that you think might fall into this category. I hope that helps. Feel free to contact us with any other questions.

To which perry replied:

thanks for your comment, Krista. I don’t really have any suggestions per se, I’ve just been noticing that often when female-assigned queers talk about “genderqueer” and “transgender” they often seem to be talking about female-assigned folks who express a certain masculinity via clothes, hair, and yes, toys. I rarely meet male-assigned folks id’ing as genderqueer. 20-30 something college educated white female assigned people who have sex with the same seem to be “the” face of trans/gender and genderqueer movements in a way (if you look at profiles on genderfork and on lots of tumblrs you’ll see what i mean), and i think it’s important to make other identities visible. Thanks for selling great stuff babeland, this is not a dig at you.

And I really see perry’s point here. I don’t really mean to drag Babeland into this, because really this is just something to point to indicative of a larger issue, and, well, I like to link to the gender expression category, which is why I’m using this conversation as an example.

Thanks, by the way, to perry and to Krista for this conversation. I don’t have a lot to add, but I want to highlight this issue because I’ve thought about it frequently myself, and I’m interested what we can do about it. I guess this is the part where I ask for your opinions on the subject. Thoughts?

I do want to say, in Babeland’s defense and in defense of many other sex toy stores which have “gender expression” type of categories, that I think there are just a lot fewer sex products for trans men and masculine of center folks than there are for trans women. Maybe I’m wrong about that and I just don’t know as much about it—correct me if I’m wrong—but my understanding is that a lot of the products for (feminine) trans women are things found in traditional feminine departments, like bras and lingerie. I suppose there could be binding underwear or stuffed bras? I don’t know much about those products, and I certainly don’t see a lot of that—hey Babeland, maybe you should look into those.

I have met some men who identify as genderqueer, though not many. I’ve often mused about this subject, mostly in terms of the myriad words we have for masculine of center identities, and how frequently it seems that people who identify as genderqueer or androgynous are people who were assigned female at birth, who would not express traditionally feminine markers like make-up and dresses—folks who “express a certain masculinity via clothes, hair, and yes, toys,” as perry put it.

I think there might be some misandry in that, to be honest. Or, at the very least, some feminist and queer skepticism about masculinity and maleness in general. And probably some internalized misogyny, as a commenter pointed out.

Let me state for the record that I think people should identify however they feel most comfortable, and I’m not trying to change that, for anybody. But I have noticed it as a trend and I’m curious how we, as people who are doing work on expanding gender categories, can support the widening of these identities, and to continue to build movements that include ALL gender identities and expressions, and not just masculine of center queer folks assigned female at birth.

So, what other products should Babeland add to their gender expression category that are not aimed at masculine of center folks? Any ideas for what they can add to their category?

Nominations Needed for Top Hot Butches

With the relaunch of the Top Hot Butches project, I am including different people than last year, in a totally different way.

I think this is some of the confusion about including cis men. The Top Hot list is not a top 100 butches list like it was last year. I’m not that interested in hierarchizing everyone based on hotness. Hotness is all relative, anyway.

What I am interested in is community, and bringing people together who experience similar gender identities. I’m also interested in the word “butch” itself, and how it scares many people, how many of us have such a strong reaction to it, like it’s a slur, as it has been used against many of us for lifetimes. And how it becomes a strong, defining word for others, a major hook on which we hang ourselves and by which we define ourselves. Many different kinds of people use this word to talk about who they are, and I’m curious about that.

The new site is more community-focused, with a whole blog component, Tumblr site, and Symposium, as I mentioned the other day. And there is still a Top Hot section. It’ll be more like a database of people you can go browse through and find their work and be inspired by, not a numbered list. Just people, doing good work, going about their lives, with a butch or masculine of center gender.

I’m much more inclined to include women than men, and it will be harder to find men to include, since I am restricting the men included to being butch-identified (more about that below).

I am especially looking for trans women who identify or present as butch, men (cis or trans) who self-identify as butch, and people of color along the masculine spectrum. It’s been easier to find the white butch dykes than anyone else, but I know there are a lot of other folks out there!

Check last year’s list to see who was on it before you nominate somebody. Everyone from the list last year, unless requested otherwise, will be included in the new project.

Rules for nominations:

ALL nominees:

  • Must be active in the public sphere of some sort, or a leader, and well known, in their field. Performers, writers, and activists are particularly easy to point to, but anyone notable in any field is applicable. Yes, this means your girlfriend/boifriend/boyfriend might not qualify. No, having a blog is not necessarily qualification enough.
  • Must have been doing work at some point in the last decade. There are plenty of people we can dig up who are no longer alive, or who were notably butch or visibly masculine women from decades past, but this project is about what’s going on now. Perhaps at some point in the future we’ll tackle Top Hot Butches pre-Stonewall, but for now, let’s focus on who is around now.
  • Can be of any age, though generally we’re talking about folks who are post-puberty, and even more frequently folks who are post-Saturn return, as it sometimes takes quite a bit of time to really know oneself enough to come to an alternative gender identity and expression like these. Age doesn’t matter.
  • Can be of any race, religion, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. That probably goes without saying, but I’ll make it clear anyway.

Inclusions of women, cis or trans:

  • It would be GREAT if they self-identify as some some of masculine of center identity: butch, macha, stud, ag, tomboi, genderqueer, etc.
  • If they do not self-identify this way (or they have a level of fame where they wouldn’t reply to an email asking if they do or not), they will be considered for inclusion based on these things: 1. rejection of traditional femininity, including but not limited to dress, style, and hair; tendency to shop in the men’s department and display a masculine gender expression most of the time; 3. swagger, meaning some sort of masculine energy in their movements; and 4. are out as queer. Some exceptions will be made to the requirement that they are out as queer, such as in the case of Katherine Moennig, where she is very clearly queer but has not made official statements regarding such.

Inclusions of men, cis or trans:

  • Must self-identify as butch. Either you know that they identify as butch, because they’re your friend or you’re aware of their work, or they have made some sort of public statement that says they identify as butch.

Inclusions of genderqueer folks that identify as outside of the binary:

  • Should self-identify as some of masculine of center identity: butch, macha, stud, ag, tomboi, etc., and be interested in being included in a database of butches.

How to nominate:

Email me, or comment on this post, with the following:

  • Name of the person you’re nominating
  • What they do (writer, performer, activist, lawyer, whatever)
  • Link to or attached recent photograph, at least 640×480 (landscape) and better yet, cropped to 700×400
  • Link to their website, Myspace, Twitter, or other web presence for more information about their work

Aside from Top Hot Butches, I am also compiling a list of butch-identified bloggers. If you are a butch-identified blogger, or if you read a blog by someone butch-identified who you like, will you please leave a link to them here and I’ll add them to my list. I have quite a few that I know of, of course, but I’m sure I don’t know you all! Even if you think I probably have yours, leave it anyway just to make sure?

And a huge thank you for your help with this project! It is coming together, and I’m really excited to show it to everyone.

Ten Ways I Am A Gender Outlaw

Today is the last day on The Great Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation Blog Tour, and I’m closing it out. Thanks, Kate and Bear. Thanks, Seal Press.

It’s a fantastic book. I laughed, I cried. Would you expect anything less?

There were a lot of pieces about trans experiences, not as in one singular trans experience, but people writing about their lives and what it’s been like to have the experience being gendered like they are in the world. A few other pieces were by cisgender femmes—but I have yet to read a piece in there talking about butch experiences. Now, it is a book focusing on trans identity, primarily, so maybe stories and essays about butch experiences don’t even belong here. That’s okay, I don’t have to see myself reflected in every single book about gender, sometimes it might not fit.

But it got me thinking: what’s my relationship to the term and identity “trans?” Is butch a trans identity? And what are the ways that I am a gender outlaw?

I do see butch as falling under the trans umbrella, as a sort of trans identity, because butch is a masculine identity on a woman (or, should I say, “woman”), and that is not what our culture defines as what a woman does. I am trans in that I transcend the binary, I transform the binary. I believe in more than the binary, and partly because of that I also believe that a masculine expression on a female body is a completely legitimate expression of “woman,” and that therefore it may not be a trans identity.

However … that’s not the dominant cultural acceptance of the way woman-ness can be expressed, that’s for sure. And I have learned more about gender—both mine and cultural systems of gender—from the trans movements than anywhere else. I find my gender has more in common with many trans folks than it does with anybody else, in part because of the intentionality and thoughtfulness behind it. So I still have an identification with trans. Though not without hesitation—which is why I say “a sort of trans identity” whenever I’m talking about it. I do understand how it could be, and I understand how it could not be. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle, sometimes feeling more trans than not, sometimes feeling not trans.

Regardless, though, a butch identity is outside the law, and is an outlaw. In this case, it’s not necessarily that I’m outside of the actual legal law, though we could talk about the ways that we still haven’t passed an ERA (wtf?) and that my sexuality in this country makes me a second-class citizen, but we’re not talking about sexuality here: we’re talking about gender.

