I Redact Myself

A prosetry poem written for the Carnival of Aros March 2020 theme “Aromanticism and Gender” [Call for Submissions]. ((ETA (April 9th): Round Up. Cross-posted on tumblr here.))

You’d think that I’d have a timeline I could roughly copy and paste when explaining my gender journey, but I don’t. I’ve got years logged into questioning and re-evaluating my gender, and it predated any quoi/greygro/aro-spec questioning. Honestly, I don’t really connect my gender experience and aromanticism, whether that involves using arogender or not.

“I don’t necessarily combine gender musings with aro musings, for example, and especially when it’s far more obvious in my daily life while closeted on the gender front, I just don’t prioritize finding out I’m under the aro umbrella in the same way that other aro bloggers seem to.” – Jan CoAro entry.

Maybe the aro part is just still too new, relatively speaking. Maybe there’s still some lingering guilt over being a young trans person desperate for breadcrumbs of love because I was so used to hearing stories about how it was too difficult for a cis person to ‘deal with that’ and I would be lucky if anyone stuck around despite my transness. Maybe it takes too many spoons to be this introspective during a quarantine.

Title: I Redact Myself

scattered across the web like bones – old accounts, journal posts filled with questions, old aliases and usernames filled with experimentation, word docs and google docs filled with research and steps and links and money estimates (and fear and uncertainty and compromises) and venting, old wordpress posts and tumblr bios filled with terminology and pronouns and changing news (different from one blog to another) – i don’t know how many gigabytes my gender has taken up

i string together vertebrae – a wordpress post here, a tumblr draft there, google docs hidden away from judgment with new words to roll around on the tongue – but i can’t excavate all of the little pieces from the mud and wash away the evidence of other (i loved her and him and them, i was allo, i wanted to partner, i wanted someone to love me, i wanted someone to be brave enough to admit they loved one of those)

tarsals and ribs and a skull hung up – Here is a creature with a fossilized heart, who used words we cannot print today to adorn its plumage. It was a product of its time. It was – on display for the scrutiny and approval and condemnation and acceptance and exclusion of others (words deleted on the screen, erased from the page, buried and written over in the heart)

i hide the baby teeth in a jar – i hide the past away in the lost corners of the internet, the untouched posts and drafts, the forgotten spaces of a hard drive where it will draw dust and fade away into the silicon sands of time (is that better than crystallizing into a cyberghost that’s caught in the links of another’s post, ancient drama, an archived post torn from a large book) – i hide the bones in the past so my skeleton can slumber in the closet undisturbed by the present-future (i redact myself)


In Between

I’ve been posting about it on tumblr since I made the appointment over a month ago, at least, but I am in the limbo land between the first consultation where blood was taken for labs and the follow-up discussing the results. (I didn’t realize someone might be concerned after I talked about the first death anniversary of my grandfather in the past week, but this is not life-threatening like that [cancer]. I suspect I have PCOS.)

I sort of had suspicions back in my teens, but I didn’t really know that there were side effects and symptoms that might actually need to be monitored (making a confirmation of a diagnosis helpful in figuring out if I’m really at risk). I didn’t fully realize just how much gender baggage I was carrying around in relation to this until I started looking into more symptoms, what diagnostics might be used, and had to face a really stark reminder about the body I inhabit (specifically, how it’s interpreted by others).

I am very aware that someone ticked off the little F on my birth certificate. (Lovely reminder that Ray v Himes is still working its way through the courts and doesn’t yet help those born in Ohio.) After dealing with staff who didn’t bother to read what I’d written on their forms (on their provided lines for a preferred name and gender), on the paper I provided with important info not asked for on the forms (pronouns, a brief explanation of words used to describe my gender experience, medical history), or listen to what I told them (“my gender is not female”), I’ve got to admit that even seeing just this General Practitioner (GP) sets off an uncomfortable amount of dysphoria. (The look on her face when I admitted to having never seen a gynecologist…)

Add in trying to get a diagnosis for PCOS, and it’s just more than I was prepared for. Online resources focus so much on the infertility, ‘normalizing’ menstruation, getting rid of the ‘non-feminine’ symptoms, TTC/ttc (trying to conceive), and tend to assume the only people who experience PCOS are cisgender women(*). I don’t want to minimize that these are important symptoms for some women, but as someone who hadn’t yet realized that I was trans and didn’t know what gender dysphoria was, it was incredibly uncomfortable trying to interact with PCOS info back when I first got the suspicion because of this.

I was expecting to have to make my case about not making up potentially having PCOS, but GP actually didn’t ask very many questions. (The nurse asked ahead of time when I last menstruated, so GP’s first words to me herself were, “Have you always had facial hair?”, followed by, “Have you experienced unexpected weight gain?”, and then, “Yeah, we’re ordering labs.”) Everything was going along somewhat tolerably until she mentioned a final confirmation after the labs, since some of the results would rule out conditions with overlapping PCOS symptoms – a vaginal ultrasound to see if there are cysts on the ovaries.

<sarcasm>Note the textual distance that’s preparation for potentially needing to dissociate from my body.</sarcasm> Setting my dysphoria off the charts is counter-productive to GP wanting to recheck my blood pressure (maybe I have ‘white coat syndrome’, maybe it’s actually high), but I honestly don’t think she’d believe me. (I have an offline venting space for frustrations around being a fat patient who was advised to lose weight “because even a 15-20 lb loss will improve your blood pressure”. But that’s a block of salt for another day.)

(*) Most resources assume those with PCOS are perisex cis women. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I encountered talk of PCOS being a hormonal intersex condition (from someone in the intersex community), as opposed to a chromosomal, gonadal, or genital type that people more commonly think of when they hear ‘intersex’. I can grasp the reasoning in abstract way, but I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that I, personally, might be intersex. Still, I’ve got to admit that it’s a relief to think of PCOS as ‘hormonal intersex’ instead of ‘malfunctioning perisex female’, which is kinda how some people frame it.

