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How should I have sex with him if I hate his body parts?

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rainbowboy asks:

So I am 17, and I am a gay boy. I was talking to this guy for a while over the internet, we met, and we both really hit it off. Well one thing that I didn't really notice is how feminine his body was. Well we were texting, and he told me that he was a FTM (female to male) transgender individual. The issue I am having is that I really like this guy, but I don't like females. And while he has a female anatomy, he still acts completely male. So I was wondering what a smart way to experiment, to see if it would work, would be, while at the same time not hurting him. Please let me know... I really like this guy, but hate his body parts.

A little more background: I am a pretty sexual person, so it makes a kind of a big deal to me. I can watch straight porn and enjoy it. I can imagine having sex with a vagina. I never have experimented with a girl. I have always been with boys, and have always acted as the "bottom."

Heather Corinna replies:

You know, anytime anyone says or feels that they literally hate someone's body or body parts, my advice is going to be that it isn't a good idea for the person with those feelings to be intimate with the person with that body. If we deeply disdain someone's body parts, or anything big like that about them, I'd say we shouldn't engage in sex with them. Period.

If someone is feeling that they hate someone's size, the shape of their penis or breasts, the color of their skin, how much body hair they do or don't have, or in a situation like this, doing something that's supposed to be about accepting, celebrating, enjoying and safely exploring our bodies isn't something they can really do with a partner whose bodies or body parts they deeply dislike or feel that uncomfortable with.

In other words, if you're asking me (as you are), I'd say you shouldn't have sex with this person, given the feelings about their body and their gender that you have, feelings and ideas which strike me as in conflict with this guy having happy, healthy and positive sexual experiences, something I think all of us should always be aiming for. If a sexual partner of ours hates our bodies or their parts, a happy, healthy and positive sexual experience is very unlikely. It's also not usually what any of us wants in a lover: we usually, if not always, want partners who really like and enjoy our bodies, since that's a big reason why most of us tend to engage in sex in the first place, to enjoy our bodies with someone else. Doing that while someone is cringing, inwardly or outwardly, at our bodies is a bit of a challenge, to say the least, and not a challenge you probably ever want to deal with when it comes to your body. It's probably one this guy would like to avoid, too.

I'm also guessing that you're probably not sharing these feelings with this person -- and certainly, "I hate your body parts," is not exactly something we can share with someone without making them feel like crap -- so there would be this whole weird deal where you'd be trying to hide very negative feelings, and you'd probably fail. It's not hard to pick up on it when someone we're being sexual with deeply dislikes us or our bodies, and when we do pick up on it, it feels seriously awful. You express concern about hurting this person, and I'm glad you're concerned about that. I think with you feeling the way you do, the chances of you hurting them are high.

If this person were asking me about engaging in sex or an intimate relationship with you with all these facts known, I'd advise against it for them and suggest that they instead choose intimate or sexual partners who accept and like their bodies and parts, rather than partners who strongly dislike them. If you were asking me for advice about someone who felt this way about your body, I'd say the exact same thing to you.

There are partners out there for this guy who feel positively about his body parts and who don't have the kind of serious conflicts with them you clearly do. You're not one of them for him. There are partners out there for you who have bodies and body parts you like, accept and don't have conflicts with. He's not one of them for you. I think you'd both be much, much better off with those other partners.

Mind, I want to point out that it's really problematic to assign gender to someone else's body or parts, rather than a person assigning gender to those parts or their whole bodies themselves and being given absolute authority about any external assignments others may have made or may make. That, and the way so much of the world goes about framing and policing sex and gender binaries (false and arbitrary binaries, no less: there are both more than two sexes and way more than two genders), is really the crux of the oppression of trans gender, genderqueer, agender, intersex or other people who can't, don't or won't conform to or fit those binaries. As someone who isn't heterosexual, you probably understand some of what it's like to have people assigning you something huge about yourself that isn't true by default, without your input, or even in direct opposition to what you say and know is true about who you are.

This guy clearly does not feel he is female; he clearly identifies his gender as masculine. If he was assigned a female sex or feminine gender at birth, that obviously was a big problem for him, and was a wrong assignment. It's no more sound an assignment coming from you. You say he "acts completely male" even though he has a "female body," but the thing is, he's making clear he IS a guy, which makes his body a his body -- not a female body -- even if you, someone else, or even he doesn't feel it's the body he wants or a body that's masculine according to any given ideal.

I don't know where he stands about what he calls or considers his own body parts, including a vulva, vagina or breasts. He himself may see or consider any or all of those parts as female, but he also may not. Some men assigned female sex at birth call and consider their vulvas penises, or body parts that are masculine, because they, as people, and thus, the bodies they inhabit, are masculine. He may not feel, as you do, that he has "female body parts," in a similar way that, say, because you're a guy, and have a masculinity, you probably don't figure that both of those things mean you must be heterosexual and a top, even though the prevailing framework in the world is that "real men" are straight and neverevernever engage in receptive sex or bottom. Get what I mean?