And my gender, though perhaps not outside of the legal law, as it is no longer dictated that I wear at least five pieces of women’s clothing (can you imagine!? It was not so long ago), is outside of social law. Society has certain laws that I break all the time, by crossing back and forth between “male” space and “female” space, by presenting masculine in this world, by passing sometimes and not passing other times, by dating women, by being a feminist, by challenging misandry and misogyny and other ways that masculinity is constructed.

Here’s some other ways I’ve been thinking about that make me a Gender Outlaw:

10. I shop in the men’s department. I know this seems both like a given (duh) and like not a big deal, it actually can be. Getting a salesperson to help me is pretty difficult. Making a decision to either use the dressing room in the men’s department, or carry everything back to the women’s department, or not try on anything and make my shopping trip twice as long when I need to come back to return the things that don’t fit, can take up more space in my head than it needs to. Sometimes I get shoo’d out of the women’s dressing room, or at the very least I get disapproving and confused glances by other shoppers—both in the men’s department, women’s dressing rooms, and at the check-out. It’s more complicated than one would expect to keep shopping for men’s clothes, to crossdress, basically. And at this point, the only thing I don’t buy in the men’s department is binders (bras).

9. I visit a barber once a month. Inserting myself into traditionally men’s spaces is tricky, sometimes dangerous. Though I live in a very tolerant city, I still come across plenty of men in these spaces who are skeptical, giving me shifty sideways eyes, at best, and outright homophobic at worst. I continue to walk in there like I belong and request the same services (at the same price—which is also sometimes a problem) that any of the guys get. Aside from the barber, I get my shoes shined, I sometimes get my nails done or my eyebrows waxed—yes, I admit to a certain level of metrosexuality that goes with my masculinity. But it’s all for sex, people. I do it for the sex. And the pure joy that comes with a dapper presentation.

8. I disrupt the assumption that misogyny comes standard with masculinity. I treat women well, and I take that seriously. I do not believe femininity is any easier (or harder) than masculinity, and I do not believe it should be in a hierarchy of any time. I strive to not only believe that, but to live that belief.

7. I like what I like—I don’t let my gender dictate my interests, hobbies, or personality. I enjoy cooking, yoga, reading books, amateur astronomy, meditation, the psychotheraputic process, building community, and I don’t really like sports, or monster trucks, or remote control cars, or many of those “typical” masculine hobbies. I challenge the idea that any hobby belongs to any gender. These are human experiences, and human expressions, and human things to do, and I can choose from any one of them.

6. I research the butches and genderqueers and other masculine-of-center folks who came before me. I know I’m not alone in this lineage, this way that I walk the world, and even though sometimes it feels like I made it all, I only made myself in a long context of many others, and I pay homage as often as I can with respect and props.

5. I read everything I can about gender, keeping up with the latest books (like Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation!) I (try to) keep up with the myriad of butch and masculine-of-center blogs online, to keep hearing people’s stories, to watch as they unfold, to keep up with the conversations. I feel lucky that I have so many stories to read!

4. I see a gender identity as a beginning, not an end. As with any identity, the minute someone tells me they identify as a certain thing—femme, butch, genderqueer, gender-fluid, trans, male, female, whatever—I take that as a starting point, and I am curious to know more, not as the end point, where I fill in my own assumptions about what that means. I keep my assumptions in check. I keep my inner gender police in check, and instead of expressing anything like, “Whut? You don’t seem x to me,” I ask, “Oh? What does that mean to you?” It’s a starting place, a jumping off point, not something to close down the conversation.

3. I make friends with straight men—or at least, I’m friendly with them—to challenge their assumptions about masculinity (and butch dykes). I don’t see them as the enemy. I don’t assume they’re all the same. I challenge misandry in the queer circles. Marginalized communities, especially those who have come up from the lesbian and feminist histories, have a lot of man-hating built in to them. (I know, I’m not supposed to say that, but it can be true.) There is a difference between challenging a system of patriarchy vs challenging an individual man, who may or may not be as much of a subscriber to feminist beliefs as any of us are. Aside that, many queers are skeptical of masculinity—I have seen that as I get further into my identity as butch, and I’ve seen it happen to many of my trans guy friends. I do my best to challenge it when I see it, and ask what’s behind that comment, jab, or joke. Gently, and kindly, but still, to challenge.

2. I am a fierce feminist, and see the intersectionality of many different kinds of oppression and do my best to analyze and check my own privileges while standing up for those that are marginalized and oppressed. I think most homophobia and transphobia is still about a basic, fundamental sexism that believes men are better than women and therefore masculine-identified people are better than feminine-identified people, and I think the feminist theories can be a way to untangle those underlying cultural beliefs systematically.

1. I love my body. I just heard Tobi Hill-Meyer read a piece at the spoken word performance at Butch Voices Portland about how much of woman-ness is tied to hating one’s own body, and it really resonated for me. Despite being raised a bit non-traditionally, despite growing up into a butch gender, most of us are taught by this culture to hate our bodies, and I continue to treat myself with care, respect, and love, in the face of a culture which would have me buff, pluck, shave, cut, dye, powder, or hide the skin, stretch marks, and “flaws” of my body.

What do you think, y’all? Did I forget something? What are the ways that YOU are a gender outlaw?

Don’t forget to pick up Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation at your local queer feminist bookstore.

Review: Deluxe Packing Pouch

As of 2/8/16 This product is no longer available at Babeland

“Excuse me, could you pass me my penis?”

This is something NOBODY wants to say, especially not in a men’s bathroom, especially not in a women’s bathroom, especially not in ANY bathroom to any stranger whatsoever. And if you, like me, have used those lovely cute little soft packers to have that extra weight and bulge in your undies, you may have experienced that little phenomena that happens when you pull your pants down and they roll and tumble right out of their nice little packed spot and … onto the floor.

Oops. Man that sucks. Not only do I not want to put it back in my pants before cleaning it (bathroom floors, ew) but now I might have to either ask someone in the next stall to pass it back to me, or go in there and fish it out myself.

(I don’t think I’ve actually ever lost my packer in a public restroom. But I will totally admit to having had that nightmare, and even the occasional jiggle when I am trying to piss makes me nervous as hell.)

Point is: I love packing straps! I’ve had the cock sock for many years now, it was an easy cheap investment for like fifteen bucks that makes me feel sooo much better about wearing a packer. The Mr. Right packing strap is out there, too, but only really works with Mr. Right, which is a little bit hard for me personally to pack with (see my review here), I like the squishier packers, they’re more comfortable.

So when I saw that Babeland had a new packing strap—well, this one is a pouch, it doesn’t strap around your waist—I definitely wanted to try it.

I was kind of skeptical. It attaches with velcro to the front of your underwear, and that seems a little weird. I want my packer to feel like it’s attached to me, not to my underwear. And I wasn’t sure the velcro would be enough—is just a regular underwear elastic enough for velcro to grab onto?

Turns out, yes. It doesn’t go anywhere when you just give the velcro a little press. I tend to use not the smallest (mini) but the small soft packer, and it was pretty easy to get into the pouch and is comfortable to wear.

I think I prefer the other packing strap called the Cock Sock a little more than I like this one, just because I prefer that it’s attached to me and not to my underwear, but then again sometimes if I’m already dressed and decide that I want to pack it is kind of a pain to get it on (either I have to stretch out the elastic to pull it over my jeans, or I have to undress. Annoying), and with this Packing Pouch I can just slip it in whenever I think of adding it to my outfit. Both are easily hand washable, and while I can’t say how long the Pouch is going to last, I know the Sock has lasted for quite a long time and it seems that the Pouch is slightly higher quality material. Hm, it’s a toss up, I’m not sure which one I like better.

Definitely worth trying if you like to pack, and if you use the soft packers.

The Deluxe Packing Pouch was sent to me from Babeland for review. Pick up other sex toys from Babeland, still my favorite feminist, queer, friendly, educational neighborhood sex shop.

Review: Even More Bang for Your Buck 2

Buck Angel is known widely as “the man with a pussy” and is a hugely popular trans porn star. I remember hearing Buck on episode 124 of the Savage Love Podcast a while back, and I was really impressed by how eloquently he spoke about trans issues, gender, and sexuality. He’s also recently launched a more explicit educational component to his work, including Buck Angel Entertainment and his videos answering questions about sexuality and gender, Bucking the System (also displayed over at Buck’s pages on sexgenderbody.com).

He’s also listed as #62 of the Top Hot Butches, with his own consent. In fact, he told a mutual friend that he associates the term ‘butch’ more with gay men’s culture than lesbian, and is happy to be identified as such. (I’m paraphrasing through a game of telephone, forgive me if I’m misquoting, but I think the meaning was clear.)

Though I’ve been aware of him and his work for quite a while, I never actually saw any of his porn flicks.