Menstruation Does Not Equal Feminine

[At least half of my response is critiquing part of the caption, which has been edited in order to not sound angry, passive-aggressive, or salty. Like, I don’t particularly care if no one reads my personal responses to the questions, but please take away that menstruation =/= feminine. You can just call someone a menstruator, which doesn’t presume anything about their gender.]

No # post: Menstruation & Hormones

Source. Captioned: These questions were suggested by bugsdaffy4401duck. We sincerely hope that our male followers will forgive us for delving into a uniquely feminine area.

Part of the caption: “We sincerely hope that our male followers will forgive us for delving into a uniquely feminine area” (emphasis mine).

One hand: Yes, working on breaking down US culture around the taboo of talking about menstruation is important. Depending on where you live and your access to sex ed without Christian overtones (that often tie into purity culture), there are adults who need accurate information about what their bodies are doing and how to effectively manage their menstruation experience (ex. the difference between ‘everything is normal’ and ‘something is wrong’ period pain). Cis women do need places where they can talk about this sort of stuff, and I’m not trying to silence anyone.

Other hand: There are trans men and transmasculine people who also menstruate. [Example #1, #2, #3, and not every trans man experiences dysphoria around menstruation (#4).] Objectively, you can repeat to yourself that menstruation is not an inherently feminine act, but you also can’t wave a magic wand and make a lifetime of socialization disappear (menarche is a sign that “you’re a woman now”, menstrual products are marketed and shelved as “feminine products”, menstrual product dispensers and those little bins in the stalls are in women’s restrooms, the way some women frame insertable products (tampons, cups) as better than pads even though transmasculine people may find pads better for their dysphoria, etc.).

Third hand: I’ve only ever come across anecdotal stories, but some trans women who are on HRT may experience cramping and other PMS symptoms on a cyclical basis. This isn’t to say that their experiences with period pain/discomfort are exactly the same as a cis woman’s, but there are women who do not menstruate [Yes, Trans Women Can Get Period Symptoms]. “There is no singular universal definition of womanhood. We cannot be reduced to vaginas alone, nor periods, nor motherhood” [I’ve Never Had a Period But I’m Still a Woman].

Fourth hand: There’s not really a singular, all encompassing way that a nonbinary person relates to menstruation because it will depend on their particular dysphoria and any specific labels. [What Trans & Non-Binary Menstruators Should Know About Periods; that writer’s perspective.] Personally, it is not a newsflash to me that my body is doing something in line with the average cis woman’s body because I was assigned female at birth and haven’t taken medical steps to alter my body, but I don’t feel comfortable with describing this bodily function as feminine. I try to avoid female = feminine because people can wind up going female (sex) = woman (gender) = feminine; even though they may mean well, “females” becomes a substitute for “women” instead of meaning those AFAB. I am a menstruator, a person who menstruates.


Menstruation and the hormonal fluctuations that tag along are something about my body that I cannot control. I can’t submit to someone when I’m dealing with PMS and menstruation; I need to exert control over something and that is more likely to come out as Dominance instead of submission. If I were in an established dynamic with a Dominant who didn’t have any switch tendencies and didn’t want to offer submission, even in a slight way (no scenes or play, but perhaps a change in titles, f’ex), I’d honestly need a break from the dynamic.

Some people write like they hate the idea of taking a break from a dynamic and having days where someone says, ‘I’m not feeling it today’, but I’m not incorporating managing menstruation into a dynamic where I’m a sub. You can be the most loving, caring, understanding, well meaning Dominant, and you can come up with The Best Self Care Plan, but I can’t ‘give’ you my body at a time like that. I can’t be your property, you can’t own my body, you can’t talk about my body possessively, and there’s no marking, claiming, MINE stuff. Doesn’t matter if you’re a menstruator or a non-menstruator; I need to manage my own self care because this is my body.

There are people who will think this is a bit absolute and very unsubmissive. I might find that I can have a dynamic where I just need to have a different level of protocol, rules, and technically not take a break with a *particular* Dominant. Personally, I would rather set large boundaries on this in the beginning and discover where I’m comfortable adjusting them later after my partner experiences a few cycles. Just sharing that it’s happening can be nerve-wracking enough because I’ve grown up trying to hide that I menstruate to avoid ‘time of the month’ teasing (of course you cried at that picture of a cute puppy, a variety of cat noises or bitch comments if I snap or get short with someone, it’s no wonder you’re eating like that, etc.).

Period Pain

I’ve never done pain play while menstruating, but I know from my past experiences with activity that would be considered self-injurious that it would be safer for me not to mix these activities. I’m not equating pain play and self-injury, but sometimes, the lines can get blurry, especially all the mental stuff going on inside the bottom’s head. I can see myself wanting to be hurt in some way so I can escape what else is going on with my body (as opposed to using pain to ground). Punishing my body in the short-term might feel alright (neurotransmitters, adrenaline, and stuff), but long-term I can’t build up that habit without firmly entrenching the connection between ‘body is menstruating’ and ‘body needs punished’.

Emotional Fluctuations

Not to be too glib, but everyone is always hormonal. In theory, those AMAB experience a daily cycle of fluctuating testosterone and those AFAB experience a monthly cycle of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone (AMAB people also have estrogen, and there are activities that can cause hormonal fluctuations outside of these rough cycles, but this isn’t a full breakdown of endocrinology). Have I ever gotten into an argument solely due to monthly hormonal fluctuations? No, but I’ve certainly found myself with a shorter rope that makes it harder to ignore other stressors I may experience (for the cis: misgendering is a stressor), which tends to get eaten up by pretending to everyone outside my living space that nothing is amiss. Inside the living space, there’s a lot of biting my tongue because I actually don’t want to come across like That Bitch who bites everyone’s heads off. (Will this reduce when I can shift around the closets I’m in and reduce overall misgendering and dysphoria? Possibly.)

