Mens Sexuality: As viewed by a Man and a former Woman Who Is Now A Man

“I think this is where most women fall down in their understanding of male reality…”

A man who, sometimes online, calls himself as L. Byron wrote:

I think this is where most women fall down in their understanding of male reality:

“An ideal LTR would hopefully get you more constant sex than having a bunch of casual hookups.”

This simply does not compute to the male mind. But that’s very hard to explain to the female mind. Sexual variety, if we can get it, is an end in itself, its own reward. We’re born that way.

A good analogy might be Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Applying that strictly to the relationship/sexual domain, I’d say getting regular sex, or even semi-regular sex is more important to the average guy than an emotionally fulfilling relationship. My sense is for women it is either equal or inverted the other way. I know that if for some reason I were single tomorrow and then had a 12 month drought of No sex and No relationships, my first priority would be to ensure that I was getting laid before trying to secure another meaningful relationship.

I don’t say sexual variety was the be-all & end-all, I’m just continually trying to find ways of imparting to women some of the profoundly different internal biological realities of men in ways they can grasp. I love being in love & in a committed relationship but every time there is the chance of easy sex with someone I find attractive, my body cries out plaintively in a way that is directly comparable to a childless 38 year old woman looking at other peoples babies & weeping with desperation to fill her womb with one of her own. It happens in different ways to the different sexes, because we have a different biological purpose, & it happens much more frequently to men, pretty much every day of their life, every time they see a pretty girl smiling at them. Actually, not even that: every time they see a cute ass walking ahead of them. That is all the character reference they need to know they want to (briefly) be with that woman. No more thought goes into it than that, & that is good, that is nature. That is how we are made.

In men, the drive to settle down & be deeply in love with someone you want to share your life with, AND the daily desire to still fuck everything that moves if you possibly can, coexist perfectly naturally, without dissonance. They are compartmentalized. They are both true.

‘Regular sex’, which gets used by many of the female posters here over & over again as what they seem to think will appeal as some kind of holy grail, really isn’t for men. Sexual variety is fulfilling on a biological level for men in a way that women really do not seem able to understand. It is an end in itself. The sex itself is the end goal, not a relationship. A high number matters, & makes men feel that they are in the right place at the right time doing what they were put on the planet to do. (Again, this is directly comparable to the female seeking fulfillment of her biological purpose through childbirth, something no man can truly understand, & doesn’t pretend to.)

The guys who settle with horrible women ‘for regular sex’ (like the college guys Susan speaks of) are doing so out of desperation, because they don’t think they can find anyone else. Beta males exist in a reality of scarcity. Higher status males live in a reality of plentitude, so don’t have to take some heinous woman’s daily bullshit just for regular scraps of the little sex they can get.

Regular sex with only one woman is not the male goal. Falling in love might be, but monogamy is more of a price men pay than the happy ending it is for women. It’s really giving up his natural destiny to fulfill hers. Again, there is simply no way to translate this for women, just how much a man gives up to be with only them.

If I go live with a tribe in the rainforest, I will have to eventually realize that how they see the world really isn’t the way I & everyone I have ever known sees it. I can’t ever truly see through their eyes, but I can understand that I can’t see through their eyes & I can respect that from a distance. If anything, that’s the position I’m trying to sell. Women can’t understand certain parts of men but they can understand that they don’t, & that’s a start. A really really good one.

…I’ve never been out of one steady relationship or another the past 15 years. But if I don’t have other lovers on top of that, after awhile I start feeling like climbing the walls…For me, anyway, it’s not a question of ‘a steady supply’ of sex, like a ‘steady supply of water’. That itself feels like stagnation. I need to taste the different fruits from the trees & hedgerows as I pass through the orchard of life.

There are girls that I know who also get into a dark place from being alone, too, but they are hungry for a stable relationship, not sex, & in fact one night stands & friends with benefits seem to make them more, rather than less unhappy. The irony of that being, of course, that pretty much any woman reading this page right now could walk up to the nearest bar tonight & get the thing that men crave more than anything for nothing, with no work whatsoever. But they don’t , because that isn’t what they want.”



