There Are No Clean Cut Answers: Needs, Fetishizing “Otherness,” and Communication

Q. My husband wants to have a threesome with a she-male or male ( a penis inside him and his in me). The situation has been pressing on and on for about a year. His birthday is coming up and he asked again. I’m scared partly of being with him and another man, and partly because the sin I feel. We’ve discussed how I feel about it many times this past year. I feel he is being selfish and that the conversations feel all about his pleasure. I am very sexual and when I’m not getting the right amount of pleasure, I get frustrated. How do I get him to forget about other people and focus on us? Also, it is so hard for me to have an orgasm, he has become discouraged before in trying. Which is another reason I think he want to try something new (like a threesome). What can I do to make it easier for him to be able to give me an orgasm?

A. Oh, girl. Before we talk about what I believe you are asking, let’s talk about how you are asking it. Because underneath, I see a whole lotta hot mess. I think there is an actual question in there, though we are gonna have to go through a few things first.

First off, my love, let’s talk about “she-males.” It’s said so casually, but it’s a term along the line of “the Negroes,” “the fags,” and “the Orientals.” “There are some people who find ‘tranny’ offensive, and there are others who don’t,” says Amber of the blog Trans-FAQs. “It’s generally safer to avoid using it. (There’s a lot of oppressive history behind that word. Almost everyone finds “˜she-male’ offensive; you should never use it. It’s almost entirely a slur/caricature/porn descriptor.) Your best bet is generally “˜trans man’ or “˜trans woman’ (or collectively, “˜trans people’).” She-male, like lady boy or tr*nny, is a term that specifically arose from trans women who were in the sex industry, more specifically, porn or prostitution. The term, like a good bulk of the stuff thrown around, is a fetishization on the fact that one is presenting signs of femininity and of being female, yet are still defined solely by male genitals. Point blank, “she-male” is a term that defines a person down to a categorization of parts, an exotic representation of “the forbidden” and most usually advertised as a way for cisgender, straight men to “have an experience.” So while there is nothing bad about sex work, nor trans women or men who participate in sex work, not everyone wants to be labeled by a term that reduces one to a sexualized object, specifically found in porn. Sex work is stigmatizing in general, so the extra trap of being trans* and associated with sex work is just another notch. Basically, just don’t use the term.

While the context is far different, imagine if you will, a person who is seeking you out for sex, calling you a “fuck hole thing.” Now this is a broad jump, as trans gender folks are dealing with very different cultural baggage than yourself, but it’s part of the game I like to call “empathy.” Certainly, you may not have realized that calling someone a “she-male” might have been at best ignorant and at worst, cruel and dehumanzing. But now you know. We have all had our cultural blind spots: those insidious ignorances that blind us to the fact that we may be causing someone very real pain. I’d recommend doing a general run through at Trans What? Let’s call it the bare minimum guide for treating someone well. If you and your husband decide to move forward with this, I’d recommend he check out #9 on the list and take some serious time to think about his interactions.

Don’t make comments that fetishize trans people. “I love trans guys – they’re so hot!” is pretty belittling; so is, “People like you are so exotic.” These kinds of statements reduce trans people to sex objects, as though we exist just to be that “exotic” kink or turn-on.

I’d advise this – if he goes into sex with the whole, “OMG, chicks with dicks mentality, whoa!” (which, if he is just concentrating on the idea of a penis being inside him, he might be) the chances of someone who is a trans woman jumping into the sack super enthusiastically is most likely slim to none. What! Shock! This person isn’t just a giant sex machine willing to take whatever chance that a “real” couple might offer them? Yes, imagine that. There is nothing wrong with being sexually attracted to a particular group or type of person – it is only when objectification goes into overdrive and becomes the ground zero for any interaction that being a creepy “chaser” occurs. Before sexual person, there is actual person. Don’t forget that.

Now, all of that being said (and it was a lot of all of that), it seems like there are a few issues happening here all at once. It sounds like your husband has bisexual tendencies. Whether he identifies as bisexual or not, frankly, is not my business. In this specific case, it sounds like he would like to open your relationship up to the possibility. You, my darling, sound like you do not. You want to concentrate on the pleasure you two can create with just each other. Your husband seems to be on the quest for novelty by a third party. You want more sexual pleasure, as you aren’t getting the amount you need. He wants anal sex, via a third party, but is discouraged from pleasuring you. You also casually drop that inviting a third party in, specifically a gay male or trans woman party is a sin (but not a woman or a straight man? Do I detect some serious misogyny and anti-femininity attitudes rooted in religious hypocrisy? I’d recommend deeply examining that before you hop in the sack in general).

What is the answer here?

What if there isn’t a clean, clear answer?

I honestly can’t tell you how to proceed with what you both want sexually. Sure, it would be easy to say, “What if you pegged him and he can concentrate on you,” or, ” What if you open up to a third party,” or, “How about you both try this sex toy.” It would be very easy to provide those answers without looking at the larger issues of want, desire, needs, and communication here. It seems that beyond all this – the bringing new people in, the fetishization, and the needs going unmet – there are some serious conversations about what you both want that need to happen. And these need to happen before birthday sex, before bringing a third party in, and before you both hop in the sack again. You both seem to have very different needs that go beyond what you are not only willing to try, but what you want to give.

Our sexual needs, much like any other needs, don’t always match up completely because – surprise! – we are all very different people, with different experiences and history. However, the best we can do for one another is come together and work with one another, trying to find a way for the best sexual experience for both parties. But it seems that your husband might be on a different path all together, with you trailing behind, hoping for something different. It’s time to take the crossroads approach and figure out what it is you can exactly move forward on and what sexual experiences you can have together, as well as which you may not be able to have. Whether you achieve this by letting each other seek them out elsewhere, or perhaps, seeking out new partners in general, you might have needs that don’t match up and need to be met elsewhere. I don’t mean to persuade you into divorce my love, not at all. I only say this to highlight the fact that if you two can’t come together on a solution for sex with each other, you might have to start looking at alternatives. The only way you both will find those answers is if you turn off the gas and just talk. That’s the only place you can begin.

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