Disentanglement

  • Reading time:10 mins read

Okay, so for a while now I’ve been unfolding and rewiring and figuring out how my sexuality fits together. The major focus has been on dudes with penises, and on how that whole business works with my understanding of who and what I am. What’s my deal with cis women, though?

Well again I’m aroace, so anything with the “big two” attractions is gonna exist mostly in the hypothetical inner space of my imagination rather than something I experience in regard to real people in real life, though I do feel all the tertiary things—and do so without gender. Right now that head zone where sex and romance can exist regardless of any tie to reality is chock full o’ cock, in part I think just from the opening of the floodgates and allowing myself access to this whole aspect of humanity without shame. I’m just me, right. Just a person. But I can and have and do and very probably will continue to feel attraction to binary cis women, same as anyone else—without any real regard to gender I presume, once things iron out and I frickin’ catch up to my own self and decades of repression here.

In all the earlier rambling though, despite these assertions of panness, there’s been this sort of a reluctant quality that seems like it goes beyond my current fixations and freedoms. And yeah, I guess it’s kind of complicated how all of this works with me. Given my history.

I’m going to say this this is less an innate aspect of me than it is just… crap, absorbed from the life that another version of me happened to live, that I have inherited and have yet to sort through and deal with entirely. There are a few things that go into that, that all work together. A super-duper big one is the misapprehensions that I lived under for most of my life—misapprehensions of others, placed onto me, that I never knew how to question or push back against, even as I knew they were wrong from a very young age (as I am rediscovering and remembering).

I say often that my aroaceness is the key to me, and it really is, before anything else. It’s the root of most of the trauma I’ve faced, most of the confusion about every other element of myself, most of the misunderstandings I’ve been caught up in, most of the bad situations. I think this reservation I have toward cis women—well, it’s a sense of caution, with a few sources. The most foundational one comes from the intersection of my assumed gender and my assumed sexuality, and the assumed behavior that would result in from one of my assumed neurology.

There’s a lot here. But most of my life, starting from early childhood, people told me I was a boy; they told me boys were supposed to be interested in girls; and they got very strange and suspicious and accusatory toward me when I didn’t demonstrate this the way they wanted. Which isn’t to say that I had no interest in girls, in theory. But, aroace, right? I didn’t have interest in anyone, in practice. Not romantically, sexually, anyway. Which is the next part of the problem: the lack of nuance to the narrative of allo attraction as it was fed to me.

I’ve messed up a lot of things, confused myself about so much including my basic understanding of who I am, on the basis of what I was told I was feeling, as compared to what I actually felt. I’m a girl, yo. A girl with the genderweirds. And I am drawn to people I respect. I didn’t understand “role models” as they were described to me, but it turns out I did have them. I had all the strange, quirky, smart, pretty women that I deeply wanted to be like, or wanted to be buds with, but had no way of framing my feelings, which didn’t fit the narrative.

So there’s a fuckery in here, right. It’s already getting wound up and complicated, my being encouraged to misread my feelings of commonality as feelings of sexual or romantic attraction, even as I knew there was something deeply wrong about all of this. One consequence there was how it only further walled me off from understanding my gender or my basic attitudes toward myself. Another is that it meant I never really got the benefit of that admiration or modeling, and that I messed up every one of those personal relationships.

So I’m stuck with some garbage wiring here that I have not yet had the patience or motivation to untangle, knowing for a fact that (again in theory if not in practice) I do have access to these feelings for binary cis women. But I don’t want to make those mistakes ever again. Sorting out the nuances of one kind of attraction from another, it’s difficult and sort of beyond what I want to bother with right now. And much of the reason for that burnout is my other big problem: the trauma.

For all the reasons, every romantically, sexually intimate relationship I’ve had has been with a cis girl. Which is fine, sure. But every one of them has been bad, and misjudged, and based substantially on factors outside my own wishes or interests. Each has messed me up more. How much of this is fair to blame directly on my past partners, I don’t know and I’m sure it varies. In some cases the violations have been unambiguous enough. In response to my unpacking the other day, I had someone encourage me to embrace a certain four-letter word. I don’t know.

Part of this is a lack of understanding of myself and why certain things make me feel so very bad, and my tendency to just… do what’s expected of me, not want to make waves, because I know how wrong I am. To just do what people tell me is correct, and to try not to hurt their feelings. And mostly to fail stupendously. But, like. A good person would respect boundaries. Would care if they were coercing people into things they didn’t want to do. Would care if people were hurt, expressing obvious dismay. Which speaks to the circumstances under which I have wound up in these sorts of relationships.

Not a one of them did I seek out. I have never wanted to be involved with anyone, in reality. (There was one brief period of insanity between long-term relationships that wasn’t really about me at all, where I’m fortunate my inner reluctance held me back as strongly as it did.) It’s darkly hilarious, actually. With all the abuse I suffered in my marriage (and shortly after), in sorting through my old blog posts there was this private one from mid-2009 fretting over how very much I wanted to avoid this—two months before moving in with my to-be spouse. I saw it coming, and I knew it was bad, but I felt helpless. I had no self-possession. I had no concept of bodily autonomy. I didn’t belong to myself. I had to do what I was told. And I was so upset. I was so scared. I did not want to enter into what I saw was coming for me.

My entire basis for sexually, romantically intimate relationships has been as the object of someone else’s desire and lack of concern for my basic humanity. The more that they realized I was in fact a real person with wants and needs of my own, the more disgust; the more control. And as unfair as this association is more broadly and as limiting as it is to me internally until such a time as I figure out how to deal with it, every one my my abusers has been a cis girl or cis woman with no regard to my autonomy. Who actively tried to erase what self I had. So after a few decades of that, close to non-stop, there’s this extreme caution and fear and aversion that’s kind of etched in at this point. It’s not a part of me, and it’s not useful, but there it is. And it makes it hard to appreciate the full range of my feelings for others.

I mean. This is probably a thing for me to actively work on at some point. It’s not a big priority in the sense that of course I’m never going to be in a romantic, sexual situation with anyone again. And also in that, I just need a rest here. I’ve spent so much on that.

So that I think is a big factor that feeds into what’s going on with me lately. I’ve been there, and it’s been messed-up and it’s messed me up. And I could clear the mess and figure things out on my own terms, and maybe I will eventually. I imagine I will. But, not now. Because, jeez. And at the same time as I’m able to set that all aside and just kind of go, “no,” for the moment, I’ve got this explosion of hormones and newly unlocked emotional ranges and newly unrepressed interests and desires and fixations in relation to who I now more correctly understand myself to be.

So. Yeah. That makes sense. I guess I understand why cis girls would be on the back burner for now while the masculine dick parade explodes in my new zone of endless potential—and while all the trans enby GNC warm fuzzy unthreatening comfort range continues its normal pattern somewhere under this new noise. The fact that I can, and now fully accept that I do, feel what I do for dudes, and that this is perfectly okay and normal and nothing for me to be ashamed of in the least, is just such a goddamned novelty that it will probably occupy me for a while before it becomes everyday.

It’s going to be hard to go through and work out how to relate to, how to feel about the narrow segment of people I’ve been basically forced to demonstrate a kind of feeling toward, that wasn’t in many cases what I genuinely felt, resulting in most of the abuse I’ve suffered. Which was, like. That was just specific people who deeply sucked, obviously. I’m not about to tar anyone by someone else’s brush. I’m just broken here, right. And I get to make my priorities for how I’m going to recover, where I place my interests. And that’s way down the list right now.

Again, this is in regard to my own capacity to entertain certain kinds of hypothetical attraction. In practical terms I’m still aroace, right. I’m as able to be fond of anyone as much as another—platonically, aesthetically, sensually. The stuff I had so little access to before. I’m just too tired and messed-up to entertain “big two” thoughts toward this particular segment of my full available range. But, I think that may be healthy for better exploring more general forms of affection and fondness, that I was led to misunderstand for so long.

And again, I’m uh. I’m all set in that playtime zone right now. Got my current set of distractions. And whee, they are making me feel good about myself in a way that I did not have access to before. It’s so interesting!

I’ll be whole one of these days. It’s just coming back in pieces.

Single-Player Games

  • Reading time:11 mins read

So okay, after the last several weeks of unfolding, following months of buildup, following years of roiling pressure and repression, I think I’m at a place where I can talk about this more confidently, put the thoughts into an order here.

Anyway, masturbation, right. Whee.

This whole discussion is gonna tie into that business about my attitude toward my body and my sexual role, and the way my attraction works. Like, my views toward my genitals and my bodily processes and my engagement with them and with other people, and how those reflect on my ideas about myself, who and what I am, how I feel about myself as a human being and as a person in relation to everything else.

I’ve gone into this divide I have here in regard to my body. Physically, cosmetically, anatomically, I love what I have going on downstairs and would not change it. There’s zero dysphoria toward my genitals, in part because I don’t gender genitals; in part because they’re great. What does make me feel absolutely awful, though, is sexually engaging with them. It’s worse when, as in past relationships, I’m expected to be the assertive, penetrative party, right. But even for my own alone-time purposes, there’s never not been an essential problem here.

I have not been shy lately about my extreme fondness for cock, right. (At least hypothetically. As pertains to the land of dreams where all pronounced sexuality rests, for this girl.) I’m not going to dwell on that, but suffice my issue is not the concept or behavior of a penis in itself. Like, yeah, I am all about everything to do with that… when it’s attached to a hypothetical other. Super-duper, yeah. Good. But in regard to my own body and processes, it freaks me out. It feels dirty and wrong and uncomfortable and there’s this inescapable shame associated.

This isn’t a thing I really want to “get over,” as it’s not—like, I don’t think of it as an external problem that I’ve taken on and I’m carrying around for no reason. It’s maybe not the most constructive response, but I’m coming to realize its origin is in me, actually. It’s my own signal. It’s not even a hang-up as such. This is hard to disentangle, but it’s wrapped up in my gender and my core ideas about how to relate to myself and others and the world. The wiring, it’s like it sends me this wordless jolt to say, “No, dummy, you’re doing it wrong. Figure it out.”

Historically it has been this uncomfortable thing, having these masculine physiological responses to things that don’t align with my emotional responses, or really anything I want or that matters to me, and feeling this almost coercive compulsion to address it. There was an indignity to my body’s demands upon me and its behavior through the whole process. I never went eagerly into masturbation; it was a matter of relenting—like okay, if I maintain this stupid thing, it’ll go away and I can think about something else, god. And there’s this kind of, every single time it almost felt like I was being tricked by this promise that it’ll be fast and simple and no problem—only to be left with this mortifying mess, that could be hard to contain, was hard to clean entirely. It left me feeling disgusting.

Like, all of this just reinforced all of these negative feelings I already had toward myself. It’s not the penis that was the problem; it was the masculinity, right. It was the behavior everything down to my own physiology seemed to demand from me, that left me distraught. It would be easy to dismiss all of this as, like. Me being prudish or any of the other things my exes have labeled me. But, no? That’s not the problem at all—the fact of sex, the fact of masturbation. Or, I mean, that’s not at the root of it. (One does have a bit of delicacy. I am a girl of some taste and refinement and dignity after all. Goodness gracious. Ahem.)

