"Whoever is so stupid as to imagine God to be either masculine or feminine
openly shows that he is as bad a philosopher as he is a theologian."

~ Marie de Gournay, The Equality of  Men and Women (1622)

Mind Caviar, Vol. 3 Spring Issue, 2002

Transgenderism: Blurring the Boundaries
Part Two: Female to Male

by Sabrina Qedesha with Jamie Joy Gatto

Female to male transgenderists have had to overcome a pattern of being marginalized and rendered invisible by the culture at large, and even by other transgendered people. There have been a few influential activists, Patrick Califia-Rice, for example, but so far, no Christine Jorgensen or Renee Richards of female to male (F to M) transgenderism (TG) has set an example that has made the same impact in the female cross-gender world.

It has been often noted, as a partial explanation for this invisibility, that women have more fluid gender roles, and so it is more socially accepted for them to wear men's clothes. Really, this isn't true; while women might have an outfit or two in their closet which incorporates slacks, a button-down shirt, and maybe even a necktie, chances are the shirt and slacks are cut for the female body. 

Transgender Art
Illustration by
George Grosz (1893-1959)
Women's jeans and pants are likewise designed to fit the female body, so they are not men's clothes, and haven't been designed to be worn by men. The buttons of even the most masculine ladies' shirts are tellingly on the opposite side of the garment's opening. It appears, however, based on contemporary clothing design, that casual androgyny for women does seem to be socially acceptable. 

Some feminists have argued that it might be a natural expectation that a female would to aspire to malehood in a culture where only masculinity is valued. I think, though, that this argument is flawed. No male-dominated culture of which I am aware has ever encouraged women to do anything but stay silent and accept their socially assigned role. Also, if the arguing feminists were right, there would be some kind of cultural mechanism to allow women to move easily in their perceived or literal transition to men.

Differing Cultures

Most cultures have some form of M to F transgendered role -- from the mahu of the South Pacific, to the xanith of Oman, to the nadle of the Navaho tribes. Few cultures have a similar parallel category for women who might naturally assume a male role -- which is exactly the opposite of what we would expect. 

The silence is, as they say, deafening.

There are rare exceptions, one being the North Pigean society, a Native American culture, who referred to particularly masculine women as ninauposkitzipspe, which translates to "manly-hearted women." This example reflects a pattern. What few examples of  F to M TG or crossdressing we find documented in history suggest that the male gender was assumed not because the woman in question saw herself as being a male, but because she was undertaking a task reserved solely for a man -- in other words, she is acting out a traditionally male role.

One notable example is Hatshepsut, a member of Egypt's ruling eighteenth dynasty. She is portrayed in statues and pictures as a man with a symbolic beard; males being the only culturally acceptable primary leaders in that culture. Other historical crossdressing women include those who assumed the exclusively traditional male role of leading an army or acting as a warrior. Examples include the Spartan Telesilla and, of course, Joan of Arc. A little discussed fact of history: ironically our heroic Jeanne D'Arc was burned at the stake by the politically corrupt and all-powerful Catholic Church for crossdressing. She was literally put to death by this "technicality" of church dogma which railed against crossdressing of either gender.

Not all examples of women taking upon male persona involve women acting in a traditionally male role. One example is the god Aphroditos, a male version of Aphrodite who was worshipped on Cyprus. Depictions on vases of ancient Greek celebrations in honor of Dionysius show women dressed as men, with beards and/or phalluses, which implies a more playful or celebratory aspect of the F to M practice. 

Male Erotic Expression & Homophobia

Outside of these isolated examples from ancient Greek tradition, there is generally not a heavy eroticism of crossdressing women that typically surrounds F to M TGs. I have not seen F to M TG's depicted with the kind of strong erotic charge one often sees associated with man to woman crossed roles. Much of this attitude may have to do with the tight grip male sexual response seems to have on open erotic expression in our society. For the most part, what you find in our society reflects purely heterosexual male sexuality. And as there has never been a collective male voice seeking depictions of women dressed as men, F to M gender-bending seems to be primarily reserved as strongly sexually acceptable only in the lesbian community.

