Ask a Trans Woman: Trans and Kinky; Proud to be Who I Am

transgenderLorelei Erisis on inclusion of trans women and femininity, makeup, more.
Photo: David Meehan

A kinky and frank discussion of sex and sexuality

By: Lorelei Erisis/TRT Column Writer—

For the past few months my column has been pretty overtly political, for what I imagine are understandable reasons. However, this month, I thought I’d start the New Year with something a lot more personal—something positive, though it journeys through some negative territory.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that in order to get where I’m going here, I may have to get slightly graphic, or at least kinda TMI (too much information). So, if you’re not cool with frank discussions of sex or sexuality—or you’re my mom—this might be a column you want to skip. I won’t be offended; I’ll see you next month!

Okay, if you’re still here, let me define myself beyond being “simply” trans. I sometimes joke that I have an addiction to identities. As soon as my friends and family have acclimated to one, I just pile on a new one!

Anyway, in addition to identifying as a transgender woman, you will have probably gathered by now that I am proudly queer. I am also bisexual and polyamorous, and several other things as well, depending upon my mood, situational relevance and/or the day of the week.

But I aim to spend the bulk of this column exploring my kinkiness. I’m proudly and openly so. Though I don’t necessarily flaunt it, in quite the same way I fly my trans, queer, bi, and poly flags for all to see, I don’t much hide it either.

I realized some years ago that hiding my proudly perverted past was going to be realistically impossible. I’ve never been good at keeping my own secrets and I do like to tell a good story, whether or not it’s necessarily a good idea in terms of my own privacy.

In fact, I recently had my first real right-wing hit piece done on me, and I was actually sort of disappointed that they hadn’t tried harder! I mean, all they really had to do was dig one or two more search pages in and they’d have found the really good stuff!

To be fair, nowadays, I’m not really a kink crusader. I’m not super active in “the lifestyle.” I tend to get distracted by all the other things I’m always trying to do. At best, kink is something I play around with only sporadically. At that, it also tends to be one of the few things I reserve to that increasingly small segment of my time that I think of as my “private, personal life.”

However, it is an unavoidable fact of my life and transition that for the first several years of my transition, I was in a committed, long-term relationship with a fairly famous dominatrix named Widow Centauri. She is also, a sex educator, sociologist, standup comic, and stripper. But for now, the dominatrix part seems most relevant.

For the most part, I thought of her as my girlfriend, not my domme. And I was her girlfriend, not her sub. And it wasn’t all kink. There was a lot of Bikram Yoga, Negra Modelo, Zankou Chicken, and Adult Swim in that mix too. As well as a cranky orange cat and a lot of cross-country travelling. But, for the normality of it, yeah, okay, I actually lived a lot of very kinky experiences that most people only ever read about or come across in late-night web searches.

Widow pushed my limits and explored my boundaries. She embraced and encouraged me to explore my trans identity. We did a variety of sex work together where I was often advertised as her “transsexual girlfriend.”

She sometimes specialized in “forced feminization fantasies” and early in my transition, people often made pretty negative assumptions about my own transition as a result of that. I can say quite honestly that she never made me do anything I didn’t want to do. Beyond sexy, good times, she never was anything more, or less, than completely supportive of where I decided to go with my journey through gender.

If I have a single fetish I will tell the general public about specifically, it’s to say, “Yes!” to new things. And while there’s a lot I’ve said, “Yes!” to that I probably wouldn’t do again, I don’t regret any of it. Honestly, I learned a great deal, not just about myself, but about people generally, what drives people and what makes their pulses race, and makes them sweat in the night, which turns out is the sort of thing that helps when one becomes an advice columnist and public speaker.

And though I’d been playing around with, and exploring kink, since long before I met my dominatrix ex-girlfriend, it was my time with her that really apprenticed me in what I know now. Experience that brought me from a curious dabbler, to a bona-fide expert.

This was also the time when I began my deepest and most realistic explorations of my gender identity. And to be perfectly frank, it was my earlier repression/denial/experimentation with my gender that brought me to a curiosity about a lot of things kink-related in the first place.

Now, I’m not saying that being trans necessarily means someone is kinky. Not at all. I know a lot of quite startlingly vanilla (not kinky) trans people. We all have our own ways of processing the experience of being trans and being closeted for some period of time and finally coming out (or not). But as someone who meets a lot of trans folks and thinks about trans issues beyond simply my own experience and writes and speaks about the things I have learned/considered, I do notice themes here and there. Similarities of experience broad enough to at least mention and explore in further depth.

One of these that I have noticed is that a lot of trans folks have at least a passing interest in or experience with kink. Again, not all trans folks. Not by any means. But a large enough number to be significant.

And honestly, I don’t think this should be either surprising or concerning. This shared, but little spoken of experience, is why I feel it’s important for me to write this particular column.