Lent (vi)

Scrolling through my “T 2015” doc, I came across an applicable entry to share from 3.1.15 – Homelessness. My goal wasn’t to paint a doom and gloom picture, but I was wondering if I wanted to face the struggle of coming out to my family and having to be their teaching moment at that time, and I honestly looked at the odds and decided that I didn’t want to risk it.

{Reference to an old playlist for my QT dead where I had “The A Team” in different acoustic covers at that time of writing.} Statistically speaking, things don’t look good.

“One in five transgender people in the United States has been discriminated when seeking a home, and more than one in ten have been evicted from their homes, because of their gender identity.

[…] One in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Family rejection and discrimination and violence have contributed to a large number of transgender and other LGBQ-identified youth who are homeless in the United States – an estimated 20-40% of the more than 1.6 million homeless youth.” (Source.)

Discrimination at home, often linked to coming out to family, and discrimination and bullying at school are higher among LGBQ and trans homeless youth (62%, school percentages can be found at above source since it’s broken down). I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that a transgender person will be kicked out of their homes because they came out to their family, but the odds aren’t exactly in their favor.

Homeless shelters in the local area may be a better way to try to contribute to literal assistance with transgender youth, though general information doesn’t hurt. Overall, this idea points towards a concern that may be of more relevance to some than marriage equality, and it plays into why I call the line of candle inspiration The Home You [All] Never Had.

Personally, this is also why I have no intention of coming out as transgender to my family until I do not need to rely on them for shelter / food / monetary assistance. I don’t know how they will react, and I do not want to find out that they fall into the category of families that kick their children out when I still need assistance.

Lent (v)

A break from poking at scabs and healing wounds during this Lenten blogging for my QT dead. It’s alternatively a bit uncomfortably vulnerable, and based on prior accidents, risks getting the attention of you-know-Who. So, from the depths of my documents for chatting with my QT dead (“T 2015”), an entry from January touched on a flag blanket.

At the time, I was spitballing the different purposes for such a blanket:

It could serve as the representation of the flag for rituals, and things could be planned to be on it (sacred cloth on the ground, perhaps, more so than an altar cloth, but it just depends). In ritual, it could also provide a feeling of safety as a blanket, which could be strengthening or bond-building when it comes to sharing and passing the blanket from one person to the next. I might be able to get one per person even, so that everyone can bring their own to a ritual and use it at home (partially as community building).

Have I ever actually taken part in a group ritual? Do I have access to a group of people who would even want a flag blanket after a ritual took place? Do I have access to non-pagans who would want a flag blanket? No, on all fronts. However, that’s just how some of the speculative entries rolled (coming up with solo and potential group ideas).

At the time, I was specifically focused on an idea around the trans flag as a blanket, but honestly, this could be as general (a rainbow flag for the whole LGBTQIA+ community) or specific as someone wanted to get. Change up the size for a small personal shrine, make a table runner, join together a bunch of different flags, loads of possibilities.

QT Binder

“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.” – About TDoR

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), also known as the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, has been observed annually (from its inception) on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.” – TDoR Wiki

I’m trying to look back over my notes for communication and divination throughout the past few years to figure out when I was first asked to compile a TDoR binder, and I’m honestly not quite sure. I can definitely pinpoint an entry where I was checking in with my trans dead in July of 2015, but I’m fairly confident it was brought up before then by Someone (probably Jormundgand or Hela that far back). I have notes from Nov 2016 where I wrote down that year’s list, but I admittedly haven’t done very well with writing out prior years [1] and looking for compilation lists outside of tdor.info [2].

In 2017, I also got various nudges to include historical QT dead, those famous in death, death day vigils (collective + individual), awareness days, and celebratory days (broadening the binder into more of a QT focus than just TDoR). This past TDoR (2018), I checked in with my dead and got: Also being considered for inclusion in the binder – historical notes (admittedly, crossdressing and queer stuff turns into a complicated overlap beyond a certain year, but some of it may be relevant to what we now call ‘trans’ stuff) and Deity / religious notes (‘trans’ Aphrodite, crossdressing in Norse myth, how current religions handle trans members, and such).

As of drafting this out (1.28.2019), there are some components like the TDoR lists that my dead would like me to have handwritten out in the QT binder, but a lot of the research would be easier to compile into a Gdoc or blog post, particularly when looking into historical people and people famous in death. The effort and attention of handwriting even a summary of their research would ‘solidify’ them into my dead, which some don’t really want. (Some prefer the generalities of just being part of the QT dead.)

[1] A page with an Excel spreadsheet with some names from before the start of TDoR (1970 – 1998) and names for TDoR from 1999 – 2012; memorializing pages (select from dropdown menu) for 2007 – 2017.

[2] Some journalists and individual events will include known deaths that are not transphobia motivated homicides because these lists are for those who died “because of anti-transgender violence”, which does not include other deaths like suicides or domestic violence victims. From FAQQ: How is it decided who is and is not on the TDoR list of names?

Genderfluidity & Switching

[Cross-post (here). Passive-aggressively subtitled in my mind – why saying ‘gender doesn’t matter’ when looking for a play partner and putting down switches can be irritating to me. Sometimes switching and scene work is an element of gender expression, even if I don’t want to drastically change my public presentation for everyone else in the world to see.

