... and a bit more
This article is a few meandering thoughts on my sexuality. For most people a question about their sexuality is easily answered, but I'm somewhat of an exception as a heterosexual woman who was once a heterosexual man. As a man I never seriously considered myself to be homosexual, whilst as a woman I have never felt any strong lesbian inclinations. There have also been many months, even years, where my libido was negligible and I wasn't attracted to either men or women.
Male - Part 1
As a young man I was attracted to girls - sometimes strongly - but had no serious girlfriends and no sexual relationships.
When I started to take hormones in 1994 my sexual urges soon dropped to nearly zero and revived only slightly during the periods when I stopped taking hormones.
Years later I hear constant complaints by openly transgender women about how hard it is for them to get a date with 'a normal heterosexual men'. Being openly transgender was simply not an option in the 1990's, being able to pass was vital for any social interaction with men - and a noisy and badly lit night club was a good option. However, the risks I ran by going out in public as a woman were serious.
Female - Part 1
In late 1997 my life seemed to be drifting inevitably towards living full time as a woman. Intimate sexual relationships with men seemed inevitable, indeed I was becoming stressed about that possibility that something bad would eventually happen if in extrema I was unable to have intercourse as a woman - basically my luck would run out one night. Replacing my penis with a vagina had become urgent and I began to arrange my SRS. The staff of the prospective surgeon emphasised the finality of this procedure and asked if I was absolutely sure. I was about to say "yes" when I unexpectedly met a wonderful girl - Ellen.
Male- Part 2
By the end of our first meeting we were already becoming best friends, and we met at every opportunity over the next weeks. It soon became obvious that she wanted an intimate relationship with me, whilst I was infatuated with her, which resulted in total mental confusion as to my sexuality. I stopped taking female hormones and after three months our relationship finally included sexual intercourse. However, after the initial explosion of feelings my physical attraction to her began to diminish - when we had sex I wanted to be the woman, not the man and increasingly had to imagine this in order to get aroused. She became my muse, the woman that I aspired to be, rather than my lover and prospective wife. After less than a year I went back on hormones and our relationship quickly ceased to have any physical aspect.
We sadly parted ways in 1999 when I embarked again on the road to living as a woman and my full-time transition ... she tried to accept this but couldn't.
After parting from Ellen I desperately wanted to be sexually attracted to men - and them to fancy to me. When I again started to appear in public as a woman I wanted to be considered as a sexual object by men - lewd comments, pinched bottom, 'accidental' gropes ... Regardless of the appalling overtones, I needed something to give me confidence that I was passing as a woman.
I also began to actively examine men and consider whether they were "hot". I watched many old romantic and soft-porn movies and tried to imagine myself as Ingrid Bergman, Mia Farrow or Meg Ryan with increasing success and enjoyment. Reading women's and teenager magazines was also very important in helping me to help develop a female sexual orientation and point of view. I can certainly recommend teenage girl magazines for advice on sex, love and men that is just as applicable to an inexperienced heterosexual transsexual woman in her early 30's!
Female - Part 2
At the end of 2000 I finally transitioned fulltime. This seemed to flick a switch as I began to regain some libido and it was focused on men. Doing my textbook best, this was probably for several reasons:
I began to think about being ravished and raped by a man. Worryingly it was a turn-on rather than turn-off. I was increasingly curious and even eager do more than imagine intimacy with a man, conversations with attractive men began to result in severe distraction and blushing on my part!
I also started to have dreams about sex as a woman. Pregnancy, motherhood and breastfeeding became a bit of an obsession, I even became a broody visitor of Mothercare shops! But a few years later, working as an Assistant at a Pre-School quickly removed my desire to become a mother.
Sexual Experiences as a Woman
My First Boyfriend
In October 2001 he persuaded me to go on holiday to Cyprus with him.
He gave me absolutely no time to think or worry about it and defeated my
slight resistance with "it's already paid for and I can't get the money
back". After some frantic shopping and packing we were on the way
to Cyprus just days later.