Coming to understand myself as so unambiguously a bottom, as I have done recently, clarifies so many dynamics at the center of my being, as a person. The way I react, the kinds of dissonance I feel, the things I prefer, the things that scream out as wrong for me personally. And the way my body works now, it feels like one of the missing pieces—my physical reality finally aligning and clarifying everything else about me as a person. It makes so much more sense, and it feels right, and there’s no innate sense of shame attached (beyond social decorum).

So, just gonna leap into the whee zone here. Butt play, right? You’re this deep in the topic, you’re not gonna get too many vapors from this discussion. It’s not like it’s new territory historically, but until lately the focus and significance were unclear to me. There’d always been this interest, circling the drain, but my predecessor never quite knew what to do about those thoughts and feelings and images and impulses. And again, all the roles seemed to demand attention where it was least wanted, so the issue was always sidelined.

Now I get it. As a girl, as a bottom, as this aroace creature with no active drive but this volcano of feelings on the inside, and in my pansexuality—with an aggressive current fixation on men and a lifelong, hitherto confusing, interest in cock. It all, uh. Fits. To to speak. I’m not the one who asserts unto others. I’m the one who entertains and accepts and embraces and nurtures and appreciates, who doesn’t insist on her singular way in the world but takes the world in to make herself more whole. Ideally, hypothetically. Constitutionally.

As far as hormones and impulses and self-maintenance go, the thing about butt play is that though it takes a bit more prep work, it is for me at least substantially less soul-destroying. And weirdly, managing it feels more honest and straightforward than just masculine wanking.

The main concern here obviously is going to be cleanliness, because. Well. There are certain things about a butt, right. But in a way, that concern is so incredibly obvious and immediate and top-of-mind that it feels less insidious than the mess of a promised quick, simple wank. One has to think ahead a bit, plan one’s actions, book some specific time with the understanding of how it’s going to be used. Make an appointment with one’s self, right, with the knowledge that one is going to be exploring and appreciating one’s body. There’s a humanity already. One needs to lay out some tools, make some space. Prepare one’s body. It’s not a quick, easy impulse. There is a deliberation here. An earnestness and transparency of intent. A need for existential consent with one’s self. So just the emotional groundwork is so much healthier.

Also in regard to cleanliness, it’s mostly up-front here, as opposed to being held off as a final insult after this hollow yet physiologically overwhelming and unpleasant experience—Now you feel like garbage, and here’s this awful situation to clean up. Go to hell. See you next time, on my clock. Won’t call ahead. With butt play, cleanup—on the one hand it’s again kind of baked in as an understanding, what issues may exist here and how one may need to deal with them. But overall it’s way less of a problem. Everything’s water-soluble in a way that a masculine ejaculate is aggressively not.

With all the changes to my body, semen’s no longer a thing, right. And good riddance (again specifically in regard to me; it’s fine, from other origins). My body’s working on girl logic, which extends from the fluids I produce to the way I feel arousal, to the mechanics of orgasm, to the wiring of my senses.

None of it is a fully automatic process. Like, I have to engage with my emotions and notice and study the way that arousal comes to me now—not with this petulant screaming flush of blood to one area, but an overall heightened sense of interest and receptiveness. This tingle and warm pressure from my upper limbs, up my torso, to my lips and cheeks. This depth to my breath. This mental clarity. This wryness, fondness, playfulness. And when I’m lying there, every time it’s like the next chapter in an ongoing conversation as my mind gets wired a little closer, those synapses get strengthened, and everything is a little more intense than the last time. My lips feel numb, with the prickle of a foot that’s waking up from a long sleep. The rub of my face on the pillow has this jolt as strong as the rub of my genitals as a teenager.

And—we all have the same anatomy; it just gets specialized late in development, some even after birth. For masculine anatomy, we call it the prostate. Feminine bodies, if we address it at all, it’s usually in terms of its sexual function, and we say “g-spot.” (Skene’s gland, if you want to get nerdy.) It’s the same organ. As one goes on and rewires one’s senses away from one unwanted nexus to one more in line with one’s understanding of the world, everything just becomes so much more wholesome and joyous and holistic and meaningful.

As the connection strengthens and the body responds all the more intensely, one feels so complete and at one with one’s self. It’s about the entirety of me, appreciating my humanity, appreciating my body, my femininity. Strengthening the link between my mind and my body as inextricable parts of a whole person. About feeling human in a way that has always been unavailable, and that runs completely counter to the mode of engagement that my body used to demand of me.

And much like the thoughts that go through my head and the way I engage with my current emotional fixations, none of it feels lurid in the way that I tend to associate with sex and masturbation and the modes of attraction that had I felt been assigned to me. It just feels honest and right and warm and good. It’s very clearly constructive, at least to my relationship with myself and my humanity. But also just, at the essence of my being I think it helps to reinforce this essential love for the world, this compassion for the other. It makes me stronger as a person, gets me in touch with what it means to be alive. As opposed to making me want to die.

This isn’t subtle. It is so deeply etched to my grain, to the way I engage with the world, to my political ideology, my ideas about art and communication. Before anyone else, before any outside projections or assumptions, every piece that I lock into place reinforces who I am. I am in fact a human being. I am a real person. I am a girl. I am full of so much love. These are the ways I see myself and I feel about others. This is what it means for me to be alive. And it’s all important.

Like my aversion to exercise, it’s easy to strip out these things that never made sense to me, or that made me feel awful, because of the frame they came with. Because of the way that other people engage with them as if the things, the actions are important in and of themselves. As if they’re all somehow correct and expected from me to achieve some kind of end, an end often rooted in some kind of supremacy or status, in demonstrating one’s value over others according to some system that makes no sense to me and that I want nothing to do with. But, I am my own universe, and I get to make my own terms of engagement. The fact is, I am human. When I deny whole hunks of that from the weight of someone else’s garbage, I’m chopping off essential pieces of myself and crippling my understanding and acceptance of what’s left.

So yeah, this is a piece of me I’m reclaiming. And gee whiz, does it make more sense now. Things can in fact be good. I have nothing to be ashamed of, when I am true to myself. I just need to follow the signals and ask what they’re actually trying to tell me.

The Start of the World?

  • Reading time:5 mins read

After more than a year on HRT, my body does not experience arousal in the way that I suffered for about 30 years there. This change is recent enough, and affects so much wiring, that I really don’t know all the implications. I just know that it comes as such a tremendous relief.

As a physiological response, what I’m getting now feels more wholesome and substantial and meaningful. It feels more real and grounded in my body, less like I’m being attacked, and it better reflects how I actually feel about myself and others, and experience true attraction. There’s less a build-up of pressure than a sort of a loosening of tension. It’s no longer this functional, goal-oriented discomfort, screaming for release. It’s a spark, an awakening of potential. Physiologically, it’s not about the genitals; it’s this glowing warmth and softness all up my torso and my face and my upper arms and legs. This sense of receptiveness. Acceptance, of fascination, anticipation. At higher levels, this shortness of breath, and all-over prickles.

My association with arousal has been this sense of wrongness, of my body working against my interests and my feelings. For my body to respond, there’s always been this dissonance, leading to shame and discomfort and piling ever more disgust on my feelings toward myself. This, it’s… different. I don’t know how to feel. I have all of this baggage to work against, all these expectations, and it’s confusing for me that it doesn’t feel so bad now. Whatever this is, it feels sort of positive, constructive—not lurid in the way I’m used to.

What’s more interesting is the sense of continuity. Each instance, it’s less its own isolated episodic happening with its own short unsatisfying arc, and more dipping back into an ongoing conversation, returning to a prior train of thought, checking back into an emotional space.

This all ties into how the act itself, which I will not labor, is now less about desperately reaching a goal than about appreciating the moment and the ongoing changing mix of feelings and senses. And it’s so much more visceral. Holistic. Decentralized. One literally sees stars.

Like, I do not associate good things with sex, or with arousal. It’s bad, and it’s so delicate to dance around the reasons why it causes me so much grief. But broadly, cautiously, the way my body works now, it makes so much more sense to me. This feels correct. Basically healthy.

What I find interesting about this is how the body workings intersect with my emotional and psychological response. Like, the way I’m wired, I realized I’m expecting my body to behave a certain way, and it never has. And now it kinda does, and this ties into all this other stuff. The way my body now poises all up and down my frame to anticipate and measure and receive and study—it speaks volumes to my expectations of a sexual role. Those dynamics in turn feed into my wiring of how to relate to others and to myself, and my sense of self and identity.

Having estrogen in my system, it causes my body to experience arousal in such a way as to further affirm my gender and justify my core assumptions about how to relate to, feel about people. All these things that I knew on some level were right, yet were a struggle to reconcile.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but—to be wired as an unambiguous bottom, and to experience arousal as navigation of reception and acceptance? It’s congruent. The basic dissonance is gone. The slow perusal does the same with my more detached and abstracted modes of attraction. And yes, to continue the recent conversation, this also to no small extent speaks to the whole deal with attraction to men and long fixation with a particular anatomical feature that I’m just at the point of shrugging and accepting, now that the floodgates are fully demolished.

(All of which, I still feel compelled to underline, lest there be any chance of misunderstanding, remains basically hypothetical of course. See the noodling about internal and external experiences, and how they work when one is aroace. (If… one happens to be Azure, I suppose.))

Anyway, I’m at this confusing juncture here where, ever so cautiously, feeling horny no longer seems like this evil, disgusting thing that makes me wish I could vanish. It’s just… neutral. A thing one can embrace and explore, or not, to what level may feel best in the moment.

I think that’s positive. Probably? It’s weird. It grazes so hard on stuff I’m really not able to deal with still.

But this whole concept of me, it’s… getting more stable. It’s making more consistent sense. Every piece I slot in, it just confirms the placement of the rest.

I still feel like I have to tiptoe around here, but. I think it may be okay. I think we may be good. I just need to settle in. Chill out a little. Get used to the world not ending.

All and Nothing

  • Reading time:12 mins read

It’s weird, how attraction works when you’re aroace. I don’t really understand it all that well myself. I just know that I don’t work the way that everyone else seems to. Like, I don’t get it. These things I thought were just poetic exaggeration, I guess people truly experience.

I don’t think I’ve regarded another person who exists in the world, and thought, yes, I want to have sex with that person imminently, please. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at someone and fallen dramatically “in love” and had these dreams of being made to feel important by them. People are just… people. They’re just trying to get through their lives. Leave them alone, you know. Why project this nonsense onto them? I don’t want anyone to look at me like that. Gross. What would be the purpose of any of this? It’s so weird, like adults believing in Santa.