Until recently.

I watched Even More Bang for Your Buck 2 over on VOD.sugarbutch.net, the Hot Movies 4 Her video-on-demand site specifically containing porn flicks I choose and think you might like to see. Damn, it was raunchy. It’s content is very gay, and to be honest porn depicting gay men is not my personal favorite, so I was watching it more for, um, the articles, than to get off to, but I admit, Buck really is hot. Muscley and sexy. And I love how guys in porn are just so unapologetic about lust, ya know?

More details: Even More Bang for Your Buck 2 is produced, directed, and starring Buck Angel. Music for this film is by Katastrophe, a very talented musician and FTM rapper (and, I believe, Michelle Tea’s partner).

Here’s the description from Hot Movies 4 Her:

2009 AVN Award Nominee for Best Transsexual Release
2009 GAYVN Award Nominee for Best Alternative Release.

Buck Angel fans are in for another treat from everyone’s favorite man with a pussy. Buck directs, produces, and stars in the latest release from Buck Angel Entertainment.

The first scene is with Brad S, a hot Latino with a big hard cock who wants to play hard with me. He does not have a hard time keeping that piece of meat ready for action. This is set in a construction site. Great pussy eating and fucking action.

The second scene is with a very shy but horny Mexican guy that I found on the net. He starts out a bit shy but as his cock gets hard from me sucking on it he starts to become really aggresive and the sex just gets hotter and hotter. I let him take control at one point and just ram my throat with his bulging cock. So much that I gag. This scene is one of my all time favorites. Wait till you see how I swallow that big cock!

The third scene is with FTM Boi fallen, a very cure FTM boy. I love dominating him in this scene. This is really my first scene with just me another transman. I love this scene because it has real hardcore action and we have great sexual energy together. If you have ever wanted to see me fuck another FTM this is your chance.

The fourth scene is filmed in London with a HOT skinhead. I meet him on the street and take him back to my place where we get right down to business. He loves to be my fuck toy and lets me do whatever I want. I love these kind of guys. The sex gets pretty nasty as he realizes I have a pussy and that makes him even more excited. he is into some heavey breath play as well. All these scenes end with great cum shots!

The film has music by FTM Rapper Katastrophe which adds to the the raunchy hardcoreness of this film.

I guess that’s about all I’ve got to say about that! Give it a try. Heck, it’s a new year – perhaps it’s time to expand your porn horizons. Maybe you’ll find that it’s totally your ‘thing’! You never know until you try.

Watch Even More Bang for Your Buck 2 or more videos by Buck Angel Entertainment over at Sugarbutch’s VOD on Hot Movies 4 Her.

Bucking the System: Buck Angel Q&A

Buck Angel, the FTM transsexual porn star known as “the man with the vagina” (who has given his permission to be included in the Top Hot Butches list as #62), has started a new show called BUCKING THE SYSTEM where he is taking all sorts of gender and sexuality questions.

The video is also interpreted in ASL by Elayne Angel, who I believe is Buck’s wife and also a master piercer. In fact, I have entertained the idea of traveling to her in order to get a triangle piercing (do I have to warn you? that link is NSFW), which is a kick I get on every year or two. I would really like one, but the healing time (which probably means no strap-on sex) and the things that could potentially go wrong have been preventative so far. I hear she pierced Dacia recently. Also, I want to read her new book.

I haven’t actually seen a lot of Buck’s porn films, though I’m curious – my impression is that it’s mostly gay male porn, not very lesbian, and while I appreciate the, erm, gusto, with which gay men have sex on camera, it’s not what I tend to turn to when I want to get off. But he’s got many, many of his videos over on the Sugarbutch VOD through Hot Movies For Her and I look forward to taking some of them for a spin.

Did you catch Buck on episode #124 of the Savage Love podcast earlier this year? I was impressed with what he had to say about gender and sexuality. I’m looking forward to this Bucking the System series. Subscribe to Buck’s YouTube channel or follow @BuckAngel on Twitter.

“Is it a trans characteristic to wear a cock?”: Cock-centricity and Gender Identity

Back in April, for Sugarbutch’s third anniversary, I offered up an “ask me anything” thread where readers could ask any burning questions that they’d like for me to answer.

is it a transgender characteristic to wear a cock (with anatomically accurate balls) and feel more complete or like yourself when you are a biological female? you self ID with a lot of labels, but trans isn’t one of them. have you explored this idea? – reader

There’s two parts of this question I’d like to explore: first, my personal identity, and my relationship to “trans”; second, gender’s relationship to cocks, and my personal thoughts on that, too.

I do identify with the term “trans,” to some degree. That’s complicated, because I am not transitioning, and I do not identify as male. I feel strongly that it’s important for me to be female, a woman, lesbian-identified, and to behave and look the way I do (i.e., masculine). But insofar as people with my biological sex most often have a feminine gender presentation (setting aside the societal compulsory prescription of the feminine gender presentation), and I do not, I feel as though I am transgressing gender boundaries by my claim to masculinity and by presenting in a way that is seemingly in conflict with the (societally prescribed) sex/gender assumption. I – me personally, my identity, my work, my discussions – defy rigid, polarizing gender norms, and queer gender. I believe in taking this and that from any sorts of presentations around us and re-creating onesself in ways that make us feel good, empowered, strong, sexy, expressive, and authentic. I think we can all transcend our prescribed roles – no matter what they are, gender or familial or societal – and become ourselves in larger ways.

I don’t usually include “trans” in my list of identity descriptors. When I refer to myself as trans, it’s usually very couched in other things, like “my particular kind of genderqueer masculine-identified trans-ness.” I guess I feel like my use of trans and my inclusion in the trans communities is a bit controversial, as there are plenty of people who will jump (and have jumped) in to correct my use of this term, saying that my use of it invalidates the experiences of “real” trans people who are FTM or MTF and who are transsexual, transitioning fully from one gender to another.

So I tend to claim butch, whole-heartedly and fairly simply, really, and leave it at that. Because that’s what I am (right now, anyway, not that I anticipate that changing, but who knows, it could), and though I do think that the identity of butch includes a sort of trans-ness or a genderqueer-ness of occupying more than one gendered space at once, ‘butch’ accurately describes me much better than the term trans.

Now: about cocks.

Specifically, about cocks with anatomically accurate balls, about realistic cocks, about flesh-colored cocks and really feeling it and claiming it as MY cock, about having a cock as someone whose body doesn’t quite have one, not in the same way that other bodies have one.

I want to disrupt this idea that cocks specifically and penetration in general is a male, masculine, or man’s trait. I mean I get it: when considering human genitalia, the man is the one with the penis, the woman is the one with the vulva. But men have holes that feel good when penetrated, too, and women have fingers and tongues and sometimes clits big enough to penetrate, and a long history of dildoes, and then of course there’s the strap on cock, for when we really want to feel what it’s like to swing from the hips.

I was at a sex blogger tea party here in New York City maybe two years ago, discussing cock-centricty, when I believe Chris of Carnal Nation said (something like): “I know I’m a guy and all, but I’m not as cock-centric as you are. When I fuck, it’s with my hands, or my mouth. I don’t identify with it the same way you do, and it’s not my central sex act.”

This seems like a rather rare perspective for cis men, especially given that our entire (American, white, dominant) sexual culture is pretty much built around penises and penetration and the male erection, etc, but I think it’s more common than we’d expect.

Likewise, I have known some femmes who have been some of the most cock-centric people I’ve ever met. They drive a mean strap-on, as they say. And I’ve known some butches and trans men who are not cock-centric at all, despite that it would seemingly align with their masculine gender to be so.

Maybe this perspective of mine is also partly as a result of coming out as queer into a lesbian community which questioned cocks constantly. I have absolutely heard girls say, “If I wanted to get fucked with a cock, I’d date a man!” (Who I, duh, didn’t sleep with. More than once.) So coming to my own desire for using a cock and my own cock-centricty, while at the same time coming to a butch identity though not transitioning to male, I claimed cocks as a certain sex act that I separated from any particular identity.

Because anything two lesbians do in bed is lesbian by nature of the definition, no matter what act it is.

Unless, you know, it’s not – I certainly don’t want to devalue the experience of being in lesbian relationships and doing a whole lot of cock-centric activities, and for one of them to later come to a male identity. Perhaps for folks who go through that, the act was not exclusively lesbian, but was also male in a way. My point is, I want to squelch the fear that lesbians can’t use cocks in their sex play because it’s “not lesbian.”

That is not to say that strapping on or identifying with a cock is genderless. It interrelates to gender identity, presentation, and celebration – but which ways it interrelates depends on the individual. For me, it absolutely plays on my gender fetish and the way I see myself as embodying a masculine gender, and I LOVE to play with that during sex (as, uh, the entire Internet knows). And femmes who strap on cocks and play with them have told me that they see cocks as part of their gender, too – that part of the turn-on awesomeness of the whole experience is that it supposedly misaligns with their gender, that their sparkly pink harness and dick is all the more sexy to them because it’s femme.