This might at first seem rather odd, since I have heard heterosexual men say that the sight of a woman wearing their clothes is quite a turn-on. But that scenario is generally encountered following a MF sexual encounter, or is used as a teasing form of foreplay between the two opposite genders, securing an implied mental virility and firmly establishing a heterosexual role for the male. A woman wearing a male partner's night shirt implies a form of conquest: if she is wearing his clothes it suggests an outward display that he "got in her pants." But, I expect that if I asked one of those same men if he thought it would be erotic to see a woman try to pass herself off as a man while wearing his clothes, I suspect his enthusiasm would crumble. 

The likely culprit of this phenomenon is homophobia. 

Consider this: many men who consider themselves heterosexual may even prefer, or might otherwise strongly consider, a sexual encounter with TG "Girls" (who are often basically biological men simply dressed up to look like women). These self-proclaimed "straight" men have the ability to suspend their disbelief to the point that they honestly believe they are NOT having a homosexual encounter or attraction, even after actual physical, sexual and penetrative encounters occur.

Yet, in fact, this perception is a thinly disguised sham held together by mere fabric and make-up, and other culturally "feminine" gestures, along with social accoutrement, which is at its core, the very basis for the desire to crossdress: perception and acceptance. Knowing this denial-infected mindset of men who accept M to F gender switch exists may be helpful in understanding why many heterosexual men may find the idea of a woman dressed as a man to be distasteful, even subversive. For if this same "straight" man might be attracted to a person who even appears to be masculine or male-like in any way, he may indeed have to question the veracity of his own innate desires.

Religious Oppression

Don't forget, also, that in some circles and in many religions there is still controversy over whether or not it is a sin for women to wear pants. Female to male transgenderism was, like its male to female counterpart, is and was suppressed, repressed, and oppresed by Islam-Judeo-Christian tradition. In the Jewish tradition, women were altogether forbidden to study the "deeper mysteries" much less even learn to read and write or study scripture. In the Gnostic communities, spirit was thought to be separate from flesh -- an import held over from Greek mysticism. As a result, women were allowed to study alongside men, under the recognition that their spirit is of the same substance as the spirit men have.

Oppression against females in general was an added dimension, though it did produce an odd quasi-transgendered effect in some early Christian communities. One example is Bishop John Chrysostom, who said of a female friend, "Don't say 'woman,' but 'what a man!' because this is a man, despite her physical appearance." For example, the last verse of the non-Biblical Gospel of Thomas reads:

Simon Peter said to [Jesus], "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life." 
Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."
Though the modern reader may cringe, in its time and culture this passage was amazingly progressive. While one may protest the requirement that women make themselves male, keep in mind that men and women alike were instructed in the Gospel of Thomas to "make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female."

Other early Christian texts such as "The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas," "The Acts of Paul and Thecla," "The Acts of Thomas," and "The Acts of Philip" contain examples of women becoming men, or cutting their hair in a male style, or dressing or passing as men for their own spiritual well-being, and also to make travel safer.

This unusual surge that seemed to favor women leaving their sex roles behind was naturally dropped when the focus of the church shifted from encouraging celibacy of all followers, to encouraging couples to make babies. Children who in time would each grow up to provide a steady 10% tithe of all land, moneys and goods produced in their lifetime, and then later to be taxed by the church yet again upon death as a "donation" for prayers said at memorial mass to insure their soul swiftly into heaven. F to M conversion just didn't pan out to be lucrative.

What Now?

Female to male transgenderists have appeared in all cultures at all times, and have met with various levels of acceptance, and, more likely, non-acceptance. They walk a path blazed by courageous souls such as Joan of Arc and Brandon Teena, whose demise has been immortalized in the award-winning film "Boys Don't Cry". Perhaps the fact that gender ambiguity can induce feelings of betrayal, confusion, and hostility enough to warrant (in some people's psyche) the motivation to rape, kill, beat or maim is enough to make us all think better of the bravery any openly transgendered person must face.

What all transgendered people have in common is this: they want nothing more than the freedom to be who they are, and to outwardly express their soul-genders so that all who gaze upon them might understand the implications of how dress, appearance, mannerisms and socially accepted roles may play a part in each of our identities as people. Whether or not these two-spirit folks can safely live in the mainstream world is, unfortunately up to society at large.

Sexy Homework Assignment

My last homework assignment was directed at men. This time the focus is on my female readers, and your assignment is straightforward. For the span of an afternoon or evening, find out what it is like to have something floppy between your legs by wearing a strap-on dildo. If you are creative, you may be able to assemble something makeshift that feels similar to a cock and secure it to your genital area.

