I’m a trans male and my partner is non-binary. While I identify as asexual, I love pleasuring my partner so much! But I don’t let them touch me. I want to but I’m so self conscious about not having “male anatomy” (gender/sex am I right?) that them touching me feels wrong for us both. They always say they don’t care what I have and feel bad that I’m doing “all the work.” How can I stop this internalized transphobia and let them touch me?
—Feeling Out of Touch
Dear Out of Touch,
Not feeling good in our bodies can certainly contribute to our not feeling good about having our bodies touched, especially sexually. Self-consciousness and self-dislike can lead us to not truly believe that our partners love the body parts we ourselves don’t love. Or, we might not trust that their pleasurable reactions to pleasing our bodies are genuine or deserved.
This can be a tough feedback cycle to break but luckily there are always cracks to be found in these “ironclad truths” about ourselves. In fact, this is precisely what I help clients do in my work: find the exceptions to these “rules” we’ve internalized about our sexual selves and critically examine their accuracy.
Another person who dives into this work is fellow local sex educator Danny Brave (Instagram @thesexwizard), a Queer Healer, Writer, Trans* Life Coach, & Somatic Sex Educator In-Training. As someone who works specifically in the realm of your conundrum, I consulted him for a second opinion. Here are his Top 4 pieces of advice that’ll hopefully help create some new, more accurate truths and bring you the shared touch you’re looking for:
Danny Brave: This is a courageous question and as a fellow trans guy who has experienced dysphoria, I can relate. I don’t identify as asexual, so take only what is helpful to you and with a grain of salt!
1.) Practice being touched platonically in a way that’s completely guided by you and outside of a sexual context. Taking sex out of touch may feel more palatable or safe while satisfying the desire for touch. For example, ask for a specific way to be cuddled for a short period of time — 2-10 minutes (2 if it’s really outside of your comfort zone, 10 if it feels like it’s within it). Touch can be sooooo mutually pleasurable without sexual energy or the pressure to bring it into a sexual context.
2.) Remind your partner that you’re receiving via giving to them. We can receive SO much from being the doer/top/dom/giver. My BDSM teacher Om Rupani says, “The dom(inate) is a reaction junkie.” You can (and I’m sure you do) experience pleasure from how your partner reacts to what you’re doing. Reminding your partner of this may help them feel better about receiving without feeling pressure to reciprocate.
3.) What if you shifted your focus away from identifying your body as male/female/or anything attached to traditional concepts of sex? I dislike using terms like “male-bodied” and “female-bodied” (for many reasons but, also, where do intersex folks lie within this?). Really, we all just have bodies and they’re all as different as all of the genders. Maybe opening a door in your mind that could allow you to see your body not through the lens of binary male/female sex but just as a beautiful unique body amongst all beautiful unique bodies would allow you to feel more self-acceptance.
4.) To contradict what I just said: are there steps on your gender transition journey that you could take towards more comfort in your body? Transformation can be scary but, ultimately, you deserve to feel like your body is yours and worthy of the kind of touch you desire. There’s an intricate link between sexuality, sexual pleasure, and gender. I personally have felt more comfortable receiving not only touch but all of the good life has to offer since going on HRT [hormone replacement therapy]. Know that you deserve to feel like you, and that you’re worthy of taking the steps to allow your body to match your soul and true self!
Danny Brave can be found on Facebook/thequealer and Instagram/thesexwizard.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.