Gender Stories

Trans Sexualities: a conversation with Lucie Fielding

February 15, 2021 Alex Iantaffi Season 4 Episode 47
Gender Stories
Trans Sexualities: a conversation with Lucie Fielding
Show Notes Transcript

Alex Iantaffi interviews Lucie Fielding, author of the forthcoming book Trans Sex: Clinical Approaches to Trans Sexualities and Erotic Embodiments (Routledge, May 2021).  They talk about sex, sexuality, gender, educating providers, the brilliance of trans people, and so much more.  Please be aware that in this episode Alex and Lucie talk about sex in a transparent and explicit way. CN: mentions of genitals, dysphoria, and cisgenderism.

Lucie Fielding, MA (she/they) is a white, queer, non-binary femme, and a Resident in Counseling, practicing in Charlottesville, VA. She received her Master’s in Counseling Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute (2018). Lucie also holds a PhD in French from Northwestern University (2008), where she specialized in eighteenth-century literature, histories of sexualities, and erotic literature. Her background in literature and history attunes her to the many ways that image, metaphor, and cultural scripts shape and inform the narratives we carry with us as we move through the world as well as how these narratives inscribe themselves on our bodies. You can find out more about Lucie at https://luciefielding.com  and follow her on Instagram and Twitter

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Hosted by Alex Iantaffi
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Intro:

Everyone has a relationship with gender. What's your story? Hello and welcome to Gender Stories with your host, Dr. Alex Iantaffi.

Alex Iantaffi:

Hello, dear listeners and welcome to another episode of Gender Stories. I am thrilled. I know I'm always excited, thrilled, enthusiastic, but that's just how I roll to be interviewing Lucie Fielding today. She's a white, queer non binary Femme and a resident in counseling practicing in Charlottesville. Lucy received her Master's in Counseling Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. And she also holds a PhD in French from Northwestern University, where she specialized in 18th century literature histories of sexuality and erotic literature. Her background in literature and history attunes her to the many ways that image metaphor and cultural scripts shape and inform the narratives we carry with us as we move through the world as well how these narratives inscribe themselves on our bodies. She's the author

of Trans Sex:

Clinical Approaches to Trans Sexualities and Erotic Embodiments, which is going to be coming out in May 2021. And it's published by Routledge, and I had the privilege to actually read the book towards the end of 2020. And I loved it, I endorsed it. 100% Actually, I would say 1,000%. So I'm so excited that now I get to have a conversation with you, Lucie. Welcome on Gender Stories.

Lucie Fielding:

Thank you so much for having me, Alex, this is such a thrill.

Alex Iantaffi:

Well, when you sent me the email, and you said, Well, you, you know, read my book. And if you like it, endorse it, I was like absolutely, we need this book out into the world. And then when I read it, I was kind of blown away. But I want people to know from you what motivated you to write it in the first place, because I sure felt that it was needed. I love to know your story of what motivated you to write this book?

Lucie Fielding:

Sure. Well, when I started my gender transition, or my gender journey, I was also beginning a professional transition. And so I had this very weird placement where I was on the one hand, you know, in therapy, and seeing medical professionals as part of my gender transition, and like doing HT and things like that, and then I was simultaneously attending all these trainings for becoming a therapist, and particularly a sex therapist. And so I would talk to my providers, and as great as they were, as great as they are, and I feel so privileged to have the providers, I do. Some of them are our frickin unicorns are great. I, I noticed that so much of what they were telling me was a nuanced, or just plain incorrect. And, and it wasn't that they were trying to be willfully misleading. It was just that like, there's so little research, and clinical writing, and sex illogical, and sex education, writing and content that is geared specifically for queer and trans folks. And so like, you open up any of the wonderful, major, like sex ed books of the last 10 years, and a lot of them will include like an apology at the beginning that says, like, I am talking primarily about cis women or sis men, and I am, I would love to talk about trans folks. And I imagine that some of the things are translatable, but there's just not the research base. And I was just tired of reading that and I was really tired of, of being placed in a position and especially as I became But as I started seeing clients as a therapist in training, being put in this position of having to extrapolate from cis experiencing, and not just cis experiencing, but cis head experiencing, and not just cis head, but white, able bodied, thin, young. So like there were so many bodies that were left out of the conversation. And I really wanted us trans and non binary folks, gender expansive folks more generally, to have, you know, like a first thing like. I do not think that this is the final word on on the subject, I hope it's the first of many, I hope people read it and find things that they would, that they would want to add things that I missed, because I'm a white femme, and, you know, with a PhD and a Master's and, like, we have heard a lot from people who look and sound like me. And so I fully expect and I fully hope that this will be just the first of many that seek to shift the conversation. And there have already been, you know, like in, in community resources, there are ziens, like, Mirabelle weathers fucking trans women, there's the transect scene, the two volumes of that there's going to be later this year a trans kink zine, which I'm really excited about. And then, you know, there were, of course, resources like tumbler that completely went the way of the dodo, as soon as Faust acesta went into place, into effect. And so we have all of these community resources but one of the things that I'm really struck by is that, again, because of my particular social and professional location, I had the ability to question my providers and to ask them questions based on what I was reading and what I knew as a trainee in sex education and sex therapy. And I recognize that not everyone has that knowledge, and not everyone is comfortable, you know, calling out their therapist, just as and let alone their endocrinologist or their surgeon.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah, absolutely. I love what you said. And, you know, it's, it's the paradox, too, I really appreciate what you said, in terms of, you know, kind of, in some ways, your voice, you know, being kind of being weighed. And it's the voice that's often more heard. But also, it's that paradox where, but also not like, there are not a lot of trans voices in the field. So I want to make something really clear that there actually not a lot of trans providers, writing about therapy with trans folks, and even fewer trans sex therapists writing about doing this work with trans folks. So it's a boyfriend.

Lucie Fielding:

Right? Fewer feminine folks.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. I was about to say that many. But you know, there's some, I think there are way more kind of folks were afab like myself assigned female at birth, and were trans masculine or non binary, but very few actually trans feminine voices I feel in her field. And so I was really excited to see your book. And not only because of your voice, which I think it's powerful, and insightful. And I feel like I've 10 questions I want to ask you at once in my brain right now so I'm gonna pick a direction and then go back to some of the other stuff. But one of the things that you do in your book, which I love is that you bring in other voices too. So, you know, let's say a little bit more to the listeners about how you structure the book, because I love that. And then when I go back also to talking about sexology, and sex therapy, and how we produce knowledge, and I want to have a conversation about that. But I want to talk about your book a little bit more, and this beautiful thing that you do with them, really bringing in multiple voices in your book.

Lucie Fielding:

Cool. Thank you for that opportunity to talk about that and so the way that it's structured, is that the it's six chapters in an introduction. And then, you know, like there's a glossary at the end. And chapter one is really about you know, almost a literature review, but it's like it's a discursive review. So like, what are the cultural scripts around trans sexualities? What are what is the history of of this? And how does this show up in the room with us, and always already inform how we're working with folks. But then chapters two through five, are really presenting a model, a series of frameworks on how to how I propose you one can, as a provider, and I mean provider, very expensively. Like usually when we talk about like, when folks that W path will talk about a multidisciplinary team, or MDT, we're usually talking about therapists and medical providers. And, you know, I think about this other providers that that we're likely to interface with, so like pelvic floor PTs, sex illogical body workers, professional dominance, surrogate partners. And so like, I lean on ancestral healing traditions, because like, I think we assume so much that like, our clients even have access to the kind of, you know, to mental health services, and insurance and access to certain transition pathways. And so like, or even want to pursue certain transition pathways. And so, like, I wanted to make space for ancestral healing traditions, and non western colonialist, settler colonial particular approaches. And I also wanted to keep in mind that like, again, I'm a white trans fan. And I wanted trans maskvoices, non binary folks, of every presentation that I could, you know, engage. And I wanted folks who were, you know, who represented that multidisciplinary team. In many ways, I succeeded, in so far as, like, it's, it's a nice group of providers, and I'm so privileged to have worked with this group of providers. And I also recognize that part of like what you were saying about, you know, who, who is working at the intersection of gender, affirmative care, and sexuality, who is also trans or non binary, who is also you know, who also occupies other social locations. And that is increasingly, it's an increasingly small group. And that's I'm not making excuses, I am saying that, that I've got to do better. And we as professionals have to do better in terms of really making it possible for say, BIPOC and disabled folks to an elder folks to come into the field and be and be centered and have voice and have those voices. I want to stand up so that others can, and I can sit down.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. And you know, I feel like your your book is powerful on many levels, I love that it offers a framework for providers that I love that it is the really broad definition of providers that you just described, but then you also bring in as many other voices as possible. And that is something that is different from kind of single author books in a lot of ways. Right? And I think that I often struggle with a similar issue when I write by myself or when Mac John, my, we are we have our own locations, and also how can we bring in voices from community right, and from a much broader perspective, and as well as collaborate and kind of create more and more space in our field because our field definitely has a serious problem, which I think you were starting to talk about, you know, sex therapists pretty cis centered, you know, and, and you get a lot of this kind of apologies, or maybe this can apply and, you know, recently I think there is a little bit of a shift like the latest edition of the quickies handbook for sex therapy kind of well as the cis colleague who asked me to write with them. So a shout out to Kristen Benson for being a really great ally, right? Because often people don't even know that there are trans folks out there doing the work. And it kind of brings me to this other question that, you know, you were mentioning are a lot of people apologize and say, well, there isn't much research, right? So this idea that all we know, is just research base. But like you said, there is so much there is actually so much material out there in community. There are ziens, there articles, there are people in practice, who are writing blog posts, there are videos, there are lived experiences, and that is an incredible body of knowledge that's already out there that people could access, right? And this idea that we only access knowledge in this package way here, I mean, it, I'm really happy that you have a book from Routledge, but it's almost like you have to kind of package it versus providers and say here, here's some knowledge so that you don't have to go to 500 places that you might not even be aware of right. But it is a specific way of packaging their knowledge. Right? And I'm curious about where did you feel that tension? If you found that tension? Sometimes I know, I feel it as an author, right? I'm like, I know those things. And those things are not necessarily based in research, but I know them from community, and I'm bringing them to a field that is so research and evidence based. Like how did you navigate that if you found that tension as well?

Lucie Fielding:

Yeah, I'm, I think, so one strategy was just to make a number of assumptions that like some of the cis authors couldn't make, for example, you know, Emily Nagurski, who also endorsed the book. I love her book, Come As You Are, and it's coming out in a second edition, and please run up and buy that it's wonderful. And like she, for example, like when she's talking about desire templates, and you know, responsive desire versus spontaneous desire, like, she's talking about, cis folks. And, but why is it that we're still talking about like, as providers, drive theory, libido, you know, like, especially when we're talking about, like, hormone therapy, you know, like, if, if you're doing masculinizing hormones, your libido is going to go through the roof. And you're going to be some out of control sex beast, and with rage issues, apparently.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah. That's absolutely, that's a stereotype that a lot of people hear, and I hear it from clients too. I'm scared to go on testosterone. Because what if I start raging and I'm like, I don't think you know what testosterone does. And the magic words for me as a mental health therapist, this is not my scope of practice, however, let's talk hormones for a moment. Absolutely.

Lucie Fielding:

Exactly. You know for like, for trans feminine folks, it's even, it's even worse, because we're getting fed this line about, you know, like, your libido is just gonna crash, you know, and so, you have to have this, like, we're forced to have all of these trade offs, where, you know, like, the resolution of gender is you can either resolve gender dysphoria, you know, or you can have a sex life that is familiar to you. The end that probably isn't serving you necessarily and is activating some of the dysphoria. And it's like, that's a false dichotomy. Why do I have to choose?

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely.

Lucie Fielding:

And why aren't we applying work like Emily Nagoski you know, that's based on like Meredith Chivers work and on... Oh, there's so many you know, who, you know, who are doing this incredible work, but they're the research questions are so limited to cis folks. And I once had an endocrinologist at a W path training. I talked to them, I went up to them afterwards. And I talked to them about like, you know, responsive desire and spontaneous desire. And he said to me, yeah, you know, there's one not a whole lot of research out there that support that, you know, to support this in trans populations. First cop out. Second, which really knocked me back on my heels was, this is too nuanced for our clients.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yes, I've heard that from so many service providers. This is too complex. This is too nuance which for me, I'm gonna go into a rant and I apologize right now. It's the infantilizing of trans and or non binary folks which I am furious about. Maybe it's because I'm about to turn 50 and I've been going through perimenopause, which people by the way, should talk way more about perimenopause and menopause, in trans folks and other Karina does have a trans inclusive book on menopause, it's gonna come out and I can't wait to run and buy it. Absolutely. I was like, yes, we need this. I needed this, like 10 years ago, when this terrible process started. That this impact realizing the service providers have of trans folks, this is two new ones people won't get it. This is not for the general public, when in fact, trans communities have been supporting one another for decades in like talking to each other, understanding what happens to our bodies, because let's face it, medical providers don't know what's happening to our bodies, figuring it out, reading medical texts, you know, educating ourselves and educating one another, it is so patronizing. And it is infantilizing that, you know, and I feel it both as a disabled person and as a trans person. I've seen it again and again, even as a provider, sometimes I'm seen as less competent or less knowledgeable people are like, Oh my god, I looked at your CV, and it's so impressive. And I'm like, Why are you so surprised? I always want to ask that. I've asked it sometimes and people get very worked up. But like, why is this surprising? Am I not supposed to be smart? Or I've studied or have done all the things I've done by my age? What? What is the implicit bias? Right, anyway, sorry that I could go on and on that rounds, but it sounds like there was some of that may be going on with this idea of nuance.

Lucie Fielding:

Yeah. I mean, and I wouldn't even go so far as to say that it is a failure of informed consent, and even go so far as to skirt the line of malpractice.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely say more about that, because I'm so excited about it. And I don't want to hear my voice, I want to hear yours.

Unknown:

Oh, sure. So like, I mean, what I mean by that is like the principle of informed consent is one in which we are disclosing all of the risks, all of the benefits that we know, and that we can name of treatment, you know, and what, what does involve what you might be able to expect. And, you know, and it's all about, like the client being able to make an informed, risk aware decision about their bodies, it's a bodily autonomy thing. And so there is no such thing as too nuanced for a client or a patient. If we are saying that, then we are, you know, we're failing in our duty, and we're resting on, on these outdated models, you know, and, you know, things like, and the other piece of, you know, besides like, you know, applying this work is that coming from where I do as a literature and history person, like I don't always...I see how science and evidence based work can be very helpful. And I can also see, like, we can always hang our hats on it. And as from an activist perspective, and be sure that it's going to always support us in the ways that we want it to. Whereas, like, I am attune to language, to rhetoric, to image and how, like, they bring forth certain realities of their own and that we that we internalize. And, you know, and that the insidious thing about them is that, that these cultural scripts, these narratives that we internalize, are the dominant groups way of unconsciously having us serve as the tools of our own eraser.

Alex Iantaffi:

Oh, absolutely. Because it's like even you know, science has this is seen in the past, you know, not that science is not helpful, but often people understand is science is always objective, right? But the reality is that actually talking about nuance is that the way we ask questions while we choose to research, how we choose to frame things is full of ideology. Just this morning, I was talking to other colleagues about how gender essentialism so the idea that there are two genders, you know, male and female, is also really an that's the natural in air quotes, are there things, it's rooted in biological determinism, you know. Which is really this idea that our biology determined certain traits, including behaviors, you know, that we have innate traits, because of our biology, which a lot of actually really racist science is based on, like the science in airports, again, of IQ and so on is incredibly racist because of the biological determinism piece. And we need to kind of scratch the surface to find that rhetoric, right. And our field is full of it, the field of sex therapists full of it, the field of trans health is full of it. And, and so it does become this complex dance of like, really, scraping layers and layers. And I feel like that in some ways, that's why you're doing in the book is really, let's talk about trans folks and sex and sexuality. And let's do it in a really informed way but also in a very, in a way that's not grounded in only cis assumptions. Because, you know, there's been very little work, I think, in the field that is, doesn't come from that kind of, you know, even when it's trans inclusive, still really gender essentialist place. You know, and even when I was trained, we talked about NATO sex and biological sex. And now, I would never use those words, because I know better, but those were the words that were thrown around in the field as if the word the truth, right?

Lucie Fielding:

As recently as, like, five years ago, you know.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely, we're not talking 50 years ago.

Lucie Fielding:

Yeah. I mean, and to give you an example, like, I have a friend who is, who is a curator of queer periodicals at the Library of Congress, and they do incredible work. Their name is Meg Metcalf. And they, I was visiting them, and they showed me, these journals that, and ziens, basically, that trans folks were writing in the, like, one or two years after Harry Benjamin published the transsexual phenomenon, so we're talking like 1967,68,69, and they are quoting wholesale, you know, passages from the transsexual phenomenon. And as ways of like, this is what you have to tell a medical provider, in order to gain access to this stuff, you know, like...

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely.

Lucie Fielding:

By all means, like, deny your sexuality to, you know, hate your hate on your body all you want. And then like, and then go home, and, and, you know, feel differently about, about things. But the the insidious thing that happens is that because we then, you know, like, after decades of having to prepare ourselves, for this kind of, you know, discussion with providers, that it then becomes part of the ways that we even speak about our own experiencing. I mean, like, I'm not saying that, like, gender dysphoria is not a thing, or that gender euphoria isn't a thing. But like, there is a history and it being defined primarily by white cis dudes. Yeah. And, and it's not that there isn't, you know, like a, I mean, I certainly experienced dysphoria, and euphoria. But I tried to kind of divorce it from the ways that that it's talked about in works written by cis folks, because I don't want to be defined by that. I want to be defined by my own experience, and I want to be informed by the particular experience of my clients.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. And our experiences have actually so much more nuanced, right. I remember going to a WPF conference a few years ago. And it has become this insidious thing where even cis providers who have worked in the field a long time start to believe that that's how trans folks are, right? So I was talking to providers like, well, this is like how trans men are because I've talked to like, hundreds of people over the years. And I'm like, and you never got suspicious, they literally have been fed one narrative about their sexuality, you know, or another provider was like, 'Well, you know, if if trans man having kind of penetrative sex in their front hole, like, does that really mean? Are they gay? Or they're not?' Which of course, it's like, the underlying assumption is, well, are they you know, what defines masculinity? I'm like, well, you tell me what defines masculinity when cis men are having no sex or they're gay. Like you use what you got? And if you got two holes, like, why is it not okay to have penetrative sex and whatever. And it was very hard for those providers to get their mind around this kind of, internalized transphobia and like, cisgender is outlook, right? That look that kind of queer, trans next sexualities that are inherently suspicious, because then it makes your gender suspicious, right? And they can't even see that actually, the way they're looking at it is not very nuanced. I'm like, well, but you know, the gender and sexuality are separate. So what's, what's the problem here and right. And when I put it that way, they were like, Yes, bye. And I was like, I don't see that. But here is gender and sexuality are two different things. You can be like, a trans lesbian or trans gay dude and a non binary, queer, whatever you want to be in my books. That for providers is really hard to wrap around their head around that, because inherently, they're not really seeing some of our identities are completely legitimate is my suspicion. I don't know if you've ever run into that, but I sure have.

Lucie Fielding:

Oh, totally. And you know, and, and I think like queerness, and, you know, and thequeering of the field is hard for folks to imagine sometimes. You know, like, that's not an excuse for them, but like they, they have to do the work. But like, I think one of the gifts of queerness and being in this like, multi orgasmic polymorphously perverse playground of wonder that is my body. Is that, um, is that like, I don't have to follow any of the scripts. I don't. I can use my clit for penetrative sex, if, like, if a partner, you know, and I discussed that, and we negotiated and we're both down for that I can, you know, like I where I can not involve genitals at all. And, or it doesn't assume that like for example, like, there's...I was talking to a friend about, like, who had had top surgery recently. And they were saying, like, you know, so many of my partners just avoid my chest entirely, thinking that like that dysphoria lives there. And it's like, no, I want you to interact with my chest. Like, I just want you to interact with it in a particular way. Or, like, you know, like there's, there's nothing for example, like in kink, you know, we generally, there's insists head kink, you know, it's like there's, there's tops and tops, or dominance and bottoms or submissives. And it's like, no, in queer DS you can be a submissive, who tops and you can be a dominant who bottoms and you can switch. And it doesn't, it's all about the intention and the energy that you're bringing to the experience.

Alex Iantaffi:

I love that and there's so much more expansiveness and so much more nuance to transects than most providers even realize that in some way, it does go back to that biological determinism, right? There is this word in somatic therapy. Sometimes we call this over cabling, when things that don't belong together go together this over cabling with bodies and gender, right? And so when those folks are like, I can't get my head around and of trans queerness. What they're really saying is that I have time capsules, these genitals from my perception of their gender identity? Right? But when we actually liberate our bodies, I would say and it's just like, this is my body. So it's a non binary body. It's not a masculine or feminine body is not a non male bodied or female body do you know, and I've had to learn how to uncouple this, I've used all those terms that I would never use it now, you know, 10 years later. And it is the process of really undoing so much of what we learned is science in air quotes again, because actually, I was like, I don't know my chromosomal makeup, very few people know their chromosomal makeup, there is an end, why do we have to say that those genitals are male, and those genitals are female, they're just, they're just genitals. And they, their gender identity belongs to the person not to the body part, right? And when you free yourself up from there, the possibilities are endless, really.

Lucie Fielding:

Exactly. Like I mean, it just confining oneself to, like, playing with genitals, like there's a certified sex therapist at sex educator Jamie Joy based in Philly, and they talk about in their trainings, like bobbing and swirling for, for oral sex. We, for oral sex, we so often will say like, Okay, well, penises are bobbed. And clitorises and vulvas in general, our front holes are swirled. And, like, that's just the way that it is and, and it's like, who says? Like I mean, you know, I've had partners, you know, who like, really wanted the experience the energy of me giving them a blow job. And, or, like, you know, and that's really important, you know, to be able to just say, like, okay, let's approach our bodies and our partner's bodies from a completely beginner's mind. Let's it's kind of like with sex toys, for example. And in kink, we we talk about pervertables. And you know, and pervertables are, you know, it's like you go to the hardware store, or to like a kitchen supply store. Yeah, like, you just like you take something that's for like a very vanilla purpose, like a wooden spoon or rug beater. And then you use it to wail on somebody. Consensually. And like, why can't our bodies be like that? I mean, that's the kind of move that I wanted to make is that, like, there's nothing that says that that our bodies need to be used in particular ways, or enjoyed in particular ways. I mean, that's just limiting, and boring.

Alex Iantaffi:

Exactly. Well, and while you know, what strikes me, as you were saying, that is that so much of what we do as sex therapist, I think, is actually helping our client broaden their idea of what sex and intimacy is, right? Even when I've worked with cis couples where, you know, there's maybe just some good old fashioned erectile dysfunction or, you know, just really the classic of sex therapy, right erectile dysfunction. vulvodynia, some genital pain, some low desire different, you know, interest in sex, those are kind of your staple of sex therapy, so call them. A lot of the work we do is like broaden your idea about sex is or what intimacy is, right. And here we are, like a whole community of like, trans folks and queer folks going, Oh, we've been doing that for like, a like, hundreds and hundreds of years. So we got something to say on the subject actually, that could benefit cis that people like that framework that you're just talking about. It's not just for trans folks like a lot of cis folks could really benefit in my experience as a therapist from broadening out in queering. So to speak, their sex life letting go gender roles, letting go of expectations of what sex is just can really help people flourish I think. I don't know if you've ever noticed that.

Lucie Fielding:

Yeah. Oh, totally like, you know, like the staple, one of the staples of sex therapy like erectile dysfunction. Like that is that is a construction of like, Viagra and Cialis, you know, really creating that kind of dis... the very notion of a sexual dysfunction. And it's not that like, and I think about, like, you know, folks with penises and testicles, like, why aren't you all muffing? Um, you know...

Alex Iantaffi:

Let me explain what muffing thing is for people who don't know what muffing is.

Lucie Fielding:

Okay, so first of all, all bodies, all bodies of all genders have inguinal canals. And these are like just under the pelvic bone, and on either side. And it's for folks who have testicles, they are the canals through which like the, testicles go up and descend. So like, you know, shrinkage, for example, like it's the, it's the testicles going up into the inguinal canals. It just so happens that the inguinal canals are packed with nerves. And this was observed by Mira Bellwether and coined in fucking trans women. There's all these nerve clusters that are intersecting with the inguinal canals. And so like, I mean, this is trans ingenuity at its finest. Yes, like, okay, so like, and for cis, folks with testicles, like, you're used to having the inguinal canals palpated or penetrated. It's part of like an inguinal hernia exam, which you you know, you might get as part of like, a yearly physical after a certain age in particular. And, like, but so muffing is basically you invaginate, which is to say, you, you push the testicles up back into the inguinal, canals, with like, you follow it with a finger, and you basically use the skin of the testicles, as a cot, basically, for your finger. And you can feel it, when it's when it's there, when you hit that groove. And you can like apply a vibrator to the, to the top of the finger. You know, that's I mean, you could feel the finger when when somebody is buffing you, right? You can feel that. And it is it can be intensely pleasurable. And so like, there is no reason why we should be talking about like, flaccid penises as a bad thing. Like, you know, like, yeah, like, if you want to have a particular kind of sex, you want to use your penis for penetrative purposes. Like, okay, fine. That's, that's something, you know, to maybe work with. But also, there's just so much it's not like the nerves aren't still

Alex Iantaffi:

Exactly and most people, you know, yes, sometimes there. people do want to have PIV, penis and vagina sex for specific reason and fine, the most people what they're looking for is, I still want to feel pleasure, I still want to feel connected, I still want to enjoy, you know, feel kind of this sexual connection with my partner and those things are not only rich for piv, exactly, which is why I'm always like, actually, you know, queer folks and trans folks have a lot to offer to the field of sex therapy, even though there is this idea that the field is so kind of cis head dominated because I'm like you said ingenuity is best, right? It's like, there is no reason why, like cis folks with a penis couldn't be taught this technique, but they're often not by their sex therapist. Right. And yet, any could be something that's talked about even with says that couples, how do you give each other pleasure? Are there other ways? You know, we talk about sensate focus, but we don't then, which is a technique which encourages people to explore each other radically, without concentrating on genitals so much, which is great and valuable in its own right. But what about all the other things right, that people could be doing to still achieve the same goals of pleasure and connection that don't fall into the PIVscript? Like the cultural script that you were talking about earlier?

Lucie Fielding:

Well, and here you are talking about pleasure and connection. And how often is that left out of our playbook?

Alex Iantaffi:

Oh, yes. Let's talk about that. Thank you for bringing that up. You know, when we think about trans health, and when we think about trans people going to see therapists always transition is always a partner having trouble with their partner coming out. It's always like doom and gloom and dysphoria. And it's, you know, it's so depressing, and even has to be a problem. And I'm even finding myself when I was writing the book on like, the chapter, you know, on transaxles, like, Oh, yes, I still made it about a problem. Because we think about going to therapy for problems, right? Yes. Let's talk about how way I loved your book has, because it does broaden that out, right?