I am aware that ‘gender doesn’t matter’ is how some people personally self-define being bi and/or pan, depending on if they personally overlap between the two, and this is not going after that. It’s more directed at posts where that doesn’t appear to be the context and gender is assumed to fall in line with Dominant men / submissive women even while saying that gender identity and sexual orientation don’t matter in dynamics.

Also: There’s an overlap between switching in the sense of being able to fill either a top or a bottom role and switching in the sense of being able to be either a Dominant or a submissive. Some call a top/bottom switch versatile, but AFAIK that’s more of a gay/mlm label that’s borrowed and vanilla. Personally, the liminality of both switch meanings works with being nb, genderqueer, and genderfluid.]

Genderfluidity & Switching

This isn’t really intended to talk about nonbinary, genderqueer, genderfluid, and other potentially trans identities that are not binary in a 101, explaining to cisgender people manner. Be not afraid to Google, and remember this is merely from my perspective (this is not what every nb, genderqueer, and/or genderfluid person will experience). I have a separate post that goes into more of how I claim nb and genderqueer despite being able to potentially describe some internal perceptions of gender with other words, but not all of those descriptions are relevant to how I relate to top/bottom/switch, so I won’t be covering everything.

Masculine woman / female, which I also relate to Butch

I first ran into stone being attached to butch while growing up and feel comfortable with the combination of stone butch, but “What is Stone?” explains how stone isn’t exclusively tied to gender and can be used by femme and other non-butch people. I most strongly relate to stone as having “limits on touch/penetration/nakedness”, “being a sexual top”, and “pleasure is centered on another”.

Not on the gender binary, the Other

Dark Mori, flowing peasant skirts, make-up, voice pitched low, layers hiding my body until I turn into a Mystery. (“What is it?” An Eldritch Horror. “What are you?” Mostly void, partially stars. “I’m confused…?” Good.) Waistcoats, long hair, voice pitched high, color coordinating dagger like claws with suits as a polite Monster. Freak, genderfucker, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.

Something in the direction of more masc / femme

Sometimes but not always, certain types of play or dynamics sift up masculinity or femininity. It may not be enough for me to want to use different pronouns, address / titles, or change my presentation, but the thing about scenes with a finite time period is that I can play around with this for a bit. F’ex, I could be a Daddy, Mommy, little girl, little boy, and not have to give up neutral address (Caregiver or little). Sometimes but not always, my partner’s gender will sift up feeling more in one direction or another. It’s not always easy to explain, but they can draw out certain pieces of myself (I’ve only noticed same-gender instances so far in my life).

A neutrality or a sense of not being able to specify

“Hello…Sir?” Meh. “Ma’am?” /gestures to body/ I don’t know, I just work here. “Person?” Tired Monster who doesn’t have the time or energy to terrify and mystify, who is just barely human. Partner, datemate, if gender is a social construct I would like to cancel my Gender Bill today. Connecting with not-quite-human perspectives is easier, so pet play, animal play, and non-sexual objectification is easier. It’s not an automatic that I would have to be a submissive in one of these scenes, depending on specifics and potentially how many people are in the scene, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s far more likely. This neutral or unspecification area is also where clinical, task oriented, non-sexual Human/tool is also easier (something has been designated Work, and I am helping to accomplish that; the clearest example I can think of is a job where hierarchy fits in where I may simultaneously have a Boss and I supervise employees under me).


While it’s easier to call up dominance while butch, sometimes the service top qualities get a bit blurred into submission. While I certainly feel like I’m more attracted to feminine people when butch, I can’t say that I would only ever consider consider femdom from the service top / switchy sub angle. When it comes to the Monster portion, it’s a bit hard to tell (alternating top/bottom in terms of scene). I want to hurt, I want to control the sensation play, I want to consume my bottom’s pain; I want to take the pain (you can’t kill a monster that easily), I have to let someone facilitate certain play, I want someone to See my pain (you can’t ignore monsters). When it comes to leaning one way or the other, I haven’t noticed a clear preference for one side of the slash over the other, but it does lead to some disconnect in certain online spaces where cishet experiences are more prominent (wax poetic about a Daddy Dom all you want, but I’m not going to be his little girl; you just might get the attention of a little boy, though). I went into the D/s under the neutral section a bit more than others. It’s possible to be ‘in charge’ of another submissive when dealing with some of the objectification and animal related areas (two animals can play together, f’ex), but typically, I’ve primarily heard of those who are Human in the scenario being the Dominant. It may not overlap with a slice of gender, but I also do have times where I want to facilitate that kind of play for a submissive and remain the Human in the scene.

Cool Story, Why Share?

There’s a reason why I tend to go with broader labels to describe my understanding of my gender to other people (nonbinary + genderqueer, some genderfluidity involved, they/their pronouns). Quite frankly, if I were to try to divulge all the little details and how they might potentially relate to being drawn more to top/bottom or Dominant/submissive for a particular kink and/or scene, it might just turn into a clusterfuck not even I would understand. I currently call myself switchy because I’m not sure I can definitely, 100% come down on one side of the slash over another in all scenarios. I can see myself flexing certain tendencies in a dynamic with someone where we work together without my switchiness, but I wrote “Gender Play” precisely because I’m not always the same me and/or certain scenes could bring out different aspects of myself to play in a manner of speaking.

Sometimes I like being the butch in the archetypal butch/femme pairing, and I may or may not want temporary he/him or masculine address. Sometimes the idea of being the Monster to someone’s Monsterfucker is intriguing, and I want to try on a different pronoun set to more clearly delineate the finite acting / roleplay quality. Sometimes I still find myself drawn to being a Caregiver, but I can’t always settle on just being a Mommy or Daddy, like overextending a muscle in a certain direction. This isn’t to say someone has to be a certain gender to engage in certain kinks or roleplay, but when I try to imagine different scenes depending on how the gender flows, some kinks have a quality of being flavored differently by my shifting gender. F’ex, I don’t mind the idea of being someone’s nb little, and I’m sometimes a bit surprised I can tolerate the idea of being someone’s little boy, but I don’t have an interest in being a little girl.