The second viewpoint is:

**”Act Two. Infinite Gent.” A transgendered man has the unique perspectives that only someone who not only lives as a man, but has had all of the chemical processes changed to reflect on the inside on a hormonal level what he is on the outside. Because he was actually born a woman.

Ira Glass
Griffin Hansbury was born female. But seven years ago, after college, Griffin took action to become a man. And he told this story of what it was like to experience the massive increase in testosterone that accompanies this change. He talked with our producer, Alex Blumberg. A warning to listeners that they talk about looking at women and wanting sex during this interview.

Griffin Hansbury
I went to Bryn Mawr College, which is a women’s college, and chose a women’s college because I strongly identified as a woman at the time, as a feminist, and as a dyke. I had my leather biker jacket and my big leather belt and my black t-shirts and my Doc Marten boots, my combat boots. And that felt pretty comfortable for a while.

And then my sophomore year in college, I was lying in bed with my girlfriend. I don’t know if we were talking or what it was. And it just sort of hit me like a bolt of lightning, as they say. And I just knew that I had to change my body. And so I started doing the research on it. And the only way to do that was to take testosterone.

My first injection was a pretty large one of 2 ccs of 200 milligram strength depo-testosterone, which is a fairly high amount. Just to give you a sense of how much that is, the average amount of testosterone in an average male body is between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter of blood. After that shot, and after an average shot, my testosterone levels go up to over 2,000 nanograms per deciliter, so that I have the testosterone of two high-testosterone men in my body at once.

Alex Blumberg
You have the testosterone of two linebackers.

Griffin Hansbury
Exactly. Exactly. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of T. And what’s amazing about it is how instantaneous it is, that it happens within a few days really. The world just changes.

Alex Blumberg
What were some of the changes that you didn’t expect?

Griffin Hansbury
The most overwhelming feeling is the incredible increase in libido and change in the way that I perceived women and the way I thought about sex. Before testosterone, I would be riding the subway, which is the traditional hotbed of lust in the city. And I would see a woman on the subway, and I would think, she’s attractive. I’d like to meet her. What’s that book she’s reading? I could talk to her. This is what I would say.

There would be a narrative. There would be this stream of language. It would be very verbal.

After testosterone, there was no narrative. There was no language whatsoever. It was just, I would see a woman who was attractive or not attractive. She might have an attractive quality, nice ankles or something, and the rest of her would be fairly unappealing to me.

But that was enough to basically just flood my mind with aggressive, pornographic images, just one after another. It was like being in a pornographic movie house in my mind. And I couldn’t turn it off. I could not turn it off. Everything I looked at, everything I touched, turned to sex.

I was an editorial assistant. And I would be standing at the Xerox machine, and this big, shuddering, warm, inanimate object would just drive me crazy. It was very erotic to me.

Alex Blumberg
The Xerox machine.

Griffin Hansbury
The Xerox machine. Or a car. I remember walking up Fifth Avenue one day, and this red convertible went by. It was a Mustang. And I remember just getting this jolt in my pants, this very physical, visceral, sexual reaction to seeing a red convertible.

Alex Blumberg
What did you do with that? I mean, what did you think?

Griffin Hansbury
Well, I felt like a monster a lot of the time. And it made me understand men. It made me understand adolescent boys a lot. Suddenly, hair is sprouting, and I’m turning into this beast. And I would really berate myself for it.

I remember walking up Fifth Avenue, there was a woman walking in front of me. And she was wearing this little skirt and this little top. And I was looking at her ass. And I kept saying to myself, don’t look at it, don’t look at it. And I kept looking at it.

And I walked past her. And this voice in my head kept saying, turn around to look at her breasts. Turn around, turn around, turn around. And my feminist, female background kept saying, don’t you dare, you pig. Don’t turn around. And I fought myself for a whole block, and then I turned around and checked her out.

