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How can I have great sex while battling gender dysphoria?

Aug 11, 2023

Rae McDaniel: Sure.

I love the first question.

How can I have great sex while battling gender dysphoria?

So I love to dig in there a little bit.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah, absolutely.

Rae McDaniel: Yeah.

So the first thing I just want to pull from Lucie Fielding’s work who is a colleague of ours and a good friend and our work builds on each other, and Lucie talks about mystifying the body, which I think is so relevant here.

And what she means by that is that we often come to sex, we come to relationship thinking that our bodies as they are now do this thing.

We do this with the bodies that we have.

These are the actions …

Dr. Liz Powell: You put tab A in slot B.

That’s what happens.

It’s the tab and the slot.

That’s it.

Rae McDaniel: Exactly.

And Lucie talks about what if we came to sex, what if we came to relationships with a beginner’s mind?

What if we came without these assumptions and said, “What can we do with these bodies that we have if we throw out the rules, if we throw out the boxes and just allow ourselves to experience pleasure in them?”

And I talk a lot about experiencing pleasure in your skin because that is your biggest sex organ and it’s not gendered at all.

None of your skin is gender and it has so many juicy, juicy nerves in it.

Dr. Liz Powell: Oh, yeah.

I’ve come before by people just biting the back of my neck.

That’s not gender.

That has nothing to do with having a pussy.

That’s just what it is.

Rae McDaniel: Yup.

Yeah, exactly.

There’s so much to explore when we – and it’s so much juicier and richer when we are able to come at sex saying, “Yeah. Hey, I can come when somebody bites the back of my neck.”

Or like what if we use my body in this particular way or what if we pulled in this toy or this adaptive device and played with it in a certain way?

There are so many things that you can do to explore pleasure in your bodies either solo or partnered when we do kind of throw the baby with the bath water a little bit.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

And I was so glad to see you quoting Lucie.

I love Lucie.

If you ever watch this, Lucie, I love you so much.

I miss you so much.

Hopefully I will see you soon someday.

But this idea also of like exploration in the sexual sphere I think is so important because the scripts we have about sex are so very rigid and so limited.

You might get an excuse the first few times you play with someone to explore a lot of their body but the idea is that basically over time, you focus on tits, pussies, dicks, period, maybe butts, maybe.

Rae McDaniel: And by over tough times, you mean like too much.

Dr. Liz Powell: At most, too much especially in like cishet mono world, right?

And there are so many amazing parts of the body that have beautiful sensations that you can have such interesting experiences with when you are able to get yourself the space to do that and when you are not so genital-focused, when you’re not so focused on like what’s the most immediate, easy, orgasm?

What’s the easiest trigger to pull?

Let me go ahead and just grab that one.

And I think that part of this I wonder sometimes, is this about the ways that so many of us feel pressed for time.

Many of us are just exhausted and we are busy and we are overwhelmed and the idea of spending like a couple of hours just playing around with somebody sounds way more challenging for us to find the energy and the excitement for than like, “I know this works. I’m going to do this thing. We will both have comes. Good to go.”

Rae McDaniel: Yeah.

I mean that’s a real thing and not everybody has that 2 hours all the time to spend.

So I get curious about where can you build it in.

If you do want to, you have 20, 30 minutes in the middle of the day, you can always use that time to have some connection that isn’t focused on orgasm, that isn’t focused on like putting the slot in the hole like you said.

That is just – we don’t have anything else to do, let’s explore our bodies for 20 minutes.

And that’s it.

Dr. Liz Powell: And I love incorporating also like solo and partnered/solo play as part of this where like your partner is like, “I want you to send me a video of you playing with an ice cube on your collarbone.”

Something that is interesting that you don’t have to be in the same physical space for that you can participate in in an asynchronous way gives you so much ability to have that fun play even if your schedules aren’t super lined up for all of those things.

Rae McDaniel: Yup, exactly.

And I love that you brought up the long distance relationships or even people who are in the same city but who are working.

Dr. Liz Powell: As polyamorous folks with our calendars.

Rae McDaniel: The struggle is real.

Another thing that I have found helpful with clients is considering what sort of things might you need to adapt to feel just a little bit more comfortable in your body.

I had one client and this is something I share with permission, I shared in Gender Magic, a client who was just struggling, feeling a lot of chest dysphoria when it came to sex and the solution was the most simple thing.

It was that they just wore a binder during sex.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yup.

Rae McDaniel: And it blew their mind like they had never considered the possibility of wearing a binder during sex.

And similarly, there is this really great like single-use latex underwear called Lorals that are awesome if you want to tuck during sex or you just want a little bit of a flatter front during sex.

Things like that make a huge difference and they’re so simple.

Dr. Liz Powell: And I think small things too about how are you holding your body and being in your body during sex.

As I was exploring my gender, one of the things that I did was I was given an assignment by a coach I was working with to just spend some time dancing in a masculine way because I have a lot of experience in dance in very feminine ways.

And so, this was about finding like how can I be in my body, how do I move my body, how do I feel my body and inhabit it with this masculine feeling that I’m having in a way that also connects to the things that are important to me and that have been core to me through a lot of my life.

And I think that for a lot of us, the way that we learn to be in sexual space are often associated with the genders we were trying to fit ourselves into because I think this is an experience a lot of us have that like I tried so hard to be the good woman, I was trying so hard to be the woman I was supposed to be and I learned those things so hard so that I would look good and do the right things.

And unlearning that is its own whole process of like if I’m in a more masculine space, how do I move in sexual space?