I’m aware that one play partner more than likely will not be compatible with the entirety of my interests and fluidity, and it will more than likely be easier to indulge in certain play with a separate partner. It’s not like everyone is some degree of switchy and feels comfortable taking on temporary top/bottom roles to indulge a partner, and there are the usual incompatibilities in kinks to keep in mind. However, I don’t particularly want a long-term partner to skip over part of me simply because it’s easier for them. For example, I may never do a Human/tool or non-sexual objectification scene with this person, but we’re going to be on different wavelengths if they can’t accept neutral expression of they/their pronouns.

Not Simple Transitioning

Why write this?

A cis person at a party: So, if you’re trans, are you going to transition?

Me, put on the spot while trying to enjoy myself: Uh . . . What?

Me, over two years later in this vagueblogging post: Transitioning is not as simple and easy as the media would like to portray it as, and this individualized path is made more complicated by financial, medical, and other access barriers. Surgical status and whether someone is pre/non-op should not be used as a way to invalidate someone’s identity, and barring interaction with my body or sex where it would be necessary to know, I should not have to tell you about an aspect of my body or potential medical care in order to be Trans Enough.

It also gets complicated because most cis people asking questions about transitioning have something in particular in mind (usually surgeries), and transitioning can cover more than that (broadly split into medical (surgeries and HRT) and non-medical (social and legal / paperwork) below. It might be surprising for some people, but it is possible to not want any of the medical options while wanting the social stuff.

Medical: Surgeries

“The Surgery” isn’t truly singular, and even simplifying it into “top surgery” and “bottom surgery” isn’t entirely accurate. My goal isn’t to provide a complete intro to all the surgery options, but Trans Masculine Surgery Options and Trans Feminine Surgery Options provide a good overview. For example, in trans masc / FtM people, “bottom surgery” can actually be made up of hysterectomy and/or oophorectomy, metoidoplasty, scrotoplasty, uretheroplasty, vaginectomy, and phalloplasty.

It depends on what the person wants (it’s not all-or-nothing), what their insurance covers or they can afford out-of-pocket, prerequisite steps, which surgeries can be done together, and the pro v con evaluation of a specific surgery. Add in needing to travel (unless you live near certain larger cities), recuperation time and assistance (something I’ve heard people really remind those wanting a bilateral mastectomy), barriers to access (some surgeons still prefer mental health consultations and a letter of recommendation over informed consent), and medical incompatibilities (some people are unable to have or qualify for surgeries due to separate medical issues), and it’s no wonder that the collective surgeries are personally complicated.

Personally, I’m in this limbo of possibly getting state-sponsored health insurance, and I would much rather tackle being able to go to a general practitioner for the first time in almost six years. You can get your blood pressure taken for free at a blood drive, but it’s kinda not the same, you know? I’ve tended to lean more towards non-surgical options because any surgeries I would like are too ‘castle in the sky’ right now. {This is not to downplay how other trans people need surgeries, but because I have other viable methods as of this writing, I do not personally consider any particular surgery a need.}

Medical: Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Me, morphing into a gremlin after midnight: *hisses at hormones*

Like, don’t get me wrong, HRT is absolutely necessary for some people and some medical providers are more willing to do the informed consent approach rather than requiring mental health assessments (letters). I just have such a love-hate relationship with thinking about HRT because I flat out do not want some of the effects, and there’s not really a way to guarantee selective changes in Puberty 2.0. It’s not like anyone gets a choice in Puberty 1.0 either, but I have to consider if the changes I want outweigh the changes I don’t want.

The route of FtM or MtF that gets talked about a lot doesn’t automatically match what nonbinary trans people want or even what all binary trans people want (Approach to Genderqueer, Gender Non-Conforming, or Nonbinary People). Non-Binary Transition Workshop is a Youtube playlist, which has videos that cover introductory explaining, what all is part of transitioning, and how nonbinary people might want to approach it. Back on the topic of hormones, it’s not even a matter of not liking needles or anything (there are delivery methods other than injection). Personally, I think I have to try non-hormonal options so the little inner gremlin will accept that I did consider alternatives before rushing to HRT.


Ah, social transitioning and paperwork (see “Legal Sex/Gender” or Part 3 of that Youtube playlist). AFAIK, state requirements for updating legal sex/gender are shifting away from requiring certain surgeries, but there still can be that pesky mental health assessment bit. Sometimes, the whole matter of presentation (clothing, accessories, hair, etc.), going by a new name, and using new pronouns can appear simpler than the components of medical transitioning, but sometimes, it doesn’t feel easier.

Jump through the hoops, sell your soul figure out the money, get all the paperwork in order, and you can get a surgery (generally, a one and done sort of deal). Jump through the hoops for HRT and prepare yourself for years of lab work and checking hormone levels, acquiring the HRT method on schedule, and possibly self-administering. (Some people don’t want to spend the rest of their life on HRT, but even just wanting the full effects of your dosage can take a few years.) Constantly introduce yourself, remind people of your pronouns, correct assumptions, and figure out just how much energy it will take to perform enough to not get misgendered. *sighs*

Thoughts on Gender Play

[Another one of the technically a cross-post ones (Switchy SCC Writing: Gender Play). While parts of this do come across as rather trans 101, this is more my thoughts and perspective on how gender play can be trans-inclusive rather than just focused on cis men and feminization in introductory examples. In the event that I have a potential play partner in the works, it will also be helpful to point to something like this when trying to explain dysphoria related limits and such.]


