There is a place, somewhere in our mind, where we are sexy, potent and desirable.
While it may be difficult finding that place on a regular basis. It exists not in any conventional sense, only in our bold, erotic dreams, fed by the images and ideas that we have taken in over the years.
What excites us? What titillates us? What role do we dream of playing? What does our imaginary partner do to thrill and melt us?
Everyone has a private, potent erotic life, with reveries of attraction that fuel our own private release.
Finding a way to embody that fantasy life, connecting it with our daily, real, relationship life, is a real challenge.
Do we surrender to our urges, showing ourselves as erotic and available in the world? Do we deny our urges, striving to appear prim and proper, keeping our sexuality boxed up so we can do other work?
Do our reveries stay hidden and dark, far away from our everyday presentation, or are we right up front with what we desire, showing the erotic us to the world?
For most people, the answer lies in creating a balance. We want to be attractive & erotic while also being conventional & appropriate.
Gender, at its heart, is very much about desire. Though our gender expression we show what we love, what roles we are trained for, who we know ourselves to be.
This can be confusing for normative people who can assume, for example, that if a transperson expresses herself as a woman, she does it to meet and date men. The idea that sexual expression and gender identity are separate can be hard to understand for people who have created their own gender expression as an expression that will attract partners who interest them.
For transpeople who have felt the pressure to keep their own desire hidden away, compartmentalized into darkness, finding the balance between those deep desires and a way to manifest them in the world is a real struggle.
We disintegrate our own sexuality and presence, dreaming of stylized escapades that not only have nothing to do with our everyday life, but have little to do with any possible relationship. There are no women who want to transform us, no big men who want to finance our being their cumslut forever, no princes and princess who step out of porn to make our dreams come true.
The reality of trans desire has to be a pragmatic one. We have to work with what we have got in the world, never being able to transform into some perfect man or woman. People don’t grow up imagining being in relationship with someone like us because they have never met someone like us.
In truth, this is no different than any other human. As much as they try to fit into stereotypical roles to attract a partner, they are a unique individual, not some cookie cutter model from an old sex film. Relationships are hard as we negotiate our dreams, our needs, our fears and our desires.
Gender expression in the world always has a component of Eros built into it. We show our sexuality, connected to a sexualized body under our clothes, revealing that we are ready for interactions of desire. That desire may be reserved for our partners — like wearing a hijab — or may support active flirting, but gendered expressions always include desire.
For people who have matured in the light, those connections of attraction become part of the landscape, something we can understand and manage. They know how much to reveal and how much to conceal, know how being too sexy can be a problem, how being too distant can impeded simple connections.
Braiding together an expression that connects our own internalized gender identity with the symbols of attraction in the world, an expression that supports sparks we can handle, a mature and balanced sexuality is damn hard. We don’t have the training ground of schools where peers allow us to experiment and explore, finding our own boundaries.
When we fear that our symbols may attract people who aren’t yet ready to handle our complexities we can pull back. Does our gendered expression promise something that we cannot deliver, and will they get furious if they believe that they were fooled and humiliated by us?
It takes a lot of work to surface our own deep desire from beneath the habits we built up, and then to see how that desire can play out in the world. Potential partners want to know who we are in the bedroom but until we know that about ourselves, how can we possibly inform them? How can we code both our gender and our sexual desires in a way that doesn’t stimulate the repressed desires of others in a way that triggers their fears?
Over the years, I have found an inner Eros that I find to be potent and healthy. I have not yet found, though, and probably never will, a way to share and connect that Eros with trusting, loving and playful partners. There is a reason why I have been abstinent for so long.
Finding a way to mature our own inner desire by moving it out of the darkness is hard, but until we can do that, we cannot walk in confidence, using gendered power to connect with other people.