To focus back in on my own experience, about which I find it safest to speak, and which I think many trans readers might find some familiarity. It is not at all surprising to me that the experience of being trans and being in the closet—sometimes quite literally, given that was where I typically hid my box of feminine clothing—has left a lingering effect on my sexuality. All those years, where the only way I could really feel like a girl was to dig out my secreted collection of “girl clothes” and get all dressed up alone in my room. Alert and ready to quickly change if I heard, or even thought I heard, a car pulling into the driveway, or a roommate coming in the front door.

Layer on top of this all those teenage years of testosterone flowing through my body, doing what it does—discovering my solo sexuality. And then imagine spending years and years still alone and getting dressed up and looking for new and inventive ways to “entertain” myself. Fantasizing about actually living as a woman—not simply dressing like one—alone in my room.

Later on, after a while, coming out softly to a few girlfriends, telling them, “I just like to dress up like a girl sometimes. It feels nice.” Exploring that with them. Often in private, in our bedrooms.

Now consider all those years when a search for “transsexual” on the internet would primarily just bring up page after page of porn. Much of it pretty inventive. And before even the internet, when a young, closeted trans girl might only find the few representations of trans bodies available to the general public in magazines, behind curtains, in the back of newsstands marked, “Adults Only.”

Heck, the first time I realized that I could change my body to be more like the body I wished I had was when a friend gave me a box of books and magazines that a former roommate of hers had left behind, saying, “(she) had a feeling I might like them.” And then you can imagine my excitement when I saw advertisements for special estrogen supplements in the backs of some of these magazines bearing titles like, “Forced Womanhood” and “Transformation.”

Given all that, I always wonder why it’s ever surprising to anyone that I might have ended up kinda kinky. And here’s the thing, I know others who have had similar experiences.

Again, I don’t want you to think I’m necessarily conflating being trans with being kinky. Heck, some of the kinkiest and most absolutely perverted people I have met have been quite cis and markedly heterosexual.

But, some of us are kinky. I am. And for me, my kink is deeply tied into my identity as a trans woman and my experience coming to grips with that identity.

Even though, after all these years of transition and philosophical consideration of not just my own identity, but also what it means to be trans and a woman generally, I have dismissed, dealt with, and generally reconciled a lot of the more twisted ideas I gathered. I no longer actively feel any of the guilt or shame I dealt with for all those terrible closeted years around being trans. Despite having accepted that I am a woman, embraced my femininity, even identified quite proudly as a femme. I still have the echoes of all that guilt and shame and fear and societal ugliness bouncing around in the back of my head.

You see, I never truly got rid of the nagging questions or self-flagellation that tormented me for years. I just got over it. And I wrapped it all up in a box that I shoved into a dusty, dark corner of my psyche marked, “Danger! Peligroso!” And I put up curtains around that box that simply say, “Adults Only.”

But it turns out that a few of the keys to the more interesting and enjoyable parts of my sexuality are kept in that box as well. The locks they turn were forged by experiences I had while I was trying to figure out the answers to those questions—calibrated and reinforced by the guilt and shame and the hot, sweaty nights alone in my room, all dressed up so I could feel like myself for a few minutes.

I have discovered that, as I became settled in my identity as a woman. Quite comfortable in my new, queerly, bisexually, polyamorously, trans skin, I enjoy taking that box out sometimes. Pulling out the keys and seeing what they unlock; playing around with what I find inside. Only now, I don’t have to do it alone anymore. I can explore the hidden contents with other people. Play with partners whom I have chosen to trust—intelligently informed, carefully consenting partners.

We can have fun with the fears that haunted me, find delight in the demons that tormented me, and when it’s over, there’s no longer any guilt hangover, no sadness or shame, just satisfaction and sighs.

The fetishes and the kinks that I found along my journey are no longer bugs gumming up the system, they are fabulous features that I enjoy! I am a woman and I am trans and I am proud of that. Despite my fears that I would never find anyone who would find me attractive, that I would be alone, unloved, unwanted and possibly even an outcast, I am not. I am in love, accepted and embraced by more people than I can count. And, I’m having more and better sex than any other time in my life.

That, ultimately, is the point I’ve spent the last several hundred words getting at. It can be good, and exciting to embrace who we are, as well as how we got here. If we so desire, our experiences, both positive and negative, can be quite valuable. The ideas and images that get us hot, so long as they are explored with other adults, in a reasonably safe way, with informed and consenting partners, can be more than okay, they can be quite hot! Yesterday’s searing pain can be tomorrow’s sexy scene!

Know this. You are not alone. Be who you are. Love who you are. Be proud to be exactly the person that life has led you to become.

Slainte!

*Lorelei Erisis is an actor, activist, adventurer and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender, and sexuality to her at: askatranswoman@gmail.com.

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