I'd also add that we can't have sex "with a vagina." We can engage in sex with people who have vaginas, and can involve that part of a body (or not) in the sex we're having, but body parts are part of people. They're not objects or things just floating around, and people also are not our genitals: this guy is no more a vagina than you're a penis or I'm a big nose. That might be semantics, I know, but I also think that if you're thinking this way about genitals and sex, it might be something to just check in with yourself about.

Last stop on this debunk train, in the case you're thinking this: I hope you know that having sex with someone with a certain kind of genitals, or having a certain kind of sex can't change your orientation. In other words, if you ever do find you feel differently and do engage in sex with with someone, of any gender, with a vagina, that won't change the fact that you're a gay dude. The only thing that can change what your sexual identity is is you, yourself, deciding to change what you call it or you, yourself, deciding it has changed.

I don't say any of what I just did to talk you out of your feelings or to try and change things for you overnight so you can have sex with this guy, because I still think that'd be a bad idea anytime soon. But I think it'd be a good idea to think some more about all of this and have some more information to work with, even if you never have a sexual relationship with a trans guy.

Now, maybe you just need some more time and education with this (probably a lot more time and education), because all of this might be new to you, including how you're thinking about bodies, body parts and gender. Some of how you're feeling might be a visceral, knee-jerk reaction to something surprising and new -- and might even have to do with feelings about your own gender identity -- and those feelings might not stay that strong, especially as you get to know this person as a whole person, not as a set of genitals or what you've decided their genitals mean.

Maybe you don't actually "hate" vaginas as a body part: in fact, if you feel you truly do "hate" them, I'd be pretty curious what that's about, since people's body parts, in a general way, can't really do anything to us. Body parts belong to people, people who are incredibly diverse and unique and are the folks that do -- or don't do -- things with body parts. Body parts can't do things or exist without us. And of course, you probably already know that if and when we're sexually or romantically (or platonically) oriented to one gender of people, that usually isn't about hating the other, but instead about having a disinterest in the other, or less of an interest, or not even that, but just a strong preference towards another gender. Hating or fearing red apples couldn't make me like green apples. I like green apples because I like green apples: not because I dislike red ones.

Again, my personal advice would be that this, as it stands, doesn't seem like a safe or sound sexual environment, especially for this guy. Not for you, either, but I'm more concerned with a person whose body or parts may be being hated by a sexual partner engaging in sex with them. My concern about that increases in a situation like this, because he may already have his own hard feelings about being born with the body parts he was, and having gender assigned to them or him because of them. Hating on them or big discomfort with them from someone else, even without it being disclosed, is likely the last thing he wants or needs. To put this in a framework that might be more personally relevant to you, it would probably be pretty negative for you to have sex with someone homophobic.

You say you really like this guy. If you mean you like him beyond having sexual interest in him, I think the better bet here is to pursue and cultivate a friendship, not an intimate or sexual relationship. We all need lots of different kinds of relationships in our lives, after all, including friendships, and to boot, when we're queer, it's not like we usually can't use more community.

We can, for the record, all be sexual people without pursuing every sexual opportunity that comes our way, or pursuing sex with every person we might have some sexual feelings for. (We can even be sexual people without having any kind of sex with anyone else, ever.) Having sexual feelings or desires doesn't make every potential sexual situation or relationship the right one for us or others, just like feeling hungry or enjoying food doesn't mean every single thing we could possibly put in our mouths is the right thing for us to eat, or every way we could get food is sound or ethical.

Making thoughtful sexual choices in the interest of everyone's well-being, including when that choice is not to pursue or engage in sex, doesn't make you or anyone else any less sexual of a person. It just makes you someone mindful and caring in how you choose to express and explore that sexuality. That doesn't take your sexuality away: it enhances it and makes it something more likely to bring you and others joy, and less likely to do you or others harm.

None of us, no matter how awesome we are, are going to be the right sexual partner for everyone. Often enough, we won't be, whether that's about timing being off, we and someone else wanting or needing very different things, or any of us just being in the wrong headspace or heartspace for being sexual together to be mutually good stuff. One really big part of being really ready to handle and manage sex with partners in a healthy way is being capable and willing to turn down sex, or choose not to pursue or continue sex, if and when we don't feel strongly it's something that's really best for ourselves and our partners.

There will be other guys you like whose body parts you also feel positively about and who you also really like. And who knows, maybe later on in your life, you'll feel differently about bodies and gender than you do right now. But for now, given how you're feeling and thinking about this person and their body this strikes me as a very clear do-not-go-there.

Here are a few more links, on the site and off, that might help you out:

Thanks to CJ Turett and Caylee Hogg for consulting on this one!

written 24 Apr 2012 . updated 10 Jun 2012

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