I mean, I guess religion is a thing for a lot of people. The unflappable reality of traditions and social order and family and all these power systems that we’re told to regard as gods unto themselves. I just, don’t get power, or desire, or status. Why? Why not be cool? Of course lots of people do know their own minds and seem to make it work for them in their own ways, and live their lives according to these sorts of interests, and sure, okay. We all gotta have hobbies. I like dinosaurs a lot. I could sit down with a person and talk about dinosaurs a while.

Anyway. I say all of this in practical terms, right. These are my dynamics as applied to the physical world. None of this really makes sense to me, and I don’t care if it does or not, really. Things don’t elicit these anticipated responses, and I have other things to think about. But, there are a couple of big caveats here that weird up the whole system. One, we’ve got this whole galaxy of tertiary attractions. Two, we’ve got everything to do with one’s inner life, which in its rules and substance really has no direct correlation to material reality.

Of the two, the harder to get my head around is tertiary attractions. I guess it’s just that hard for me to engage with the real world, right. I never interact with people, and I’m poor at abstracting out meaning from my scant awkward experiences, most of which aren’t even my own. So even here we’re working in this abstract theoretical plane, parallel to the fantasy zone (which, as I have established, is currently screaming). But, well, I guess that’s what I’m doing here to some extent. Trying to hash that out for myself a little better.

You ask the Tumblr crowd, you’ll get a thousand fine-grained ways to break down tertiary attraction, some of which seem built only to baffle or justify one individual’s very specific hang-ups. But broadly, there are a million ways to feel attraction and love besides the “Big Two.” You can enthusiastically appreciate and enjoy how darned pretty people are without feeling any compulsion to bonk them or date them. You can want to be touched and held, without those impulses. And yes, of course there’s the whole teakettle of platonic attraction.

People who are really really into the mythology of sex and romance kind of like to cast any other kind of relationship or personal attraction into this “lesser” or “other” pile they label platonic. But, uh. No, that’s frickin weird in itself, and diminishes an extraordinary thing. Everyone’s going to define things differently, but as I see it, platonic attraction is a deep and meaningful appreciation for the essence of a person: you love and respect and appreciate the fact that they are who they are, that they work the way that they do, as themselves. This isn’t about wanting them for yourself, or wanting them to do anything for you, or even wanting to do anything for them necessarily. It’s not about lust or desire or power. It’s this pure delight from recognition of the nature of another person; this glee over what makes them them.

That kind of attraction or love can exist alongside anything else, whatever other terms you might use to categorize a relationship. It’s what you get in the best of best friends, in the closest marriages, functional families. Situations where people just fundamentally adore each other—which is distinct from this broad sketch we might draw, as adults, of “being friends” with a person. Oh yeah, we get along. We talk about deeper things sometimes. Sometimes we help each other out. We have a good time when we hang out. All of which is super. But you see the significance, right, of just thinking a person is absolutely the cat’s pajamas and appreciating them as a human being, as they are, the way that they’re put together? Of having that degree of faith and trust and emotional investment in the nature of another’s being?

Platonic attraction ain’t no joke, kids. It is, if I may, the Realest Fucking Deal. It is to what a person who actually likes and respects other people as individuals might aspire, and I would imagine how one might most aspire to be regarded by others. It’s not colored by any of one’s personal garbage.

I, uh, don’t want to labor the point, but, lacking the ability to appreciate or on some level frankly fucking accept as real (??) the terms under which most people seem to pursue intimate relationships with each other, I think past partners and I have worked cross-purposes in our apprehensions. Now that I have the language these days, I’m pretty sure my understanding of all my prior relationships was something like a QPR—a queerplatonic relationship, as they’re called. I just kinda thought that’s what close relationships were. My partners all had… other, profoundly different, expectations.

They seemed to all have these stories they wanted to play out, featuring each of us as characters with particular roles and lines and independent subplots, winding around to certain present plot events and… like. I just thought my partners were neat, you know. I liked their minds. I wanted to be around them, appreciate how they did things. Study how they used words. Figure out the how, and the why, of how they were put together. Take delight in their quirks, even and especially the infuriating ones, because I thought I understood where they came from.

But then there were all the complaints about, uh. My failure to put out, I guess. And failing to take initiative to progress this plot that had nothing specifically to do with me or with them, that I could see. Not saying the right lines. All while I adored their every word. I just wanted to be constantly around them, listen to them talk, make dinner with them, do projects with them, maybe cuddle sometimes, I trusted their every judgment, no matter how ill-advised in hindsight. Including and especially judgments about me. I always want to be better.

So in no instance did that turn out well. But, there we have some pretty intense tertiary attractions at work, right. I am capable of rich and close and meaningful intimacy and affection and love for others. But I don’t get these “Big Two” attractions at all. Not a piece of ’em. This kind of an apprehension for what it means to be intimate with another—this seems to be pretty common with aroaces actually. This is why the term “QPR” exists, to describe a certain model of a close interpersonal relationship that… really isn’t accounted for elsewhere.

Someone cynical and just… I feel like, devoid of joy or interest in other human beings, would maybe say, what I’m describing is just a friendship. But, uh, no? Jesus Christ, no. I mean, yes, but, what? No. There is clearly something going on here, right. This all is important.

Again without wanting to labor dead points too much, but for context here, my ex-spouse at one point asserted very strongly that if we weren’t constantly having sex we were no different from roommates. At the time I wondered, dear, are you sure you know what a roommate is? It wasn’t until years later that the other half clicked: did they even know what it meant to love somebody?

So this is me, right—so extremely, innately aroace, before anything else to do with gender or sexuality. Just at my deepest core, we have this set of understandings of how to relate to other people, of what love is, of what affection and attraction are, that don’t map to the world. And dear God, is it lonely. I didn’t really know what loneliness felt like until about three months ago, but I get it now. And gee whiz, this actually does deeply suck.

Anyway. This is just sort of skimming the surface of any of this. But, this is how I feel toward people, when I feel a certain way. It’s so goddamned intense. I love the atoms that make up the cells in their bodies because of the particular polarity of their constituent particles. But, sex? Romance? Uh. I mean. I guess, if I were to feel that way about someone, and they were interested and, I were interested at the same time, then we could do anything together, right? Go on any kind of an adventure. But I don’t understand those things as motivating factors in and of themselves. Just, why?

So take this, and—as I seem to now be able to better appreciate—apply a lack of a real gender filter to the way I feel about people. Historically, whenever I’ve wound up in this scenario—well, there’s that awful misunderstanding, right? Coercion, even, frankly, on their part. Also it’s always been with cis women. But, those were just the circumstances. (And, that wasn’t me. That was the other person.) Both ideologically and just… by the way that I see people emotionally when I can drop all the external garbage and shame, I don’t distinguish by that kind of triviality.

So when I say I’m pan-aroace, that’s what I mean. It sounds like a contradiction when we assemble these discrete terms, but there is a consistent throughline to my perspective, I think, toward other people and what I find meaningful and important, and toward what’s just noise.

At least, that’s the practical end of it. When you actually climb inside my head, where something deep within me and outside of my control determines the fabric of the universe, things kinda, uh, look different. Strictly unto myself for example, divorced from material concerns or the agency and individuality of real people with their own emotional landscapes, yeah, absolutely, fuck town central up in there. Some times are stronger than others. Right now, biologically I’m wired like a 17-year-old girl—and thus does my sensibility abide.

In the midst of this second, exponentially more aggressive, puberty, the clamor is loud and distracting and bewildering to a degree that I am unaccustomed, as familiar as I am with the differences to the worlds inside and outside my skull. It’s wet and sticky and shameless. There are fixations, there are interests. There are feelings. There are physical manifestations of arousal (which gee whiz, works very differently for me than it did for them). But, basically none of this bears any relation to reality whatsoever, to any person who exists. It’s all the raw theory of emotion, if you will, untempered by concerns of practical application. Sometimes it will latch onto some scrap of an anchor, like a fictional character who hits some mix of aesthetic and ideological ideals or fascinations. Or a hypothetical other; some might-be entity who can act in the eternal maybe of my mind.

And yeah, in that realm of the hypothetical, which really has never mixed well with reality in any of my experiences on this planet, and just seems bizarre to me to regard in anything like the same way, those much more visceral attractions also very much occur ungendered—sort of. Which is to say, one will fixate. One will specialize. Different genres of ideas will come and go. And, uh, I think I’ve made it clear enough which specific details are giving my mind its dopamine of late. Those details absolutely are gendered. And, one will have certain lasting favorites.

The thing is, being unable to experience or really understand sexual or romantic attractions for the other doesn’t mean those same impulses can’t reach absurd degrees of resonance inside one’s imagination. Ultimately that’s the home for all of this stuff, to squirt with impunity. From observation, this seems to be pretty common with others on the asexual spectrum. There’s so much going on upstairs all the time, but there’s such a disconnect between that and the outside world, that it’s the perfect cauldron for the most salient and spicy of art.

So that’s the other part to being pan and aroace. Inside it’s just gonzo, profane wonder. Outside, it’s this earnest joy in the being of another—not necessarily chaste, but uninflected by personal desire or expectation. It ain’t about me, right. It’s about how neat they are.

In my case, uh. Yeah, it is chaste. Because in practical terms, sex is gross and upsetting and it makes me want to die. But, that’s beside the point. I don’t even know how much of that is even innate and how much is unresolved trauma, and again I’m not in any real rush to deal with it. It’s never going to apply to anything. I can pick it apart over decades, as I feel able.

So I think, having put it all in order, in so many words, that all makes a lot more sense to me now. What does it mean for me to be pan and aroace? Well, that. It means that. What does it mean for me to be aroace and have these feelings that have been making me melt lately? There’s the start of it, at least.

Almost certainly not the end, though.

Function and Role

  • Reading time:14 mins read

So all this business about how the different aspects of my sexuality inform each other, and they all inform my gender, which reflects back on my sexuality, and how aspects of all of these play into my interests and fixations and feelings about myself and others, real and abstract—it’s a lot, right? It’s all connected in these ways that I’m struggling to entirely navigate. It’s easy to just say, forget it; I am who I am, and I don’t need to define everything. And: sure. But, the better I understand, the better of a grip I have on myself on my own terms. And I have to understand what my terms are, to be able to be true to them with full confidence and be in full possession of myself as a person.

Likewise, I’ve got all this toxic code planted in my routines by outside agents, that one needs a fine comb to strip out and patch. Part of that external stuff comes from possibly a better-meaning place, and it’s all this concern I have built up about the problematic implications of this or that conclusion or association I’ve made on my own terms, as if they serve to comment on anything or anybody else. Part of it’s just pure disease.

So I guess part of this whole project here lately, in regard to my sexuality, is de-heebing my jeebs by really taking a look at the why behind the connections I’m making; how they hold the meaning that they do to me, where that comes from, and what its real implications are.

One of the big things I’ve been chewing over is, so what does my interest in dudes have to do with my femininity? It’s a question that feels obvious in some ways, but in turn anything obvious about it feels highly questionable once one steps back to think for more than a moment. What does it mean when I say I felt I was “allowed” to be attracted to guys once I came to understand and accept myself as a girl? What can we unpack from this on a granular level, apart from and in contrast with any kind of presumptions one might carry into the discussion?

