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This philosophy posits that both kinds of transsexuals are afflicted by mental illness.

While current psychological and sociological literature has thoroughly refuted this idea — with “transsexualism” having been removed from the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — many misguided health professionals and members of the public remain deeply influenced by it.

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For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives.” —Audre Lorde, “The Uses of the Erotic” A couple years ago, when I finally took the steps to start hormone replacement therapy in order to “feminize” my body, I found a pamphlet on the internet about the effects of ingesting testosterone blockers and estrogen.In a nutshell, they included redistribution of fat, breast tissue development, decrease in muscle mass and body hair, decrease in sex drive and sexual function, decrease or loss of erectile function, decreased ability to make sperm and ejaculatory fluid, and sterility.If anyone wanted me, I believed, it could only be for a fetish, something deviant and sick.So when I started hormone replacement therapy and my libido did diminish somewhat, I experienced this as a relief, at first.Trans women deserve pleasure just as much as anybody else.

So what’s a trans woman who wants to get down and dirty with her partners (or herself) to do?

It wasn’t until I finally started to ask other trans women about their stories of sexuality and self-discovery that I was able to find what I was looking for.

A note to trans women in search of answers: Your sisters are the answer. Growing up and absorbing all of the mainstream social stereotypes about trans women, I learned to think of my body as disgusting and wrong, and my own sexual urges as something dirty.

“Most transsexuals find,” she said, refusing to meet my gaze, “that their masculine sexual...urges are very disturbing to them.

So that when they become women, they don’t need orgasms.”It wasn’t until after I went home, feeling humiliated and crushed, that I really began to think about the implication of what she’d said: When they become women, they don’t need orgasms. That I had to choose between my sexuality and my gender identity as a woman?

I began to feel angry that, for me and so many of my trans feminine friends, sex was this source of unending pain, when for others, it was a source of joy.