Posts Tagged ‘trans’
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Butch, androgynous, genderqueer, transmasculine, stud, AG, masculine-presenting women or butch identified trans men (broadly defined)
- Done something public in the past year (this is the 2009 list, not the “of all time” list)
- Related to queer communities in some way
- 350px wide high-quality photograph
- 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.
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 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?Read More
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.
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.