Well, broadly, one’s understanding of one’s identity colors the nature of one’s relationships to others. I relate to so many things differently through a correct understanding of my gender than I did with that misaligned filter. My own words sound so different to me. This plays out on so many simple, visible levels. I’ve found a need to exercise a kind of caution in some situations, some kinds of conversation, that wasn’t even on the radar before. I’ve noticed that people are just nicer to me in some situations than they ever were before.

Our dynamics from person to person aren’t neutral. There’s a lot that plays into the psychology and the associated emotions based on our understanding of who we are and how we expect to be perceived. And those are weird and complicated, based on all these micro-power spikes. Even my close friends, even people I’ve known for years, I don’t talk to them exactly the way I used to—or I should say, the way that my predecessor did. And that’s not entirely a function of my changing emotional or chemical landscape, though those certainly are universes.

So just in the most unspecific possible terms, when I take a step back and look at myself as a rebuilt person, the way I feel about this person is going to be different. When I judge how this person will relate to others, I have different expectations than I did for the old me.

More to the point, there are a couple of obvious components. A lot of it is just self-possession, right? It’s just that recognition of who and what I really am, regardless of what that may be, gives me a solid foundation to start to build connections to other people and concepts. Being able to nail down, okay, Azure—non-binary girl; aroace; pan-whatever; neurodivergent along these dimensions; this is all inarguable and fundamental and has always been, will always be essentially true, some wiggles and nuance aside—it takes a load off. Sets natural guides.

Another thing I really don’t want to downplay is my changing body. Like, my chemistry is totally different now. I’ve had my intervention, things are quickly repairing themselves. I have access to all these emotions I didn’t have before. All my tastes and preferences are changing. There is an inarguable link between the feminization of my body and this abrupt shift toward intense new ways of thinking. I feel like a teenage girl in so many ways here. I never really had a dramatic natal puberty, so this is a first for me and it’s kind of overwhelming. Again without wanting to get too crass about it, there is a measurable association between the amount of estrogen in my system and the degree to which my fixation with cock has reached absurd levels, as well as just… the feelings I get from certain kinds of healthy masculinity.

So those two factors are kind of accessible and clear and simple for me. I don’t feel the need to labor them too much. What I want to unpack is more to do with the puzzle dynamics of gender specifically as it pertains to sexuality and vice-versa, and how they pertain to my wiring.

As a social construct, gender is this made-up dumb thing but it’s also got these real internal components that really go beyond assumed models or whatever. Like, sometimes your body is just gonna respond a certain way, you’re gonna have a certain emotional response, and so on. Certain things are going to feel inherently right, and make you feel good about yourself and like a functional human being even as you would never dream of asserting them on another person, and some of those are going to I guess inevitably align with this prescriptive garbage.

With me, I’ve got all these… gender feelings, that are complicated and that I am tempted to wind up with guilt over things that have nothing to do with me, no matter how I come at them. I’m an enby through-and-through, right. But I’m also obviously a girl. Which is fine, right. But one is tempted to read in this innate conflict, especially as the more comfortable I get with myself, the more I dig around, the more frickin’ femme I turn out to be, to a degree I’d not have anticipated. But this is what makes me feel like a real person. It’s clearly right.

I like makeup. I’m no good at it yet, but this really plays to my sense of self to a degree that surprises me. I have never felt more comfortable in my body than in delicate, lacy feminine-coded dress. I feel more human with smooth, shaved legs—even as I think hairy girls rock. I’m an individual, and as an individual I just… seem to be put together in such a way that all of this makes me feel well and right in myself in a way I didn’t know was possible. I didn’t know I could own myself, like myself, in this way—to not find myself revolting. Turns out, I’m great!

None of that is in any way prescriptive or indicative of broader thoughts or expectations toward femininity or what it means to be a girl or non-binary or trans or to hold any kind of attraction or lack of attraction to others. It’s just the status quo of Azure. Nothing more. It’s about putting the pieces together to make a whole person, whom I like and respect and want to be—exactly because of the innate, verifiable, undeniable truth of every atom of what makes her who she is. It’s about asserting the reality that I’m finding, that was denied me.

So it’s into all of that that we play this concept of, now that I understand myself as a girl—but more specifically as this girl named Azure—I have this availability and this certainty and this confidence to access these feelings, at the same time as my body is going nuts with its hormones and sensations.

Okay then, we’ve got this basic stage for why it would make practical sense for this to be a juncture where, if these feelings were gonna get un-repressed and we’d work to accept and own them on our own terms, this would be a reasonable time for that to happen. It makes sense. But, why “allowed”? Why do I feel permitted to house these feelings as a girl, when they were all out-of-bounds before I understood myself?

I think there are two aspects to that. One is just, I’ve put this work into disassembling and stripping all that external garbage. These feelings were always here; I know they were. That’s not the issue. To a large extent what kept them in check was the internalized homophobia [sic], combined with my basic disgust for myself as a person, to the degree that I was led to understand my identity. I’ve put a lot of work into dealing with this junk that was put onto me, that had nothing to do with who or what I am, and just scraping off a critical mass of that was enough to send this impulse bursting through the crust to assert itself.

Another part is, uh, a portal to another land of weirdness, and it scrapes right up on this area that I really don’t want to get into right now, but I guess I’ve talked about it a little bit already—so here we go. It’s to do with sexual roles, right. This topic has all of these complicated dynamics of its own, to some of which we can apply all the above discussion about Azure just being Azure. But the more that I unpick this topic the more it helps me to understand my feelings toward myself as a girl, and vice-versa.

The better I understand the dynamics of my pretty darned innate, hard-coded sexual role as it applies to my gender, the better I understand a lot of practical elements of the trauma that I’ve experienced in my sexual relationships, from the perceptions and expectations set on me. Obviously to be a girl doesn’t mean to be passive, it doesn’t mean to be a bottom, any more than to wear skirts and pantyhose. Azure is just Azure. But to understand the components of me as they add up to a whole person and color and are colored by my own personal femininity…

So here’s a thing. I of course have a penis, as girls will do sometimes. I have absolutely zero dysphoria in regard to my penis as a part of my body. It’s marvelous. It’s almost a shame I’ll never have opportunity to share it. It’s so pretty, seriously. I love it. What I very much do have however is role dysphoria. And this has taken a very long time to unpick, despite indicators going back literal decades. It’s still strange for me to talk about, as is anything to do with sex. And I’m getting really close to some danger zones for trauma. In brief, though, the act of using my genitals for a sex act does not make me feel good, along several axes at once. I just… am going to stop with that, because I can feel the panic rising. But of course there are certain coded expectations that one will carry around based upon anatomy—and I think it’s really taken me a long, long time to fully work around to detaching from those associations and expectations.

One of the things that has helped a whole bunch is the physiological changes brought about by HRT. Stuff works differently now, right. The anatomy works differently. Emotions are different. Physical sensations are different. Arousal is just this completely different narrative now, one that is… better. That actually kind of, makes me feel affection toward myself and the world rather than just shame and horror. My feminized body does not respond the way that my predecessor’s did, all of which supports my feelings toward myself as a girl and comes as an enormous existential relief. It’s just another development like my tits, right, which emphasizes the reality of what I know to be true. And you know, anyone can be anything. There are plenty of girls of any genital situation who are all about being the assertive or penetrative party or whatever. And that’s rad. But, my body cooperating with my mind and my emotions, putting me all on the same page for once? Phew.

So as a girl, this is one component of my understanding of myself; of how my gender functions in relation to me as a person; of how all these elements of me feed into and communicate and support each other in a healthy way that allows me to feel well and respect and love myself.

I break out all of this to say, that—the relationship of my sexual role to my gender—is the other part of what I think I mean when I talk about being “allowed” to feel this attraction as a girl. Or that’s a non-trivial ingredient of a larger picture. That’s the internal part, not to do with other people’s baggage. What I think is accessible to me now, it also has a logistical, even uh geometric, component that I was not fully able to process before, that has to do with my understanding of my sexual role, wound up as it is in my understanding of my gender.

In terms of my own personal dynamics with masculinity, I have zero interest with the role others have projected onto me. But now that I have largely broken away from my body even being able to respond like that—I, uh, have come to better appreciate alternative modes of engagement. Which isn’t just to make attraction all about what parts go where, right. That’s just one component, even to the subject of sexual role as pertains to gender. What it is, is indicative of a critical shift in perspective toward my personal and emotional role in respect to dudes. To understand myself as a girl, and for my body to work as it now does, is for a certain amount of logic to go click. Suddenly—oh! I get it now. If I’m over here and they’re over there, it looks like this now. I get how this works. It makes sense from this angle. Okay, vroom vroom.

Again much of this presupposes cisness on the point of the masculine party, because this all exists in the aroace magic hypothetical zone. And I already have long wrapped my head around how I feel about those of us in the weird zone, right. That’s relatively easy to understand.

So basically, a big part of it is just a matter of unlocking this modality of feeling in relation to my body and my role, that didn’t even exist until I was in a place to embrace my girlhood. It was not “allowed” in that I could not reconcile it with my prior understanding of me. That attraction was always there, but even absent of other people’s garbage, until I understood who and what I was, I had no idea what to do with it. Even if (misplaced) homophobia weren’t a thing, 20 years ago the thoughts and feelings would have felt divorced from reality.

But seeing as a girl, I get it. I have the perspective that I could not have had, in terms of the dynamics of how I fit together as a human being. Now it has become, for lack of a better term, logical. Which basically triggers a green light. Thus do my dreams become a dick parade.

I mean.

Again, I’m sure things will calm down eventually. Even with my hormones being as they are. But well. This is where we are at the moment.

So. Fine, okay. This is part of what it means for me to be human. This is part of who Azure is. So might as well bask in it, I guess.

Hickory Dickory Dock

  • Reading time:21 mins read

Okay, so we’ve gestured at how as I’ve regained possession of my self and my body and gained a level of comfort with who and what I am, I’ve begun to shed all these layers of other people’s shame—and how that informs my developing understanding of my thoughts and feelings. How as I’ve explored and strengthened my relationship with myself, I’ve grown more confident in similarly reexamining my relationships to others and to the world around me—all of which is the realm where a sexuality is going to rest, right, ergo these newly freed aspects thereof. In a foundational sense then, it’s clear why (as I put it earlier) the dam is breaking after all those years of cracks and trickles, and I now am able to consciously embrace these previously unavailable feelings—and also why that novelty would become a fixation, at least for the moment. But that sketch kind of skirts what feels like a blink-tag question:

But why cis dudes, tho? Specifically?

Well. Okay. There are several dimensions here, as there would be. Nothing becomes real for me without eighty citations and empirical proof of inevitability. As before and ever, I’m going to try to chip at this without being too problematic about gender roles and biology and societal assumptions and things, and try to couch everything I say in terms of my own wiring. But this is new, and I’m going to be clumsy. I use the words I got.

