Being transgender and going from an estrogen to a testosterone-run system gave me a greater opportunity to analyze sexual stereotypes, gender roles, and our current culture of sex.
The vast majority of trans guys will experience a huge increase in sex drive upon starting testosterone therapy (HRT). The frequency of sexual fantasies increase, as does the quality – everything seems more vivid and intense and the need for sex seems much more urgent and primal. No doubt, the first year of HRT was marked by learning how to cope with an unrelenting sex drive while my brain re-wired itself and adjusted to its new hormonal system.
However, there was not one time that I ever considered cheating or using testosterone as an excuse to get away with bad behavior. Through the media and general consciousness, we are flooded with ideas that men have different needs than women, and there is a general acceptance of men in particular being entitled to having (and biologically needing) their sexual desires fulfilled with a disregard to anything that might stand in their way.
Some also argue high levels of testosterone to justify an “uncontrollable sex drive” – claiming that some men just have higher testosterone levels than others making them less capable of forgoing instant gratification. I can also vouch that this is a myth as the whole time I have been on testosterone, my T levels have consistently fallen within the upper limit of what is normal – around 1000 (within the range of 300-1080 which is considered normal by medical professionals).
I believe that some men (not all!) have pulled the wool over the eyes of society and it is now in the collective consciousness that poor sexual behavior can in part, be excused by an uncontrollable, overwhelming biological need. “Boys will be boys”, right? No. Every human, regardless of sex or gender, has an obligation to exercise self-control and exude respect in every sexual situation and if you let someone tell you otherwise, you are being duped.
Furthermore, this society has managed to define sex into a lifeless polarity. Sex roles trap us in boxes, lead us to compare ourselves, and can cause us to feel inadequate. Sex is not just a penis or a vagina and how we have sex does not define us as male or female. The transgender population can be particularly preoccupied with having the “incorrect” genitalia but I have found this preoccupation to be extremely limiting because it reduces sex – the merging of energies and loss of physical boundaries, to only two single body parts, therefore removing the possibility of spiritual experience that is beyond definition. I invite everyone on the transgender spectrum to stop invalidating yourself or defining sex based off what you do or don’t have in your pants- this does not define you!
For the first year on testosterone, I found myself subconsciously adopting gender roles and fulfilling expectations of what it meant to be a guy – I embraced my changing sex drive and saw it as a rite of passage in becoming a true man. The struggle of an intense sex drive gave me a sense of solidarity with the gender with which I identified while making me feel separate from identification as the gender that I tried to break free from.
At the same time, I looked outside of myself at what society has done to sex. We all receive conflicting messages of hyper-sexualization from the media versus messages of taboo and repression from society. Men are hypersexualized in today’s world. To be anything other than sexually aggressive or “ready” at the drop of a hat, is to be deemed less of a man or one possessing too much feminine energy. What an awful disservice we have done to humankind with this duality.
The obsession of sex with beautiful, perfect bodies through movies, social media, porn and advertisements have taken away the sacredness of sex and turned it into a competitive and meaningless, mere form of entertainment serving as a means to an end.
That lack of intent dawned on me one day: What are we doing? Why are we doing this? Can we make sex more intentional? We seek to gratify our sexual needs but that gratification is fleeting and something to be sought after time and time again. On occasion, do we pleasure-seek through the use of sex just like we do through shopping or food? Does our sexual energy control our minds? We give away our energy as quick as possible as if it is something to dispose of. After all, we are talking about a profound and powerful energy: What if we could not only transmute some of this life force into a higher creative form and use it to expand ourselves and our dreams and also get back to a more spiritual form of sex?
I invite you to take a step back from social conditioning towards gender and sex to end idealization of physical beauty, rigid gender stereotypes or even hormones to construct sexual experiences and instead, fully embrace sexuality as a precious and sacred energy that has neither category nor hierarchy; rather, it unites everything.