If you don't have a realistic dildo (many even have realistic testicles attached), consider buying one. They are legal in most places, and can be reasonably inexpensive. You might be able to find one with an elastic band for $10-15, though my sister, who has some experience in these matters, tells me it can be difficult to fuck someone with one of these while wearing it, but it can be used for manual sexual stimulation.

For best results find one with a nice washable harness that goes around the waist with supporting straps between your thighs. A great resource for both dildos and harnesses is Good Vibes. You can order online discreetly, and they have a wonderful variety of merchandise. One of our favorite Good Vibes harnesses for ease, durability, the ability to clean it, and the ability to accommodate people of great varying body size and types, is their Terra Firma harness which can be used with any flared-base dildo size and style of your choice.

I do recommend buying yourself a dildo because, at the very least, it could be fun to show off at parties; and, you might really like having it on. You might also discover to your delight that it makes a welcome addition to the collection of sex toys you use with your boyfriend, husband, or girlfriend.

Alas, you won't get the same sensations of having a penis, but you might acquire a surprising level of empathy for the men in your life simply by feeling its weight pull at your crotch. See what it feels like to point it outwards, to clutch it in your fist, to stroke up and down the length of it. See how it gets in the way when you cross your legs or put on a pair of pants. See how it feels when you walk and it wants to flop back and forth. Some female to male crossdressers wear one under their male clothes when they crossdress, and find it an effective way of concentrating on thoughts in the "little head," the way many men do.

"Blow Job" Anyone?

If you have a willing partner, see the different varieties of way it can enhance your lovemaking. You might find that it looks incredible to see someone suck on it for you if you can find someone willing to do this. You might get some idea, even without the sensations, of why men so adore having a lover shower their penis with oral affection. A female friend reported that another good way to find some appreciation for why men adore blow jobs is to receive big toe fellatio. 

It is a wonderful act of generosity; be especially kind to someone willing to suck your dildo, as they typically taste horrible! Because of this, and for cleanliness reasons I highly recommend using a condom even for dildo-fellatio. Also, condoms used on all your sex toys can add life to them, as well as prevent the spread of infectious diseases. A little honey or flavored lube applied to a condom-clad dildo can add a delicious flavor and make for some fun foreplay.

If you fuck someone with it vaginally or anally, definitely use a condom and plenty of water-soluable lubrication-- but NEVER use honey or anything containing sugars vaginally or anally. Unless you have experience in these matters you will find it difficult to gauge how much pressure you are really using upon penetration, so encourage your partner to give you feedback. Someone who is bending over for you may have a great deal of difficulty relaxing their ass enough to receive if they are not first worked up; in my own experience it is generally painful and unpleasant unless my partner and I have been playing for at least twenty to thirty minutes beforehand and everyone is very sexually aroused and therefore more physically receptive.

If your partner is a heterosexual male who has never been fucked up the ass before, this is a great opportunity for both of you to expand your horizons a great deal. Go really slow, and stop if he finds it painful. If possible, choose a position so that you or he can stroke his penis while he is being fucked -- this will enhance the pleasure for him and help him relax his muscles. 

For an experience that he should find outrageously decadent, fuck him up the ass while you or another partner gives him a blow job. This was the sexiest, most orgasmic experience I ever had.  Done right, the ass-fucking will stimulate his prostate gland, giving him the male version of a G-spot orgasm. Chances are it will blow his mind, and it is an interesting way to add a new dimension to a long-term monogamous sex life. 

(And, no, it doesn't mean he's gay if he likes it.)

As always I'd love to hear back from anyone who takes on the homework assignment! Email Sabrina

Copyright © 2002 Sabrina Qedesha and Jamie Joy Gatto. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy or post in whole or in part. 

Sabrina Qedesha Sabrina is a polyamorous, bisexual, transgendered mathematician and computer expert living in the decadent city of New Orleans with her beautiful wife and three precious cats. Her goal in life is to become one with the Divine through sex, drugs, rock and roll, in no particular order. Her esoteric work has appeared in Zibaq! and The Sistrum, while her erotic work can be found at A Bi-Friendly Place as well as in suspect thoughts. She has also published fiction in Lost Worlds of SF and Fantasy

Email Sabrina or visit her home pages.

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