I suppose there are a few kinds of cock-centricty, right – because I’d say Kristin is fairly cock-centric, but she isn’t into wearing one and fucking with one the way I am. For the most part I’m referring to folks who want to be the wearers here, who identify with it as a part of them.

If you’re cock-centric, you’re cock-centric; I don’t think that necessarily should dictate your gender identity. Cock-centricity is not necessarily a masculine or male trait. Gender identity may be totally related, somewhat related, or not related at all – I think that just depends. For me, the interplay of gender and my cock is important, and I love the way it feels to use it, the way I feel when I’m packing, the way it feels to get off while fucking with a cock, the turn-on of dirty talking about my hard dick, the ways it drives me wild to get a blow job. It is part of my masculine sexuality, but I have many other parts of masculinity that are not necessarily sexual, and I’ve explored the line between butch and trans enough that, for now, I know I’m pretty firm where I’m at. I still struggle with some descriptors like “girl,” “woman,” and “daughter,” but the other options of “son,” “man,” and “boy,” don’t fit either. So, for now, I’m sticking with butch.

I’d love to hear what some cock-centric (or non-cock-centric) gay boys have to say about this, I’m not sure how it translates (though I have some guesses). I will have to ask around.

On Removing Trans Men from the Top Hot Butches List

So here’s the thing about the internet: the critical feedback is immediate, and publications are, unlike print, not static. Things do not have to stay the same.

I have decided to remove trans men from the list of Top Hot Butches, and I sincerely apologize to all who felt insulted by their inclusion. I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and I understand how it was hurtful, despite my intentions.

I did expect some disagreement about exactly this, but I did not expect this level of discourse, discussion, openness, and productivity in the response. Look at Feministing, and also at Sugarbutch threads here & here, and the comments on the THB site itself. I also thought I understood my own reasons for the inclusion of trans men, and that my reasoning could hold up against criticism, but in the past three days, I have felt that it does not, and that many of the critiques are right.

The past two days I’ve been uncertain how exactly I would respond to the feedback, but reading all the emails, comments, and blog posts and discussions that have been going on. The ‘click’ moment for me came Tuesday night: someone wrote in a comment, “would you include trans women on a list of femme men?” And immediately my gut said no. No, of course not. If the list included femme women, too, sure – but not if the list was only femme men. And that got my mind churning: is it actually different? How? Why do I think so? It feels different, but for, I realized, very personal reasons.

For example, I’m not inside of that community – I do have friends who are femme men and trans women, and I don’t feel as though I understand the connection (or disconnection) between those groups. Some trans women probably would include themselves on a list of femme men, but I don’t really know. But: I do know many trans men. I am part of some trans communities. Trans men have been some of the greatest influences on my own gender, masculinity, my own butchness, my personal history, and chivalry, and have been some of my best friends. Those friendships are very important to me. Beyond that, the alliance of butches and trans men feels important to me, in a community way. And of course some trans men do identify as butch.

But. I have to recognize that the trans men I know and have known were in some way aligned with queer communities – otherwise they wouldn’t have chosen me as a friend – and there are many transmen who have done a lot of extremely hard and painful work separating themselves from the butch identity. I do not want to disrespect that, or let the limitation of my personal knowledge and experience define inclusion or exclusion for others. Clearly I need to broaden my scope a bit, I will keep working on that.

The main critique of this list has been that trans men are not butches. Yes, of course, I know that, thoroughly. One of the ways I anticipated addressing this issue was that I clearly differentiated between butches and trans men in the copy of the Top Hot Butches site: I know trans men are men and not butches, but this is a list of butches and trans men, not only exclusively butches. What if I had a list of “favorite birds and cats” – no one would say “hey, you can’t include cats on that list, they aren’t birds!” But of course that is not an accurate equivalent: cats don’t spend significant time differentiating themselves from birds. I think a better equivalent is more like, “I’m making a Top Assholes List, and you’re on it. But don’t worry, I made a note and said you aren’t an asshole.” That would still be insulting to most (unless you self-identify as an asshole, I guess), and I think that is closer to the level of insult here.

This removal is NOT an attempt to separate trans men or exclude them from queer/butch space – in fact, I feared not including trans men on the list in the first place would do exactly that. I feel so strongly that trans men and butches (and other masculine-identified-people of all sorts of labels) have many similarities in the ways we move through the world, and in our contributions to and participation within queer communities. I always want my work and projects to be building those alliances, not tearing them down – which is why I wanted trans men included in the first place. But if folks are saying no, this is not a way to build an alliance with me, of course I will listen to that.

So, clearly I have a lot more thinking to do about my own limited perspective on this, and the ways that my projects can be helpful and useful to transmasculinities in general.

Meanwhile, though: I have removed 13 of the trans men from the list. I wasn’t sure how a few of the people I removed identified, so I have been double checking, and will likely put them back up when I am clear. Others, I am contacting to ask permission of their inclusion, because some of them I know do have a relationship with the word “butch” and with queer communities in general and suspect they would not mind being included.

If you have suggestions for people to include on the list, now is the time to do it! The updated list will go up ASAP, so get ‘em in to me quick.

Requirements:

  1. Butch, androgynous, genderqueer, transmasculine, stud, AG, masculine-presenting women or butch identified trans men (broadly defined)
  2. Done something public in the past year (this is the 2009 list, not the “of all time” list)
  3. Related to queer communities in some way
  4. 350px wide high-quality photograph
  5. Some level of public and recognized accomplishment(s)

I would love suggestions for more butch trans women to include; I’ve been asking, and looking around, and I did include #84 Riki Wilchins, but surely there must be more than just her. I’m just not familiar with them. It’s so hard to include people you don’t know about, you know? Impossible, in fact. And who I know is completely related to my own standpoint. It’s a huge challenge to get a range of diversity on a list like this.

Here’s the thing about gender projects: they are tricky, and it is, despite the best of intentions, easy to step in it. And the mistakes are often sites of great learning and growth, and I sincerely thank everyone who has taken the time to email me, comment, discuss this with your communities and friends, and for being open and engaging about this topic. I am sorry to have hurt feelings over this, I can’t say that enough.

That’s the thing about growth & mistakes: sometimes it’s the response that matters, even more than the messing up itself. I am doing the best I can to listen, and make changes. Thank you for all the comments, support and critiques.

Butches & Trans Guys

I know what butch is. Butches are not beginner FTMs, except that sometimes they are, but it’s not a continuum except when it is. Butch is not a trans identity unless the butch in questions says it is, in which case it is, unless the tranny in question says it isn’t, in which case it’s not. There is no such thing as butch flight, no matter what the femmes or elders say, unless saying that invalidates the opinion of femmes in a sexist fashion or the opinions of elders in an ageist fashion. Or if they’re right. But they are not, because butch and transgender are the same thing with different names, except that butch is not a trans identity, unless it is; see above.

– S. Bear Bergman, from “I Know What Butch Is,” the first chapter from hir book Butch Is A Noun.

Pumping: How to Grow a Dick

I wrote about clit pumping in February 2008, and since then, I’ve researched pumping a bit more.

Pumping is most well-known, probably, for endless spam emails: Make her feel your Wang! Make Your Meat-Stick Massive! Give Her Real Lovefest! Turns out, the more you engorge your cis-cock with blood, the bigger it becomes. Similar to working a muscle, I suppose – this is the way you work that particular muscle.

And about two years ago now I heard from a friend that clit pumping was all the rage at a particular trans conference they had attended. Reeeeeally, I asked. How does that work?

Apparently, quite well. Some guys grow inches on their clits from pumping. I did a bit of research (i.e.: googled it, and tried to avoid the nasty sites), which is how I stumbled across a clit pump that I reviewed a year ago, and then a great sex toy store asked me to review multiple pumping products and compare them together.

I feel a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Pumps, trying these out – which one will be just right?

The Clit Pump:

This is the same clit pump I reviewed before – I didn’t realize until it arrived that they were the same. It comes highly recommended, though, now, from multiple sources, so if you’re looking for a clit pump, this is probably a good one.

It was interesting enough that I sought out more information on pumping, but ultimately I wanted more suction and pressure than this little thing could offer.

I’m still not really sure what the appeal of a clit pump is for gals who aren’t looking to enlarge their clits – or, why you would want to enlarge it, I guess. Is it simply an extension of the penis pump? Someone just assumed a woman might want a bigger clit? Bigger = better, etc?

Generally, this pump is weak in pressure, and not deep enough in the cup. The plusi s that it is actually made for my anatomy and thus fits easily over a clit, unlike the penis pumps, whose openings are 2″ wide. On to those next.

penispumpThe Large Pump:

More pressure, more depth in the shaft of the device – depth indeed! Like 12″ of depth! Maybe a bit overkill, I certainly don’t need more than two inches max. The opening is big, too – 2″ around, with a plastic sheath inside – and kind of a challenge to find the seal on the suction. In fact, I often felt like I was pumping my labia as well as my clit, because it’s hard to get a seal just around my clit without getting the labia in there too.

