By: Lorelei Erisis*/TRT Columnist
You may have noticed some disparity between the name of this column and the content lately. You might reasonably ask: “If it’s called, ‘Ask A Transwoman,’ where are the questions?” Well, since by some miracle nothing personally traumatic happened to my personal transworld this month, I thought I’d briefly return to original form.
People have questions. Though they may sometimes seem silly, inappropriate or even potentially offensive, I feel it’s helpful to have someone who can answer them so other transpeople who might be less open don’t have to deal with them. It’s good to have someone who can stop that rumour train in its tracks, throw a monkey wrench in the engine of misinformation, and who isn’t afraid to mix metaphors in the name of truth, justice and the transgender way. Basically, someone like me.
I want to encourage you to send your questions and concerns to me. Whether you’re a cisgender person wondering about trans people or a trans person searching for answers, I’m here for you. In that spirit, I thought I’d at least briefly return to form this month and answer a few short questions I received recently.
_Ok, stupidass question I’m too embarrassed to ask in public- how do you keep it tucked in? I know trans men have chest binders, but what do trans women do about those nutty little companions? – Genuinely Curious_
Well, Genny C, you came to the right place. I recently remarked to someone how I’ve managed to make a career out of being “That Girl Who Overshares,” so watch as I walk that old tightrope and try to answer this doozy without pissing off my editor or offending the delicate sensibilities of our loyal readers!
While I do know of some drag queens and adult performers who will actually use duct tape to keep the franks and beans in place (especially for those really skimpy stage outfits), this approach is pretty impractical for the average transwoman who is, for whatever reason, still in possession of the factory original equipment.
I did try it myself when I was in my “trying to figure out how all this works with zip for guidance” phase of being a young, questioning transwoman, which in itself represents why I started writing this column in the first place. Let me tell you, it’s actually even more painful than you might imagine, especially if you, say, neglected to shave or wax first!
Speaking for myself and some trans friends with whom I’ve discussed this topic, the secret is simply to find underwear that are tight enough to hold the tuck in place all day without being especially uncomfortable. For transwomen like me who are on hormone replacement therapy, the testosterone blocker helps enormously. Basically, the Spironolactone shrinks the penis and discourages any untimely tumescence (big words to the rescue!), allowing it to fit rather nicely in my panties. Thongs are simply not an option.
I also know of transwomen who are able to tuck their testes up inside their bodies and hold them there for an especially tight tuck. I can do this myself, but find it relatively uncomfortable. It is, however, worth mentioning.
What conditioner do you use on that fantastic hair?? — Product Procuress
Well Pro-Pro, you’re going to hate me, but the answer is that I use the cheapest stuff I can get, whatever is on sale at the supermarket. Partly, my secret is great genetics. I come from a family with good hair, and also a streak of alcoholism, but at least we look great slumped over in a dingy bar! The rest of my secret is that I do as little to my hair as I can. I only wash and condition about once or twice a week and rinse in the shower everyday. I never blow dry or curl or generally apply heat. I do get some highlights about once a year, but those are the only chemicals that ever go into my hair, except for when I dye it pink, so don’t let me get too high and mighty here.
Now that I’ve essentially lost any hair product endorsements I might procure, next question.
As a transwoman who has experienced both sides of the gender spectrum, is there or is there not male privilege?
— JB in tha CT
Good question, JB, and at the risk of oversimplifying entire fields of feminist theory and gender studies, my answer is yes.
Speaking as a person who was mis-identified as a (mostly) straight, white male for some 30 odd years who also was raised by a single feminist mother in the 70s, I was at least nominally aware of such privilege even before I transitioned. I mean, I got jobs I was not even slightly qualified for mostly because I could speak that language of straight, white male. That didn’t stop me from taking them. I was still a struggling artist and the rent wasn’t going to pay itself, but I had some inkling.
It wasn’t until I transitioned and essentially dropped from the top of the privilege ladder to almost the very bottom that “male privilege” became especially noticeable to me by its sudden evaporation. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to whine. I’d do the same thing all over again with this same knowledge of the consequences, but yes, it’s very real. It’s active and it remains quite pervasive.
That question alone deserves its own book, but I’m already pushing my word count! So, until next month…
* Lorelei Erisis is an activist, adventurer and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender and sexuality to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.