So this sudden fixation on cis dudes is an intersection of a bunch of things that assemble in a logical way that’s basically only able to lock together now. It’s absolutely not an exclusive thing, or indicative of much beyond my own wiring and the dynamics of the moment. The first thing I guess we need to unpack is the broad ability to observe, admit, and embrace an attraction to men—alongside the better-documented attraction to women and enbies, which is complicated in its own garbage ways—which again isn’t new. It’s always been there. It’s been there, but any time my mind has gone anywhere near the topic, there’s been this learned sort of magnetic repulsion; this immediate sense of nope. “That is not an alley to walk down,” my reflex tells me. “Turn away, now. Think of anything else.” It became an automatic process almost the moment my head began to form these thoughts.

That repression itself isn’t just one thing. Absolutely yes, there was a (misplaced haha) internalized homophobia going on—homophobia in the sense of, not hatred as the word is often used, but existential dread. Because I knew the dangers; they’d been drilled into me. I knew what would happen if I let on even a hint of the things flitting around under the surface, allowed myself to consciously entertain any of them. I’ve already had my head bashed into a bleacher once, I’ve been put through youth therapy, gotten lectures from authority figures. It was the kind of fear of, say, someone who’s been through AA, when they walk into a bar—that whole one-drop mentality. It’ll all be over. You’ll be forever tarnished. (Even removed from the moralism, of course in reality things are more nuanced than that.) I’d feel like, if I don’t block out these pictures from my head, if I don’t look away, if I don’t think of literally anything else—well, I already knew everything about me was awful and wrong and gross, and was never to be expressed. This was just one of a million shames. One for the list. But boy is it a headliner. There would be no going back from here.

And that there, that speaks to the other big problem: me. My utter learned revulsion for myself, combined with my more understandable revulsion for the person I was wrongly expected and coerced and compelled to be, whom I never successfully could and never wanted to be. Every day of my life for so many years, I was just… well, I’d long since given up hope or dream or desire. I knew I didn’t belong to myself. I knew my body didn’t belong to me. I had no choice, no power of decision about anything—about who I was, what I was, how to be. This shell that I built up in order to survive, this previous person who wasn’t really a person—this rudely hacked-together series of automatic processes with no animating soul, that guided this body for at least three decades—for what there was of me breathing inside that husk, it was a horror to me. And for that, there was I think an element of association—this horror over the hateful thing that I did not want to be yet was trapped inside, and the reflections of that unwanted ideal, out there in the world, that mocked this point of abject misery and disgust for me.

This trauma is kind of a warped mirror of my other attraction issues. I don’t want to say that my attraction to men is any innately stronger than my attraction to women or to enbies—again innately I don’t think I really gender my attraction to people. What we’re unpacking here is a current fixation, now that I’m allowed full liberty of emotion. The thing about the way I was nonetheless socially guided by gender, though, it also fucked up and confused any attractions I felt toward women in ways that have really damaged me over the years, again on several levels, for several reasons, at once.

I’ve explored this a little in isolation, but—the aroace thing? It’s so important to me. Everything about my feelings toward and relationships with others goes through there before it goes through anything else, and it’s the only healthy, honest filter to understand me. Likewise it’s the main thing and the basic key that set off and permitted this sense of self-possession and body autonomy that I never knew, was never allowed, at any point in my life before about two and a half years ago. I belong to no one but myself, and that includes my heart well, so to speak. Attraction is a weirdness, ergo this whole discussion. But the goddammed cis-allo-heteronormative presumption that goes into every fucking message one will receive from culture and from the controlling figures in one’s life, it infests one’s read on every possible relationship one could develop. Even where it’s clearly obviously undeniably wrong, you’re made to question and override your own intimations and go with what you’re told, because there is no conversation, no vocabulary for asexuality—a scant one for any non-straight sexuality, even from a cis perspective. So when you feel a thing, you’re told what it means—and if you’re uncertain, you’re fucking wrong and stupid, and just scared and told to stop doubting yourself (by way of listening to yourself and doubting them) and listen to the people who know more about what’s really going on.

So, I’m a girl, right. And I’m ace before anything. So when I’m young, and I’m looking at rad and smart and strong and weird and interesting and pretty women, what my head is doing, though I don’t know how to read the feeling, is saying, whoa, I want to be like that. She’s great! 95% of my attraction that I was allowed to express to the point where it could be misinterpreted, it amounted to a kind of affinity: a recognition of myself, or my potential self, in the other. An admiration, a respect, a fascination. A sense of inspired commonality. But that didn’t make sense with the tools I was given, and that kind of a read opened up all these worrisome notions about my possibly not being the person I was told I had to be or else there would be very very deep trouble for me—the person who so disgusted me to pretend to be. So I wound up being encouraged to ignore my understandings and forcibly misread every feeling I ever had toward another girl or a woman. And gee whiz, has that ruined my life repeatedly over and over and destroyed so many things about my relationship with myself over the years.

What I was feeling toward men, then—toward “other” boys—it was corrupted by other people’s ideas of gender and attraction in exactly the same way as my feelings toward women. Just, the other way around. Because, whoops, genitals guide every dimension of our lives, right?

Which leads into the next thing. To allow myself to actually feel these attractions toward men—equal as they may be to my attractions to anyone else—to a large extent it’s just a product of this recent sudden release of pressure. So that makes a sort of functional sense. It’s just—it’s one thing to finally embrace this part of the puzzle, but why do I keep saying cis dudes? What’s that about? That feels deeply strange and possibly a bit dodgy in some ways, especially with this whole context in TERfy circles about “genital preferences” as a set of dogwhistles for biological essentialism, transmedicalism, whatever.

So, okay. I’ve really tried to avoid going too hard on this topic (so to speak), but I really have a lot to say about dicks. And it’s just—it’s been hard to contain for my entire life, and I’ve never taken the opportunity to properly unpack it, so just bear with me on this for a minute.

Now obviously genitals aren’t gendered, right. That’s, like, day-one absolute duh material. Anyone can have anything. All bodies are basically the same; all the parts are equivalent and only diverge at basically the last minute, and even then hardly at all in a meaningful way. And your body says absolutely zero about who or what you are, except for what you personally want to project onto it. I really shouldn’t have to say any of this, but I feel like it’s important to establish it before I go all cock-hungry in this discussion.

To skip back a minute first, the binary fuckery that I’ve been taught to apply to every thought and feeling I experience toward myself or others may start to indicate why I’ve felt an unusual freeness and safety in my attraction to enbies, trans, and GNC folx. Once the concept of people outside the binary landed on my radar, they immediately glitched out the toxic framework that otherwise saturated every element of my life. They didn’t fit the system. I didn’t have any preset rules to warp my responses. And yes, to follow an earlier thread, of course I felt an intense (if super confusing) affinity as well. So I think the feelings that developed were more pure and honest and available to me, easier to understand, than my feelings toward people of either binary gender. This room outside the binary was my safe area that had escaped the existential normative, self-loathing, life-denying blitzkrieg.

At some point I’m going to have to reckon with my feelings toward cis women, which for the above reasons are messed-up in all of these unfortunate ways. Right now that’s not where the novelty is, though. I’ve always been not only allowed but actively forcibly compelled with that. So it’s nothing inherent about cis women, or even my innate attractions to them, that I feel my own sort of trauma about anything to do with entertaining attraction to them at this point. It’s just, all the abuse. I’ll get to that in time. It’s down the road a bit.

I bring all this up now because it informs a really important element in the larger question we’re asking here. I’m already sort of chill with my attraction to the genderly peculiar. I always have been, except to what extent it took me a while to strip out and isolate these notions of romantic and sexual attractions that do not exist in my system the way that I’ve been told that of course they must. So when we’re going to start asking the question, okay, but what’s the deal with attraction to cis people, of either binary—on some level I’ve already reconciled those feelings, or never had an issue with non-cis people. By its nature, that range of emotion managed to sidestep the basic problem here. Mostly. But more to the point, more starkly and energetically, as a boundless topic of discussion in and of itself: cocks.

Being aroace is a weirdness for so many reasons. It’s hard enough to fully understand or to communicate what that means. It’s even harder when you start to observe tertiary attractions and cross it with other sexualities, and try to unpick the dynamics of how and why. I feel like I have to assert forever and with the strongest emphasis that to be aromantic and asexual means that I don’t experience or understand these attractions to real people—like, it doesn’t happen; I don’t view people that way, and it weirds me out a little to be honest— but that not only are there a million other kinds of attraction one can experience, a million other ways to feel and express one’s love or fondness or interest in another, a million kinds of intimacy that don’t involve bodily fluids; that people also have an internal dimension. There is a difference between fantasy and reality. I can deeply appreciate things in my own head, dream about whole scenarios and dynamics that make sense to me and hold great emotional power—yet have no desire or indeed ability to see that replicated in this external body zone. That doesn’t make either side more real or important than the other. They all make up who a person is, and their relationships to and understanding of themselves and of others.

What goes on inside me is its own universe and of critical, fundamental importance to my life. The barest, dumbest example here: I am not going to fuck. (Well, not another person anyway.) It will not happen. Doesn’t matter who, doesn’t matter when. I have no interest. I don’t experience or understand the basic attractions that would lead to such an event. That’s not the way I’m wired, and I never will be. That doesn’t stop me from having the raunchiest things bouncing around in my dreams, or from finding sex-that-doesn’t-involve-me-specifically a hilarious discussion topic, or from easing up in my own personal fantasies and in what I’m allowed to appreciate and entertain without triggering this deep shame and aversion. And the thing about fantasy is, it doesn’t always necessarily play by the codes and principles and linear emotional logic of life. It picks and chooses and fixates as it’s going to, on all the meatiest bits (as it were) that attract the most particular fascination in isolation.

If we were talking about real relationships, genitals are the last and least important possible consideration. They have nothing to do with who a person is, and the love one individually holds for a person as a person is the only important motivating factor for a meaningful and healthy attraction, right. In real life once you get to the point where someone else’s genitals become anything like your business at all, if they hold any relevance at all to your attraction to that person beyond in their role as another part of them to love by virtue of being a part of them, then what are you even doing? Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you? Why are you doing this to yourself, and why are you subjecting that poor other person to you?

So at last when we ask the question, “Why cis men in particular?” we’ve got the start of a roadmap, and then we’ve got the big thing. It’s because of the novelty of feeling allowed to like men now. It’s because attraction to cis people of either gender has always had its specific problems, that again are only now beginning to defrost. It’s because, fantasy! It doesn’t apply to anyone real. And its because—and I can’t possibly stress this enough—I really, really, really, really, really like dick. Not exclusively. And not in a gendered sense. But, particularly—and with the gendered inflection of thirty years of restrained pressure unleashed all at once.