It’s a bit unweildly, feels awkward to have this huuuuge long thing protruding from my clit, so it was kind of uncomfortable. After I got the hang of the suction, it got easier to actually pump: I squeeze the little bulby thing to the point of pressure (not pain) and hold for a few minutes (five, not twenty). The squeeze-pump style is alright, but sometimes felt like it was letting out air rather than making the seal tighter.

So, this one is better with suction … but uselessly too long for a clit, and awkward.

penisheadThe Penis Head Pump:

Aha! Maybe this will solve it – still has the pressure of a “real” penis pump, but it’s smaller, not quite as GIANT and awkward. Let’s see.

Suction: still difficult. This one has a bit of plastic built around the edge of the opening to make sure the seal happens, but that’s, again, only useful if you’ve actually got something to stick inside of the pump itself, which I don’t. Once I get the hang of it, once I get the placement right one time, I can usually get it again and it gets easier. But I’m still pumping my labia (not what I want – at times, that’s painful for my labia piercing) in order to get a seal, and I’m not crazy about that.

Pumping action: This has a squeeze-trigger type of pumping action instead of a squeeze-bulb, which I like better. Easier to add precisely the amount of pressure that I’m aiming for, the bulb feels like it lets some of it out sometimes.

Size: Fine … better than the huge one, easier to wield, but still feels like it wasn’t made for my anatomy. Because, uh, it wasn’t.

In conclusion … Oh yeah – there’s an important question I missed here: does this work? YES. My clit is definitely bigger than it used to be, not so much when unaroused, but it definitely gets larger than it used to when aroused. And this is, well, fun.

The Penis Head Pump is the one that I would keep using, were I to keep using a pump. But, I might not continue pumping very often. After a few months of trying out all three of these in various capacities, I’ve noticed that my clit, though noticably bigger, is also, I think, decreased in sensitivity. I’m having a harder time coming now than I ever remember coming in my life. I’m not sure why, but it could be related. So I’m going to back off for a while (of pumping and of my hitachi, sigh) and see if that helps me get off easier.

Have you tried pumping? What was it like for you? Are you interested in doing so? Leave your two cents in the comments.

On Butch Breasts, Binders, & Bras

I’ve returned to earth – mostly – from the altered state of consciousness of the Power, Surrender, & Intimacy workshop by Body Electric that happened here in New York City over the weekend. I have so very much to say about it, but that’ll have to wait for now, I need more time.

What I do want to write about is breasts. Specifically, mine – more generally, butch breasts.

Last week, I went for one day without my binder, which is really just a tight sports bra that clasps in the back rather than being a solid over-the-head slip-on. I wanted it laundered for the workshop, since I’ve been wearing it practically every day since I bought it.

I wore a backup bra that day, and all day long I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror, in storefront reflections, in my button-down work clothes, or when I looked down. I remembered how I used to hate the uniboob problem, which many of my friends and lovers deemed unsexy or mannish, and it’s not that I like the uniboob look particularly, but as my gender has changed and grown and dropped into itself, the uniboob doesn’t look like a uniboob anymore: it looks like a chest.

It is not that I want to do away with my breasts. Don’t misunderstand me here: I think breasts are butch, just as I think the menstrual cycle is butch and pregnancy is butch and cunnilingus is butch – everything the female body does can be butch, because butch (in my use of the word*) has to do with masculinity on a female body.

And because I believe that the things a female body does are butch, and because my gender philosophies are deeply rooted in love and acceptance of my body as it is and in not classifying human experiences as owned by one gender or another, I have been holding back my desire to delve farther into my own masculinity. I’m afraid of it. I’m afraid it means I’ll be leaving my roots in female-ness behind, I’m afraid of being seen as reproducing the heteronormative paradigm or embodying penis envy. I’m afraid of being rejected by feminist and lesbian communities for being too masculine, for becoming the ‘enemy,’ for rejecting femininity instead of reclaiming it.

Breasts are a big piece of this fear for me. Mine are not so small – part of why I rarely pass: a 36DD, and have been since middle school. I’ve said since I was a teenager that a breast reduction is the only surgery I would consider. I read about Jess’s surgery – or others’ surgeries and body alterations – and I’m jealous.

But I’m afraid of what it means to want that alteration, to want to physically change my body to better fit a gendered idea.

After that day last week of wearing a regular bra, I started wondering: why do I even have this in my closet anymore? Why do I own this? My exploration of my own masculine/butch/boy/male embodiment is young – I’ve been calling myself butch since 2001, but only in the last three years have I really embraced it and actively, consciously developed it. And now, the farther I get into my explorations of gender, the farther I want to go.

It takes time to cycle through a wardrobe, and I don’t quite have the disposable income to go purchase all new bras – but I certainly won’t be buying any regular ones anytime soon. I’ve gone through this with my underwear already, years ago now, have cycled through all the old girl undies and haven’t owned any of those in years, only have boxers and briefs now. But that feels less obvious than binders and sports bras – no one can tell I wear only briefs except my lovers, I guess, but everyone can tell I bind my chest.

And see, what’s what it is now: my chest. Very different than boobs, breasts, tits. I have those, sure, but they’re underneath, they’re the other layer, the inner ring, something that now gets protected and covered, not out of shame or denial but simply out of layering, complexities, performance, a rich inner life, a duality, a whole person – me.

* Some say men can be butch, that “butch” is a term for a queer masculinity, or a non-traditional, progressive masculinity. I’m not certain I agree, but we definitely lack language to discuss different types of masculinity, and I have definitely observed some men who have a sense of butch energy.

pumping: my homegrown dick

clitpump

One of the first things I thought, really, was, why the fuck does it have glitter and little hearts all over it? Doesn’t that seems a little ridiculous? Maybe it’s because generally I don’t buy vibrators (I have a few, ranging from a tiny Pocket Rocket to the grandmother of all vibrators, the Magic Wand, and honestly I don’t have any desire to add more to my arsenal of sex toys. Cocks, on the other hand … ) so I am unused to the stereotypical femininity of flowers and hearts.

Well, for that matter, why is this clit pump a vibrator?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Shasta at Stiletto Diaries also has a review of this Vibrating Clitoral Pump, and her review was fairly negative – only one O out of a possible five. I suppose really it depends on what you’re looking to this clit pump for – if you want it as a sex toy, to aid in masturbation, it seems like there are quite a few superior things out there, I’m not sure why you’d want this. The vibration is semi-powerful, but the ring is made to go around your clit – maybe some people like that, but I tend to like things actually touching mine. When I’m getting off, that is.

But clit pumping … this little device has a particular purpose: to enhance bloodflow, and, ultimately, elongate the ligaments, in and surrounding your clit, making it – you guessed it – bigger.

When I went to Seattle in December, I came back in a mini-masculinity-crisis, perhaps you remember? One of the things that happened while I was there was that I got the updates from the trans conference Gender Odyssey that some of my friends had attended, and at which one had run a great workshop. Apparently the big buzz around the conference this year was pumping for trans men – enhancing your dick (i.e., clit on T, not necessarily a constructed penis) with pumping, which purportedly works, and could add an inch or two. Since then I’ve been vaguely curious about trying out one of those clitoral pumps (which I assumed would work better, for me at least, than an actual penis pump).

So I jumped at the chance to get this one.

Shasta is right, the suction is not all that powerful. In fact, a few times I wasn’t even sure it had created a suction – it’s a little hard to tell with the labia and such. (My friend & fluffer femme spy (you really need a tag of your own, considering how often I mention you, don’t you?) swears by the snake-bite kit, note to self, go get one.) I Googled clitoral pumping for trans guys – because, well, what else do you do when you want to know something? You go to the almighty Google gods – and I found an article from ’98 on pumping – Trans Sexuality: Gonna Pump You Up – that had a few interesting things:

About what will happen when you use it:

Growth will depend on how consistent you use the pump, what you had to start with, and genetics don’t hurt any either. I polled the mailing lists on the internet and received only one response, so there are basically no figures available as to what you can reasonably expect. I know that I gained a 1/2″ in diameter and near approximately 3/4″ in length before becoming rather lazy about pumping. These changes have been permanent and in my eyes worth the $80.00 that I spent.

Seems like they aren’t in the $80 range anymore, though I don’t know much about penis pumps, I’m mostly looking at clitoral pumps – they seem to be in the $20-30 range. I wonder if there’s better information about pumping now – I should ask my friend who was at the trans conference I guess. Doesn’t seem like there’s much online, that I could find.

