One of the “facts” doing the rounds about trans women’s bodies is that going on puberty blockers and HRT will leave trans girls and women unable to orgasm. Well, yes, potentially, if your world view is dick centric. The reality is that trans women’s bodies are capable of orgasms beyond the dick, indeed they can be full body, all encompassing, crashing, soul expanding experiences that could be equivalent to assigned at birth women’s, though could be a different experience unique for trans women. Either way, it is a complete misnomer that trans women cannot experience some form of orgasm.
And this is where it is worth reiterating that no two trans bodies, indeed any body, experience intimacy, sexuality, and pleasure in the same way. What is orgasmic for me might be different for other people; indeed, some people may never experience any form of orgasm. What researchers were referring to is the phallic centric orgasm, the one that men most commonly experience. Yet, even this does not account for all the other pleasure centres on the human body, which as any trans girl come all shades of pleasure.
This is one of the dangers of separating out male and female bodies based solely on biological dimorphism. Yes, there are clear differences between most XX and XY bodies, but hormones, mood, neuro-chemistry, the partner you are with, time of the month, tiredness, diet, mental health and a range of other things come into play when it comes to sex and pleasure. To simply say men or women only experience orgasm in one normative way totally ignores the ways the human body works.
Which leads onto the broader point about bodies. Yes, there are clear differences between XX and XY bodies, but those differences are not as pronounced as people would wish them to be. Having a uterus does not make you a woman, unless that is how you identity. Likewise, not having a uterus does not make you a man, unless that is how you identity. When you transition hormones have an impact on your body in ways that are not always noticeable. For me, one of the most interesting things that happened was a sense of peace and a dialling back of my background anxiety. It also amped up a side of me that I can best describe as feminine, an innate sense of self that had always been there. These are the unquantifiable things that empirical research struggles to capture, because it is always such a personal thing.
Bodies are complicated, interesting, and always defy absolute classification. Each of us are a Venn diagram of what is expected and what falls outside of the normative, and this is why simply rooting manhood or womanhood in biology is a fool’s errand. If being a woman is simply a matter of having XX chromosomes and a uterus, then that is reducing women down to their reproductive possibilities. This to me is a very shabby form of womanhood, and something which feminism has fought against since the dawn of first wave feminism. Just because bodies do not align with your expectations does not mean the owner of that body has no right to declare their persona gender identity.
Which is where the imposers of biological construction fail to comprehend both the history and reasons for feminism. If being a feminist is simply about being an XX woman and only for XX women that fit whatever criteria you set, then it falls short because it excludes more than just trans women. It being a feminist is based on systematic oppression, then whose oppression is the baseline? Who gets to decide what level of oppression based your body grants you entry into womanhood?
And herein lies the paradox of demanding all trans women are treated as trans-identified males. If you insist on biological purity you are forced to list all the things that make a biological woman, which in turn gradually excludes more and more women until you are left with no true Scots woman. Recognising patriarchy and dismantling its structures is more than saying women are oppressed, it is recognising that womanhood is a lesser thing because it has been socially constructed as this lesser thing. Trans women’s bodies are not male, they are female because they share the same lesser power constructs as all women.
Which is why the focus on the male orgasm is such a problem. In focusing on the perceived centre of male power, ejaculation, it assumes that trans women are lesser beings because they lose this power. This is wholly reductive, because it inherently assumes that trans woman want this perceived power. Yes, there are some trans women who wish to keep erections and ejaculations, but many others walk away from it with nary a wave. Being a woman is much more than losing this perceived power, it is about embracing womanhood as a power all of its own. Obsessing over sterilisation and loss of male privilege shows the real fear in trans women’s bodies, is that we willingly walk away from male phallic power without regret or regards for other men’s feelings on the matter.
That trans women orgasm in others ways than ejaculation does not seem to have crossed the minds of those focused on the male orgasm. It assumes that this is the apex of power, apex of the human condition. And we trans women reject this. If all women are is their wombs and their periods and their oppression then it sees women as the losers, which is the anti-feminism in my opinion. Biology is the template, the starting gun, it is not destiny. If feminism stands for anything it is the deconstruction of this biological essentialism in building a better future for all women regardless of their genetics.