I loved the double-ended dildo – Stevie

Sex is hard enough to figure out without also having to wrangle with your gender. Stevie was raised as a little girl, but that never quite fit. They’ve covered a lot of ground to find clarity. They’re now happily married, while still exploring what they actually like in their body and who they want to be in their relationship.

Stevie is 37 years old and identifies as non-binary or gender queer. They describe themselves as white, gay, monogamous, and married. Stevie grew up in Scotland and describes their body as athletic and pear-shaped.

Good Girls Talk About Sex
Good Girls Talk About Sex
I loved the double-ended dildo - Stevie
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In this episode we talk about

Early age sexual explorations

Exploring sexual orientation

Exploring gender identity

Coming out

Gender queer

Non-binary identity

Non-binary sex roles and pleasure

Top surgery

Trans body issues

Full episode text

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sex educator and sexual communication coach, Leah Carey, and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Hey, friends. What happens when a mother desperately wants her child to be a normal little heterosexual woman? Mom ends up with, in Stevie’s words, “a big old lesbian who also happens to be gender queer.”

In today’s episode, we’ll meet Stevie, someone who is in the midst of navigating a new marriage and the maze of gender identity at the same time. Stevie is 37 years old and identifies as non-binary. They prefer the term gender queer, but don’t usually use it with people they don’t know because it can be confusing for those who haven’t heard it before. Stevie describes themselves as white, gay, monogamous, and married. Stevie grew up in Scotland and describes their body as athletic and pear-shaped.

We had a long conversation about gender that I think will be fascinating to people who are curious about that topic, but may not hold as much interest for people who are here primarily for the sex. For that reason, I’ve pulled that section out and put it at the end of the episode. I’ll pop in with the reminder at the end that if you want to listen to that conversation about how they see their own body and internalized transphobia and homophobia to continue listening. I’m so pleased to introduce Stevie!

Stevie, I am so excited to have you on today. We met each other a couple months ago and I knew as soon as I met you, literally within about 10 seconds, I knew I wanted to interview you, but I waited today before I introduced the topic to you so as not to freak you out.

STEVIE: That is interesting information. I was not aware of that.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Welcome. Thank you for being here.

STEVIE: Thank you for having me.

LEAH: Yeah. So, the first question I ask everyone is what is your first memory of sexual pleasure?

STEVIE: Yeah. When you say sexual pleasure, what do you mean exactly by that? Do you mean go as far back as you can remember or what do you mean by that question?

LEAH: I love that you asked that.

STEVIE: Because I have listened to this podcast. I’ve heard some people go far back, but I’m always really curious as to the definition of the question before I provide an answer.

LEAH: For me, part of the reason to ask it that way is to allow others to figure out what it means for them because for some people, they had sexual experiences as a child, whether it was masturbation or something that was non-consensual, and they might or might not want to assign the label pleasure to that. And so, they want to move forward into their teenage or their early 20s.

There are other people who can firmly hold onto those early childhood experiences and call them pleasurable and that I think is really interesting as well. And then, there are some people who just literally did not pay attention to their body until they went through puberty. So, I think any of those answers are interesting and completely valid.

STEVIE: Okay. I’m glad I asked that question because I think there is an experience that I more or less choose to ignore, but I think I was I will call it abused at I suppose I was about 8 years old by a 15-, 16-year-old boy who was a family friend and that used to happen consistently. And at the time, I enjoyed the experience. He was an older boy. It was exciting, but yeah, in hindsight, not the best experience.

LEAH: I am so glad that you asked the question so that you knew where you wanted to approach this from. And I’m also really glad that you just called that out as a thing that was pleasurable in the moment, but now, you look back with a different view.

Because that’s so common and it’s so confusing, as an adult, to be able to look back at that experience and say, that was not okay. That was non-consensual. And at the time, my body responded the way that bodies respond and that doesn’t mean that I was asking for it or that I was in any way culpable for what happened. So, I’m really sorry that that happened to you.

STEVIE: Thank you. It’s funny I ended up telling my dad about it a couple of years ago. And bless him, he didn’t know how to respond to that. He did remember who it was. I think I had a lot of feelings of guilt about it, not necessarily from the time, but I think growing up and realizing this was probably the start of something for him in terms of abusing young girls or it may have escalated.

And I think the guilt that I have is not knowing where he ended up or not being able to alert anyone to it. I feel that some sort of responsibility that it may have happened to other people, other girls or people who are now adults and I was powerless to stop it and still to some extent because from nearly 30 years ago, I don’t remember very much about him or his family.

LEAH: Yeah. That’s such a hard question for so many people who have been through some type of abuse and recognize that that person may have gone on to abuse others and feel like they have some culpability in anybody who that person abused after them.

When in reality, what’s going on is your entire nervous system is caught up in this experience and you have to work through that. You cannot be responsible to anybody else until you’ve handled what’s going on inside you. And for some people, that might take days, weeks, months. For some people, that could take decades. And I find it really troublesome when I hear people make the assertion, “If you didn’t do XYZ, then you are responsible for anybody who came after you.” That is fucking bullshit.

STEVIE: It is.

LEAH: Yeah. Do you remember how it stopped?

STEVIE: Probably just circumstance of I think it ceased when he went back to school. I think he was at boarding school and I think the only times I would see him was during a school break. And so, I think it stopped when he went back there. And then, I believe we probably left or something. I don’t know why other than I just didn’t see him again.

LEAH: Yeah. So, you said that you had some pleasure. Is that something you’re willing to talk about briefly?

STEVIE: Mm-hmm.

LEAH: Okay. How far were things going and what kind of pleasure do you remember having?

STEVIE: I think it started as kissing, French kissing and that was probably the first time I had done that. And then, it moved on to touching. I recall only that it being over the clothes and I was a tomboy. I used to love cycling shorts. So, there wasn’t much between it, but I do remember it being that and he was touching my genitals and things like that.

LEAH: So, he was touching your genitals through clothing and there was some genital pleasure involved?

STEVIE: Yes. It didn’t result in an orgasm or anything for me. I didn’t know what that was until later.

LEAH: Yeah. And was there as a child a sense of like, “This feels weird?” Or was it, “Somebody’s paying attention to me?” Or some mixture of both?