The author goes through how to make a pump, how to buy a premade one, and finally, how to use one:

It is best to be sexually aroused before beginning to pump. You want blood flowing into the erectile tissue so as to enable you to form a seal. Place the cylinder on your erectile tissue. Once the cylinder is in place pump slowly and gradually until you feel pressure. If you feel pain, back off. An intense pinching sensation means that you either need to resituate the cylinder or it’s time to move up in size. If there is no pain, leave the cylinder on for so long as it feels comfortable, but do not exceed 5-10 minutes. You can expect to feel pressure or perhaps a very slight pinching sensation on the underside of your member. Release the pressure then rest for 5-10. Repeat once. As you get familiar with the device and the reaction of your body, you can work up to a second repetition … Go slow and easy. Soreness is an indication that you need to take a break for a day or so. It is imperative that you listen to your body. When you are done pumping . . . well, I don’t need to tell you how to scratch that itch.

(Quotes reprinted without permission.) Worth a try, or a few tries, I think.

After the first time, I can tell you: 1. it was definitely arousing, and I needed to beat off afterward; 2. I couldn’t tell how well the suction was working, and I wanted it to be stronger, but – 3. I’m a little sore afterward, in a way I am usually not after jacking off. I would assume this has to do with the pumping. Maybe it works after all! I’ll try to do this just about every day for a while and see if it makes a difference.

Trans vs Butch Identity

Excerpt from a letter I just wrote to one of my best friends in Seattle, after some conversations we had about butch & trans identities. I’m having a small (miniscule, tiny) gender crisis, and my week in Seattle opened up some very interesting ideas for me. I’ll be writing about it slowly here, as things get clearer.

I’ve been turning that conversation about butches & trans guys over in my head, especially the question of, what’s the difference between us? I guess I find it easy to understand that there are very few differences between you & me, specifically, because of the ways we get along & get each other, but when it comes to the broader categories of butches vs trans guys, I feel like there must be something different about those identities. I’d never given it that much thought, but it seems like I had always assumed that trans had more to do with this disconnection from the female body – but I guess it’s moreso a disconnection from the “female experience”? Butches have that too, I suppose, but perhaps in a different way.

So what the heck is the difference, then?

I feel like steps 1-10 of “how I became butch” are match steps 1-10 for “how I became trans” when I’ve compared the identity development process between myself and my trans guy friends, but then that crutial step 11 for them is “and then I’m trans,” and mine is, “and then I’m butch.”

So what is the difference? Why the different conclusions to the same process?

Also, when you asked me if I’d ever considered transitioning … man, I’ve been tripping on that for a week now. Honestly, I’ve almost never considered it. I feel like it’s just something I “knew” about myself – “oh, transitioning, that’s cool, but that’s not me” – without really questioning it or thinking too deeply about it.

It’s only in the past year or so that I’ve considered my own genderqueerness to be a sort of trans identity, this masculinity on a female body, and the ways I’m claiming it anew have made it feel like a deliberate crossing of boundaries and gender lines, which I really like. Funny, ’cause I feel like I’ve been writing about this for a long time, but am still just now really figuring it out and owning it.

Four of my closest friends and very favorite people ever in Seattle – you included – are masculine-identified in some form, ranging from boi to butch to trans, which is interesting because I’m really surrounded by femmes in New York City. I gotta make some more butch/FTM friends here.

Point being, I went away from my visit to Seattle with my brain just spinning with identities and masculinity, and I’ve been in a bit of a mini-teeny gender crisis since.

That sounds dramatic.

What I’m thinking about is bodies, and how much the body you have affects the way you move through the world, access, privilege, how people respond and treat you, all of that. It’s amazing how much we know about the ways our bodies work now, we can basically have the body we want, if we want to be blonde & blue eyed, we can do it, if we want to be a size 0, we can do it – I mean it takes a hellofa lot of work (or surgery), but it’s possible.

And gender, of course, we can change the way we present entirely. Given how much happens on and to the body, I think we should consciously choose the body we want to have, and work toward it, in whatever way is best for us.

But then … what is the body that I want? I have in the past noticed how some of my (masculine-identitified, female bodied, though not necessarily self-identifying as) butch friends covet male bodies, the little “bubble boy butt” for example, and I just never noticed male bodies with any sort of interest really, I guess I’ve always been pretty female-focused. I remember thinking, when these friends have said those things, “huh, interesting, I’ve never noticed that, I’ve never thought of guy’s pecs or biceps or thighs or butt” and wondering what that meant, for my own gender. I guess now I think it means that I’ve just never given it that much thought.

but now that I’m actively thinking about it, I think I would like some more masculine characteristics to my body. Which freaks me out and totally excites me at the same time.

remembering those lost

Today is the Trans Day of Remembrance in honor of the genderqueer and trans lives lost to hate crimes.

From the official website: “The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.”

Read Quench Zine’s post on the trans day of remembrance. (Thanks to Feministing for the link.)

Read S. Bear Bergman’s poem

Questioning Transphobia has a great collection of links and snippets as well. Read ’em.

Check out the Transgender Law Center, including this awesome booklet on Beyond the Binary: A Toolkit for Gender Identity Activism in Schools. Forward it to the teachers in your life.

It’s only very recently that I’ve been seeing my own butchness as a form of trans-gender, within the past year.

These are some of the things that have happened to me within the last month or so, based on my gender appearance:

  • My uncle’s young grandson called me male pronouns all night during a dinner party with family

  • A little kid asked, “Mommy, is that a boy or a girl?” behind me in line at the grocery store

  • A man yelled “fag!” at me on the street (I was puzzled. I wasn’t sure he meant me. I said, “I think the word you’re looking for is dyke.” Perhaps in retrospect I should’ve said, “you wish you could suck my cock.”) This was perhaps six weeks ago …

  • A woman or girl in a public bathroom came in, did a double take of me at the mirror, or sink, or coming out of the stall, or drying my hands, and said, “Am I in the right bathroom?” or “Is this the ladies’ room?” or “Is this … are you … am I …” or something equally awkward. This happens rather often

Generally, I get ignored on the streets of New York City, definitely in Midtown where I make my days, I tend to blend in, tend to have the general office uniform on and get scanned over, and even in the slightly off-the-beaten-path neighborhood where I have an apartment (though only for another few weeks) I don’t get harrassed or even noticed, much. But I recognize the rarity of that, and how lucky I am to generally feel safe in my body and gender expression. Not everyone like me is so lucky. And many others like me have been harassed, beaten, bullied, raped, and murdered for their own expression.

Makes me extraordinarily grateful for my wild and precious life.

PS: “Remembrance” is such a beautiful word.

further workshop revelations

I brought my butchness to this workshop in a way I never have before. On Saturday, I wore a button-down and tie in the morning. It has never even occured to me in the past to wear a tie (in fact, in one of the workshops, five years ago now, I felt inspired to bring my only pair of high-heel shoes for one of the rituals, although I never wore them) but this time it did, and it was lovely. I got a few compliments and I felt like myself, not like dressing up.The thing is, this workshop is very goddess-yoni-vulva-womyn. In a wonderful way, really; the rituals and energy ground me in my body, often purge some major things I’ve been holding onto. Hard to describe. But it has meant that it’s hard to bring the butch/masculine energy into that space for me sometimes, because it doesn’t exactly fit in. It stands out, sometimes dramatically. I also think it might put off some of the participants who are very suspicious of masculine energy, and who need the circle to be an especially safe space, which, for many women, means completely free of that masculine energy.

There were a few differences in recent years – I am different, of course, my butch identity has grown and solidified over the past year in a very new way. Also, the instructor is genderqueer – she even referred to herself as trans-gender, at some point, not in a ‘transitioning from one to the other’ kind of way but in a ‘occupying both, transferring between genders’ kind of way. She made me feel particularly empowered to bring the butchness.

What is also interesting about that is the ways that some attendees seem suspicious of me – likely because of my butchness – but by the end of the weekend treat me a little differently, since they’ve seen me warm & open.

I packed on Sunday. I’d brought my (pink bendy) cock & harness for the altar, but during a morning meditation I had some revelations about the ways that I identify with my genitals outside my body, and the ways that that means for me that I have worked really hard to take a good look at what’s going on for me “down there,” my history and relationship and connectiont to my cunt. It’s also about how cock-centric I – and my sex life – currently is, and after that revelation, I really wanted it on. I took it from the altar during lunch and didn’t take it off the rest of the day, wore it under boxers.

It wasn’t obvious, I don’t think – the few people I revealed it to were surprised – and I felt a little embarrassed or even guilty about wanting to wear it. As though I should be complete without it. As though I shouldn’t want and need this extra thing that is me but isn’t me, that is more me than anything else but is not a part of me, that comes to life when I am and it is touched, but has no nerve endings, no real sensation. Wanting it so badly is also a recognition of that which I do not have, of my defiency, and when my cock is acknowledged as me and touched as part of me, I am seen as whole, and I am recognized as having that cock, in all its reality – as a separate-but-connected extraneous and integral piece of me.

