I wrote this letter to Jake and asked him if he’d like me to copy it onto pretty paper for him or to post it on our blog to celebrate his coming out. He chose the latter. Some of you know Jake aka AJ by a different name–put it this way: he’s my life partner and we co-run Go Deeper. By the way, today’s is Jake’s birthday. –L
We’ve been married now for over a year and it’s been the happiest time in my life. Fighting erotic shame with you is the biggest privilege ever. I feel like you’ve taught me so much, just by being you.
But this letter isn’t about erotic shame. It’s about your decision to come out as trans.
You are the most deep, talented, loving person I’ve ever met, and though I completely understand your reasoning, it broke my heart a little when you asked me if I’d mind if you started identifying as male. But why, in a society that sees sex as purely physical, would we not ask that question? Would I mind if you had a “more male” chest, you asked. Would I mind if I could no longer make love to you in certain ways, with certain parts of your body, you asked. Would I mind, you asked, if you were a “he”.
No, dear God, I would never, ever mind. In fact, I find the idea deeply exciting.
Being a sexuality activist has taught me so much–and continues to teach me, every day. As you know, many years ago I was told by a talented sex writing teacher that it’s objectifying to use the words “pussy” and “cock.” The individual concerned was an amazing teacher, an amazing person, and a powerful writer. They meant no harm in offering this advice. But I had to learn for myself that there was harm in my not writing “pussy” and “cock,” because if I can touch her thigh or grab his hand or kiss hir hair, why can I not clasp her pussy? Why would that be a more shameful way to connect with a human being? Shame silences us and tells us we’re “objectifying,” but it forgets that the body is an object, and a glorious one at that. Shame also wants us to think that sex can’t be whatever we want it to be–angry, close, fierce, powerful, vengeful, loving, intimate, comforting. Shame wants us to live in fear, rather than in honesty.
Shame would also have us believe that the body can only be one thing for a man and one thing for a woman, and that anyone who’s in between those two things should bloody well choose.
It was Susan Jeffers who wrote in Embracing Uncertainty that when she had her breasts removed because of cancer, she learned an amazing truth. She’d thought her sex life would be ruined. But she soon discovered that sexuality was not about a breast! That’s an easy thing to say, perhaps, but a difficult thing to understand. After all, what does the media tell us? It says, sex is breasts! Sex is pussy! Sex is cock! Sex is skin! Sex is skinny! Sex is tanned!
But it doesn’t tell us sex is whatever we want it to be.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and trauma, I’ve been in sexual situations that are everything but what I wanted them to be. I blotted out the memories for many years, thinking I could hide them, never look at them again. But diagnosis after diagnosis of my pain during sex led me down a very long road to recovery. I had dissociated sex with kind people; dissociated sex with unloving people; my first non-childhood sexual activity was with a man I didn’t know who was seven years my senior and raped me via oral sex. I didn’t think he’d done anything wrong. I thought I just wasn’t a very good lover.
Jake, you healed me of my sexual dissociation. With you, I stayed in the room.
With you, I stayed in the room, my love. I stay and I remain. I have no words to explain why this is one of the biggest miracles I’ve ever experienced. Ever.
Your body is beautiful. You have the most beautiful, erotic, powerful body I have ever seen. Your body will continue to be beautiful to me always and forever. Yes, I’m a dyke. Yes, it’s hard to accept that people might see me holding your hand and assume I’m a heterosexual woman. (Who knew this would be a concern of mine? Who knew I didn’t prefer to escape the homophobic stares?) Yes, I’m scared. I’m terrified. I know how those who feel hatred towards transgender people can react. I listen to the news (when my head isn’t buried because I’m too freaked out to listen to the news.) I’m already snapping at the TV screen when Gordon Ramsay splits his trainee chefs into teams of two genders: men and women.
Invisibility hurts. Nothing truer.
I know you are terrified too. My God, I can only imagine how confusing this fucked up world must seem right now.
Yes, I’m scared in several ways. But I am mostly absolutely overjoyed.
You know why? Because the more you become you, the more incredible you are. You heal wherever you walk because you always strive to be yourself. You accept everyone as they are, because you strive to accept yourself. Your talent burgeons and blooms. Your love is so powerful, so true. You create the hottest, most exciting sexual scenarios, both on and off the page–and boy, am I a lucky girl. You care about me in your every movement, every touch, every word.
Our sex life has never been as amazing as it is right now. I know you know that too.
I want to sit with you at the side of your bed during surgery, hold your hand as you sleep, whisper that I’m proud of you. And then, when you’re ready, I hope you’ll unveil the body that I have always found so beautiful–and see how, in that moment, it truly reflects the real you.
Sex is not about a breast. It is not about a cunt. It is not about where you put your fingers or toes. Real flesh or silicone? That’s never the point.
Sex is how we express who we are and how we feel in our bodies, hearts and minds.
For me, sex is you, my love. Always and forever.
And I’ve never seen anyone more beautiful.
Check out Abbie Normal’s A WOMAN WALKS DOWN THE STREET—a new collection, signed for BENT by Jake Louder.