STEVIE: I think it was, “Someone’s paying attention to me.” I love kissing. 10/10 would recommend to a friend. At least that’s what I tell my wife. She doesn’t find that as funny as I do.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: I’ll be honest. I do use humor a lot to deflect. So, you may notice this coming up quite a bit for me where something is uncomfortable. I was an only child in the 90s and I remember being exposed to probably things that were probably a little old for me, movies and things like that, and recognizing what pleasure and attention looks like. And I think I longed for the day when I could experience that. And I did have a couple of friends who, this is my mother’s words, she used to call them the devil’s spawn.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: They certainly liked to explore sexually. And I know them from primary school and it’s weird that I find this hard to talk about and hard to explain. And I don’t necessarily know whether this is normal, but we would get naked and we would rub on top of each other and things like that.

And I remember we nearly got caught once when we were in the bathroom or something. And I remember thinking I don’t think I would have done that without them. And I think they instigated a lot of some of that exploration or certainly I knew that it was wrong. I think I knew enough to know that I should feel shame about this and I was too young to experience this. But experience I did nonetheless.

LEAH: So, first of all, is it normal? It is completely 100% normal. Second of all, I have so many questions.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, you said they, so it sounds like there were multiple people.

STEVIE: Two sisters.

LEAH: So, they were sisters. That was one of my questions.

STEVIE: At the time, I didn’t know much about them and their family. I believe in hindsight that I think their mother had an alcohol problem. I don’t know if that impacted their childhood and I don’t mean to suggest that it did. I’m not sure whether or not they were possibly doing things for attention or not. I don’t know.

LEAH: Yeah. Obviously, we can’t make any judgments or psychoanalyze them without them here. How do I want to say this? It is not unusual for a child who has been sexually abused in some way to then act out sexual behavior at an earlier age than you might expect that. And so, that kind of activity with two sisters who are orchestrating sexual encounters maybe or maybe they were just highly sexual kids who found this thing that was fun and pleasurable for them and you seemed like a really fun person to do it with. How old were you when this play with the other girls was going on?

STEVIE: 5.

LEAH: That’s pretty young, okay. And how old were they?

STEVIE: One was 5. The other was maybe 7. I don’t hold anything against those two girls.

LEAH: Yeah. Did you understand anything about your gender or their gender because you had experiences with both little girls and with the teenage boy? Was there a sense of which was more appealing to you?

STEVIE: I knew I think from a young age that I liked girls. I remember my first babysitter and having a giant crush on her. And then, I subsequently had crushes on other typically women in some sort of authority position. I may have a thing for women in authority, you can say.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: But now, I think I recognize that I would have crushes on girls and women I looked up to and I think I didn’t know anyone who was gay. I didn’t know it was a thing. I knew that I was supposed to like boys and we would go play chase with the boys and things. And I had boys who were friends.

And I was a tomboy and I liked to play with the boys because I like the toys that they had. Why can’t I have those toys? Why couldn’t I play soccer? And I was not allowed to play soccer in fact because it’s the boys. And I was not allowed to play guitar because it was for boys. And I think my mom just didn’t want to me grow up into a big lesbian, but surprise!

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What were you seeing your childhood home in terms of affection and sexuality, if anything?

STEVIE: As in my parents to each other?

LEAH: Yeah. I don’t want to assume that they were still married.

STEVIE: They were still married. They were together until I was 10. And then, they divorced. They weren’t super affectionate with one another. I do remember walking in on my parents having sex once. At the time, I didn’t know. I walked in and I just walked out, went back to my bedroom and that was it. In hindsight, I know what they were doing.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: But no, they were not affectionate at all. And in terms of having relationships that were a good model, I don’t think I had that. And then, when they divorced, my mom married somebody else.

She had an affair and I saw it. Not sexually, but I think he dropped her off at the house once. And I remember she kissed him when she came into the house in full view of me in my bedroom. My dad got really angry with that and he was not physical at all. They had a bit of a shouting match and whatever.

But again, she and he weren’t particularly affectionate, certainly not that I saw. It was a, “Hello, darling” kiss when you come in and that’s more or less it. I do remember walking in on them once. I was maybe 11 or 12 at that point and I knew exactly what that was and I was like, “Ugh, this is gross. I don’t want to think about this.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: But I think from a perspective of their affection to each other, I didn’t see a lot. In terms of their affection towards me, my dad, I would say he was more affectionate than my mom, but we also got a lot better than my mom and I did.

She didn’t like to play with me necessarily in the same way and I was pretty self-sufficient. I was an only child. She was affectionate and she’s still to some extent affectionate although I’ve recently had to cut her off, but I would say that she is affectionate in her own way. And I think the way she shows love is very different and it never really felt comfortable for me.

LEAH: Yeah. At what point did you discover masturbation if at all?

STEVIE: When someone gave me a rabbit. I did not masturbate until I was maybe 19.

LEAH: Okay. So, were you having sexual interactions with other people before you were with yourself?

STEVIE: Yes.

LEAH: Okay. So, let’s talk about that. What was your first experience with another person once you hit your teen years, not those childhood experiences?

STEVIE: As in what I would call sex?

LEAH: You may not have gotten directly to sex right away. Were there people who you were kissing before you got to sex?

STEVIE: Yes. That certainly happened. I think there was more fingering and things like that. Again, with boys. I went to a Christian boarding school and I remember the discussions around people who were gay and the discomfort that I think people felt within a dormitory room, an open dorm, if somebody were gay and they were looking at you naked. So, I knew that it was not okay to be gay. I remember somebody said, “Statistically, 1 in every 5 people are gay, so there must be 2 people who are gay in this room.” And I was like just to myself, “It’s me. Hello, it’s me.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: And knowing I need to keep quiet and I remember when there were discussions about girls who had been gay and been caught or whatever, they were ostracized. They weren’t talked about positively. There were rumors about certain people and I was just like, “No, got to keep quiet about this.”

LEAH: So, all of those experiences you talked about, kissing, fingering, all of that was happening with boys?

STEVIE: Yes.

LEAH: And was it pleasurable?

STEVIE: Yes. And I think I’ve realized that where it was pleasurable for me was validation, knowing that I was attractive and I fit in. And as I’ve gone through my life as a queer person, I have fallen off the wagon once or twice. And when I have and slept with men, it has always been at times where I have needed validation.

LEAH: Wow, that’s fascinating and it’s so powerful that you recognize that. There are a lot of people who would go through that pattern and judge themselves for why the hell am I doing this thing I don’t want? Because there’s a real reason behind it. Because there’s a need that you’re filling.

