Too Hard

Friday, June 01, 2012


Dear Patrick,

After two years of therapy, I finally got a letter from my counselor so I could start hormones. (I am an FTM.) I've been on testosterone for six months, and my libido is driving me crazy. I heard that taking T would make you hornier, but I had no idea. The problem is that I have no partner so I have to take care of things myself. I used to need a vibrator to get off. I couldn't come using my hand. But now every time I get out the vibrator, I can't stand it and I have to turn it off. I just don't know any other way to jack off, and my sexual frustration is coming out sideways and screwing up my mood and my friendships. I can't find anything in the books about transmen that would help. Television commercials say if you have an erection that lasts more than four hours, you should seek medical help. Well, I've had one that won't go down for at least that many weeks now. The sooner you can answer my letter, the better!


I hope the regular readers of this column recall that an FTM is a female-to-male transsexual. FTMs who want to change their bodies to match their identities will often take male hormone injections (or use a gel applied to the skin) to create facial hair, increase muscle development, deepen the voice, etc. Physical masculinization is accompanied by psychological changes which are not as visible but are also an important part of maleness.

Testosterone (also called T) not only increases libido, it also causes genital changes. Your junk is going to start looking more like a small penis and less like a clitoris. This increased length and girth changes sensitivity, so a lot of FTMs find that they need to change the way they jerk off. This can also affect the way a partner needs to touch you. The oral and manual stroking that used to feel good might now be irritating or not enough. You have to be patient (another commodity in short supply on T) and experiment. Be prepared for a couple of years during which your sexuality may change quite a bit. Relax, observe and track the changes, and enjoy becoming the man that you want to be (and are). Things will level out in a couple of years. You will know a lot more about yourself than you do now, and you can count on things being more stable.

Vibrators are often too much for FTMs. The first thing you should probably try is putting something between your body and the toy. You might need to keep your underwear on, for example, or use a folded sheet or a towel. If that doesn't rock your world, and the vibrator is no longer your friend, you are going to have to take matters in hand. Literally.

Try handling your genitals the same way that guys with bigger cocks handle their tools. Gently grasp the shaft and move the hood or foreskin back and forth. As you get more excited, allow your fingers to get closer to the head, because most of your nerve endings will be there. You will probably increase your speed and pressure as well. Try this using a dry hand and using lube, to find out which one feels the best. If this much contact is overwhelming, use the palm of your hand and just push everything down a bit then rub against your hand. Some guys also like putting a pillow between their legs and humping it.

Given what kind of state you are in, the first time you jerk off by hand, you may explode into the best orgasm ever. But it could also take a while for your body to change channels. Vibrators provide intense, reliable, focused sensation. Hands and fingers create sensations that are more subtle, and these sensations vary more from stroke to stroke. Keep practicing. Just be careful not to irritate your penis. Jacking off too frequently, with too much enthusiasm, or without lube can cause friction burns, and that will put you off limits to orgasms for a couple of days at least.

I've heard of a wide range of masturbation techniques among other FTMs. Some guys use the water from a shower head to get off, or the vibrations from a dryer. Some discover that they like penetration, even if they didn't like it before, and find themselves buying dildos or butt plugs for their own, personal enjoyment. This upsets and embarrasses some of us, but in my opinion, there's no reason to blush or stammer. They call it a sex change for a reason, dude. Some of that change is foreseeable, some of it is not, but all of it can be exciting and fascinating.

You didn't ask about the general process of transition, but I wanted other readers to know that there is no legal or medical reason why someone would have to be in therapy for two years before he gets a letter authorizing hormone treatment. This seems like an excessive amount of therapy to me, frankly. An evaluation to see if you qualify can be accomplished in one or two sessions. I recommend that people who are transitioning make use of counseling because it is such a life-altering decision. Even if you are just fine with it, you can use some professional help to cope with others' reactions. But making somebody wait for two years to transition, in my opinion as a therapist, will cause more problems than it will solve.

Unfortunately, there are many unethical professionals who prey on transpeople by appointing themselves as experts and gatekeepers who control what we can and cannot do with our own bodies. Would somebody have to see a therapist for two years before she decided to get pregnant? What if a guy wanted a vasectomy? Or a face lift? These life-changing decisions also require medical assistance, but “regular” people are assumed to be qualified to take these actions without permission from a therapist.

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