If I summed up this workshop in two words, they would be cock and heart.

Aside from the revelations on butchness and my cock-identification, I was consistently reminded of how closed down my heart is (was?). One of my intentions for the workshop was to connect my cunt and my head, which are working quite well, really, via my heart, which is not working so well.

My heart feels like a nest of needles. Tied tight with thick scratchy ropes like a boat moored. (What is tied to it? Can I let that drift out to sea?) Tethered like a hot-air balloon held to earth when it’s impulse is to float and lift.

Another intention was the small mantra, “I already have my wings,” which spoke to not only the ways that I needed to remind myself to open my chest, open my chest, open my chest, but also the idea that I am already complete, that I don’t have to look outside myself (Callie) for answers and validation.

My heart is not healed yet. That’s okay. I kept making the gesture when talking about the workshop of my hands over my chest, peeling back my ribcage – and that feels lovely, vulnerable, tender. I’m sore, yes – but keeping my heart wrapped up tight like this is a bit suffocating, and just makes the soreness worse.

There’s more, there’s so much more about this workshop. But this is a start.

Butch & Trans In Conversation: Interview with Cody

When I went on that gender tirade back in August, Cody & I talked a bit about the butch/femme identities, and I was really curious about the ways that my arguments translated into arguments for why trans identities are subversive genders as well. He was graceous enough to agree to be interviewed about his gender opinions. Here’s the transcript.

Sinclair: I’m looking over the transcript of the chat we had a few weeks ago about butch/trans identity…

Cody: Okay. Are we beginning the interview? Should I put on my game face? Not that gender is a game or a construct. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that Id joke about something so serious.

Sinclair: That’s a great place to start. If gender is not a game or a construct, or a “role,” what is it?

Cody: Well, Actually, I was kidding. I think it’s all of those things, and none of them really. Gender is whatever you make of it. I also think (and I’m going to get a little woo woo here so bare with me) that gender is also this internal thing something you feel, some, internal energy that informs you about yourself. This is obviously informed by outside forces etc. But not completely. Does that make sense?

Sinclair: That absolutely makes sense. I’ve been writing a lot on Sugarbutch about the ways that butch/femme are not reproductions of some sort of heteronormativity, and I came up with a couple of major arguments about why those genders, though appearing to be hetero, are actually subversive of the whole sex/gender binary, and compulsory gender as a whole. And while I was writing this stuff out I kept thinking, you know, I bet these same arguments apply to the trans identity as well. It’s frustrating – I still hear so much transphobia kicked around in the queer/dyke communities.

Cody: Yeah, there’s a lot of that. But watch out, we all THINK about kicking back now and again.

Sinclair: Oh yes. I kick back, that’s for damn sure. So my question is, how do you think those arguments translate? More specifically, how is the trans identity subversive? Because it appears to be a heteronormative reproduction, especially (obviously) when the trans man is straight, or dating femmes or straight girls.

Cody: Well, the simple answer is that simply by the nature of my physical body [my trans identity] is subversive. And when I am dating femmes, the identity is subversive for a lot of reasons, but if we want to get down to bones here, I’d say the ways in which we have sex are subversive. Also, here’s something I realized the other day that made me laugh: I can never ever have straight by the book hetero-sex. It is physically impossible for me to do so. If that doesn’t make me fucking goddamn subversive I don’t know what does!

Sinclair: I love it! Hell yeah!

Cody: To get back to the question: what I mean about the nature of my physical body, is actually something I’ve been having a weirdly large amount of dialogue with folks about lately. This discussion of my junk (and by junk I mean my genitals) because that’s really what it comes down to in most discussions about trans shit: “What have you got between your legs?” Which has, frankly been making me very angry lately. Because, hell, I’m not a shy dude, but when people (even people in my queer community) are asking me about my dick (or my cunt) I feel kind of well, a little put out. But then again, this is how we end up understanding each other. By our genitals and how we use them to fuck, and how all of this informs who we are presenting to the world (meaning our gender).

Sinclair: Interesting – so that equation is, genitals plus fucking equals gender presentation. That seems accurate, although I would say that’s not everything that goes into gender.

Cody: No, of course not. But for the purposes of this particular vein, yes.

Sinclair: Would you tell me more about what you said about the nature of your physical body? I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that yet. By the nature of a trans body? Born into one sex, but altering it physically?

Cody: Yes. I mean, the fact that I’ve altered or am merely presenting my body in a different way from which I was told upon birth it was, makes the mere nature of it subversive. I mean, it’s a small part. But it’s an argument I like to use, because it’s easy to understand, and If people make you feel uncomfortable (which you totally aren’t, just an example) it’s a good shut down.

Sinclair: Ah I see. And it’s subversive because our sex/gender binary paradigm says that your body informs your nature? Or – your biology informs your self, perhaps is a better way to put it? I don’t want to put words in your mouth here.

Cody: Exactly! No you’ve got it. The binary says that my body should inform everything, right? So if I change my body, I’m fucking with the entire paradigm!

Sinclair: I like that. I know what you mean, I feel that way about the butch identity, too. And that’s one piece of that “butch/femme are not reproductions” argument, definitely. That it fucks with the sex/gender paradigm, by its very nature.

Cody: Definitely. The fact that it is NOT what it seems on the surface makes it so subversive.

Sinclair: Are there places that you feel the trans identity does become reproductive, perhaps sometimes in a negative way?

Cody: There are all kinds of ways that the transmale identity can become negatively heteronormative.

Sinclair: You mentioned before that you have noticed trans men rejecting the butch identity when they transition, perhaps because butch never fit them, and yet that’s something that you have held onto.

Cody: Yes! [I did not] reject the butch identity in favor of my trans identity. It’s more about embracing it because it INFORMS my trans identity. I figured about butch stuff (re: myself) around a similar time in my life that I was discovering trans stuff.

Sinclair: The identities seem closely aligned – or can be. Some of my best trans guy friends have explored so much about butchness with me.

Cody: Its funny, my best friend and I would sit down, and he would tell me about butch stuff, and it was SO HARD for me to understand it (because I was scared I think) and I would explain Trans-ness to him and he would balk. Now, well, now we are both butch trans men.

Sinclair: What changed? Was there a moment when butchness “clicked” with you?

Cody: Well, I think we were both scared, of all of it, of identity politics. Of talking about all of this. I don’t even think we knew at the time, that what we were talking about was so huge. We were just trying to work things out with ourselves and the people we cared about. God, saying that makes me feel like it used to be so much easier before we had to worry about a whole community, too! I mean, it wasn’t suddenly I passed the butch test with myself, but over a period of time, things started happening that helped me to nurture that part of myself, and understand that’s what I was doing. The other thing [that happened was] that I started meeting femmes. Something that I had never really experienced before. Where I grew up there was an incredibly small pool of queers.

Sinclair: How did that start altering your identity?

Cody: While now my butch identity is strong enough to stand alone, in the beginning [of its development], in order to build yourself up, let’s be honest, we need femmes. Let’s be really honest and say, butches need femmes all of the time. [What changed was that] I stopped feeling so ashamed of the ways in which I was masculine, and the ways I wasn’t. I worked out how to feel less shame about being a butch, and about being a man. The man part took way longer.

Sinclair: What was different about the man part & the butch part?

Cody: The butch part I think was easier, because honestly I had more support from those around me about it. The man part, well, I got a lot of shit about. The man part made me into a patriarch. Dykes, butch dykes, femme dykes, lesbians, straight feminists… In the small community I was working shit out in, the backlash was INCREDIBLE. I didn’t call myself a ‘man’ until I had been out as trans for years, partly because of that. I identified almost exclusively as a Butch-Trans-Boy

Sinclair: That [backlash] is so sad. We need to be allies!

Cody: It is [sad]! I had this idea, that if I didn’t align myself with the identity of being a man, I didn’t have to take responsibility for any misogyny.

Sinclair: Yes! I think that’s the same reason it took me so long to come to a butch identity, because I was picking and choosing very carefully what traits of masculinity I wanted to adopt, and I was scared as hell about betraying my feminist politics and enlightenment.

Cody: Funny, when you are trans, when your gender is male, no matter your history, you’ve got to ‘step up to the plate’ about it. It was like, white guilt. Plus, being a boy is all about fun and flirting and whatever. It’s easy!

Sinclair: That’s a huge concept. So, dare I ask? How does one do that? Step up to the plate about it?

Cody: Take fucking responsibility for yourself! Stop forgetting about your feminism because you have passing privilege. I think it’s almost more subversive to be butch, or to be a man, and be a feminist, if you are stepping up to it.

Sinclair: I like that. Is this why we have a serious lack of butches (and/or trans feminists) but we have this new fad of “boi” and “bro”? So many dykes I meet who I would perhaps label as butch tell me they don’t identify as such, but sometimes do identify as boi.