Do I lay the same way?

Do I interact the same way?

Do I grab the same way?

Do I use the same words?

What changes for me?

And can I tune into that in a way that is purposeful?

Rae McDaniel: Yeah, absolutely.

I love that you bring that up because it flips the script here.

So we are talking about gender dysphoria and sometimes the answer to that is to really focus in on gender euphoria.

What are the things that actively make you feel good in your body?

And I love that you brought in dance and how that is a connecting place because sometimes sex can feel so pressured.

It’s big, big.

But if you bring in, “Well, how do I just move my body if I’m dancing?” that is such a huge way in for folks.

And whatever that may be to you, it may not be dancing, but I think that’s a beautiful way to play with embodiment and to ultimately play with gender explicitly in the bedroom or wherever.

Dr. Liz Powell: And I don’t know if you know Harmony, but Harmony Less is Your Gay Dance Teacher and they are fabulous.

If you are looking for someone who is about like movements in a way of exploring your body, moving through trauma, moving through gender, all of those things, Harmony is amazing for that.

I strongly recommend looking at their stuff for anybody watching.

Rae McDaniel: One thing that just pops into my head too is that context matters so, so much.

And I’ll use myself as an example.

I’ve kind of have this not struggle but this curiosity as well as how do I move my body?

How do I show up in the bedroom as a nonbinary person and how has that shifted over my life?

And I’ve slept with straight men and there is typically a particular way that I show up there.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yup.

Rae McDaniel: And what changed the game for me is starting to sleep with queer men and bisexual men and gay men.

And that, the way that I show up there, the way that they treat me is completely different, but the things that we are doing are basically the same.

So that really makes a difference when you feel seen by the person that you’re with and there is a permission and room to embody a new way of being, and sometimes that is very subtle.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

And I don’t know if you’ve had any of this experience but something that I have been moving through lately for myself is when I first started exploring my nonbinary gender more seriously and like going on testosterone and wearing more masculine clothing, I went like very hard to the masc side in this way that almost denied more feminine aspects on things that I enjoy on the feminine side.

And something that I’ve been doing lately is like very purposely diving into that in a very particular way where like for me, sometimes it’s reading like the trans porn, sometimes it’s like going into this almost heteronormativity kink of, “I’m going to be the good girl and do the good girl thing and wear the skirt and be such a girl for you.”

And because it’s in this very particular kink space, it feels easier to engage with than when it’s like the people at the VA clinic always calling me ma’am, miss, her, she no matter what I do.

That I get to make this choice of playing with it on purpose rather than having it put upon me by other people.

Rae McDaniel: Yup.

I love that.

And yes, I love everything about that and giving yourself permission to explore that in yourself in such a fun way that you are choosing, that is affirming.

I’ve had a sort of similar experience.

So I got top surgery over the pandemic as well and ever since I got top surgery, I feel personally and this is just a me thing, so much more permission internally and so much more comfort diving back in to some of these more feminine aspects of my identity.

It just feels different in my skin.

I feel way more twinkier when I do it.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yup.

Rae McDaniel: Yeah.

And it’s fun and I like it and I’ve reclaimed wearing makeup because I enjoy that.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

And I think that that’s like if folks are listening and you’re at a place in your gender journey where especially if you’re a nonbinary person who is feeling discomfort around aspects of your assigned gender at birth that you’d like left behind and you’re not sure if you want to engage, there’s no right way to be nonbinary.

You can have whatever parts you want.

It doesn’t matter.

If you want to wear makeup, wear that fucking makeup.

If what you want is to be somebody’s perfect good girl and wash their dishes and make their bed, great.

Let’s do that.

You get to be how you are.

There is nobody who gets to tell if it’s right or wrong.

Rae McDaniel: Yup.


Nonbinary does not equal androgyny.

Dr. Liz Powell: Oh, my god!

We will have to wear gray socks and have the same androgynous haircut and be thin of course and white preferably and abled of course.

Rae McDaniel: Yeah.

And look, like I fit some stereotypes and like I am …

Dr. Liz Powell: I know we both have our nonbinary, queer haircut that’s cool.

Rae McDaniel: We don’t have the haircuts on page one of Google.

That’s OK.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yes.

Rae McDaniel: There is not one way to be nonbinary.

And I’ve gotten a lot of personal pleasure playing with this idea of gender freedom when it comes to reclaiming parts of things that I consider more feminine parts of myself while mixing it very intentionally with things that I consider more masculine parts of myself and that feels very comfortable to me at this point.

And I don’t feel like I need to show up in a particular way for anyone.

But I also definitely remember feeling like I needed to show up in this very hypermasculine way.

And as somebody who is nonbinary showing up the way that I do be attracted to a certain type of person, take a certain role in relationships and sex, it actually doesn’t feel like it really fits for me.

So those pressures are still there.

So if anybody is listening who is like, “It feels like intense pressure to be in a heteronormative bubble even within the queer community,” I see you, I hear you, it doesn’t have to be that way though.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

And in the same way that being bisexual even in queer spaces is often kind of weird because folks want you to be monosexual even if they would not technically say it.

If you’re nonbinary and people are expecting you to do your gender a particular way, if wishes were fishes, right?

They don’t get to choose.

That’s not their choice.

You get to choose your gender and how you do it.

They don’t get to invalidate you at all and anybody who is doing that is full of shit and fuck them.

Don’t fuck them but like fuck them.


Rae McDaniel: Exactly.

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