As we took off (holding hands) I accepted that I had a
boyfriend, and thus was now someone's girlfriend. However, one
thing very much on my mind was that we were clearly on the verge of
being intimate without ever having discussed my "medical condition".
When we arrived at the hotel the promised single rooms inevitably turned
out to be one double room - years later he still claims that this was a
mistake by the hotel. It was that room or nothing, and he was a
total gentleman that night and kept his distance. But ever since
agreeing to go the holiday I had been thinking about us making love and
had mentally accepted that. I thus lay awake most of the night waiting
for something to happen - and disappointingly nothing did. I now
began to worry that despite all the attention for nearly a year, he
wasn't actually attracted to my physically and sexually!
Almost as bad - I had spent the last two days starving myself and
clearing my system just in
case and was seriously hungry.
The next day was a little awkward at first, but thankfully in the
evening our initial shyness faded as the wine flowed and we cuddled and
then kissed and began to explore each other - he's always maintained
that because I took my top off I was in fact the initiator of what
happened thereafter. Certainly, we both had a lot of long pent up
desires. Obviously vaginal intercourse was impossible for me, but
there was a 'Plan B' and we finally jointly explored the sensitivity of
our bodies to physical stimulation. There was soon no holding either of us back and I mostly
loved it. Getting woken up at 4:00 am by the groping hands of an
already aroused man looking for "seconds" can be a bit annoying, but I
learnt how to keep him satisfied whilst still all but asleep myself!
constantly being held, massaged, stroked and even intimately fondled was
strange and even uncomfortable at first, but became enjoyable and then
expected. I began to miss - and eventually to worry - when he
wasn't at least holding my hand.
Courting and making love to a man as a woman is
different from making love to a woman as a man - it was wonderful to be
woo'ed and pampered and wonder what he was going to try next, frustrate
him, slowly start to give in, and then surprise him with a treat!
I also started to have fun as I discovered how easy it was to excite him
sexually - I soon couldn't resist sometimes teasing him in public
places! During the holiday I had many wonderful experiences that
I'll always remember and still treasure - and it's the probably the only
holiday where I lost rather than gained weight!
In October 2001 he persuaded me to go on holiday to Cyprus with him. He gave me absolutely no time to think or worry about it and defeated my slight resistance with "it's already paid for and I can't get the money back". After some frantic shopping and packing we were on the way to Cyprus just days later.
As we took off (holding hands) I accepted that I had a boyfriend, and thus was now someone's girlfriend. However, one thing very much on my mind was that we were clearly on the verge of being intimate without ever having discussed my "medical condition". When we arrived at the hotel the promised single rooms inevitably turned out to be one double room - years later he still claims that this was a mistake by the hotel. It was that room or nothing, and he was a total gentleman that night and kept his distance. But ever since agreeing to go the holiday I had been thinking about us making love and had mentally accepted that. I thus lay awake most of the night waiting for something to happen - and disappointingly nothing did. I now began to worry that despite all the attention for nearly a year, he wasn't actually attracted to my physically and sexually! Almost as bad - I had spent the last two days starving myself and clearing my system just in case and was seriously hungry.
The next day was a little awkward at first, but thankfully in the evening our initial shyness faded as the wine flowed and we cuddled and then kissed and began to explore each other - he's always maintained that because I took my top off I was in fact the initiator of what happened thereafter. Certainly, we both had a lot of long pent up desires. Obviously vaginal intercourse was impossible for me, but there was a 'Plan B' and we finally jointly explored the sensitivity of our bodies to physical stimulation.
There was soon no holding either of us back and I mostly loved it. Getting woken up at 4:00 am by the groping hands of an already aroused man looking for "seconds" can be a bit annoying, but I learnt how to keep him satisfied whilst still all but asleep myself!
Being constantly being held, massaged, stroked and even intimately fondled was strange and even uncomfortable at first, but became enjoyable and then expected. I began to miss - and eventually to worry - when he wasn't at least holding my hand.
