With all the work I’ve put in to help alleviate my vaginismus, a condition that causes painful vaginal tightness and enables me from having vaginal sex, I very often lose interest in my treatment.
No, this isn’t because I’m frustrated with my body or the longevity of vaginismus treatment, though those reasons are certainly valid. It’s because at least half the time, I don’t really want my vagina to begin with. And because of that, I’ve considered giving up on treatment altogether multiple times.
Through talk therapy and physical therapies of my partner and I’s own creation (please keep in mind that a professional is ideal for setting a routine and treatment), I’ve made a lot of improvement with my condition. I’m no longer triggered by my partner’s intimate touch, and growing closer to seeing penises as something that’s nonviolent (at least not inherently) every day. I trust my partner completely, exemplified in the fact that my vagina now welcomes their fingers as they make me climax through G-spot stimulation. I fantasize about my partner penetrating me with their penis, something I genuinely had never done for the first year of our relationship. But with all this work being done and all these hurdles being slowly cleared away, I got much closer to another source of discomfort for me: gender dysphoria.
Before undergoing at-home treatments for vaginismus, I never noticed gender dysphoria as being an everyday thing for me. Sure, I begged my mom to help me get breast reduction surgery, or top surgery, when I was in middle school (and ponder it even more these days). I’ve always known my breasts to be a source of discomfort to me, something that I never associated with anything trans since my cisgender mother shared a lot of the same views on her generous upper half. But once I essentially put a microscope to my vagina through this treatment, I admittedly accepted something that I already kind of knew.
I’ve been masturbating from a very early age and as a child, I’d do it in a pretty weird and disconnected way, mostly rubbing my fully-clothed legs together until I would reach some kind of climax. But as I got older, I never grew out of this alone time method. Sure, I loved and still love having partners touching and stimulating my genitals. But I hated seeing and touching my vagina by myself because, honestly, I wish I didn’t have one.
Since I was a toddler, I vehemently rejected femininity and always related more to the boys in my class. I often tried on my dad’s clothes (never my mom’s, hers were too feminine), and embraced a series of aggressive & take-charge mannerisms, imitating the men in my life in the mirror to my parents’ amusement. I hated the idea of my vagina, and felt especially weird about it once I got my first glimpse of a penis (from a classmate). Feeling like I had the wrong genitals caused me a lot of anxiety, and it still does.
Unless I’m getting freaky with my love, I hate thinking about my vagina or being reminded that it even exists. With the exception of my clit, I make sure to expertly avoid contact with my vagina, the thing that feels so foreign to me. I can only describe it as “feeling far away,” like my genitals are so far removed from my body that even the feeling of water against it (like in a lake or a bathtub) feels extremely unsettling. And with lots of the debris from my assault and trust issues cleared away, dreams of having a penis between my legs instead invades my consciousness and confirms what I already know.
I want to be penetrated by my partner, despite fears that this activity could emasculate me. But getting there requires getting to know my vagina, touching and stretching it outside of the bedroom and without my partner. I’m terrified. I don’t want complete strangers knowing I have a vagina, let alone massaging it. I can hardly bring myself to look at my vagina with a hand mirror, a highly-recommended practice for vaginismus, out of fear of what’s down there, out of fear that I will cry out of torment.
In a way, I feel that my vagina torments me. Since I have vaginal tightness, I have to work ten times harder than most just to achieve PIV sex. And because of my trans identity, the last thing I want to do is get to know my vagina beyond the gratification for and by sexual partners.
I sometimes wonder if getting to know my vagina in an environment with people who understand my identity could help alleviate my dysphoria, and see that these genitals are not what makes a man (or a woman for that matter). But since the medical community is already so ignorant about the condition as a whole, I don’t have much hope that therapies like this could be both gender affirming and medically effective.
In the future, I will do my best to search out a vulvovaginal specialist who has a good understanding of trans identities. For now, I’m still deciding whether or not I’m going to use, or even keep, my vagina. And luckily, I have a partner who doesn’t seem to care either way.