Headlines are funny sometimes. “A Trans Woman Learns To Masturbate” is the title the piece was given on Eros Media, yet such a statement ignores the unique, languid writing style of author Jetta Rae. It also simplifies the myriad issues Rae explores — beyond just masturbation, beyond just being trans.
Rae begins by addressing the societal assumptions surrounding masturbation. Masturbation is a safe, healthy time for personal exploration and fantasy — in fact, a time that can be transformative — yet the act is often derided and misrepresented in ways small and large. For instance, the word “masturbatory” is used when someone is acting self-absorbed, relying on the (incorrect) belief that masturbation comes easily for everyone.
The disparagement of masturbation as a simple, mindless game you always win trickles down from the office to the bedroom, and not everyone is able to get off from jerking off. Some of us aren’t able to find “spank material” that treats our sexual and gender identities with respect. Others still are struggling with the idea of being sexual–when we prop up, with our language, this notion of masturbating as foolproof, we risk eclipsing people who could heal the most from self-love in anxiety, fear, and resentment at their own bodies for not being able to “keep up” with those of us able to jokebrag about taking the day off from work to lay in bed and touch ourselves.
After years of hormone replacement therapy, Rae’s cock responded differently to stimulation — it took her longer to become erect, and orgasm began slipping further and further out of reach. Despite happy relationships and sexual forays, the lack of genital response was disheartening. She struggled with anxiety over orgasm.
Having an orgasm in front of another person is a special sort of experience, one that takes us out of our masturbatory comfort zones. Rae wanted it to be easier, and, having seen many partners respond to vibrators, set out to re-train her body to do the same. She bought a Hitachi Magic Wand.
God, I remember those first few nights with my new toy. I swore I could literally taste the electricity in the back of my throat as I tearfully buckled in my bed . . . The ceaseless mechanical quivering sent pulses, both overwhelming and liberating, through my body. I could feel it, not just in my tits, but somehow through my tits, like steam escaping from the sewers to the street.
Yet orgasm remained difficult. Rae often found herself at the edge, overly stimulated, unable to come without experiencing discomfort. What happened next was a happy accident: one night, she gave up her usual routine with the wand and instead rested it at the base of her cock, over her prostate.
It was just the shift in stimulation and thinking that her body and brain needed. Without orgasm as the primary goal, without trying to stick to the same old motions, she was able to relax and get off — in a new way.
All her life, Rae writes, “society had instructed people born with bodies like mine that there is a singular ‘right way’ to masturbate.” Society had also placed a premium on orgasm. Letting go of these assumptions, it turns out, was everything she needed.
Read the whole piece at Eros Media.