Courting and making love to a man as a woman is different from making love to a woman as a man - it was wonderful to be woo'ed and pampered and wonder what he was going to try next, frustrate him, slowly start to give in, and then surprise him with a treat! I also started to have fun as I discovered how easy it was to excite him sexually - I soon couldn't resist sometimes teasing him in public places!
During the holiday I had many wonderful experiences that I'll always remember and still treasure - and it's the probably the only holiday where I lost rather than gained weight!
About a year after transitioning I became intimate with my boyfriend. He enjoyed my breasts immensely, indeed they were essential for him to be sexually excited by my body and be able to accept me as a woman.
After we started to share a bed I realised that the real function of breasts is to give a man's hands something to play with until he falls asleep - just when the woman is getting interested!
My breast development stalled at a very obvious but also relatively modest B cup. I had mixed feeling about it, but in January 2002 I had breast augmentation surgery at a local clinic to increase the size of my boobs to a full C cup. The bigger bosom suited my build, and my boyfriend was delighted with the results.
Sex Re-Assignment Surgery (SRS) Part 1
After I transitioned there was an obvious visible mismatch between my claimed sex and naked physical appearance. I had a penis - small but nevertheless a penis.
At the time of my transition in December 2000 I was hyped up to complete my physical transformation and undergo sex-reassignment surgery as soon as possible, and I put £10,000 into my Special Reserve Savings (SRS!) account for this specific purpose. But SRS was impossible to obtain quickly as the reputable surgeons I contacted wanted a letter of referral which stated that I had lived 12 months (some required 24 months) in the social role of a woman - the infamous but well justified "real life experience". [I've since discovered that most surgeons have dispensed with this requirement, which with the benefit of hindsight, I strongly disagree with.]
In the weeks and months immediately following my transition, I had absolutely no sex life and getting SRS became an ever-lower priority in the midst of so many other daily challenges and problems - which having a vagina would do nothing to alleviate. I also stopped worrying about using ladies toilets or changing rooms, although occasional bad experiences such as body searches had me shaking. I never had the hatred and aversion to my penis that some girls describe - indeed at times I felt that the pressure from close family and friends for me to "get on with it" and have SRS actually exceeded my own desire. Maybe it was my imagination, but the progress on my SRS seemed to be an under-current in every conversation I had with someone I hadn't spoken to for more than a week.
In late 2001 my life finally started to become a little more settled and I became intimate with my boyfriend. Whilst I was able to keep him happy sexually, my lack of a vagina was a constant if unstated problem. After a lot of research, I booked my sex-reassignment surgery with Dr Suporn Watanyuskul in Thailand for May 2002. I chose him for several reasons:
Disaster struck when I was made unemployed in November 2001. I soon had no choice but to dip in to my SRS money to complete my laser hair removal treatment and pay other urgent bills. However a friend had recently had an orchiectomy (castration) and was very pleased with the results, a job offer prompted me to quickly have an orchiectomy myself before I began work. The decider was calculating that an outpatient procedure at a London clinic would cost just over £1200 ($1500), barely a tenth of of what I expected my trip to Thailand would cost.
I tried to treat the procedure like finally going to the dentist after having a bad tooth ache for ages. It was totally the right and wrong time to take such a drastic step because of its irreversibility, however I knew that I had to "burn the bridge" in order to get on with my life as a woman. It was the best decision I ever made, the pressure was finally off - I was no longer physically male and could never be again. Whilst I was also not physically female and could never be that, it had now become just time and money before I was much closer to being female than male.
It's hard for me to independently judge the results and effects of the procedure - but within weeks I was certain that it had made a very positive both mentally and physically. After the proceeded my occasional but sometimes strong inclinations to revert to male finally ceased - this alone was worth the cost. My emotions and mood could still widely swing from happy to depressed, but perhaps not so depressed.