Cody: I think so. I think that’s a big fucking part of it. It’s fear. It’s [seen as] not hot to be a butch, or a man. Because you have to work for it.

Sinclair: It amazed me how much I felt socially policed while I was still coming to this butch identity. All those comments from other butches about toughness, competition, objectifying women. I still get those comments – they just don’t effect me as they used to. One comment would throw me for a loop for days.

Cody: Every time someone put down my butchness, or my male-ness, I regressed like YEARS in my discovery and comfortability with it.

Sinclair: [Masculine identities are] so sensitive! I wonder if this is also what teenage boys go through, all that fag/pussy-bashing stuff.

Cody: Homophobia: the deconstruction of masculinity. Homophobia is all about the construction of masculinity. It’s more about gender than sexuality – sexuality is a part of it, but its more about gender. It’s all about ‘othering’

Sinclair: And [it’s about] misogyny. I would say that’s perhaps because masculinity has historically been defined as not-woman, not-female, not-feminine, and as the gender revolution opens up more and more places for women to occupy, and expands the definition of feminity, that the space that masculinity can occupy becomes smaller and smaller.

Cody: Instead of cutting out any way that it’s okay to be masculine, why can’t we just look at better ways to be masculine?

Sinclair: Which is why I still think we need a masculine-gender revolution. It’s brewing, I think, and trans guys are at the forefront.

Cody: I think you are so right! But we aren’t alone, I think butches are up there on the line with transdudes about this masculine gender revolution. I think we have to hold each other up. This may all sound very idealistic, and utopian, but you’ve got to dream right?

Sinclair: Absolutely. This is what I aim for, even if I feel that it’s going to be a hard bumpy road to get there.

Cody: Oh, man, is it EVER.

Sinclair: So how do we encourage the butches & trans men to be aligned? For some reason, we are often so threatened of each other.

Cody: I think by doing what you and I are doing right now: by fucking talking to each other. By realizing that we’ve got a lot in common, even if it’s scary. By being okay with the fact that this doesn’t mean either one of us is presenting ourselves wrongly. Trans men aren’t ‘abandoning’ the community, and butch women aren’t too scared to ‘man up.’

Sinclair: Well said – that neither of us are presenting ourselves wrongly. That’s a big part of the intimidation factor, isn’t it? That these identities are so fragile, so hard to grow and to maintain, but then when we see someone with something so close to us but very different it becomes a worry that somewhere I’ve made a mistake.

Cody: Exactly. Also, we’ve got to keep in mind, that for some trans men, the ‘trans’ part of our identity fades once we have passing privilege and we’ve all got to respect that. I think that the queer community has a serious peter pan complex going on. Butch ‘bois’ and tranny ‘bois.’

Sinclair: So, you’re talking about respect a seeming rejection of queerness?

Cody: To be honest, there isn’t a cut and dry answer to it (which I think you know and is why its so hard). Every single trans man is different. Sometimes, it IS about rejecting queerness.

Sinclair: Of course. I definitely agree with you about the Peter Pan complex – especially when it comes to the butch/male/boi/tranny boy identities. It’s safer to stay young, perhaps? Not as much examination of identity is required?

Cody: Exactly, and its CUTE, right?! It’s so cute to never grow up.

Sinclair: It’s safer, too. And cute means not threatening. Because when women move into a masculine identity, they are moving UP in the hierarchy, which is threatening.

Cody: Uh huh. Not threatening means no need to examine masculinity means no responsibility. “Oh! Isn’t it cute that that little butch boi just called his partner a bitch?” Gross.

Sinclair: That’s an aspect of masculinity that I don’t want to take on, that I have worked SO HARD to reject. This is why we need a masculine manifesto and revolution!

Cody: You are very right! Also, the word revolution gives me such a hard-on for change!

Sinclair: Oh, that is seriously hot.

Cody: Of course! T-shirts anyone? Also, I really appreciate you even asking these questions about how to not hate on the trans. :)

Sinclair: Thanks! And likewise I really appreciate you answering my questions! I suppose the last thing I want to ask you is something I hesitate to bring up, which is that idea about trans-ness as a fad. it is definitely becoming more prevalent, and it does make me sad to loose the butches, and I am concerned about it as a ‘trend’.

Cody: Mm…Okay. Well, I want to tell you first that I’m glad you brought it up. It’s a hard question to answer/dialogue about.

Sinclair: It is hard to talk about. ‘Cause, you know, I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s identity. But it definitely comes up in conversation; at least, it does with the dykes. Not so much when I’m talking to trans guys.

Cody: Because I think this is why butches and transmen have a lot of disconnect sometimes, this issue puts us all on the defensive.

Sinclair: But at the same time, I know people who have transitioned and then transitioned BACK, I know people who have ALMOST transitioned and then at the last minute decided not to. It makes me nervous that younger and younger kids are doing this seemingly on a whim.

Cody: Here’s the thing. I think that in some ways it is becoming a fad. Just like when all the girls in high school I knew were bi. Yes, I’m comparing the two. This is VERY controversial of me to say and if a lot of dudes read this they might vote me off the island. But sometimes I feel like my personal struggle is getting fucked with and devalued because dudes are making this whole trans thing into a big goddamn joke. Like its something fun. Here’s the secret: Being trans ain’t fun most of the time. It’s not fun to realize that you feel fucking uncomfortable in your skin, or uncomfortable with the way your gender is in the world. It SUCKS. It ain’t fun to get your shit cut open and cut out and stick yourself with a needles every two weeks for the rest of your life. But, young (and by young I mean, new to transition) dudes are making it all into this GAME. It makes me very …well, it makes me very angry. My fucking life and experience isn’t a game, and it ain’t fun. It wasn’t EASY for me to, figure shit out, to be alone, to find a doctor who would give me T, to pay for surgery, etc. Also, I think its GREAT when people fuck with gender for themselves, when they work out how they feel most comfortable, I think that’s AWESOME ‘cause that’s what I did, am doing. But don’t make me feel like shit ‘cause my struggle doesn’t align with your PARTY.

Sinclair: So what is that other part for you – you don’t align with the party?

Cody: I just got so hot under the collar. Okay, I guess what I’m saying is, when people turn all of this gender business into a big game, it’s a way in which they aren’t willing to examine their privilege. Because that’s hard, right? My struggle don’t play. My life is hard, and I’m down for it. I’m down to work on it.

Sinclair: Ah, so it’s about privilege and examination? That makes sense. That’s exactly the places where gender is the most frustrating for me, skating by on some sort of butch/masculine privilege without even realizing that’s what it is, no examination, no understanding of what you’ve taken on.

Cody: It’s like walking around with a bandana tied over your eyes, and putting your nasty little fingers everywhere.

Sinclair: I don’t know, maybe for some people this identity comes more “naturally”? I just feel like I really really had to WORK at mine.

Cody: I mean, its all ‘natural’ in a way, cause it ends up making sense and feeling like you are at home when you work it out. It takes a much stronger person to realize something about their identity, feel comfy in it, finally! After all of this time! And then KEEP working on it, to keep improving upon what is there and makes you feel good.

Sinclair: Yeah, it really does take constant work, I definitely agree. Everything can be refined, everything is a process, all that. And gender is so complicated! We live within this huge gender system, and it is the source of major agony/pain for pretty much everyone involved, in my opinion. Those places where gender is liberational, and subversive, and fabulous, they are worth navigating the fucked up system for. But man that takes a lot of work.

Cody: Very, very true! All of it. Why can’t we take the shit we need to work on, plop it right down into a comfy space, get out the glue sticks and go at it?

Sinclair: Glue sticks! I love it. I guess first we have to MAKE a comfy space, for everybody involved, right? A forum in which to discuss these things, for as many people as possible. Which is definitely one of the goals of Sugarbutch — to bring this stuff TO LIGHT so that people feel more comfortable exploring, sharing, and articulating to begin with.

Cody: Which is hard, cause we are an exclusive goddamned bunch, aren’t we? Our communities are so INTENTIONAL, that I’m not willing to compromise. But, if we keep creating dialogue and space for those we WANT to work on this with, it will bow out. Get bigger. We are talking grass roots here. But that’s where I operate best. With my hard-knuckled fists working the wood of the problem. Yo! That’s why we butch! That’s why femmes are femme! Because we WORK.

Sinclair: It’s that old quote from Airen Lydick: “Femme is knowing what you’re doing.” As in, being aware and conscious of the identity you are developing and presenting and taking on. And maybe that comes back to other gender questions I have, too, about how to view these roles as celebratory rather than confining, as liberational rather than limiting — by creating dialogue and space to explore all aspects of these complicated identities.

Any closing thoughts?

Cody: Just that this is the beginning of the conversation. Include my email address ([email protected]) and my blog address (codycoquet.blogspot.com), and encourage people to write if they want to discuss/ask anything of me.

Sinclair: Thank you, so much, for the conversation.