STEVIE: Yeah. I would mistake sex for intimacy. I think I started becoming sexually active when I was about 18. I remember being 18 and I lost my virginity at 18 and went on a rampage a little bit. I felt that I had started a bit later and I think I wanted again to fit in with my friends and catch up and I was like it’s got to feel good at some point, right? And I went to university and I do remember I kissed my first girl when I was 19. And I was like, “Whoa.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: This is what it should be like. This is it. And I really struggled with that and I fell in love with her. And it was a disaster and nothing really came from it other than she strung me a little bit. But I do remember kissing her and going, “Shit.” And I passed it off as this is just a bit of fun. Women kiss women. Girls kiss girls, and it being a thing for the pleasure of men.

I can’t remember how it came up and I said, “I’d never kissed a girl” or something or they asked if I’d ever kissed one. And I said, “No, I hadn’t.” And they said, let’s call her Eve, “You and Eve should kiss.” And I had a bit of a crush on her to be honest. So, I was like, “Okay. Yeah, sure.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: So, we did that. And I was like, “Oh dear, that was better than I thought it would be.” But I struggled with this. And I remember I think that was around November, and then the following year, I went to summer camp in America. And I was really struggling internally with my own sexuality.

And I remember we had a day off and we went to Daytona Beach. And I lost my friends. I think we were on the beach together. They went off for a walk somewhere I couldn’t find. So, I went to look for them and I stumbled across a group of guys who were throwing around a football and they missed, whatever. And I threw it back and they were like, “You can throw a football.” I said, “Yeah, dumbass. I can throw a football like duh.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: And they were like, “Do you want to have a beer with us?” And I was like, “Okay, cool. I’ll have a beer.” I’d never drunk in the sun before. I’d never drunk in extreme heat. And I was wasted quickly. I do remember I was making out with one of these guys. I remember that, but I remember the next thing I remember was waking up, being violently ill in this hotel room not knowing what had happened. He may have been a gentleman. I don’t know.

But I remember waking up and just feeling like shit and having so much shame about it and recognizing why I had done this and the way I was using sex to feel close to people without having to be emotionally close to people. And I think that was absolutely my low point because that could have gone disastrously wrong. I could have been on Cops.

And I just remember thinking to myself, I need to sort out what I’m doing. What is this thing that I’m doing and why am I doing it if it’s causing me so much pain? And I didn’t have access to therapy at that point. I just decided no more. I’m not sleeping with anyone else until I figure out what this is.

LEAH: And you’re how old at this point? 19, 20?

STEVIE: Yeah. And so, what I did was I sent this girl a letter from summer camp and I expressed my feelings and hilariously sent it to the wrong address.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: And this lovely, lovely man had accidentally opened it and read it and sent it back to me and sent me a little note and said, “I’m so sorry. I opened this.” And I was like, “Thank God because I didn’t know if I actually wanted her to read it anyway.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: But I was so embarrassed. I didn’t respond to him, but I’m forever grateful.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: But just the writing of that and the act of sending it was incredibly brave.

STEVIE: I guess.  I was so alone. I had no one to talk to about this. I was in a place where everyone was new to me. I remember being in the bunks or whatever and writing this letter when the kids were doing something and it being really cathartic for me and going, “Right. This is what it is.

And I think giving myself permission to do it and I think being away from home certainly allowed me to do that because you’re out of familiar spaces and I was allowing myself to go, okay, how do I feel if I am away from everything? Because I was probably running away a little bit. And I realized I couldn’t escape what was going on internally, so I wrote that letter and then I came back. And I remember I had a conversation with her and it was a conversation I needed to have.

LEAH: Now, is this the same person who you had kissed at the party?

STEVIE: Yes, it was. Eve was lovely. And she said, “I appreciate you telling me and I don’t feel the same way, but thank you for telling me.” And that was as much as I needed. And I, at that point, went, okay. I think I’m bisexual. And people’s sexuality is their own experience, but for me, bisexuality was the stopover on the way to gay town. It was a way to give myself permission to explore what that meant.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Are you aching to explore new vistas of your sexuality?  Do you hear me talk about concepts on this show and think, “It makes sense, but I need help applying it to my situation?” That’s where personalized sex and intimacy coaching comes in.

When you work with me, I promise to help you feel safe exploring your sexuality. Together, we’ll look at your needs and desires without judgment and help you figure out how to fulfill them. There’s no single answer that’s right for everyone. So, I’m going to help you discover what’s right for you. And we’ll go at your pace. That’s the pace that respects your emotional needs, your boundaries, and your nervous system because going too fast can send you into shutdown while going too slow can be infuriating. The goal is to find what’s right for you.

I work with clients who are motivated to explore many different areas of sexuality including things like expressing your sexual desires to current or future partners, exploring if you might be queer, challenging body image insecurity in sexual relationships, dipping your toes into BDSM or consensual non-monogamy, learning to date after a long time out of the dating pool, exploring sexuality for later in life virgins, and so much more.

I want you to have a deeply fulfilling intimate life. And together, we can help you get there. For more information and to schedule your free no obligation discovery call, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That’s www.leahcarey.com/coaching.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: So, at what point did you find somebody to have a consensual gay interaction with?

STEVIE: The first time I think I had had a sexual experience with a woman was after work at a night out. We ended up at the gay bar. There was maybe one or two people in the restaurant who were gay. And for me, that was my first experience at community. And it was small. It was just one or two people that were gay. And my gusband, as I called him, we would often go to the gay bar together.

LEAH: So, this was a gay man? Yeah, okay.

STEVIE: Yes.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: My gay husband, to clarify. And I remember we had gone to this gay bar and my friends were so cute and they knew that I was identifying as bisexual. And they’re like, “We’ll find you someone.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: My friend, we’ll call her Karen, ran over to me and she was like, “I found you this really hot girl. She really wants to meet you.” And I was like, “God.” Because at this point, I think I was still nervous about going to gay spaces and there were maybe two gay bars and this was the older man’s gay bar really. I don’t know how she ended up in it.

So, she came back to my apartment and I remember my roommate’s jaws hit the floor. I didn’t expect them to be up at 1 in the morning, but they were up playing video games or something and it was my roommate and his friend in there. And I was like, “Okay. Good night.” And we went up to my room and that was my first sexual experience with a woman.

LEAH: Yeah. So, to clarify, there are always people who are confused about what does sex between two people with vaginas when there’s no penis in the room, what does sex mean? So, can you tell me for you how you define sex?

STEVIE: That is a good question and I don’t know that I’ve really settled on exactly what that is. In this instance, we’re both naked. We’re both touching each other. So, yeah, I would say that was sex.

LEAH: So, there was genital touch?

STEVIE: Yes.

LEAH: Were there orgasms?

STEVIE: I don’t remember. I don’t think I did.