I no longer had any doubts that I was a woman and became increasingly 'bold' about this - running in the Dublin Women's Mini Marathon in June 2003 was a particular milestone, but not one I will ever repeat as I can only go downhill after managing to finish in the top 1,000!
Having the orchiectomy also reduced the feeling that I was under pressure to have SRS because I had transitioned, and it was the expected next step. My mother was wonderfully supportive but almost too much, for example I would get a phone call every time a programme was on television that had any transgender content, and every few months I received a packet of articles out from magazines and newspapers.
I was generally satisfied with my body and didn't feel a pressing need for more surgery. If I could have waved a magic wand I would have happily exchanged the remains of my shrunken penis for a vagina but failing that I had no rush to undergo a serious and expensive surgical procedure.
An unexpected change after my orchidectomy was that my sexual interest recovered slightly from zero. I began to occasionally get sexually aroused - but the process and thoughts were different from my recollection of a now distant 'male' past. I first realized this when watching the 2003 Rugby World Cup and I found myself seriously fancying hunks such as Jonny Wilkinson and Frédéric Michalak. My tiny remnant of a penis even swelled a bit, but not enough to worry about unless I was wearing a bikini - and I've never watched rugby in a bikini!
Note: If you are considering having an orchidectomy then it's important to remember that the results of a subsequent vaginoplasty will tend to be less satisfactory (e.g. reduced vaginal depth) because there is less material to work. For this reason some surgeons - including Dr Suporn Watanyuskul (my surgeon) - are reluctant (although unlikely to refuse) to perform SRS on patients who have already had an orchidectomy A good guideline is that if you expect to have SRS within two years then an orchidectomy is inappropriate for you.
(SRS) Part 2
I finally had my SRS in October 2004 - three years after first contacting his wonderful International Patients Coordinator, Kie Lertsubin - who is herself transsexual.
The long flight to Thailand was difficult as I was stressed out, whilst surrounded by happy vacationers. I checked in to the clinic after two days in a local hotel, I didn't sleep at all that night and it was a relief to be formally woken at 5 am, although there was a long wait before I was finally prepped and finally anesthetised.
When I came to about five hours later, there was initially no pain and apparently I asked for a cup of tea! Unfortunately the anaesthetic haze soon vanished and pain killers had limited effect - the next week was pretty horrid, there was constant pain with occasional sudden agonising bursts. I was completely bed bound, and the phrase "this might hurt a little" has ever since had me running for hills! I tried to take comfort from assurances by the nurses and doctors that this meant I was healing, and that my nerves were still intact and functioning.
Martin stayed in the nearby hotel and visited me daily, but there wasn't anything else he could do to help me beyond being there - he was often bored silly. By the start of the second week I was recovering and was being encouraged to [painfully] walk about; socialising with the other girls and supporting each other was a highlight of the whole experience. One thing that I was thankful for was that I had long ago completed the laser treatment for my facial hair, it was impossible not to notice that several of the other girls grew substantial and embarrassing stubble before they were able to shave.
After two weeks the swelling had gone down a lot and my vulva was starting to look like a vulva rather than a WW1 battlefield. I was lucky that I had no complications after my surgery and the doctor approved my discharge just 15 days, to celebrate I briefly ventured to a nearby bar for a toast with Kie and a couple of other patients.
The flight back to Ireland was another horrid journey, but at the same time I couldn't help but have a big smile of delight when we landed. Unfortunately this disappeared when I almost inevitably got stopped at customs and had to explain things in uncomfortable detail.
Three weeks after my SRS I married my man, it was a wonderful day but sadly I was in still in no state for nuptial adventures and a sexual confirmation of our marriage on our wedding night.
Dr Suporn warned me that that I didn't have enough skin for constructing a deep vagina, and after SRS I barely had three inches of depth - certainly not enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse. A lot of work was required. In the first month after my surgery I had to dilate four times a day, each dilation taking 30 minutes. It was both both painful and weird. My vagina was not fully healed and my nerves were all mixed up, my genitalia were very confusing mentally - the nerves had all been moved around and were still repairing and reconnecting.
