There are lots of lovely, well posed pictures of transwomen on the internet, elegantly constructed images that combine colour and line in a way to create flawless beauty.
In looking at them, though, I am often struck by how tight they seem, like mannequins with a strong armature. The curves appear almost machined, revealing only the sculpted foundations underneath.
Young and nubile female bodies are marked by a kind of glowing softness, curves laid onto taut muscles, then covered with dewy, radiant skin. The body flows beneath whatever covers it, creating line, while the flesh draws you in, creamy and warm.
The female body is essentially sensual in a very different way than the male body is. Artists have made that clear for centuries.
Images of well put-together transwomen are often quite charming, but what they often miss is that tactile sense which draws in, that call to touch and caress.
Transwomen can put together a good look, but moving beyond that construction to a touchable kind of allure is harder indeed.
On “How To Look Good Naked” Gok Wan encouraged women to get comfortable with revealing their bodies so they could dress them in an inviting, appealing and attractive way.
All women have learned at some point to choose lingerie because it would look good when revealed, not just because it creates a whole new structure to the body. Wigs are great, but never as sensuous as our own flowing hair, ready to be stroked or even pulled in the heat of passion.
It is lovely to adorn our bodies with beautiful things, from jewellery to makeup to fashion, but the dream is that those enhance and reveal the best of our bodies. When we are forced to use them to construct an image of the body we need to have for others to see our own heart we end up using adornment like armour, keeping others at our own passing distance.
I chuckled recently at one advanced crossdresser who wants to be “authentic” so she wears her own hair, she tells us, that and only the highest quality prosthetic breast and butt forms.
While clever construction of images may leave us with lovely pictures, they also leave us knowing ourselves as untouchable. When we simply get a hug, will our breast forms get in the way, for example, coming between us and connection? And we can find it almost impossible even to imagine getting naked with another person, feeling the contact of skin to skin, the warmth of flesh pressing flesh, the heat of kisses in places most others never, ever see.
Being untouchable is formalized in many cultures as the lowest level of social class, ostracized and excluded from proper society because they are less than.
Feeling untouchable seems to give much the same experience in our own lives, reminding us that we have to keep a distance from others, have to cede to them, have to make sure we don’t do anything that might break the wall we have to maintain.
I recently saw a clip from Crocodile Dundee where the hero meets a gender ambiguous older person and reaches out to grab their crotch before deciding how to respond to them. The character is male and enjoys the feel, suggesting that if that’s how people in Australia greet you, they might want to go there. This joke is repeated with a trans woman at bar in the second movie. A man grabbing a female like that would be offensive, requiring an apology, but grabbing a male is just funny because in heterosexist belief, biology is really truth.
I know why we create pretty images, and I know why we have learned to stay away from touch.
Right now in my life, though, being untouchable is a bit too much to bear. It has been far too long since I have been touched, and I don’t ever remember being touched in a way that acknowledged, affirmed and celebrated my own nature.
To know you are untouchable is to lose hope of intimate human contact, human affirmation and human love.
It’s not a good thing.