LEAH: Okay. I think it’s super important to clarify that sex does not always end in orgasm, so you can still be having sex even if you’re not having orgasms, yeah. Was it a pleasurable experience for you?

STEVIE: I think it was. For me, what I recognize in that experience was even if it was just sex, the intimacy that I felt with a woman was so different to being with a man. Where I would sleep with men and discard them, I didn’t quite do the same with women, but I could sleep with women and it not go anywhere. I typically did another date or something, but I was certainly more interested in the intimacy with women than I was with men.

LEAH: Was there a point at which you found somebody who you had what you would call a relationship with, an ongoing relationship?

STEVIE: It took me a long time to find someone who I wanted to date who wanted to date me. At that point, I found it very difficult to meet women. I would find them typically online. I don’t know if it exists here, but there was a website called GaydarGirls.com because I was absolutely petrified of going into a gay bar, just petrified. If I did, I had to have my crew. I had to have my group of people and everything else because it very much felt like you would walk in and it felt like a meat market.

So, I met somebody on this website and we set up a date. And I went to her apartment and she was still living with her ex-girlfriend. I don’t think her girlfriend was staying there. I think they had split up and were figuring that out. So, she asked if we could go to my place. And I said, “Sure.”

So, we ended up going to my place and we made out and had sex. It’s tough because I wouldn’t exactly call it a relationship. I think it was a bit of a messy situation. And I was really into her like really into her and it was very messy. But I think it was the first ongoing experience I had had. I can’t say that it went on for very long. I’d say maybe just a month and a bit, but that was my first experience with intimacy and somebody that I really liked. I hadn’t had that and I hadn’t really dated anyone. And I was 21 at this point, I think.

Maybe I should step back a bit because I did date a boy briefly, I’d say maybe 2 months when I was 21. And it’s funny because I did have an orgasm with him and we dated for a little bit. And it was long distance. And I think I was realizing at that point my sexuality was certainly towards women. The thing was it was like he was fun. I enjoyed spending time with him and I know that he was working through some things. So, I think felt close to him for being vulnerable with me about an abusive relationship that he had been in, but it didn’t work out.

And the reason why I talk about it is because it was pleasurable for me and I was able to orgasm and that was the first orgasm I had had with another person was with him. And I was really surprised. I was like, hang on a minute. This can happen. Interesting. And it was vaginal.

LEAH: Were you having orgasms with your rabbit toy?

STEVIE: Yes, I was.

LEAH: So, you had figured out how to do that with your own body, but it was a slower go to figure out with other people?

STEVIE: Yes. With women, it was easier in that women know their own bodies better. And this person I had started dating, let’s call her Harriet, she had come out I think when she was 15. She had a tough experience with it. I think her parents kicked her out and things like that. But she was very experienced and had several relationships and knew exactly what she was doing in the bedroom. And I felt very inexperienced and I was like, “Okay.” The more I had sex with her and with women, I was like, everyone’s different. Look at that.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: And some things that would work for one person wouldn’t work with another, and then you discover something completely new. I was like, “Okay.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: This is your button. I’ll push it.

LEAH: Awesome. So, you’ve been through a series of experiences with a variety of different people, different genders. You’ve had a couple of months messy entanglement with this woman. At what point did you have a real serious relationship?

STEVIE: I was 26. The first time I had my heartbroken really. I think it broke a little bit when I was younger, but not deeply. This was a really, really deep heartbreak for me. She was 34. So, we were in a relationship for I would say maybe six to eight months, something like that. And I think really what split us up was her knowledge in that she wanted to have kids probably around then and the knowledge that I did not. Certainly, at that point, I think I had just bought my first apartment, much, much cheaper in the U.K. I should point out.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: Yeah. And I knew that she wanted kids and I think that conversation came up for us. I think her sister was running with us one evening and brought it up and I was like, “No, I’m 26. I’m more or less just setting up my life. I don’t want to do it.”

And she was a police officer and knew that if she had the child that she would then have to take a desk job and her job was vice or whatever it was. She had quite a difficult job and it was a little bit unsavory at times. And she knew that they would put her behind a desk if she had a child. And she didn’t want that.

So, she recognized that, “Hang on, if I want to have a child, I want to start thinking about it now. I need to be with somebody who’s prepared to have it.” And I think I made the comment of, “So, hang on. So, you want a child.” She said, “Yes.” And I said, “But you don’t want to give up work?” She said, “No.” And I said, “So, you want to see this child on the weekends then and have someone to take care of it for you?”

And she didn’t like that because I think it was true. It hit a nerve for her and we didn’t last much longer after that. She subsequently ended up dating somebody who already had a child. And then, they split up and now I believe she does have a child. We aren’t friends anymore.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: After some Facebook stalking, I discovered that she now has a child. And I’m happy for her.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. You mentioned that your mother didn’t want a big old lesbian as a daughter. I take it that at some point you probably came out to her. How did that go?

STEVIE: Not well. I was fully prepared for her to kick me out, but my friend who had just gotten married to her partner and I was sad because I couldn’t go to the wedding. I told my mom about Sarah’s parents aren’t going to be at the wedding and I’m very sad for her.

And she was like, “Well.” I was like, “What do you mean?” She was like, “I don’t believe that she’ll be getting married.” And I said, “What if they want to have a child?” And she said, “They shouldn’t be allowed to.” And I said, “But are you saying that it’s better for a child to grow up in an abusive alcoholic relationship or family dynamic than it is for them to grow up in a loving same sex partnership?” And she said, “Yes, because that’s normal.”

That was how she grew up. It was abusive in that her father was an alcoholic. So, she was just like, “Yeah, that’s what it is and I don’t accept anything else.” So, I was like, “Cool. I’m not telling you I’m gay. Bye.” I told her when I got back and her response was thankfully, it was disbelief. She’s a complete narcissist and she’s very egocentric and she really things everything I do is to piss her off.

But she did say, “Is this because you can’t get a boyfriend?” So, not supportive in any way whatsoever, but it did save me from getting kicked out because I think she didn’t really believe it. So, no, she was not super accepting.

My father was very accepting. I actually told my grandfather first. My dad I think was at the end of a bad marriage, his second marriage, at that point and he had gotten really into the church and God and stuff. And I didn’t think he would be accepting of it. I didn’t think that would align with his beliefs.

And in fact, when I told him, I was nervous about it, but of course, he said, “I love you and it’s fine.” So, he was wonderful and still is. I also came out to him as non-binary and he has been wonderful. I have given him resources, materials, documentaries, podcasts and he’s read, listened to, watched them all. He’s so wonderful I couldn’t be more lucky to have one parent who’s like that.

