'So, have you had the big O yet?
My surgeon looks enquiringly at me almost 10 weeks to the day since carrying out my gender confirmation surgery.
Proudly (and not a little bit relieved) I nod: it's taken a bit of getting there but I did manage my first orgasm a few weeks ago.
One of the great taboo questions about gender transition is, will I still be able to have sex?
As transgender women we're told by our peers the merest mention in psychological assessments puts our transition at risk, lest the spectre of autogynephilia raise its head ('a man's paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a woman').
Still the questions remain, whispered furtively like we're in the corner of a playground full of adolescents:
Will I be able to orgasm? Can I still make love to my partner? Will I taste right? Can I self-lubricate?
The answers are uncertain: like a box of fanny-shaped chocolates, you never quite know what you're gonna get.
Every single one of our bodies is different even before you factor in any techniques used in vaginoplasty, and my experiences here are no exception. Answers from medical professionals are hand-wavy at best and rarely serve to calm.
Still, in November 2015 I underwent my operation at Brighton Gender Clinic, and am pleased to report at least in my case there's a sex life post-transition! Hurrah! Much relief!
So here's some insight on what happened afterwards...
Biologically the operation involves a substantial amount of reuse: parts of the penis and testes are 'harvested' to make new areas. We are told to dilate twice a day using 8" long transparent perspex dildos to prevent the pelvic floor healing. Post-operative notes detail the technicalities of aftercare, and it's all very clinical.
Yet there's still a fun side: new parts, new sensations, oh my!
Encouraged to discover what my new undercarriage was capable of, a couple of weeks post-op I cautiously began to explore.
The nerve-endings around the neoclitoris are a fraction of those found on cisgender women but I found a variety of sensations from the word go, with total inconsistency: some days nothing, some days unbearably sensitive.
Things took a long time to get going using just my fingers and I needed to be in exactly the right mood - getting horny is a bit tricky when you can't quite identify what parts are making you feel good and where those feelings are coming from!
In true science-fair style, further experimentation was warranted based upon previous findings.
I own a small toybox from pre-transition and discovered things with ridges really hurt and my tight pelvic floor prohibited anything larger than an inch in diameter. My clitoris was very, very sensitive - uncomfortably so but possible to get my rocks off with a small bullet vibe.
Silicone was a definite win, a splendid alternative to the solid clinical feeling of a surgical dilator but not too sharp or blunt - a fine balance. Using a personal lubricant was essential as for the first six months there was no moisture at all.Eager to supplement 'me-time' with something else and thanks to a review in DIVA Magazine, I was introduced to Sh! Women Store and bought a vibrator.
This unintimidating toy ticked so many boxes - smooth, gentle curves, waterproof, rechargeable, a variety of speed settings, and solid enough without being too hard or soft so could occasionally be used in place of a dilator. Actually, I'd tip this as being the ideal post-op playtime toy!
Personally I prefer a more intense vibration and found the Desire a little too gentle in that regard, but in combination with a bullet vibe reached my destination quite satisfactorily, thank you very much.
As time went on and my body healed, I discovered a capability to self-lubricate when turned on. Well, I say I discovered it, my girlfriend did as she whispered to me one lazy Saturday morning, 'Suze, I thought you didn't get wet?'
Idle research led me to discovering Cowper's Gland, previously responsible for carrier fluid and unbeknownst to me, repurposed. Clever body reconfiguring itself!
The Desire triggered another revelation: while cisgender male g-spots are in a different place (back) to cisgender women (front), some sensitivity continues to develop where I'd have expected the female g-spot to be sited. It does feel as though my body is remapping itself on a continual basis. Oh, and my girlfriend reported that yeah, I taste just fine...
Six months down the line what's in my toybox?
My favourite investment so far has been a Lelo Noa.
Designed as a toy for couples the hook-on mechanism is absolutely perfect and hits exactly the right area at the top giving my fingers free reign, while applying the pressure. Damn fine right up until the point it shuts itself down, so remember to stick that battery on charge!
The Desire is used fairly regularly as well as the bullet vibes.
Anything with an uneven surface or ridges is definitely out though because of the sensitivity as the skin heals - vulva can be quite thin in places so I need to be careful. Occasionally I give it another go, but the key word here is 'smooth'.
The second key word is of course, 'exploration' - it's my body and it's awesome, time we became re-acquainted!Susie Tomlinson is a post-op transgender lesbian and happy toybox
owner. She lives in Yorkshire, and it's probably best not to disturb her on a Saturday morning when the girlfriend's stopping over.
Sh! is very grateful to her for sharing her experiences.