I am not an educational or authoritative source, and I am not speaking on behalf of the entirety of the trans, nonbinary, genderqueer, etc. communities. It is very possible that a trans person can be found who will disagree with something or not find it applicable. For the sake of consistency, I will use nonbinary (nb) and ze/zir pronouns when discussing an example featuring someone who is nonbinary, genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, multigender, or otherwise may not self-identify with a binary trans identity (the commonly thought of trans women and trans men).

Stealth and “passing” (successfully being read as their gender) are tied into safety, especially for trans women (particularly TWOC), and medically transitioning can be a mix of personally complicated (an individual may not want any of the numerous surgeries but wants hormone replacement therapy, HRT) and inaccessible (insurance may not cover a desired surgery, and it’s expensive out-of-pocket). I admit that this may not be helpful for those who have to prioritize stealth and don’t want to be misread in the scene.

I am closeted in varying degrees (Closets are not one and done) for safety, have not undertaken any medical steps to change my body, and already have to deal with outing myself to potential partners, so that will all play into my thoughts shared here. {This is not revolutionary or new in the sense that genderfuckery has been taking place within kink and BDSM communities for years, but as someone whose experience with some genderfluidity relates to being open to gender play, I wanted to be able to collect my thoughts into one piece.}

What is gender play?

Some definitions assume a cisgender person is playing and rely on the gender binary to explain gender play as “an individual is encouraged or forced to take on the role of the opposite gender” (Kinkly) with an emphasis on sissification and forced feminization examples. More broadly speaking, it’s “roleplaying a gender other than your own” or “playing about with gender roles” (Fetish.com). A binary trans person might want a scene where they try gender neutral address, or an nb trans person might want a scene where ze plays at being a woman, but neither of them are dealing with a man-to-woman or woman-to-man ‘opposite’ scenario. This might seem nitpicky to some people, but the point of sharing a broad definition is to also show that there is room for playing with your gender instead of playing as something else.

Gender Play as Gender Affirmation

Pronouns. Whether it has to do with not medically transitioning, having a body type that doesn’t meet cis beauty standards, or being unable or unwilling to constantly perform masculinity / femininity to be read correctly, it’s not uncommon for trans people to be misgendered via pronouns. In a customer service scenario or brief interactions with strangers, an individual trans person might pick their battles and decide to not correct a person they’re unlikely to meet again, which can make it more significant for people they regularly interact with to use the pronouns they indicate. How is this different from being a decent person using indicated pronouns? I’d suggest the negotiated control and possibility of punishment that can’t be found outside of a dynamic. Ex. “In the apartment, I have a zero-strike rule, and I will pick one of our agreed upon punishment options if you use a pronoun set other than ____ when referring to me.”

Means of address. I debated combining this with pronouns, but it’s possible someone may want to purposefully use a title that doesn’t ‘traditionally’ match their pronouns. Whether it has to do with more exposure to Daddy Dominants or her own reasons, a trans woman may want a scene where she’s called Daddy despite wanting Mommy, Caregiver, or another title outside of that scene. A nb person may like the familiarity of “Yes, Sir” or “No, Ma’am” even if ze doesn’t want to be called Master or Mistress. I think it’s more popular outside of the US, but there are nb people who prefer Mx as an alternative to Mr/Mrs/Ms, so ze could want that as zir title instead. This area can vary depending on playing with D/s, primarily being interested in scenes with a finite beginning and end (temporary title usage), wanting to counteract dysphoria around their body / nudity during some types of play, having a specific role in mind (“naughty school girl”), or expanding roleplay outside of the play room(s).

Gender Essentialism. I am *not* saying everyone should go around doing the whole “xyz is for boys, abc is for girls” schtick because gender essentialism hurts binary and nb trans people (just one example post of many because this is a topic that lots of people have covered over time). However, in the words of a genderfluid blogger, “We may opt out of binary identification, but we don’t get to just opt out of society. And not everyone is dedicating their very existence to tearing it down.” Clothing isn’t inherently gendered (an intro comic to gender play re:feminization touches on this), but it’s still possible for a transfeminine person to want to wear lingerie to feel more in touch with her/zir femininity. A transmasculine person may not have been able to play with ‘boy’ toys during his/zir childhood, so even if he/ze knows that girls can play with a certain toy, he/ze may choose to play with it during a little scene. It may not seem “progressive” when talking about trans people and gender play, but it’s possible that a scene is where they feel safe enough to take part in something associated with their gender that they may not have experienced while growing up or yet in life because of their sex/gender assigned at birth.

Dysphoria. Not every trans person experiences gender dysphoria because some find that gender euphoria is more prominent, but I can’t avoid the elephant in the room if I’m trying to broadly touch on trans people when it comes to gender play. There are different types of dysphoria, and not everyone experiences every type, regardless of being binary or nonbinary. While a trans person’s play partner isn’t expected to be a mindreader, there should definitely be a way to negotiate around accommodating their dysphoria, especially if it fluctuates (due to their body’s hormones, menstruation, HRT, misgendering, transphobic news stories, etc.).

Social. Dysphoria that crops up in social situations like pronoun usage, names, being misread and misgendered, public restroom access. When I try to think of examples, I wind up with ones like a cashier using sir/ma’am where a relationship or dynamic actually won’t have a ton of influence because it has to do with other people and their assumptions around gender and gendering clothing, body parts, and sex characteristics. I suppose being mindful of language and providing the desired safe space to alleviate the distress might help. What could mindful language look like? Ex: Vagina =/= Woman. Remember pussy hats and pussy power (a la Women’s March on Washington)? Empowering to some, but not all women have vaginas, and some people have vaginas who are not women. Feminine hygiene? Menstrual hygiene because there are men and nonbinary people who menstruate.