Though one is publicly coy about these things, yeah obviously I’ve been all about the girldick for ages. As with everything about me, it took me an age to realize that this was actually way less about desire than affinity; recognizing myself, and putting myself in the shoes of the figures I saw. But again, the gender strangeness, it’s made that easy. It’s this zone where my head was free of bias and allowed to get a little weird with its own ideas, albeit without an understanding as to what or how or why. One doesn’t talk about it, but. Internally? A-OK over here. And vaginas are good too! Sure. As traumatic as my past relationships have been for so many reasons outside the purview of this discussion, all my partners have possessed vaginas, and I found deep fascination and enjoyment and appreciation there—even when attached to utter monsters.

But again, genitals aren’t gendered and for all the equanimity may feel in one’s attractions to others, within any given field one will have one’s particular interests and favorites, and gee whiz in isolation is there ever a strong, strong, overwhelming preference for penis. This one option looms ever so large—which, due to the way society likes to gender things that aren’t gendered, has of course been… difficult to really embrace in a meaningful way beyond fantasy for most of my life, and even within my fantasy there have been all these walls of caution, to do with gender. So in this moment where I’m feeling more free to permit myself attraction to men, and I’m feeling more able to deal with attraction to cis people, I also am feeling more free to admit specific fondness for cock. What we have then is this conflation of a few things, all at once. Ergo: cis men.

Now, a significant detail that plays into all of this, that feels kind of… uh, extra super duper strange for me to focus on, is my recent and abrupt understanding of my innate sexual role as a bottom. I very much do not want to go deep (as it were) into that topic at the moment, but—again without wanting to get icky about gender prescription because we’re just talking about me here, understanding this in the context of my gender has been a revelation for my acceptance of and relationship to myself; my whole conceptualization of myself as a girl. And one should perhaps note that following a long series of cracks (e.g., after correcting my body chemistry) this recognition almost directly precedes the breakdown of inhibitions toward cis men.

Like, there’s a lot going on here, a lot to unpack that on the surface is kinda… strange. But there are some, uh, distinct bits of physical logic that cascade in terms of what goes where, and—look, this discussion isn’t about sex, it’s about my sexuality. But the detail of my sexual role ties into this breakthrough in my acceptance of various attractions and dynamics that were hard to entirely resolve before. There’s a certain logic that clicked in terms of how I see myself as a person and as a girl, that made everything else line up and go, “Ah. Yes, that makes sense now. Track is clear at last. Full speed ahead.”

I feel so hesitant about this framing for all the reasons, not the least that, to the extent that I have attractions to other people, they are not gendered and that I really don’t care about genitals and seriously guys, I can appreciate anyone and anything. It’s all cool. But… there are impulses. There are specific very real and important and unavoidable feelings, and they bear a close association with specific very real and very valid preferences. And whereas in a real relationship with a living person none of this would really be important in my appreciation for them, when it comes to the life of the mind… well, one can prefer. And just, holy cow. The intensity and innateness of my specific preference for that specific dynamic, and the physical elements that logically go into that dynamic, it’s overwhelming, in a way that illuminates so much that has always felt wrong in the past and affirms so much.

It’s not to comment on anyone but me here to say that I never felt more secure and correct and unambiguous in my role as a girl than I did the moment all these pieces clicked for me, and I understood how everything is meant to, uh, fit together, for me, emotionally—and I absolutely get how weird it is that not only am I associating my innate sexual role with my understanding of my gender, but conflating all of this with a sudden attraction to men. In a sense it’s like. Just. What are you doing, Azure. It feels so problematic to me, out of context. Again, though, people are messy. And I really don’t know how better to talk about these things. And as I will forever emphasize: the dude thing at least is a fixation. March 2021, this is where my focus is. That’s clear enough. It’s just that my brain has this whole new thing to play with now, and it’s gotta run its course.

Now that I’m able to feel these things and admit to what and who I am and how all of this works, I know I’m going to chill out eventually and my feelings will get less, uh, specific than they happen to be at this moment. At least, in regard to other people’s gender. The specific interest in dicks, well, that’s kind of innate. It’s not budged in 30 years. It’s a part of me that ain’t going anywhere. But now we see that there are procedural, dynamic, logistical reasons that play into that attraction, which relate to who I am and how I see myself as a person.

And holy Hannah, I sure did spend a lot of a Saturday afternoon talking about why I love me some penis. This is not a thing I imagined I would be discussing in public only a few months ago. But here we are. If you will, I just couldn’t hold back anymore. There’s so much more to this topic, but I… think I’ve scraped around this barrel as much as I can bear at the moment. This is so weird for me to unfold like this, and I honestly don’t know what to do with myself at this juncture. I’m kind of twitching. But I had to work through it, so. Okay. Breathe. Azure is going to do… Anything else than this, now, and just try to figure out what the fuck is happening with my day.

But we’ve got a sketch down. This is important. This is how I’m managing to structure my thoughts these days. This is how we get better.

We’ll let it stew for now.

TL;DR: the fact I am a girl informs the fact I like to get it; the fact I like to get it informs the fact I am a girl; the fact I am a girl who likes to get it informs my long historical fixation on the anatomical structure involved in giving it; the fact I am a girl who likes to get it from that structure informs my long-suppressed non-exclusive attraction to men, resulting in a sudden rush of confusing, overwhelming interest in cis men, seemingly out of nowhere; and the fact that this is all hypothetical, given the whole aroace thing, informs the peculiar specificity of these fixations, since it’s all internal and removed from the concerns of any real relationship I will ever entertain—which doesn’t make it less important to understanding myself as a person!

But no, it’s not out of nowhere. It adds up, it makes sense. I’m just healing here. Continuing to become a real person, despite it all.

And hey, got a new interest I guess. So that’s nice.

The Intersectionality of Me

  • Reading time:7 mins read

So the first healthy step is to throw away everything I think I know or understand about sexuality, either from what people have told me or what I’ve absorbed from the culture around us—but particularly as pertains to the misapprehensions that others used to hold about me.

What I’m increasingly seeing is this deep and meaningful intersection between my sexuality and my understanding of my gender. It’s really hard to for me to hold in my head without that as a framework. Likewise I want to do that as free as I can of gender preconceptions, but, well. I may flub a bit as I get used to the dynamics, because I’m really really not used to thinking of myself in sexual terms, to acknowledging any of the thoughts and feelings that my mind has always produced and I just… Learned to ignore. So, this is gonna be clumsy. Workin’ on it.

In the cases where I make a kind of a dumb assertion about gender roles or whatever, I mean. I’m Azure. I don’t go in for that shit. I’m non-binary. But I need some kind of a language to communicate to myself the things that are going through my head and ascribe them some meaning. We’ll work on the nuance as I stop bumping against the walls and start to figure out how best to talk about the things I’m trying to feel out. Until then if I do some questionable shit like associating being a bottom with femininity, just, I’m talking about me here. My wiring.

I have never ever been comfortable talking about sex, at all, in any sense other than stupid jokes. And definitely not comfortable entertaining deep thoughts about it within myself. So, uh. Yeah. I’m wearing flippers to a tap dance recital. But at least I’m showing up now.

If it seems like I’m setting up an abundance of caution, then well yeah. This inherently freaks me out to engage with, and every little concession and admission that’s brought me to the point of thinking about it deeply has been a point of rending concern, verging on panic. But, well. Exhale. I know me well enough now—roughly speaking. I understand that nearly all my fear is other people’s garbage that I’ve just been carrying around all these years. But I also do know this can be sort of sensitive. So I just, uh. Want to go about it methodically.

Where the method leads me is, the intersectionality of me. How all of these elements, none of which I was correctly informed about and I’ve been having to reassemble from core principles and observations, interplay and inform each other. My sexuality only makes sense to me as a girl—non-binary, trans, or otherwise. I am what I am. Without that key, everything feels wrong. Deeply upsetting. But through that lens… okay. I think I am starting to get a small hold on things. Like, they’re beginning to make sense.

There’s an element of how attraction works and how to read it, an element of preferred roles and behaviors. And, I don’t have better words for it and a way to distinguish it as clearly as I feel it, but a big wash of the emotional implications for me. Which is so hazy, I know.

As my rantings for the last week would indicate, my choice to start to unpack all of this is catalyzed by just, Christ, a certain dam breaking—after a long period of cracks and drizzle—regarding my feelings toward cis men, right. Which is a whole thing for my brain to deal with.

I should stress this isn’t in relation to any real people, because, aroace, right? Which is another whole dynamic to workshop, because that is so important and fundamental to what makes me who I am. But attraction, sexuality, they’re complicated fuckers. So to speak. Lotsa levels.

I know for a fact and it feels like it should be self-evident that obviously I can and do and have and will feel attraction to anyone of any gender, except to the extent that I don’t toward anyone in reality. But, right now we seem to have hit on a certain fixation. So—okay.

It’s a thing that, it’s always been latent, like everything about me. None of this is new. It couldn’t be. That’s not how people work. It’s just that only a narrow range of my attractions were… Safe, or socially acceptable, enough to acknowledge as real and so to entertain. And even then, the aroace thing again, I was always encouraged to misinterpret the feelings I could admit in… Less than healthy or productive ways. So in a sense I’ve got a lot of stuff to unpack about all these dimensions of attraction, right. For different reasons.

Ideologically it feels wrong to me to be gendering my attractions like this. Like, I know for a fact that I’m not bi; gender doesn’t really factor into the way I see people. It’s just, fuckin’ repression, right. Once you let go of the pressure, well: boom. All this unaccounted wetness. So, that’s a part of the messiness until I figure out how to organize my thoughts and feelings sensibly. Right now, my brain’s just kinda going nuts with a narrow range of, hey, I can do this now. and… Fine. You know. It is what it is. We can humor this until it evens out.

It almost feels problematic that it’s not until I get comfortable understanding myself as a girl, like holy shit how could I be misunderstood as anything else, that I start to go, welp, guess dudes are on the menu then! It doesn’t read right, you know. But that’s, uh, incidental? It’s more a matter of just, knowing who the hell I am, establishing a frame of reference. Though yeah, there’s going to be some subconscious cultural garbage to strip out of there of course. We do live in a society, and so forth.

Knowing who I am makes me less scared of things. And anything to do with sex or sexuality is terrifying for me. But as I said earlier, we can keep sex per se on the back shelf for now, mostly, at least in practical terms, while we deal with the more existential issue here. You know, it’s fine. I’m ready. I can handle it. Maybe.

So yeah. There’s my lens. I’m a girl, with a sexuality. And the sexuality pertains to me as a girl, as much as it does to me as a person—even as my sexuality does not particularly concern itself with anyone else’s gender. Except for when it does. Like when one gets a hankering.

Which I guess seems normal, reasonable, rational enough. I’ve been eating a lot of cheese lately, but eventually I’ll get tired and drift to something else. One fixates, one rotates. One appreciates. (Heck, a thing I adore about my own body is how much variety there is to appreciate.) And I guess as one explores, one incorporates. All that one finds, will inform everything else once one gets back to it. I can take this a piece at a time, just break it down to what I’m feeling in the moment, what it means to me, and just… trust that it will add up.

