I wanted to draw the trans masculine genitals because they are so rarely depicted, outside pornography. I drew them pre-op or non-op, after the influence of testosterone. Because I did not have vaginectomy or burial, the fair-skinned and pink vulva is my own. All of this resides between my scrotum and perineum. The darker skinned and pink vulva is a composite of real and imagined bodies mixed together.
It’s strange for trans men and nonbinary people like myself not to see our genitals in illustrations. I mean after hormones, the cis-female genital anatomy diagrams diverge from our experienxe. Too, it’s a ghostly feeling in the culture for one’s body to morph into something without language. ‘Clitoris’ seemed to describe a small bead below a hood, not this thumb of erectile tissue with its phallic contours and moveable foreskin. These days, in the company of trans men, it’s almost universal to call this protruding organ a dick. Our natal dicks, we say; our natal erectile tissue.
Of course, we also believe someone who does not take testosterone has just as much right to call the same organ a penis. It doesn’t only become a penis in size but also in the way one lives in it. As you inhabit the flesh, it takes on its meaning from you. As your understanding of self grows, the way of interpreting the analogous flesh can change either in harmony or in dissonance with the self. I think this is hard for cisgender people to understand, but the same organ can bring both great gender euphoria or a deep sense of something being wrong– and sometimes both.
I don’t mean to imply that body words like penis mean nothing, because there are times I must speak in generalities– the typical penis, what you would typically describe as a penis, what we think of when we say cis penis. Yet, I will stand with anyone for their right to name their own body with the words that feel right to them. Don’t words live to serve our ideas? To guide us in sharing ourselves? Most days, the word clitoris would not share the story of my sense of self in this body: another way of saying the word clitoris became mostly misgendering, a pitch out of tune.
I can speak best about my own experience. A month after I started hormones, this organ would no longer be the mystery that lovers would lose in their fumbling. There’s no losing its location, anymore. When testosterone developed that piece of me into something that could be– in such an odd and amusing sensation at first– wagged back ad forth with the brush of a hand? I needed new words. You can look down and, with the bend of the waist, see your penis rising off the ledge of the mons.
Why have phalloplasty then? Oh, it’s a common enough question in the community. You have grown your own penis already, some say. Our physical evolution is self-made, one mild, amber-oiled shot of testosterone at a time. The pleasure from that new instar felt like nothing I could have imagined before the organ developed itself to size: and orgasms, once so elusive and slow-growing erupted easily from any attention on this readily available organ. I was amazed when I learnt some trans men had penises which grown enough to penetrate others, surpassing my two inches. Those friends, some shared a photo in secrecy after a support meeting if I asked if it was really true. But yes, they had made it into three inches when fully erect.
Three inches– I’m certain that to many people in our cruel culture, the thought of a penis the size of a thumb is a shameful thing. How often do we hear the phrase “small penis” in jokes even from progressive, body positive people? But to us, it is a private, intimate evidence of incarnating ourselves. We allow ourselves to feel sexy, if once forbidden; we find pleasure in our own skin. For all my life, I could never laugh at anything like the size of someone’s penis.
So back to this question, why even have phalloplasty? These things are, in some ways, ineffable. There is not language for it. I just knew that my spirit resided in a space that was beyond the shape that my natal tissue there could grow. Medical help was available to bring my body into that fuller space, so I had to seek it.
It isn’t that I am simply proud of what my body did. When I see men and nonbinary people who have gotten metoidioplasty and we settle down to think too much on what their bodies means now… The closest feeling I can express– I feel an ache of transgender gratitude in my temples. My inner nose tastes salt by the recesses of my tongue at the throat. You’d not see tears on my eyes, but I can taste feeling moved. I could close my eyes to savor it: Yes, it is possible to experience gender euphoria in another person. The– You did it, my friend, and you are so damned sexy in your own skin I could close my eyes and bathe in happiness for you. You feel your heart warm the passage up your neck until it meets that salt.
It’s no different a feeling of compersion when a trans friend is happy without surgery. So, I drew the way it looks, to me. I do not know if you call it your t-dick, like some do… or whether it is moved among or buried within the surgically built organs. Maybe this kind of sight is only a memory.
I hope that someone will be able to use this kind of image to explore language for their body. I hope that number coding it will make a conversation easier. I hope that a direct view of my body or the illustration is easier to look at that your own– if you’re the type who does not want to see it. I made this for you, my kin.