(A reader may be thinking, 1) this seems awfully political, 2) this is not very sexy or kinky, &/or 3) why does this matter when it comes to playing and/or sex? It could very well be possible to negotiate casual scenes or casual sex without touching on this, but if someone wants a long-term play partnership or a dynamic outside of a scene, some of these social dysphoria examples might factor into negotiation and get into whether a person still considers the trans person to ‘actually’ be cis. Working on correcting one’s inner monologue may extend beyond however long the relationship with the trans person lasts, but f’ex, if someone talks and acts like menstruation = feminine, a non-feminine menstruator may not want to deal with misgendering.)

Primary Sex Characteristics. Some may have ambiguous external genitalia at birth, have a hormonal or chromosomal disorder that’s discovered at puberty, and/or be intersex, but for most people, these are part of the body they’re born with and puberty doesn’t drastically change them (genitals and reproductive system). There isn’t a universal experience in regards to how trans people feel about their body or primary sex characteristics. Some view their genitals as being as non-gendered as their hands, nose, elbows, etc.; others are more concerned with other body parts. The cisgender preoccupation (dare I say, obsession) with trans people’s genitals can be dehumanizing and objectifying, so please be aware that a cold open inquiring into genitalia is Rude, like you may not be playing with them even with non-sexual kink levels of rude. However, sexual activity and kink can overlap, so be polite. (Primed: The Back Pocket Guide for Trans Men and the Men Who Dig Them, Brazen: Trans Women’s Safer Sex Guide (2.0 via Wayback), Google can be your friend.)

Genitals. Some don’t want their genitals interacted with (might prefer a clothed or non-sexual scene), while others have limits around interaction (might be interested in chastity devices and orgasm control where the other person isn’t physically interacting with them). Some may want to work around not having the various surgeries that make up “bottom surgery” (strap-ons, muffing, anal, focusing more on giving than receiving certain acts, etc.), and others are completely fine with sexual and physical interaction but prefer to call their genitals a variety of names. An example from How to Eat Out a Non-Op Trans Woman – “clit,” “vagina,” “vulva;” some say “dick,” “girl-dick,” or “cock;” some say “junk,” some say “genitals,” some say “lady parts,” and one woman described her nether bits as “[Name].”

Secondary Sex Characteristics. Again, there is no universal trans experience about how trans people feel about their bodies or how their bodies changed during puberty (HRT is like Puberty 2.0 in terms of bodily changes). Some trans people are fine with their bodies, while others only experience dysphoria with certain body parts or aspects (it’s not all-or-nothing). A play partner should not dictate an element of transition or dysphoria management, even if the trans person is a submissive in a 24/7 TPE.

Chest. Not all transmasculine people are able to or want to bind, but some do. In terms of gender play, he/ze may want to experiment with clothed scenes or certain rope harnesses when not wearing a binder (physical safety first: long-term wear can injure the wearer and may not be suitable for certain types of play). Transfeminine people may or may not want breast inserts, a gender affirming bra, or to visually create the appearance of breasts.

Voice. One’s perception of one’s voice is not exactly the same as what other people hear, so some trans people may be alright with their speaking voice while being unable to stand voice recordings of themselves. If a trans person is already interested in and/or in the process of vocal training to readjust their pitch, a kinky or dynamic related saying can be incorporated into recording their progress. While trans people have experienced silencing and erasing on a social and cultural scale for quite a bit of human history, it is possible that an individual trans person might want to experiment with gags and silencing methods for limited periods of time.

Body. There’s a conglomeration of traits that cannot be affected after Puberty 1.0 and traits that might be affected but aren’t guaranteed. Fat redistribution, musculature, height, and shoulder and waist width might be hidden or disguised in certain outfits, but I don’t see these as elements where someone must do gender play so much as areas where a play partner should be cautious of gendering, especially if their dirty talk plays around with humiliation. Yes, negotiation should be able to filter out minefields, but sometimes, mistakes happen and “real men/women” comments can garner a variety of reactions.

Gender Play as Experimentation

One’s understanding of their gender and gender expression can be a bit complicated, especially when our culture doesn’t acknowledge or teach anything other than the gender binary. Generally speaking, it is true that gender play doesn’t have to impact someone’s understanding of their gender. A cis man can wear a sexy maid outfit and still think of himself as a man, and a cis woman can wear a strap-on and still think of herself as a woman; being penetrated isn’t inherently feminine, and penetrating isn’t inherently masculine. Some people play around with gender roles because it’s Taboo, it’s hot, it’s in the porn they’ve tried to watch, etc. I don’t feel qualified to speak about sissification, forced femme, and how the inclusion of humiliation comes across as misogynist, but some cis men feel like it works for working out questions / demons about misogyny and toxic masculinity. Sometimes, Life is a Messy Bitch. The road of gender self-reflection and self-discovery is complicated and unique to each person, and some people may not tune into internal questioning or act out curiosity until sex, kink, or roleplay are involved because it provides a trusted and safe space, scenario, dynamic, and/or partner(s).

Pronouns. Depending on the role, dynamic, and scenario, a person might want to use binary pronouns or dip into the numerous nonbinary options. Post about an app called Xe where the user practices using different pronoun sets. Practice With Pronouns (website, 9 options). Interested in a pronoun set that predates tumblr? You’ve got choices – Elverson set of Spivak pronouns (ey/em/eir), ze/hir, ze/zir, xe/xyr (1970s); Spivak set (e/em/eir), hu/hus/hum, ve/ver/vis, (1980s); thon/thons (1880s); singular they/their (~1400). But really, c h o i c e s. You can type in a name and pronoun set to see their use in short stories at the Pronoun Dressing Room (website).