So, March 2021, where we are is, Azure is a girl who at least broadly and non-specifically, all up in the fantasy and hypothesis and art and literature, is permitting herself to fixate on cis dudes. And, uh. All of the mechanics and dynamics associated with that hazy attraction. We’ll see what happens from here.

Start of the Breakdown

  • Reading time:6 mins read

To proceed, we may need to distinguish a few things. The trauma I have around sex per se is different from the trauma that I have around my sexuality—though both are really difficult for me to engage with to the degree I need to unpick everything. (Well, half of my sexuality, I guess I should say. The part that isn’t just nope.)

It’s way easier for me to engage with my gender, though even that has kind of two levels to it. My enbyness was obvious and no problem at all; it took a lot more work to connect with my femininity. Either way, ultimately that’s just an obvious visceral fact of me. Clearly I’m a girl, and clearly that’s on my own terms rather than some external binary road map. And, okay. Sure. It’s all inward-focused, about my relationship to myself. I can work that out, with time.

Before we even get there, though, we need some body autonomy, which is provided by recognizing my aroaceness. That’s kind of the key to everything about me, the thing that allows me ownership over myself in a way I never previously understood.

It’s all the other parts, when it stops focusing entirely inward, that are hard for me. Whenever just the concept of other people enters the picture, the terror comes along with them, right—and that scrambles and complicates any effort to understand what’s really happening, how I function.

Breaking the problem down, though—I think that may help. I think it’s easier to engage with one part at a time, carefully strip out the bits that are just other people’s damage and tend to what’s left, puzzle it into a working order and see what it’s really like under there. I think the question of the trauma around sex itself is just too big for me, as I am now—and it’s not really pressing or important, in that I’m never going to have sex again. (Well, not with another person anyway.) That’s too hard, too painful, and just… not a priority to sift.

Sexuality, though, is a totally different thing, if obviously related. That’s way more hypothetical, more about ideas than actions. Yes it’s hard to engage with some of these ideas, but it’s just a playground of the mind in the end really. There is still mirrored glass. It’s way easier for me to deal with the notion of being pan, and what goes into that (or… hypothetically, uh, into me, one says with intense bottom energy), what it means for my ideas about myself and the way I relate to the world and the people around me and in my imagination—than it will ever be to deal with my past experiences, and how I feel about the actual practical elements of sex and just—

I can’t even finish that thought, Christ. Even approaching it makes the dam threaten to burst. I don’t feel like crying right now. It’s 12:30 am. So, I’m just—I’m not going to go there, for now. And that’s fine. Doesn’t mean I’ll never reconcile, never work at it. But, you know. One thing at a time. I don’t have to deal with what’s happened to me to play with the nuances of the way I’m wired to think and feel about people. That’s got enough baggage, that’s confusing enough. But, I think it’s workable if I just take it as its own thing. If deeply peculiar for me to engage with.

I’ve got so much to get over here. All this internal mess, that’s just a reflection of other people’s problems. And so much of that weight, it doesn’t even reflect the reality of who I am. It’s based on all these wild misconceptions of me as a person. So the question is, why am I listening to it? Why is it affecting me at all? But that’s how they get you with the programming, right.

So. Okay. I guess that’s kinda where my hyperfocus is gonna be for a while. Call this stage four of Azure unpacking (ignoring the neurology, which is related but kind of its own separate set of concerns from the whole queer parade I’ve got running through my head here). I’m a non-binary girl. I’m so very aroace, holy shit. But, it is also clear that I am intrinsically pan. And that’s weird to engage and hard for me to understand, and I guess I’m ready to try now.

To be precise, I need to understand it in relation to me, to Azure, not to the gender that other people misdiagnosed for me so long ago, or the persona they projected onto me. That’s never going to lead anywhere useful.

I got, like, feelings here. And I guess this is a long time coming, huh. I’ve never really been in a place in my life, in my relationship to myself, to even begin to figure them out. They’ve always been here in hindsight, same as I’ve always been a girl even when I didn’t have the tools to see it clearly. I just, what feelings I housed, they weren’t ready to rise to the surface.

In this dive, I don’t want to be crass about it. I don’t want to be performative or weird. I definitely don’t want to make other people uncomfortable. But this isn’t about anyone else; this is me, this is is my space, my self, my recovery. And I guess this needs to be my interest for the next while.

So. Okay. Shit, fine. Yeah. I’m, uh, gonna have to think on this, and where to go from here. Now that we’re dropping this next brick of shame off the highest possible bridge.

God, this is what we’re actively engaging with now.

All right. Let’s see where this leads.

I’m hella pan here. And, uh. Right now the fixation is on certain dimensions of that which have a novelty of not previously being allowed recognition.

It’s normal for a girl to be into dudes. Well, if it were anyone else I’d say of course it is, dummy. It’s normal for anyone to be into anyone. It’s always different rules for me than for others. I’m gonna have to really start checking myself on that line of thinking.

Whee, so.

…

Here we go, I guess.

Muddle Bubble

  • Reading time:2 mins read

Sexuality is weird when you’re aroace, all the more so when you’re trans. Just because you don’t feel attraction to people, and may possibly be averse to things, doesn’t mean you don’t have ideas in your head; fantasy, preference, interest, appreciation. It’s just theoretical.

Lately that theory has mostly been based around dudes. Which is hard to process. I don’t know how to really categorize anything, because people aren’t math problems, but I kind of feel like my head is making up for years of repression and trying to sort of even the balance.

Like, my subconscious is kind of going, oh yeah that is a possibility too huh. So that’s kind of… where all of those energies seem to flow these days when my head goes to those places. I’m guessing when the novelty rubs off it’ll be like okay, had my fill of this. We’re good now.

Ideologically I am so obviously pan, right. It doesn’t even make sense to me to engage a person on any basis other than who they are as a person. Who really cares about the practical details, beyond how they support their whole deal as a human. But, uh. Right now I’m in a mode.

And it’s confusing me, and making me feel all sorts of weird things that I don’t know how to manage too well. But I guess these are what one will work through.

I think my second puberty may just be hitting me really hard here.

Lack of Choice

  • Reading time:2 mins read

Part of this weird chagrin I feel when forced to admit that historically everyone I’ve been involved with has been a cis woman comes from the understanding that there will never be anyone else. Like, there will never be an evening-out of the record, no proof of my sentiment:

“No, it’s not what it looks like! I like other people too! Don’t judge me! I’m way more interesting than it sounds, believe me!!”

Which indicates my other big problem: the lack of a sense of control, it leads to a certain shame. I’m still trying to reconcile my past and how much of that to consider fully consensual. Ideally I’d just not have not had any of those experiences. Like, none of this has much to do with me. I didn’t really choose it; it chose me, and I relented. It says nothing about me, and I sort of resent the implications that have been plastered onto me as a consequence.

On a deeper, if possibly stranger, level, I am so very clearly a bottom, to the extent that I am sexual at all (which is: nope), which the more that I unpack, the lack of regard for which informs much of the trauma I have experienced—and I feel that the incidental facts of my history misrepresent who I am in a way that furthers that core existential trauma.

Like, I don’t want to be tarred with anyone else’s brush. I don’t want to carry that anymore. If you’re gonna judge me, judge me for who I actually am. I can’t deal with being defined by my trauma any longer. But, I’m still trying to work out how to reconcile this dimension of it.

I’m sure nobody but me could possibly care about any of this. It’s just, it matters to my own feelings about myself, my self-possession, my basic body autonomy. And it’s rough in this weird vague painful way I keep trying to understand.

What Dreams May Come

  • Reading time:2 mins read

Ardently as I may be aroace, I feel like my fantasy life has loosened up and is making sense to a degree it never really had. Just allowing things to fall into their natural places, stop trying to force other people’s roles and expectations; so much dysfunction clears up. There’s so much I have been coaxed to do to myself, psychologically—playing out all these biases, fears, punishments, hiding and correcting and holding myself back from even my basic thoughts or feelings. And what was left never made sense; it just left me empty, dead, anxious.

Learning what happiness feels like, it gave me this tool that I never had, to measure all these other things against.

It is so wild to reassemble myself from such a granular level and see just how shaky the old architecture was, the lack of attention to basic supporting walls. I’ve been taught to misinterpret pretty much everything about myself; every day I feel like I find a new depth, realizing that signal doesn’t mean what I thought it meant, that this response is problematic to me personally for such-and-so reason.

There’s so much rewiring to do, it’s overwhelming; feels endless. But the more that I do, the more I find to salvage in here; it’s all good, actually—we have a perfectly workable person under all this, just been maintained by a bunch of idiots all these years.

Just need some time.

Connective Tissue

  • Reading time:3 mins read

So, a curious thing. Now that I have tits, it makes me feel way less weird to look at tits. There are a few things going on here, with my recognition of my gender and my sexuality and all the physical, psychological, emotional changes that I’ve experienced in a fairly short time.

It used to be that naked forms would just make me deeply uncomfortable. I’d avert my eyes, try not to think about it. It felt lurid to engage, like some kind of a boundary issue. In the event that I did, I felt ashamed of myself, which just built up and kept getting weirder. Now that I better understand what’s going on inside me, that I have a better relationship with myself and trust my feelings and reasons, a lot of that has fallen away and it’s easier to appreciate form for what it is. Now that I can look clearly, I see beauty and commonality.

There’s a universality to us, right, for the brief period we’ve been around to record our experience and what we think about it. Now that I understand that I’m looking for connection, that’s what I’m finding—a common humanity, a common femininity. A piece of everyone in everyone else—but more significantly, me. I wasn’t part of the equation until now. I was outside. None of this was for me, about me. I had no right to it, just as I had no right to myself. Except of course I do, as much as anyone. (And I am the only one with a right to myself, goddamn.)

Now when faced with a nude female form, at least in representation, I don’t get much more than a residual embarrassment. I get the relationship now. And it’s a meaningful one, to at least some extent, that helps to shed light on my relationship to my own body.

Glibness aside it’s not really as easy as, hey I’ve got breasts; it’s no big deal, whaddayamean. There’s a lot more going on here. It’s more that I’m starting to understand what it is to be human. As I lose shame over my own body, so I lose shame over the concept of bodies. And as I lose that shame I’m afforded the room to connect and appreciate and embrace a beauty that kind of feeds a cycle. It’s an acceptance of my place, now that I know what that is. Now that I understand how I fit in with just… Everything. Everyone. In a way I never did.

Hook and Eye

  • Reading time:9 mins read

Since I was… However old I figured it out (Early teen? Maybe?), I have had an ambivalent relationship to masturbation. Nearly every time, I come out of it thinking, “… Why did I just do that?” I feel gross and unpleasant and ashamed—and then to nail it home there’s this mess. That last stage, when I had no energy or will to handle it, was like this punishment for something I should have known better than to do, that didn’t get me anything, that made me feel physically unwell, and that just reinforced all these negative ideas I had about myself. Yet as will happen, particularly to one with a masculine-coded penis, there was this compulsion, right. A thing one feels the need to deal with, if for no other reason than to get it out of the way so one can think about other things. And it was so friggin annoying, god.