LEAH: That’s lovely. Yeah. So, yeah, you just mentioned coming out as non-binary. So, let’s move in that direction. At what point did you recognize that female/woman was maybe not the right denominator for you?

STEVIE: So, living in New York has been wonderful. Everyone can find their tribe here. You’re exposed to so much here and I thankfully attended a number of conferences. One of the joys of working for a corporate firm was that they would send me to a number of things. And it just opened my eyes a little bit of who I could be and what it would look like if I were more authentic.

And I think I had been suppressing who I was in favor of trying to fit in and trying to be successful. And I cut my hair. It had gotten gradually shorter and it was at a very short bob level and I remember I just went to a barber that we had downstairs in the office. And I was like, “Cut it off. Get rid of it.” And so, I cut it off. And then, I went to my stylist and she was like, “Let’s go really blonde.” And I’m blonde anyway, but she was like, “Let’s go really blonde.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: So, we went platinum. I had a Megan Rapinoe. By the way, I had it first type haircut.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: And during the soccer and the Olympics, I had so many people say to me, “Are you a soccer player?”

LEAH: Oh my gosh. That’s hilarious.

STEVIE: Yeah. It happened a lot. I actually also get shouted a lot and like, “You look like Ellen.”

LEAH: You don’t look anything like Ellen.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: I don’t think I do, but I think it’s so interesting that it’s like that’s your one reference. That is it. You have just one reference and it’s Ellen. And I’m grateful for what she has done, but it’s just slightly annoying for me.

So, I cut my hair and I started to recognize how differently people saw me. My dress sense didn’t change. I was always relatively androgynous in the way I would dress, but my hair, there is such a feminine attachment to hair and how it’s styled and how you are seen.

And once I cut it and I became very visibly queer and this platinum blonde hair just says look at me, I was like, I hadn’t realized how much I had been trying not to be seen and now I’m being seen and I’m being seen as queer. How does this feel and how do I feel when I’m seen?

And it just really started me on a gender journey as I call it. And I ended up seeking out therapy. I ended up having a couple of panic attacks following a sexual assault at work and I think part of that was because I was like, this guy, this very senior person at this firm, one, I’m openly gay and he has just not seen that and I felt really unseen as queer and I’m dressed like this. I look pretty damn queer. What about this? I was really angry. What about this makes you think that you can do this? Why are you attracted to this? Why do you think I would be attracted to you? There is nothing that says this is for you.

And I got really angry about it and I’d had a couple of panic attacks that were not related to that and that just happened to coincide with I need to go to therapy because there’s something that’s going on here. And when I went to therapy, I picked a trans therapist. I wanted to speak with someone LGBTQ. And I think a lot of the things that I really wanted to speak about came down to my queerness and how I was being seen and how I was being perceived and how I was then internalizing that and feeling about it.

And I was now considering how I wanted to change my style and how I was using my style and expression or how I‘m using my style to express my gender. And I think there was just a whole language of things that I was trying to learn.

New York is a great place for that, but I needed somebody to work that through with. And so, when I started therapy with this wonderful therapist, I had never been to therapy. This was my first experience of the whole thing and it was so wonderfully cathartic and gave me a lot of freedom to, I don’t know, just accept who I am and my own emotions and the way I had been repressed from Christian boarding school to unaccepting mother, all of this internalized homophobia of I couldn’t be gay and butch lesbians looked like this and I didn’t want to look like that and all of this stuff that I was internalizing about what I couldn’t look like and that that was not attractive to people.

And when I started talking about coming out as gender non-conforming or non-binary or queer, I was petrified. It sounds so ridiculous now that I’ve come out. Prior to that, I was petrified that I was not lovable, that I would not be lovable, that I would be unattractive.

There was someone that I was in love. She didn’t love me back anyway, but I knew that this would just cement it. There was something between us, but I really thought this would somehow close the door. That door was closed before I then came out as non-binary, so it didn’t necessarily matter anyway. But it was something that I was so petrified about and I did not want to tell her.

But it took me a long time to see. It was such a process in terms of coming out and I think for me, I wanted to start with my name. I wanted to get away from this feminine-only name and go with something androgynous. And it was really funny because I did it and I was going on this retreat.

It was a sports retreat. My therapist said, “Why don’t you try to using this name?” Because we were using this name within therapy and she said, “Why don’t you try using this name with other people and see how it fits on you? How does it feel?” I said, “Yeah, okay. That’s a great idea. I’ll never see these people again.”

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: I’m friends with all of them, of course. And all of them bloody lived in New York and I didn’t think about that either.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: So, I asked them to call me Stevie. And then, I realized, hang on, they didn’t see me necessarily as non-binary even though my name was androgynous. They would still talk about us as the girls or whatever. And I was like, I don’t like that. That is not my experience.

And I remember one of the girls or two of the girls met a couple of guys there and I think one night, they came for drinks I think on the last night and it really changed the dynamic. And I was like, this is what I really hate about straight women and how they just change the dynamic of when they’re not there, what can happen, but then when they are there, it’s about performance for them. And I just really hated that.

But during that time, I recognized that I didn’t like being Miss or Madam-ed or one of the girls or whatever. I was like that’s not my experience with this and I think I realized at that point, I need to go further than just changing my name.

LEAH: How long ago was that?

STEVIE: 2020. So, it was beginning of 2020.

LEAH: While the experience has been with you for a long time, the naming and claiming of it is still fairly new for you.

STEVIE: Yes. The naming officially changed very recently. So, I wanted to come out at work as non-binary and I think I got caught up in the different parts of my life like work, my family, my social media, the creative things that I do are all under this one name and how to do it in a way that didn’t out me if I didn’t want to be outed or was done when it was comfortable for me to do.

Because I just felt like if I do it, I have to do it everywhere at the same time. But I can’t do it until my family know. I’m not ready to tell them. So, it’s difficult to have some people who knew me as Stevie or most, I’d say 95% of people in my life didn’t, and it changed when I quit my job.

Because I actually had spoken to HR and said, “I want to come out as non-binary and I don’t feel safe.” And that’s sparked a whole conversation of trying to find a different role within the firm and I subsequently decided to leave. They couldn’t find me something.

And I’d had a great experience in many respects with that firm. It was a really big part of the pride network and I was able to lead a group to change the trans healthcare benefits. So, I was really involved in it. I really believed in it, but it was a shame because all of the work that I was doing to benefit people like me, I was in a position where I was not being seen. I had experienced homophobia, transphobia, whatever at work.

