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Cunnilingus & Random Asides

Today, an unexpected event occurred, in the form of a very frank discussion of cunnilingus. It was a reminder, as a vulva-bearer, that I will always have a connection to women’s sexuality, and a sense of deep spirituality revolving around that sexuality, that just does not vanish with weekly testosterone injections.

I’m not even certain how the topic came up, but I was delighted to share my thoughts about gender, sexual orientation, and sexual expression. I have, for quite some time already (somewhere in the neighbourhood of three years) not been feeling safe enough to share without constraints. It was a relief to hear that I am not alone. But that also comes with a sense of outrage, that this individual who I don’t know very well, also experiences a genuine lack of feeling safe enough to speak honestly. It made me realize that since the 50s, when the prevailing argument about the segregation of women concerned how women are separated from one another (thus contributing significantly to their silent experience of oppression), a disappointingly minimal amount of change has occurred in this respect. Women are still segregated from one another, having very few or no opportunities to gather together in the absence of a male audience, and say what’s on their minds without worry about how they will be perceived as some sort of a threat thereafter by their male friends/partners. It reminded me that when I brought a group of women together to socialize, without the obligation to negotiate a hook-up with one another, and without the expectation that sex will spontaneously erupt, how important and meaningful this was to each and every one of them.

But about receiving cunnilingus in particular. This has been a heart-wrenching issue between myself and virtually every person I have been sexually active with (often with heart-breaking results). The only people I have felt safe to express myself to have been male friends. Virtually all of them have responded by expressing how they are equally perplexed and helpless to answer why my partner just won’t give me cunnilingus. Many have added that they enthusiastically provide it to their vulva-bearing partners, and always have. A few have even expressed that it is the only means through which they are able to truly gratify their respective partners, who are unable to climax without it. All of this, of course, simply made me feel even more depressed, made me feel (on account of my gender dysphoria) that I’m so aberrant that the lack of cunnilingus in my life is a punishment for failing to adequately pass as the gender that is projected onto my body, and made me feel as though asking my reluctant partner to give me cunnilingus will make them feel duress (which in my mind, is akin to date rape). I have come to realize that all of these feelings were wrapped up in how I experience my gender, relative to how other people experienced my body, relative to how I experienced my male friends’ gender as men.

That my perspective has changed as a result of accessing medical care to chemically masculinize my body, does not remove the sting I have felt before. But it was different today, with a person who is built of the same body parts as I am. I felt, for the first time, like I was actually heard. Instead of having my concerns dismissed by someone who acts in the complete opposite manner with their partner as the person over whom I am expressing my grievances and sorrows, I was told by someone else who has first-hand experience, that my experience isn’t an anomaly and really is not caused by how I experience my gender. I felt for the first time, that the problem is genuinely not on my end of these unsatisfactory interactions.

But this individual also raised an important aspect of that first-hand experience. Opening up to receiving cunnilingus is an enormously spiritual moment, requiring vulnerability of astronomical proportions on the part of the person receiving. It is as self-less as it is selfish. It is a paradox. And when, as a vulva-bearing person, one opens hirself up to this experience, and is either met with criticism (such as about hair, naturally occurring lubrication/scent, or the little papules that form after shaving while the skin is abraded by the synthetic fibers of most women’s underwear) or rejection (such as simply not being blessed as the recipient of what one is open to), the hurt is fucking deep. I have experienced both criticism and rejection, and so has this very insightful individual I shared this conversation with today. I feel like at least a small part of that hurt I have been carrying with me was finally healed, simply by the act of speaking to someone who understands from first-hand experience. Maybe a little more is healing as I write this. Maybe some day, a little more will heal in someone else as they read this.

Speaking of criticism and healing, I felt it especially important to share with this individual, the experience another person of the vulva-bearing persuasion related to me recently. The common thread between all of us is hair. In particular, the woman whose brief hair-related story I imparted had been shaving hers clean off until very recently, when her current partner expressed that she is required to stop shaving. The result was a growing sense of dysphoria around her gender as a woman, on account of how un-feminine this new hair growth appeared to her. She told me that a lot of that emotion was finally resolved when her partner took nude portraits of her, hair and all, and forced her to confront how beautiful and feminine she still very much is with it there. I, on the other hand, had stopped shaving two and a half years ago, until recently, when my tissue growth had developed beyond the point of tolerance for any inward-pointing keratin. And the person to whom I was imparting these insights and experiences? Well, let’s just say that hir choice has invited devastating  unsolicited criticism at the worst possible opportunity.

I felt how much hurt that is, because I’ve received that response for shaving or for keeping trim growth, as well as for my natural scent and for my natural lubrication. Even after a shower. And what could possibly inspire that kind of gynephobia, but erotica in which actresses have douched and enemaed and baby-wiped prior to the start of recording. Not a trace of their natural erotically aroused state is seen, even in high definition. I doubt many of them even are aroused, considering how few of them exhibit the capacity to have an orgasm during their performances (an event that is actually banned in films in my province, because it is seen by the censors as an “obscenity” for a female to experience an ejaculatory orgasm in an erotic film).

The connection we made today — the healing that is allowed to take place when such a connection is made — is critical. It is the most important outcome of (past, present, or future) women coming together to talk about issues that simply don’t effect penis-bearing persons (or at least don’t effect them directly, or in any way that they visibly experience).

Oddly, this reminds me of another conversation I was having earlier today, about the importance of any writer’s voice, who comes from a marginalized ethnic community. We were talking about the intersection of racism and sexism in this country, as concerns immigration processes for hir specific ethnic group. And I hope that person sits down and writes hir thoughts too, so that other people in hir community know that they are not alone — so that the same kind of healing can take place around that community-specific problem.

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