The thing about all this is, between this and my real severe problems with sex, and my transness, and how that plays into my sexual identity, there’s a lot of really confusing messaging going around, every piece of which has to be examined on its own terms to determine the shape of the puzzle and where it may actually fit.

The problem isn’t with my dick, right. I like dicks, and I’m very fond of my own—especially since it’s gotten feminized and has begun to behave itself, but even before I fixed my hormone situation. That’s not a problem. That’s not what weirds me out here.

As I’ve talked about, the fact that I feel very little compulsion these days is such a relief—as is the fact there’s so little cleanup in that regard anymore. But even with no punishment it’s not really—like, I don’t get much out of it. Not enough to bother almost ever, right. Like, I just feel empty, lesser. Annoyed with myself. Physically there’s this fleeting glowing rush, which is more intense than it was in the old days. But it’s like, who cares? Any therapeutic value from the physiology is usually more than offset by everything else still. At best I wind up with this sort of neutral situation, like, well, that just happened. Oh well. So, it’s pretty great that what barely-there libido I ever had is pretty much vanished entirely. It’s like my body and mind are finally operating on close to the same level.

So, to put a pin in this, now I’m thinking about my problems with sex—which are many and complicated, and will possibly never be fully unwound—in part because there’s no practical element. I will never have sex again under any circumstances, and I wish I could erase what I’ve had.

One especial trauma point for me, when I look back, is the expectations lumped onto me. I’ve only had two partners, right; both were cis women, with their own… issues, that are none of my business. But they really expected me to play a role, that they expected me to understand. And for their part they just… did not want to be involved. They wanted to be 100% passive, and they projected all this stuff on me on the basis of my genitalia (and I guess their misreading of my gender). And they got so vicious when I failed to play that role in the way they imagined it.

I’ve often dwelled on how inhuman I was made to feel. Like I was just some kind of a wind-up toy for the other’s benefit. There was no communication, no fondness, no joy. I was a tool, and I was there for a purpose, and if I failed to do so automatically, I was useless to them. So it was my responsibility to be the horny one, to regularly initiate sexual situations, to arrange everything appropriately, to actively engage them in everything, while they just kinda… sat there. Because I had a penis, that made me a top. Because they saw me as male, to them I was mega-top.

Except, whee, that has nothing to do with me. I couldn’t, can’t handle that garbage. I don’t have a libido. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t really like sex. I just wanted to be close buds, right. Share my life, spend my time studying the other. I didn’t want to dominate. It made me so sad and it freaked me out and made me feel awful about myself, and in hindsight it shot my dysphoria through the roof. I was so ashamed of the way I looked, of the way my body worked, back then. I felt disgusting. I nearly had a panic attack every time. It was bad. On a couple of occasions I did actually have a full-blown attack, and wound up pulling away in terror and just curled up in a ball in a dark corner, shivering and sobbing. Which they then seemed to decide that was a thing never to bring up again, to imagine never happened.

And for all of that, sex was my exclusive responsibility. I was tolerated as a person on sufferance with the understanding that I provide them a service, right. Which was not my understanding, entering into these agreements.

Which is kinda where I have consent issues. I don’t know how to parse the situations I was in. None of it really feels fully consensual to me, and it’s just… I’m holding back tears just writing this now, as long ago as it all was. Hell, the last time I had sex at all was… I think, 2014? Not nearly long enough, but still.

So, there’s a lot going on there, right. But if we strip away the interpersonal weirdness and narrow it down to my own physical and emotional mechanics, there may be some things we can pick apart in here.

A big issue here of course is the dysphoria: deep and crushing and all-encompassing but undiagnosed at the time and not understood in the least. I felt like some horrible creature, and did not want to be seen the way that I was. More than that, I did not want to play that role. In that itself there’s a lot to unpack, about communication and genuine care and affection and love and concern and so on. But it’s worth focusing on the gendered expectation, and the assumption that well of course I would be a top. They thought I was male. I had a dick, right. Sexual roles have nothing to do with gender or anatomy, obviously, but like everything else, people tend to make these assumptions. And not to play too much to stereotype, but contrary to what people kept telling me, I am a girl. And I think this is relevant to some of my wiring.

To bring that back to the masturbation thing, if we posit that to the extent that I would have any sexual role at all, I would very unambiguously be a bottom in fact, that may inform some of the historical issues here, including the focus on my dick (which is otherwise great). Like, psychologically, emotionally, it does nothing for me, even upsets me a little, to emphasize stimulation through penetration. I don’t want it. And what physiological payoff may result doesn’t really offset the personal damage that it does every time.

What’s confused me with most of the literature that I’ve read around this topic is the hyper-focus that it tends to take with genital dysphoria, right, which again I don’t have going on. My dick is gorgeous and one thing about me I’ve always been happy about. In my case, it’s not the penis itself that’s the problem, but I think probably the role lumped onto it and the consequences of leaning on it as a primary instrument. Which just messes with my head and makes me feel awful.

So now, there are a hundred problems with butt stuff as well, right. In my case it’s almost entirely down to cleanliness, which is just… you know. Not a thing I want to dwell on here. And as fine as I am with the mechanics, it feels so weird to talk about in so many words. The thing is, though, for all the aversions and complications about cleanliness both going into and coming out of that scenario, ultimately it’s less of an imbalance than the what-feels-like punishment when one focuses up front—which again almost never feels worth it on balance.

Again I don’t really have an active libido, and it’s never going to be more than a rare occasional thing, but I feel like butt play is both more affirmative and more rewarding than genital play. Like, I find myself glowing for a whole day afterward as opposed to feeling miserable. The near total lack of shame (as hesitant as I may feel to verbalize it), the full-body rush of calm and giddiness. The feeling like I am a real person. Something in my brain clicking, and my feeling my gender more strongly than ever. Feeling in love with myself and who I am.

Even if it’s super gross.

Between that grossness and the general lack of an impulse, there’s more than enough to prevent me from getting around to it almost ever. But it actually does make me feel good. It has a therapeutic value that masturbation is supposed to have, right, that I don’t associate with the act.

All of which feeds back into sex. I think I better understand a piece of why it has always upset me so very much. Again there will never be a circumstance where it comes into practice, because this is just not a thing I will be doing with myself, but I’m so very much a bottom. And that’s fine, and that’s good, and that’s neither here nor there. And it’s kind of obvious if one knows anything about me. But it’s interesting just how deeply wired that is, and how much it wounds me to go against it. How much it makes me frankly hate myself.

Which is absurd, because I’m wonderful.

So. Okay. That’s me, thinking this through. As these discussions will tend to be. I think this makes more sense to me now.

Anyway. Another brick in place, in the puzzle that is Azure. One that really shouldn’t have taken this long to cement, but here we are.

Filling the Void

  • Reading time:4 mins read

To own myself is to unlock so much that had been inaccessible to me. So many thoughts and ideas, so much of my understanding of the world and my relationships to others. And it all started with my aroaceness. Through that came enough of a sense of bodily autonomy and self-possession to permit me access to my gender, some aspects of my neurology, and everything else that defines me as a person.

It’s funny. I didn’t really want to be in the romantic or sexual relationships I have been; I just felt like I didn’t have a choice, right? That it was what was wanted from me, was the trade-off I had to make for retaining those… what-I-thought-were friendships.

I didn’t so much consent as relent. I gave myself up—or I suppose just handed myself over, from where the last owner left me. I didn’t feel like I had any real agency over myself. I knew I was always wrong about everything, and I didn’t want to upset anyone because of my hang-ups or preferences, which I knew didn’t matter.

And it sucked. A lot. I hated the expectations. I hated being objectified. I hated the constant criticism and judgment. I hated having no control over my body or my mind or my life. I hated having everything I cared about diminished and demeaned, all my principles dismissed.

Sex was upsetting on so many levels. I couldn’t manage spending every waking moment worrying about someone else’s actions and feelings and well-being, and getting nothing but contempt in return; that raw disgust and fury at my just… being a real person, and not some fantasy idol.

In hindsight, somewhere in the deep recesses of my subconscious, I think beyond the toxic decayed friendship that offered me nothing in the end, the thing I wound up clinging to in each case, that intoxicated me enough to freak me out over losing, was their femininity—being in its aura, right? I was too meek to engage with it much, but there were all their girl things all around me. There they were, as a point of study; something I could never be, never have for myself, in a way that felt almost unfair. But I could do osmosis.

(Though sex and physicality freaked me out, I also did find boobs hilarious and fun—another thing to low-key envy.)

And yes, all my past partners—all those I will ever have—were cis women, though they needn’t have been. That they were is largely due to the circumstance of they being the ones to have pursued me; in part because of internalized homophobia; in part because I just… I think had all that unsettled business, existentially. I saw in them some part of what it hurt so much that I was not.

I guess it’s probably no accident that embracing my own femininity led almost directly into realizing all my tertiary attractions were pretty much regardless of gender. Once I had filled that void in my life, it was easier to step back and take measure.

Now that I understand I am my own girl, I’ve got no special need to live vicariously—so that weirdness is cleared up. I am the person I want to be now, or am on my way at least—so what narrow confused longing there was is gone, and what attraction I do feel, it’s free to be all about individual appreciation of the other, on merit.

People are just people, right? There’s so little that separates or distinguishes us except for who we are, and how we choose to behave—and that’s the power, the energy that generates beauty. Now that I’m on my way to being a complete person, it’s harder to discriminate—except in the sense that romance is dumb and sex is gross, and I have no desire for either. We really love to brand and package love in this culture. There are so many other, more interesting, more constructive ways to appreciate people. To show and receive affection.

I feel like I have missed out on a lot of meaningful connection, a lot of mutual support and fondness and care and joy, from playing other people’s games for so long. I want to learn how to love in my own way—a way without conditions or performance or… bodily fluids.

I feel like the world kind of needs it too.

Small Talk

  • Reading time:2 mins read

On reflection—sex is a conversation, right. It’s a kind of communication one works out with one’s partner(s), pooling the mutual appreciation you hold for each other into something bigger. At least in theory. Ideally.

I don’t think I have had proper sex. It’s more that in each case I have been used as an elaborate masturbation aid for the other’s benefit. No connection. No communication. No foreplay, no exploration, no fondness. Just, be expected to read their mind and satisfy their unstated urge while they zone out. Then go away. Fail any of these steps, and be punished.

Which is not to say that sex is a thing I need or desire in my life. It sure as heck isn’t, and I sure as heck don’t. At all. Ever. But, I guess those are some of the words for some of the distress that I associate with it. None of which, really, has anything to do with sex itself, or with me. Rather, it follows the personalities and values of the other parties.

As I’ve been saying, I want to be saying no for the right reasons, from a position of calm and understanding. I don’t want to just be reacting with fear to everything; I want to make good decisions, that reflect who I am and not just the damage I’ve been dealt.

So. Here’s a piece of that, I guess.