And I was like, it’s time for me to leave. And the day that I left, it was when I updated it everywhere. I think maybe a couple months before, I had done it on Facebook, but I was careful not to have it where I didn’t have any work friends no there. Then I did it on LinkedIn. Then I did it on my socials and I was like cool, I’m done. It’s done now. And I had come out to my family I think in May.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: I get so many messages from listeners saying, “Thank you for the show. I’ve listened to the whole back catalogue and it’s helped me completely transform my sex life.” Are you one of those people? If so, I’d love to have your support so I can keep growing this show and bringing a new vision of sexuality to the world.

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I appreciate every one of you whether you’re a client, a contributor, a social media follower or a silent listener. I trust you to know what’s right for you. Thank you for being here. Now, let’s get back to the show.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Does it feel like you are now where you want to be or is there still further that you want to go on this gender journey?

STEVIE: There’s still ways I want to go and I think there’s still things that I’m working out. It’s one thing to say this is who I am, but it’s another thing for people to see it and recognize it and for them to be the mirror that I see myself in, I feel like. And it’s not the be all end all, but it’s like I’m consistently misgendered as she/her or Miss, Madam, all this. It’s frustrating. And I’m still figuring out how to deal with that.

There’s also I think the physical aspect. Is it enough for me to identify in a certain way? And I have been considering top surgery. It’s funny because for visa reasons delays and whatever, I had to spend a few months outside of the country and I spent it in Mexico, lovely place. But I had to leave very quickly. I had a bikini and it was really interesting. And there’s a safety in not having made any changes to my body in terms of going to certain countries. It can be difficult to travel as an LGBTQ person. It can be unsafe. And I was very cognizant. I was travelling there by myself.

And I was like what would this experience be like if I had already had top surgery? Would I be safe? How would I feel? All of that, so I think there was a lot that I was considering because I knew that this is a thing that I wanted to do whilst also thinking I don’t owe anyone anything in terms of my body changing or it doesn’t make me non-binary if I change my body. It’s just if I feel comfortable with it.

And I’ve come to realize that it is something that I want and it’s not for anybody else. But I’m recognizing again, it’s like when you come out as queer, it’s not just who you love or who you go to bed with. It will impact many parts of your life and making this change whilst I’m like, yeah, this will be more authentic to me, my wife and I live very close to her parents. And obviously, they’ll need to know about it because I need some help at home.

There are all sorts of ways that people will know about it and I’m sure they’ll be very supportive, but it’s like they’re still not getting my pronouns right all the time. And it’s what if we are going to go on holiday or something together and how will they react to my chest at that point? So, things that it’s not that they’re holding me back, it’s just these things that I’m working through. What might this be like or what might this be like for them?

And I remember we were actually on vacation in the summer and we went kayaking. And the guy handing out the kayaks and everything, my father-in-law and I were waiting for a kayak and he was like, “Ladies first.” I just wanted to punch the guy in the face. I was like, you don’t know how I identify. And it came back to me because I thought if I had top surgery, what would he then say to me or not? I don’t know.

And it’s one of those things. Again, it’s like with my name, it’s not going to fix everything. It’s not and I can’t expect it to. But that is definitely something that’s been the next step. And in terms of sex because this is a sex podcast obviously.

LEAH: Yes, it is.

STEVIE: It is. I haven’t forgotten. But in terms of sex and my wife and I are working out what this means for us in the bedroom.

LEAH: That was one of my next questions is how does your wife feel about the potential of you having top surgery?

STEVIE: She’s been so supportive and she loves me so much and just wanted me to be happy. She’s just the most incredible person I’ve ever been with, have the pleasure of knowing. And I’ve never felt this loved or supported before.

LEAH: There are more questions about gender, but I also want to make sure that we talk about your relationship. So, tell me about meeting your wife and how did you know she was the one?

STEVIE: We met February 26th of this year.

LEAH: What? I did not know that.

STEVIE: Yup.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, okay, we’re recording this at the end of November, which means you have known her for 8 and a half months. Okay.

STEVIE: My longest relationship, Leah. It’s funny because we had a terrible first date. I wouldn’t say the first date was terrible. The first half of the first date was terrible.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: And I would say it wasn’t really terrible, but she was so nervous. She had actually only come out herself about three weeks before we went. Yeah, and I was her first date.

LEAH: Wow, goddamn.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: I know. We consistently say that we’re crazy all the time. But yeah, we had our first date and she was so nervous for the first half of it. And I think she felt that I was just firing questions at her, but I was like if I don’t ask you questions, we’ve got nothing. We won’t have anything to talk about.

I finally asked her a question that got her to open up and it was about her work. And she’s very passionate about what she does and she works with children and she loves talking about that. So, her mind opened. She stopped being self-conscious. And then, we were away. And then, we were flying.

The question you asked was how did I know she was the one? For our first date, for some particular reason, I think we were talking about what it might have been like if we were dating 100 years ago or something like that. And I said, “People wrote each other letters. They corresponded with one another and it was very romantic and all this.” And I said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we wrote each other a note or a card for our first date?”

And this is how bloody jaded I am. To be fair, I found this vintage New York postcard and so I wrote on the back something, I wouldn’t say it was stupid or anything, but I was like, “In case I forget to tell you later, I had a lovely time” or something like that. She made me the most beautiful handmade card with a quote on it and this really, really lovely note. And I was like, she’s a keeper.

And then, subsequently for every date, she made me a card. For our second date, it was even cuter. So, I had planned this indoor picnic, I think. It was cold and I remember I obviously wanted to get some intimate time. So, I planned this indoor picnic at my apartment and she came around and she made me a card obviously. And she’d also made a playlist because I think she said, “Is there anything you want me to do?” And I said, “If you’ve got a playlist or anything, you could bring that.” So, she made a playlist on Spotify. She made a QR code on it and put it on the back of the card. I know, super cute.

LEAH: That’s the cutest.

STEVIE: Yeah, she’s the cutest. She’s absolutely the cutest. And for our third date, she painted a little watercolor painting of our second date. So, it was like the picnic and blanket. I know. She was so cute.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: How could I not marry this woman?

LEAH: Seriously.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: Yeah. So, I knew pretty early on that she was the one.

LEAH: So, how long did it take for you to decide to get married?

STEVIE: Probably I think about April. At the end of April, May, I think. It was two-fold and it was because there were some visa issues. And part of it was there was a possibility that I would have to go back to the UK or a year.

And she was like, “I’ve been closeted for 32 years. I’ve finally met you. I’m not going to lose you and I could come to UK with you.” And I was like, if you do that, she’d have to spend a number of moths looking for a job. She’d have to spend time to transfer her licenses over and whatever and by the time that has all happened, I was like, that’s a waste of time.