Two months after SRS my vulva had largely healed (although with still obvious scaring), the swelling had almost gone and I was reaching a vaginal depth of 5 inches with my dilation.
Thereafter we were sexually very active, whilst the pain slowly disappeared I still didn't feel much physical stimulation or sexual excitement myself, which was disappointing after everything I had been through. On the few occasions I was stimulated, I was mentally certain that I had a penile erection! Whilst I knew that having sex as a woman (vagina...) would be very different from having sex as a man (penis...) and my body and brain was still only slowly adopting to having a 'hole' rather than a 'rod'. I was having to mentally associate what had been my penis and scrotum with what were now my clitoris, labia and vagina, it was all still weird and sometimes painful. After a year - the His:Her orgasm score was 100:0.
However as more months passed, my body slowly continued to heal and my mind adjusted to having female genitalia. I re-learnt how to get sexually excited, I discovered that foreplay was essential to turn me on. Some polite attention to my ears, neck and nipples paid dividends in helping to get my mind focussed and my body prepared for sex. I also found that when we reached coitus, a little added lubrication was very helpful. After many frustrating "almost there" moments, three years after my surgery I finally had my first female orgasm - a wonderful moment in many different ways!
I now fairly regularly orgasm, perhaps 1 in 10 times that we have intercourse. A slightly annoying aspect is that after I climax I soon want to repeat the wonderful feeling, but my husband is rarely up to the job - more than once anyway!
A Neo-Vagina is Hard Work
Without regular dilation or intercourse my vagina can quickly shrunk dramatically. For example, I had flu and was unable to dilate for 12 days. I then had to dilate for 30 minutes three times a day for a week to recover a six-inch depth.
My neo-vagina thankfully doesn't suffer from the unpleasant smells, vaginal discharges, regular infections or irritation suffered by at least a quarter of all transwomen. However, to help pre-emptively avoid problems, every few weeks I do a douche (thorough rinsing) of my vagina with just warm water, but I'm not actually sure if this is desirable as may be damaging the "good" microflora that have colonised the vagina. I've never received definitive medical advice as to whether I should douche or not.
Update January 2020: Fifteen years after my SRS I dilate just once every week. Combined with occasional sexual intercourse this has become enough to maintain adequate vaginal depth.
Two years later I had a purely aesthetic secondary procedure to improve the appearance of my vulva area and remove a 'camel toe' appearance when wearing panties. Specifically the procedure was to:
It was not essential but many transwomen have similar surgery after their SRS as it considerably improves the appearance nude or in tight pants. As an award to myself I couldn't resist (and a last chance before I was too old and fat) wearing a near G-string bikini when holidaying in Portugal a few months later, much to the surprise of my hubby.
Post-surgery I also suffered from a slight but embarrassing urinary dribble that required me to use pads. I was advised to undertake Kegel exercises - basically pelvic floor muscle exercises - three times a day. It took me several weeks to figure these out and establish an exercise pattern. This eventually solved the problem but added yet another small task to my daily routine.
I wrote on this page in 2007 that "After over 40 years of mental agony, hormones, cost, surgery... I'm still totally confused as to my sexuality. In the space of a few minutes I can encounter a beautiful woman and a male hunk - and be attracted to both. I have to agree with people who suggest that the commonly accepted model of just two sex's/genders (i.e. male and female) is far too simplistic. .... As a post sex reassignment surgery male-to-female transsexual woman, am I really a homosexual, lesbian, bisexual... ?"
Interestingly, a decade later I find it hard to relate to this. It took me fifty years to finally arrive there, but I'm a heterosexual woman in what seems to have become a very complex LGBT+ world!
I also originally said on this site that the results of my sex reassignment surgery (SRS), aka gender confirmation surgery (GRS), aka bottom surgery were excellent, but surgical techniques continue to improve and even after a touch-up procedure I would probably be placed last if I entered the Vagina Beauty Pageant, yes it really exists - Google!
You can read more about me here.
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