I’ve avoided writing about this topic for many reasons. First, my friends, family, and some coworkers read this blog and sex is not something I openly talk about with any of these audiences. (Mom, Dad, this is your warning now to discontinue if you don’t want to know more about your daughter on this subject. I respect you if you don’t want to know. That said, I’m not going into graphic detail if you do want to keep reading because, well, those details are for me and for Katie). Second, the subject of sex and my role in it makes me uncomfortable. This discomfort plagues me: Why am I uncomfortable? Did my Catholic K-8 education influence my ideas about sex? Undoubtedly, but how? Am I a prude? I don’t think so? Am I just “not sexual”? No, that can’t be it, right? What’s wrong with me? If I knew, I wouldn’t be writing. I struggle to talk openly about sex, even with Katie. Ultimately, I think the vulnerability involved in being honest about my insecurities about the subject in light of my own perceived shortcomings feels too raw to share with others. The idea of specializing in Sex Therapy interests me for many reasons, one of which is because I think the challenge of the subject matter involved for me is a challenge I need to understand my own relationship to sex. I digress.
I am writing because I feel lost in Katie and my struggle to re-engage and redefine sex in our relationship together. Before Katie came out, before she started taking hormones and her body began to manipulate like clay under the careful, unwitting guidance of estrogen, I understood sex and what it meant to her and to me. We knew how our individual bodies worked, how to enjoy sex together. To my knowledge, the handbook for learning how to have sex again isn’t written for our situation. I can’t Google-search “how to learn how to have sex with your previously male-bodied, transgender female partner” without getting a lot of unwanted search results. I wasn’t ready for how quickly hormones would disengage the parts of Katie’s body we both understood before. I didn’t know the last time I had penetrative sex would be my last time because I didn’t know how quickly estrogen disengaged this part of her body. I do know there are other ways. This is obvious. Learning them feels incredibly daunting and complicated.
Since Katie came out, we have been navigating this awkward minefield of learning how Katie’s body works as her mind comes to understand the person she is within that body. Sometimes, dysphoria clouds her ability to feel sexy even when she wants to have sex. In tandem, I’m stuck in the prison of my own mind, helpless to battle the constant fear of triggering her dysphoria while simultaneously terrified of not knowing what I’m doing or of not communicating well enough how attractive I think she is. The idea I worried about in the beginning, the fear of a loss of attraction, seems incredibly far away to me now. I wish attraction was the issue as at least there would be a clear pathway. This issue isn’t as simple as the adolescent exploring their own body in conjunction with their partner while hormones explode through both of them and their mom sits in the next room unaware. The journey Katie and I are on has felt so separate at times; our individual experiences so different. We are two thirty-somethings trying to understand what the fuck is going on, what is too much to communicate and how.
After Katie came out, the trust we needed to feel safe with each other took time to rebuild. As we navigated each new part of the transition, we underwent a lot to repair as individuals and as a couple. Our therapy together primarily focused on how to do that, how to communicate through the whirlwind of transition. Last week, Katie and I both agreed we needed to shift focus onto this now-important topic: How do we get out of our own heads and have the sex we both want to again? I’m sure an update at some point will be provided, but please respect my privacy on this. You can ask your questions, but I may tell you I’m not going to provide the answer.