What My Vagina Taught Me About Being A Man
Some men have vaginas.
This has become a mantra for me and is of *peak* utility when occupying binary gendered spaces like public restrooms, locker rooms, and the occasional visit to the OBGYN.
The first year into my medical transition, when I began navigating spaces designated for “Men,” the cis-normativity of it all left me feeling energetically and emotionally castrated. In most public spaces, especially non-LGBTQ designated ones, I passed as a cis-male. The combination of hormone replacement therapy (through weekly intramuscular Testosterone injections) and a double mastectomy, commonly known as “top surgery,” had transformed my gender presentation to a notably masculinized one. But the heaviness left over from decades of feeling insufficient in a “female” expression, and incongruent to a “male” one, can stubbornly and internally cling to us.
In bathroom stalls, I often found myself in a stressful squatted position—and not just because I was perfecting my Utkatasana while pooping… though I’m down for that productive-sounding combination (I’m a slut for wellness tbh)! Rather, I was overcome with a tense mixture of relief and anxiety, enjoying the pleasures and affirmation of emptying my bladder in the Men’s Restroom, and terrified that the direction of my feet on the floor, and specificities of how my stream of urine “sounded” when hitting the bowl, would all amplify my willful and intentional deception towards my fellow men.
The question of deception proved to be a powerful framework that, coupled with years of therapy and the support of my loving families, I’ve been able to positively reorient as a circular mind-body-spiritual dialogue: I live in a society that has deceived itself into thinking that moving through the world as a man means—and is dependent on—being phallic-ly endowed and too often, guided by toxic, big dick energy. But reminding myself that #notallmen have cis-dicks, and some men have vaginas with big clit energy, meant leaning away from self-deception and instead, leaning into a form of consciousness that invited me to exist in my body in a more truthful, less fragmented, way.
In her endlessly quotable book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit describes the two disparate meanings of the term lost. “Losing things is about the familiar falling away, [while] getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing.” The simultaneous and, at times, contradictory experience of transitioning genders can be exquisitely described as both losing and getting lost. I chose to lose a part of myself that was familiar, yet harmful, and in turn, have stepped into the experience of getting lost—a sometimes terrifying, often affirming, but always curious journey.
I feel acutely, though not painfully, lost in my exploration of how my body consensually, affirmatively, and intimately can exist in relation to both cis-women and men. The familiar solidarity I had long enjoyed with women, rarely linked through our gender expressions, or sexualities, but rather, a shared experience of moving through the world with vaginas, had shifted into a lonely, unfamiliar, and insecure territory. Likewise, my fraught and inherently politicized relationship to the cis-male body, long marked by repressed envy, disguised as, and reduced to, sexual desire, is now marked by and forced to contend with dominant expectations of masculinity and a performative, #nohomo attitude that I flippantly and naively mock. Currently, I am holding more questions than answers on this topic, and as my therapist likes to remind me, I can enjoy just being in the excited state of exploring “a wide spectrum of possibilities for intimacy,” right now.
At the risk of sounding like sponsored content, I want to raise up Quim’s Happy Clam Everyday Oil for becoming an unexpected page in my personal field guide to getting lost. My body’s shifting relationship to that of cis-women’s feels a little less isolated and a lot more connected when I can share a pump or three with a friend or intimate partner. Our vaginas may differ in shape and hormonal charges, but a CBD-enhanced, moisturizer is a luxurious middle ground, warm and spacious enough for a diversity of big clit energies.
Max—ambivalent academic, powered by nootropics, adaptogens, and air4air energy