Have you had ‘the operation?' Or does that mean you have a penis or a vagina?
This is the main question. This is one of the worst too! I especially get this if I want to use the men's toilets in a bar - if I ask the bouncers which bathrooms I should use; sometimes they ask what junk I have. Hell, I give a different answer each time! In reality I do have a vagina, and I'm pre-hormones so I don't have any clitoral growth down there to claim as my 'micro penis'.
Which bathroom do you use?
I actually always use the men's, with exception to when I'm in my hometown because the lads I know from there would not hesitate to beat me up if they saw me in the men's bathrooms. I have a device called a stand-to-pee (STP) that resembles a penis and that allows me to stand up and use a urinal. No, you cannot see it.
When did you decide to become transgender/transsexual?
I didn't decide to be transgender; I’ve always known I am male, but I did decide to transition when I was 19.
How do you have sex?
As a gay ftM I get this ALL THE TIME. In fact it was a relative of mine who was the first to ask 'does that mean you will take it up the ass now?'
Not for me, ta. I am not scared or traumatized by my vagina, so I will use it while it's there. Although I know many transmen do not like being penetrated, I myself think sex is sex, and I would ram needles into my eye sockets if it got me off, so being a bit uncomfortable during sex is not that bad. I do have to be drunk to sleep with anyone though.
Are you afraid that people will hate you or want to hurt you?
No I'm not! More people hated me when I was always angry and self-conscious than now; I'm a much happier and relaxed person to be around. As for people hurting me? That’s a risk, yes, but I’m more of a risk to myself when I’m trying to be female and being self-destructive than at risk of other people.
Are you sure you're not just a lesbian? Does this mean you like women now?
Whenever a transgender person gets asked what their sexual preference, they always seem to get really annoyed and scream something along the lines of ‘SEX AND GENDER ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT’ but personally, I think my sexuality is subject to change; I want to have a girlfriend, get married and be able to penetrate her, so I think my sexuality may change after taking hormones etc .
What do your family think?
My family think I'm a closet lesbian. Tut. At least they're pretty accepting though.
Can I see your packer?
Unless you're a close friend, no; if you are a close friend, please be careful when you inevitably windmill it.
What was your birthname?
Mine was Aisling (Ashlyn). I go by Ash now.
Are you sure you're transgender?
Hell yeah I'm sure. I’m certainly not a cismale *looks down pants*
Were you a pretty girl?
No I wasn't. I pass so well now because when I had long hair I looked like a man. When I wore feminine clothing I looked like a man in drag. People used to ask me if I was male. It's worked out well though!
How long have you been transitioning?
Four months. I’m very new to it and I can’t wait to start testosterone.
Are you going to have lower surgery?
I do intend to have phalloplasty someday (penis made from skin of arm/butt ). Lots of guys opt to not have lower surgery, and although I don’t hate my vagina, I don’t think I can live with it for the rest of my life.
Do you have breasts?
I do, and I bind them using a special vest designed to compress them called a gynocomastia vest. Someday I intend to have them removed.
Are you sure you’re not just insane?
No, my mother had me tested.
Do you have support with being trans from school/work etc?
Not really, but I don’t really need it because I have so much online help and friends at the end of the phone. I do get called ‘she’ all the time by my classmates that knew me pre-transition but I ignore it.
What is gender dysphoria/what’s it like/how do you deal with it?
Gender dysphoria is the feeling that you were born with the body of the wrong sex. It would be like if you were born into the body of a cow but knew that in your mind you are human and that it’s not natural that you have a cow's body. I deal with it by putting on my best suit and strutting in front of the mirror; works a treat.
What are the positive lessons you have learned from your experiences? What part of being a trans* person do you celebrate?
Well, I think the most important thing is that I am so much happier and appreciative of everything now. I celebrate feeling normal again – when I was trying to be female it was so confusing; imagine those times when you’re trying to remember the name of an actor or a song and the answer is at the ‘tip of your tongue’? It’s like that but for many years. When I realised there was such thing as being transgender, my whole life made sense.
Do you have body dysphoria? If so, does it apply to most of your body, or just certain parts? Can someone be trans* and have no body dysphoria?
I do sometimes, but I have learned how to deal with it by just hiding whatever is bothering me! If my high-pitched voice is annoying me, I stop talking. If my breasts are a problem, I bind them. If my crotch is bothering me, I put my packer in.
For a transman, penile constructive surgery is very limited. Did you do it anyway? Or, do you plan on getting it done anyway? If so, will you wait for the possibility that science will catch up? Or will you not get it at all?
This is a tricky one. A massive factor for me is size; I would not be happy with a micro penis because I would still feel female. I intend to have phalloplasty regardless of the risk of losing sexual sensation or the risk of missing out on a better option when science improves.
Are you taking testosterone? If so, has it changed your personality or the way you act? If not, why not?
I am not taking T yet! When I do, I think it will make me a better guy because it’ll be another reason to celebrate life. I’m a really positive person and I hope it doesn’t change that aspect of me.
Does liking men ever make you feel like less of a man? Like it somehow effeminates you even though you're male?
Yes, all the time. I always go to sleep and wake up wishing I was straight because I’m currently in purgatory when trying to find a partner… I can’t date straight men nor pick up gay guys, and bi-sexual guys are pretty much non-existent from my experience. I have to be quite macho to make sure I pass while I'm out but it's difficult when you're also into men!
Can you do everything you want to in bed as is, or are you limited by your (current?) anatomy? Are there tools you feel give you the things you crave, or is there no real way to get the desired feel without parts?
As I said previously, I do not care how I get myself off. I definitely have that aspect of male in me – as long as I get an orgasm, I’m happy! I haven’t tried using a strap on or anything like that but I will try it.
Does that help with people you encounter in terms of dealing with their curiosities without awkwardness on both parties? Or, do you sometimes find that your openness actually puts a block in for some people? I.e. you become too open for them to deal with.
I think the most important thing when people ask me questions is that I make sure they do not start feeling negative towards me and the trans* community if they start feeling confused/awkward. I think people are a lot more relaxed about me when they have all their niggling questions answered; I do however, try to make it clear not to ask other transgender people what they ask me as it could cause a bit of an upset. I have never had anyone be weird around me when I talk about it; I only answer questions for people though, I don't just stand there and rant and make them uncomfortable.
If your partner wanted to use the genitalia you were born with while in the bedroom, would you allow/want/be okay with it?
As above, yes.
If you’re thinking of sleeping with a new partner and they didn’t know you were trans*, would you wait for them to find out physically or would you tell them?
Because I’m pre-hormones, they can tell straight away because of my voice, but once my voice is broken I think that I will find it very hard to tell lovers, but I won’t let them just find out by feeling around. So I guess yes, I would tell them.
How should a cis-gendered person be sexually respectful to a pre-transitioned person?
I think regardless of someone’s gender/sex, people should always be respectful in bed, but they should be aware that transgender people are often really insecure, so just be patient and understanding.
These are just a few questions transgender people are confronted with all the time. I hope I cleared up any curiosities! If you have any more, please tell me so I can write a follow up article, but remember that many transgender people do not like talking about their transition, so don’t think it’s now okay to ask other people.