And before, it was cool. When I would do a poetry reading, I would get up, and I would read these poems about women on the street. And I was a butch dyke, and that was very cutting-edge, and that was very sexy and raw. And now I’m just a jerk.

[LAUGHTER]

Griffin Hansbury
So I do feel like I’ve lost this edge, this nice, avant-garde kind of– and I’ve gotten into a lot of arguments with women friends, co-workers, who did not know about my past as a female. I call myself a post-feminist. And I had a woman say, you’re not a post-feminist. You’re a misogynist. And I said, that’s impossible. I can’t be a misogynist.

And I couldn’t explain to her how I had come to this point in my life. And to her, I was just a misogynist. And that’s unfortunate because it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Alex Blumberg
I’ll say. Wow. Testosterone didn’t just turn you into a man. It turned you into Rush Limbaugh.

Griffin Hansbury
I know. That I was not expecting. That I was not expecting.

So I had to relearn how to talk to women. And I had to learn how to rephrase things, how to hold my tongue on certain things. And I’m not very good at it. So I get in trouble.

Alex Blumberg
That is so fascinating. Because as a man, I think, from the time I went through puberty, I feel like that’s something that I’ve been learning to do in a certain way, is just figure out how to say things without getting myself in trouble.

Griffin Hansbury
Right. Yeah, yeah.

Alex Blumberg
I would not have thought that you would have had that problem.

Griffin Hansbury
Right, because I should know better or something.

Alex Blumberg
Or something. Are there other ways, other than the visual, and other than the libidinal, are there other ways that you feel like testosterone has altered the way you feel or perceive?

Griffin Hansbury
Something that happened after I started taking testosterone, I became interested in science. I was never interested in science before.

Alex Blumberg
No way. Come on. Are you serious?

Griffin Hansbury
I’m serious. I’m serious.

Alex Blumberg
You’re just setting us back a hundred years, sir.

Griffin Hansbury
I know I am. I know. Again, and I have to have this caveat in here, I cannot say it was the testosterone. All I can say is that this interest happened after T. There’s BT and AT, and this was definitely After T. And I became interested in science. I found myself understanding physics in a way I never had before.

[LAUGHTER]

Griffin Hansbury
It’s true. It’s true.

Alex Blumberg
Wow.

Griffin Hansbury
I did.

Alex Blumberg
How about in the way you feel things and in the way you perceive of your feelings? Is there any change there?

Griffin Hansbury
I have a hard time crying. Before testosterone, it was great if I was frustrated or angry or sad, have a good cry. You’d feel better afterwards. And I do wonder if there isn’t a chemical component behind it because I now have a hard time doing it. And it’s very frustrating.

What I will do is when I feel that pressure build up, I’ll go into my room. I will close the door and force myself. I have to force myself to cry. And the quality of the crying is different than the quality of the crying was before T. It’s very dry. I find myself moaning and sobbing, but with very little tears.

Alex Blumberg
You’ve answered a lot of questions for us today. You reinforced a lot of stereotypes that we’ve almost dispelled with.

[LAUGHTER]

Griffin Hansbury
I know I have. I know it.

Alex Blumberg
Did you have an idea of what kind of man you were going to be before the transition? This is my model. Who was it?

Griffin Hansbury
I used to watch a lot of Beverly Hills 90210, and Jason Priestley was my ideal, at least physically. I wanted sideburns so bad. And that was the first facial hair that came in. I got these beautiful sideburns.

So it was like the James Dean, Jason Priestley kind of model, I think. That didn’t quite materialize. I was better at that as a dyke than I am as a man, I have to say.

Alex Blumberg
And how do you feel about it? Is that sort of a–

Griffin Hansbury
It’s a bit of a disappointment. It’s a bit of a disappointment. I often ask people, “What kind of a guy am I? What do you see?” And unfortunately, people often respond that they see a nerd, which I never was before. I was always really cool and popular and hip and whatever.

And now I’m five foot four, and I work out, but I’m not real muscular. And I’m pretty small. I’m pale-skinned, and my hair has started to thin. And I’ve got glasses.

