Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Can Somebody Please Give Me One that Works?

In this week of slow news and recovering from our national consumer frenzy, I choose for my topic products for the transgendered man.

For the non-consumers among us—and I think we are pretty strongly represented in the transgender community—it is odd to depend on products to supply one’s identity and sex organs. It leaves no doubt about how successful sex is at moving merchandise. It doesn’t matter how little money a guy has; if he or his partner want a phallic upgrade, one will be obtained. And, generally, it reminds us how deeply products—the newest thing—are an inextricable part of existing in this culture.

But because this week is also returns week, I would like to gripe about the poor quality of tranny products. The transman needs two things: something to flatten out his chest and something to fill out his pants.

Let me remind the newcomers to this brave new world of gender that a penis has three separate functions. I’ve already said it fills out the pants to bewilder probing eyes trying to determine if it’s a he or a she. It also works as a sex organ. And, finally, it pees.

Problem is, there is no single artificial penis that can reasonably perform all three of these functions. It seems “an enterprising FTM transsexual” has recently designed a dick that works for both all-day wear (packing) and peeing. I have yet to try this one, but I have doubts that it's comfortable enough to wear all day, every day (look at that pokey little nozzle thing!). And the lovely people at Good Vibrations tell me that chubby people can't get the angle to work for them (think wet pants).

Most transmen opt to wear a non-peeing flaccid penis in public. Ideally, one should also have a special harness made for comfort as opposed to the stability needed for sex.

Packing and playing, or having sex, with the same implement is a problem that has yet to be solved even by the most enterprising transsexual. Some folks wear dildos made for sex when they go out, but an hours-long erection is painfully uncomfortable and, in my opinion, looks absurd. The only other choice is changing cars mid-race. It's no fun: You lose any illusion of authenticity and, more importantly, spontaneity. (This dildo, made of soft material with a wire inside, has been around for a while. It allows you to fold down your erection while you're out and about, but the wire breaks so quickly that San Francisco's Good Vibrations doesn't even sell it.)

A dildo made for sex (silicone is a must) runs about $70, and a harness (leather is a must) about $75. So our tranny's total outlay for a dick can be as much as $145.

Now he must also buy a chest binder of some sort. The ones I've tried don't get you flat enough to pass and succeed in making me, a feminist transguy, feel like a Victorian women in a corset. I need a fainting room at the top of the stairs. Not only does most health insurance not cover top surgery, but (and I'm sure I'll take heat for this from some happy breastless men out there) I think they do a shitty job. The massive scars the surgery leaves are a neon TRANNY sign flashing in any locker room. If I can't pass significantly better than I do with my current manboobs, I'm not going under the knife.

My question is: are these problems really so insurmountable? I'm on board with the notion that constructing a truly (triply) functional penis for transsexual FTMs may be impossible. But the pack-and-play and surgery problems seem utterly solvable; the real problem is that transfolk are considered too small a market with too little disposable cash. And yet, what we do have, we spend on too many partial solutions.

P.S. For a hilarious Onionesque story on butch lingerie, click here.

No comments: