Trigger Warning: explicit names for sexual anatomy.
For many trans and gender expansive people, the traditional, that is, gendered, name for our sexual anatomy feels very dysphoric, and, in some ways, simply wrong. For others, re-claiming those gendered names is an important part of our healing journey.
I don’t think there is a “correct” way to do this – I think each person has to come to terms with how they talk about this for themselves. For example, let’s talk about vaginas. Anatomically, I still have one (I have not, and won’t get a vaginectomy.) However, for me to call it that feels wrong somehow to me – so I don’t. But I personally haven’t figured out a good alternative. Alternatives I’ve heard include “bonus hole” and “front hole”, neither of which I really like very much.
Buck Angel, a well-known (and sometimes problematic) trans man wrote an article called “How Learning to Love My Vagina Affirmed My Manhood“. It’s worth a read. It outlines his own process of coming to love the body he has, as it is right now.
Of course, for many trans folks, the answer is to eliminate the sexual anatomy we don’t feel connected to, but for many reasons, many trans folks can’t do that, or don’t want to. And even if you choose that route, it’s a process – you’ll spend time in the body you have before you’re done with surgeries.
What are the steps here – to come to a place of love and acceptance of those parts of our anatomy?
First, we have to fully accept that we have them. That took me a while, and I think it’s a process I’m still going through. Even if we plan surgery, we have them now, and learning to accept them is important. And depending on your experiences with dysphoria, this might be easier or more difficult.
Second, we can make conscious choices about surgery. If we are working to love ourselves as we are, we can make decisions about surgery from a place of self-love, rather than a place of self-hatred. We’ll make better decisions that way.
Third, if we decide not to have surgery, we can re-acquaint ourselves with those parts in the context of our gender, and learn find pleasure in them – find our authentic expression – both sensually and sexually, of those parts.
It’s possible to create a wonderful balance, grounded in self-love, of decisions about alterations to our bodies, as well as choices about naming, owning and experiencing all of our parts.