And of course, I’m also, I’m a sensitive guy now. I used to be the butch dyke. And I was seen as very aggressive. And I was more masculine in many ways, outwardly, anyway, before testosterone.

And now I don’t have to prove anything. So I can lay back and talk with my hands and all that stuff that you’re not supposed to do. So I’m still very much learning how to be a man in the world.

There’s a lot to learn. Men, walking down the street is a constant battle. It’s a constant contest.

I began to notice, once I started to pass as a man, that single men, walking alone down the street, will veer away from their path to walk towards me, get in my space, and then veer back. And it’s very much like a little aggressive move. I’ve had men, just angry guys walking down the street, just body check me. So I really feel like I have to sort of puff myself up, so that people will keep their distance a little bit. But if I’m off guard, and I’m walking around, and I’m enjoying the scenery, it’s pretty much guaranteed that somebody will shove me.

Alex Blumberg
Were there specific things that you were hoping for?

Griffin Hansbury
I think that the main thing that you hope for, that one hopes for, and that I hoped for when starting testosterone, was to pass as male, to be perceived by the world as a man. But I do have a love/hate relationship with passing that my whole deeper self becomes invisible and my history becomes invisible. And I think that’s hard. It’s a hard place to be.

Especially because when I got my first job as a man, they didn’t know anything about my past. It was very corporate. So I had to let go of any edgy clothing and facial hair and whatnot that I had before. And I became really boring. I felt like, wow, people must think I’m really boring. If they only knew that I’m so fascinating.

[LAUGHTER]

Griffin Hansbury
Throughout those almost four years, I had to conceal a lot. I would lie about where I went to college because I went to Bryn Mawr, and I couldn’t say I went to Bryn Mawr.

Alex Blumberg
What college did you say you went to?

Griffin Hansbury
Well, Bryn Mawr is in a bi-college relationship with Haverford College. And so I would say I went to Haverford, which is kind of– I don’t want to say anything bad about Haverford. Some of my best friends went there. But I think Bryn Mawr is a superior school to Haverford. I do. And I think it’s a superior education. And when I have to say I went to Haverford, it’s like a little knife in my heart. But no offense to my Haverford friends.

Alex Blumberg
What do you feel like the biggest thing that you do miss is?

Griffin Hansbury
Maybe the close relationships that I had with women. I still have close relationships with the women I’ve known since before T. But I don’t make close relationships with new female friends. It’s hard to do. There’s a barrier.

So I miss being part of a cool bunch of women. I actually like women better than men. It just so happens that I fit in more as a man. But I think women are really cool. Sisterhood is powerful, all that stuff.

Alex Blumberg
And what do you think is the biggest thing you’ve gained?

Griffin Hansbury
The biggest thing I’ve gained. It’s just so great when people call me “sir,” even after seven years. I don’t always hear it, but it still rings a little bell inside my heart, like, “Oh, sir.” It’s wonderful.

And it’s something that when I was a little kid, I used to wish for. “Turn me into a boy,” you know, Pinocchio. And you never really think it’s possible. But it is possible. And the other nice thing about it is, knowing that that’s possible, that you can actually make this enormous leap means that, well, then anything else must be possible too. Because this is certainly unbelievable.

Ira Glass
Griffin Hansbury lives in New York. He talked with our producer, Alex Blumberg. Griffin just completed a memoir about his own experience transitioning from female to male. He’s looking for a publisher.

Alex Blumberg
You know what occurs to me is that you’re in a perfect position to offer romantic advice to anybody who needs it.

Griffin Hansbury
I know, I know. And I have a friend with a website. And we’ve been dying to do an online advice column called “Ask a Guy Who Used to Be a Girl.” We haven’t gotten it off the ground yet.

Alex Blumberg
You would make a million dollars.

*L. Byrons quote was originally discussed here.

**”Act Two. Infinite Gent.” was taken from the National Public Radio show This American Life. You can listen to it here.

Stricturism (AT) Gmail.com

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