About a week ago, an acquaintance of mine asked me a question about how being asexual works with being in the leather lifestyle. This is an interesting question with multiple levels that I could answer, though I only addressed one level when answering this person. The thing that I explained was that the question being asked was a sort of variation of the “how do you have sex?” question that a lot of trans people and lesbians receive. There’s this assumption that being leather is all about kinky sex, the play aspects that everyone sees in movies and books and TV.
What I explained is that those bits are just one small aspect of the whole, like being icing on a cake. They make the cake taste better, but without the cake itself, it gets old fast. The cake is the rest of what there is to leather: the honor, community, style of relationships, etc. In essence, being leather is more about how one gets off mentally and emotionally, what fulfills those needs, than it is about getting off physically.
Another level that I didn’t really address is my evolving sexuality. I am still, in many ways, asexual, but in many other ways, I am much more lesbian. As trans people undergo physical transition (should we choose to do so), hormonal changes in our bodies change how they work. Many a trans man or trans woman who was asexual suddenly becomes sexual, no longer dysphoric about their own sexuality. Many others who were sexual suddenly become asexual, having their drives lessened. The majority however who were already sexual find that while they remain sexual, their sexuality has changed.
This does not mean that their orientation changes (though it may, or they may be more willing to explore it than they were before), but rather means that how they experience sex is different. How our bodies process erogenous feelings changes. In essence, as hormones change our bodies, we find that we need to relearn how our bodies work in a sexual manner: what brings us pleasure, what can bring us to climax, what is no longer pleasurable, etc. Should we choose to undergo genital reconstructive surgery, we are once again forced to relearn our bodies, as they now work differently yet again.
The thing is, there are no universal constants for these transitional changes either. For example, while most trans women undergoing hormone therapy no longer get erections and no longer ejaculate semen, many others still can do both. Some have sexual drives lessened, others increased, and some vary from time to time, with their drive increasing during their cycle and decreasing the rest of the month.
Essentially, we’re teenagers again. Hormones raging, bodies changing. What worked before may not work again. We may change our orientation, or merely change between asexual and sexual. We become our true selves, and in the process, change who we thought we were. Other aspects, however, remain the same. It’s unclear what changes and what remains, only we can know. They are the things we thought about ourselves. Maybe we thought ourselves gay before coming out as trans, and then thinking that we must be straight as our identified gender, we begin our transition and realize we’re actually bi, or perhaps gay.
It’s a struggle I went through, first wondering if I was gay, then bi. Then I realized I was trans and understood myself to be a lesbian. However, sex was not pleasurable to me, and so I identified as asexual. Now as I go through hormonal changes, I find myself having a sex drive, but having to relearn my body, unsure what is pleasurable and what is not, thus I remain asexual in that I don’t find pleasure in sexual intercourse (not that I’ve tried either), but suddenly finding myself attracted to others and having frustrations I don’t know how to address.
A year from now, that may change more. Or it may revert to how it was before. Transition is a mysterious journey, and much as we think we may know what to expect, it always manages to throw us for a loop. We must learn how to adapt to the changes and enjoy the ride as best we can.
What about you, dear readers? What thoughts do you have on this matter? Do you have stories of your own to share of how your transition caused your identity to evolve and change?