And she was like, “If we got married here, would it solve the problem?” And I was like, “Yes, it would.” We sped up a lot of conversations, children, life plans, all of that. So, we had some very serious conversations very quickly and realized we were on the same page about a lot of things and thought, “Okay, let’s do this,” I think was the proposal.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Let’s rewind a little bit to the intimacy part of your relationship. How has that been? Was it good from the beginning? Did it take work? Is it good now? Where are you with that?

STEVIE: The intimacy part, we have. I don’t mean to speak for my wife. For somebody who’s been closeted, there would naturally be some differences and changes and things that she’s working through. So, I think we’ve been working through some of that together.

And then, obviously, there’s my stuff and being in bed with somebody I think I was realizing prior to my wife how I don’t necessarily want to focus on the feminine parts of my body. How do I experience pleasure as a non-binary person? My identity is non-binary, but my body isn’t quite what I want it to be. So, how do we navigate that?

And I think we started to look at a couple of resources. I think there was from Autostraddle. It was to help you navigate through this. What do you want certain things to be called? And quite frankly, we had good intentions of doing it, and then we didn’t do it. And I think part of that honestly was probably me just feeling uncomfortable with doing it. We haven’t quite worked our way all the way through that.

So, it’s ongoing, but I think that is for me, to some extent, to say, “Yes, this feels good. This doesn’t feel good.” And I’ve certainly said, my breasts don’t do it for me. They never actually have. They’re not that sensitive. I’ve always marveled at women, that’s their button. I’m like, why is it? Mine don’t do a thing.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: And I’m just not attached to them in any way. And I’m like, I’d rather they weren’t there, in fact. It’s funny I have a tattoo underneath my right breast I suppose and I can’t bloody see it because of where it is and I can only see it in the mirror. And I’m like, if this sort of thing weren’t there, I could admire my own tattoo, but I can’t do that.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: So, no, that’s something I’m still working out. I think one of the ways that I’ve maybe avoided it is potentially by being more dominant in bed. And yeah, this is where the conversation gets difficult for me and this is the conversation I don’t want to say I’ve been dreading, but this is where it gets difficult because it’s not something I’m sure of or familiar with.

I know that I think that in terms of sex, we have used some toys, but it becomes difficult because if I want to use a strap-on or a double-ended dildo or something, the double-ended dildo is interesting because that has to penetrate me and I remember I used to use it and I loved it. And I can orgasm vaginally, so that’s great.

But I did use it recently and it felt like I was being violated. And I was like, I don’t like this. I don’t know if that was just a recent thing or if that’s part of me now. I don’t know. But it didn’t feel good. So, I was like, okay, don’t want to do that. We don’t have a strap-on. Again, I don’t want to speak for my wife and I don’t want to embarrass her in any way, but she goes back and forth I think sometimes as to whether she wants to be penetrated or not. And I think some of that comes from her experiences prior to coming out.

So, we’re still figuring out how both of us like to orgasm and how we like to experience the other person and how they want to experience sex. There’s a lot we’re working out and I think on the back of your comment, we haven’t been together long, I think that that’s why this is new and evolving.

LEAH: And you are both at a moment of great change within your own lives and you haven’t been together for an extended period of time. Yeah, there’s a lot going on there.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: And now, it’s time for the lowdown, the things we’re dying to know, but would usually be too police to ask any good girl.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: What’s the approximate number of sex partners you’ve had?

STEVIE: My wife doesn’t know this.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: So, my darling wife, if you are listening, please just mute for about 10 seconds. My approximate number is somewhere between 50 and 80.

LEAH: Okay. What’s your favorite sex position?

STEVIE: I probably enjoy being on top and being dominant. I think I have typically gotten a lot of pleasure out of pleasuring somebody else and that has turned me on to the point where I can bang it off.

LEAH: Do you prefer to initiate or for your partner to initiate?

STEVIE: I prefer a mix of both. I don’t like always to be the person who initiates.

LEAH: Do you enjoy being penetrated at all or is that currently something that’s not on the table?

STEVIE: Sometimes, I do. It’s a different experience. We do on occasion do it, but I think sometimes, my wife isn’t sure and doesn’t want to upset me if I’ve had a bad experience before when we’ve done something with penetration.

LEAH: Yeah, sure. Do you prefer the orgasm from masturbating or from sex with another person?

STEVIE: Form sex with another person.

LEAH: What’s your favorite thing to do to your partner during sexual play?

STEVIE: I think I love foreplay with just kissing. I know it sounds silly, but it’s such an intimate thing. I’m always amazed at how turned on you can get by small things and it being small before it becoming something bigger.

LEAH: How do you feel about porn?

STEVIE: I don’t watch it. I haven’t really tried it. I think maybe I did when I was 18 or 19 and I didn’t really get it. I think I really enjoyed The L Word because that was soft porn story. So, that was fun. But I would never watch porn to get off.

LEAH: Have you ever had a threesome or more?

STEVIE: No. I came close and ran out the door.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Do you enjoy giving oral sex?

STEVIE: I do, but I find I tend to do it at the start of a relationship than after that. And I don’t know whether sometimes it feels like it can be an effort for me. Interesting question.

LEAH: Do you enjoy receiving oral sex?

STEVIE: I never used to. I used to struggle with it because you’re very distant from somebody and I think you have to feel very comfortable with yourself and with another person to have that distance and to completely let go. And I used to find that very difficult. I do find it more enjoyable now. But I think again that for me is something that’s an act that really defines me and my body. So, it’s something I’m probably less comfortable with now.

LEAH: What is something about your current sex life that isn’t quite as satisfying as you’d like it to be?

STEVIE: She doesn’t initiate. I don’t think she feels comfortable initiating.

LEAH: What belief did you have about sex as a child or teenager that you wish you could go back and correct yourself on now?

STEVIE: It has to be with men.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: That’s fair, yeah.

STEVIE: Let go of that one.

LEAH: Stevie, thank you for doing this. This has been an absolute pleasure.

STEVIE: Leah, thank you. It’s been really helpful and I knew I think coming into this that it would feel very cathartic. I appreciate the space that you’ve created here and thank you.

LEAH: Thank you.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Hey, friends. This is your reminder that if you want to hear the rest of the conversation with Stevie about gender, their body, and internalized transphobia, keep listening. It will begin immediately after the credits.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: That’s it for today. Before we go, I want to remind you that the things you may have heard about your sexuality aren’t true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken. As a sex and intimacy coach, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours no matter what it looks like.