Titles / Address. Someone AMAB can try being a Mistress / Ma’am, someone AFAB can try being a Master / Sir, and anyone can try out the gender neutral Mx. Feeling a little more masculine or feminine? Mxter or Mxtress, perhaps? Depending on the interested dynamic and role, a person doesn’t have to put a lot of thought into finding a neutral name – Owner, Trainer, Handler, pet, [animal], sub, slave, servant. Despite the prominence of DD/lg, there are other dynamics (DD/lb, MD/lb, MD/lg, etc.) and the neutral community name itself could be a descriptor (Caregiver/little). Combining ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ into Dommy, Moddy, or other options can be done if Caregiver seems a bit distanced for a scene, and a variety of titles can be found here (since some like to use aunt, uncle, and sibling relations instead of parent/child, or use sovereign and royalty descriptors).

Proceed With Caution: Humiliation & “Forced” Gender

People have probably been doing forced feminization, masculinization, and neutralization for decades, if not longer than that if you allow for not having a name for it and shifting cultural ideas of gender roles. I can’t truly stop someone from experimenting with it, and everyone involved should already be doing talks, negotiating, and consenting to everything anyway. However, I would like to share something for people – especially cis people – to consider who are interested in playing with a trans partner, who may or may not be solely acting or roleplaying when trying gender play out.

Regardless of whether they intentionally and consciously include gender play into their kink or dynamics, binary and nonbinary trans people already grapple with gender in a way that society tries to ignore (forcing gender) or punishes (have you ever thought about the harassment, assault, and murder rates for trans women?). Trans people face varying degrees of dehumanization and being reduced to a sexual object, which is intersectionally compounded (transphobia X misogyny = transmisogyny X racism = transmisogynoir). Have you taken at least a moment to consider how you’re distilling Society’s messages down into your humiliation or your specific scene idea? Yes, ideally negotiation should catch off limit topics for humiliation, but for the ad libbers and/or new people, do you have a habit of falling back on saying XYZ for female bodies or ABC for male bodies that could misgender them or trigger dysphoria? Did you already have an interest in CBT or breast torture, or are you making an assumption that this trans person must be interested in that play because they’re trans (assuming dislike/hatred of that body part)? Did your idea for a scene hinge on misgendering, especially if you were the one who initiated the idea?

This isn’t meant to guilt a cis person out of a scene with a trans person, and it’s possible to find an individual who has a different relation to humiliation and forced gender play. Trans people are not a monolith. It may not be easy, but taking the time to self-reflect a bit before initiating a certain kink or scene can be the difference in cornering a trans person into being a teaching moment and being able to show that you’ve thought about how to play with them that acknowledges it won’t be 110% the same as playing with a cis partner. Negotiation for a casual scene doesn’t have to turn into a deep soul-searching journey, but something as simple as phrasing can keep the sharing of a fantasy from being conveyed incorrectly – “I’ve always wanted to try breast torture” versus “I want to take off your binder and ___”. Sometimes, you just may not be compatible with everything you might like the idea of: “I want you to edge yourself in the bathroom at [public location].” “Um, I try to avoid public restrooms.” “What about at work?” “I’m more focused on safety and getting done ASAP / The way other people sexualize trans women’s existence in a women’s restroom makes is hard for me to relax enough to do that / etc.”.


Getting into nitty-gritty role or dynamic ideas is beyond this already long post because it’ll be unique to a particular gender non-conforming cis person or trans person. Some people just want to explore their kinks and happen to also be trans (no explicitly named gender play involved), so remember that there isn’t one trans experience or point of view. In sum, gender play can be as casual and non-gender expression related as you like, but be a decent person and follow indicated pronouns, titles, names, and so on. Talk, make sure you’re on the same page about limits, and genderfuck responsibly.

Complexities of Closets

Cross-posting something from 2017 [here] that feels important enough to have on this blog. Coming out to one person or a group doesn’t magically change everything. Ideally, most people will respect the new information and will make an effort to alter how they talk about someone who has come out, but you can’t really control what they do or how they talk about you when you’re not around.


I think that cis/straight people have the wrong idea about what The Closet™ is, honestly. I frequently get asked questions like “So are you out or in the closet?” But the fact is that it doesn’t really work like that. Someone’s Out status isn’t a perfect binary that can be answered in a yes or no question. I know that movies and TV shows like to have the dramatic banner in the sky moment where they say “I’m transgender!” or “I’m bi!” and the parents find out and all the friends find out and suddenly everyone in town knows. But that’s not how coming out works for a lot of people. Coming out is not one event, rather, it’s a continuous series of many events that range from big to small throughout your life. For instance, coming out to your friends and coming out to your parents are generally two completely different decisions, and a lot of people are out to some people they know but not out to others. Some people never come out to their parents at all but they’re Out to everyone else in their life—our closets can be temporary, transient, or something that we only return to from time to time.

And then there’s the everyday closets. Do you correct the cashier when they call you sir? Do you say “my girlfriend” when you’re talking about your plans for the night with a coworker? Do you react to the “small” things like a relative asking when you’ll get a girlfriend or being called your dead name in passing? For the most part, we make decisions about Being Out every day, and often many times in a day. It happens every time we meet someone new, every time someone makes assumptions about us, every time we encounter a bigot or even another person who’s LGBT. The Closet can be a real choice for some people and if they don’t want to come out it doesn’t mean that they’re ashamed or that they aren’t proud of their identity. For other people, it’s important that they make every conscious effort to indicate their identity, be it through dress or conversation or some other way. But it’s important for cis/straight people to understand that The Closet is not a leap from people not knowing your identity to everyone knowing. Someone can be simultaneously Out and in The Closet at the same time, and most people are.