To set up your free discovery call, go to www.leahcarey.com/coaching. If you have questions or comments about anything you’ve heard on the show, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX. Full show notes and transcripts for this episode are at www.goodgirlstalk.com. And you can follow me @goodgirlstalk on the socials for more sex positive content.

If you’re enjoying this show, please take a moment to leave a 5-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts or if you’re using another podcast app, go to www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls. While listening to this show, producing it is not. If my work is meaningful to you and you have a few dollars to support it each month, I’ll gratefully accept your patronage at Patreon. Find out more and become a community at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby. I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor. Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo. Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!

[MUSIC]

LEAH: You said that your body isn’t what you want it to be yet, which made me wonder, okay, so top surgery takes care of part of that. If you could make your ideal genital situation, what would it be?

STEVIE: It’s a hard question because there is no in the middle. My hips are very female defining and I remember I got catcalled during winter where literally only my eyes were visible.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: And that made me really angry because I’m like, these hips, I’m really slim. And I have very small breasts anyway, so I could more or less get away with being flat-chested as it is, but these hips, I can’t do a damn thing about. And so, I’ve always hated them.

And I never realized I hated them because they identified me as female. I never realized that. I remember I brought it up to a close friend and she got really angry with me because she’d had an eating disorder and I think it touched a nerve for her because I had said, “I was thinking about getting liposuction and sorting out that problem for me.”

But at that point, I wasn’t calling it out as a gender issue. I was just saying that I don’t like the shape of my body. Now, I’m calling it out as a gender issue and now I’m saying it’s gender dysphoria. It wasn’t then and I didn’t again have the language to then and this was only maybe three years ago.

Now, I know that that’s what it is, but in terms of your question, what is my ideal body? It’s hard. I see a lot of non-binary folk who come out and often some continue on and they transition. And I have obviously considered this. Is that part of my journey? Is that something I want to do?

And where I am struggling is, one, I don’t like body hair. I just don’t like it. I don’t want to be hairy. I don’t want to grow hair in certain places like I just don’t. So, whilst testosterone would probably fill out my shoulders, it probably would have an effect and take away some of the issues around my hips. It would probably create other problems for me, things about my body that I don’t want.

And also, I just hate toxic white masculinity. And I see so many transmen assume it. And is that transphobic or is that me just hating straight white masculine people or just toxically masculine? It can just be toxically masculine. For many transmen, it seems to be the goal to show their body, to show that they’re male. I find to be toxically masculine. That’s my impression of it. So, I am repelling against that or I’m repelled by that, whatever is the correct term.

So, whilst I would want to be more androgynous appearing to other people so that I’m misgendered less and it’s less about what I look like naked, I don’t want to get close to that toxic masculinity. Having had the experiences that I’ve had growing up identifying as a woman and a lesbian, those have really informed me. And I don’t want to let go of that.

Maybe I just don’t want to let go of it now, but I certainly don’t want to let go of it. And for me, my pronouns, they/them, still include that. So, I don’t want to move away from the center of the spectrum towards more masculine. And I think there’s real beauty in femininity if you like, not necessarily having long hair or whatever, just the feminine and the masculine.

There’s beauty in both and I think there is a balance. I really believe in the balance and I think to some extent I can have a very female energy at times or feminine energy, I should say. And at times, I can have more of a masculine energy. And those things can co-exist. It’s not one or the other, it’s both/and.

So, it’s one thing when I think about my gender and I think about sex and it’s not just about one thing. My ideal body, it’s hard because I think that requires a lot more of me being comfortable with what I currently have. I certainly don’t want to have a penis or anything like that. But what I think annoys me is that again, I don’t know if this is okay to say, but I certainly get annoyed by the fact that men can seemingly have it all. If a transwoman or prior to transitioning, a transwoman can have a fully female body, she can do all of that. Transmen can’t do that. They don’t get everything that functions the same way and I get so annoyed by the privilege of that.

[LAUGHTER]

STEVIE: And they get to experience to some extent all of that privilege prior to transitioning, and then they definitely lose a lot of that. And that’s why I don’t want to let go of the experiences I’ve had because I haven’t had those privileges and it’s been really informing for me. And I’m much more empathetic to many people because of it. It’s a complicated question.

LEAH: The way you break it all down is so fascinating and I’m thinking about some things I haven’t thought about before specifically around the toxic masculinity issue because one of my best friends is a transman and I would say that toxic masculinity is just not a part of his makeup at all, but there are also some transmen I know who I think probably di fit into that category a little bit.

And I’m not sure I’ll be able to language some of this very well, but what the science is telling us now is that when trans people take the hormones that are consistent with their gender identity that it actually corrects things in their brains. Their brains conform to the gender that they experience themselves as. And then, the hormones come in and it’s like the whole system begins to right itself.

And I’m not so clear on the science around some of this stuff, but it seems that the testosterone hormone does have an affect toward more aggression. Aggression is the wrong word. Assertiveness maybe. But we don’t have a model in our culture for masculinity where assertiveness doesn’t turn into aggression. And so, if transmen take those hormones and they don’t have another model, then it makes sense that perhaps some of them would embrace the model of toxic masculinity because what else have they seen?

STEVIE: That’s true. And I guess growing up in their ideas of what maleness is, and certainly on social media, and I think for me, what I see that I don’t like is the shirtless selfies. Because men do that and it’s always in men’s Tinder profiles and things. So, that’s what it is.

But I do understand that it’s for a different purpose and it’s serving a different thing. And I don’t mean to shit on anyone else’s experience and for somebody to see themselves in the mirror because that’s really what it is, it’s seeing yourself reflected back to you. And if that’s how you see yourself and you love the person who is reflecting back at you, that’s what matters.

I think where I just struggle with it is the need to show it to other people. That’s the thing that I think I have difficulty with. But I fully support people in their journeys. It’s just such a complicated topic and it is different from every person. And I’m considering this from the angle of if it weren’t for that, would I do that? I don’t know.

And again, I think I’ve had so much internalized homophobia and transphobia that I have worked through and I still think I have more to work through, I don’t know. I don’t know whether my reservations about it are because of my own internalized transphobia and homophobia or that’s just how I feel.

And that’s just not who I am. I don’t know. And I don’t want to definitively say one way or the other. This is a community that I’m a part of and being non-binary, it’s a spectrum that I’m on and I want to support everybody in their own experiences.

LEAH: Yeah. And I really appreciate the very conscientious questioning that you’re doing.

STEVIE: Thank you.

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