Lucie Fielding:

Yeah. Like, I mean, we talk about a lot of things we talk about function, a lot of times and performance and orgasm. And indeed, like, the entire chapter, the sexual dysfunction chapter of the DSM five is all about that. It's all about, you know, this eye, and it's so scis, penis and vagina centered. And, you know, because it assumes that people that the only way to have functional sex is for, you know, penises to be hard crotch rockets, and for front holes to be these, you know, supple...

Alex Iantaffi:

Warm and receptive.

Lucie Fielding:

Yeah.. you know, like, I mean, sure, but also, it's a yes, and thing. And, and I think that if we need to be talking about pleasure, and we need to be centering pleasure in the conversation, and like, I, even when I'm talking to my, like, cis hat clients, you know, about, like, for example, like difficulty achieving orgasm, I'm always saying like, okay, like, I get that the orgasm is a goal. And orgasms are great, not going to knock them love them. But, like, if you it's like a watched pot never boils. Like if you are concentrating your entire experience on the appearance of this orgasm, it's probably not going to happen, you're so you're going to be so in your head about it. Whereas like, and you're missing out on all of the things that all of the pleasure that you may be experiencing along the way they can help you access that orgasm. So like, I mean, the way that I think about it is that, you know, it's like, think about running, like something that I hate doing, by the way, the only way that I run is when I'm running away from someone. But, um, but you know, for my friends who like running, you know, they talked to me about, like, you know, the calm that comes over them, yeah. Freaks. But I see it, you know, and I think like, part of it is like, you can either run for the destination, or you can run and recognize like, I am running barefoot, and there's these blades of grass that are tickling the soles of my feet. And oh, there's a sun sunset over there and aren't the clouds pretty? And don't I feel just so alive as I'm doing this? I mean, that's what we should be paying attention to. But like, when we're concentrating on function and performance, we're foreclosing conversations about like what sex could be or let's broaden this you know what eroticism is? What arrows is?

Alex Iantaffi:

They are broadening it out to that arrows that kind of life force right that and I love that you use running. I actually used to love running I was a runner that because of my disabilities meant that I had to stop running at some point and you know, even in my 30s I kept going I can still run in the my body was like, Haha, just kidding. And one of the things I had to learn was how do I access that feeling of full aliveness and calm and all of the things I felt running through other channels because there's not I can still access those experiences just not for running. Right? And so I had to learn like, how do I, how can I have some biking was great because I was like, you can still go fast and you can have some of the similar experiences. It's different, but you know, you kind of adapt, right? Hopefully, we're adaptable humans. But I love that you broaden it out, because it's not just about that kind of precise pleasure. It's about feeling alive in our bodies, right? And that's what I love about your book that is not just like, This is how trans people can have sex and this is what providers should know. But this is how can, how can we support trans folks in feeling fully alive and embodied in their, in our full erotic potential? Right, which is something that we don't talk about generally in sex therapy, or trans health in my experience, right?

Lucie Fielding:

Well, and then that all you know, and I chose the word like erotic embodiment for a very particular reason. You know, it's like, yes, trans sexualities. But like, what about folks who, like Gray's folks who, you know, may enjoy sex occasionally? Or were they just like, enjoy cuddling or kink? Yeah, far more than like, what we would describe as sex and so like, so when we're talking about erotic embodiment, it's like, how is it yummy to just like, enjoy makeout making out with somebody or like, or feeling cuddled, like whether one is cuddling oneself, live with like, a self hug, or one when one is being cuddled by another and especially during the pandemic, Especially during the pandemic when we feel so cut off? And, and that that lack of connection and the touch hunger, like, it's about the erotic moments, and it's not so much about the sexual moments, so I really want to think of it more broadly than that. Yeah, like, I'm talking mostly about, you know, trans sexualities. But, you know, but included in that is like, there's a term in the leather community leather sex, which, you know, it's like, it's not about the, it's not about what like cis hat vanilla folks do. It's, it can be, but it can also be like, it's the intention and the energy that you're bringing to it and are you having a good time? That's the

Alex Iantaffi:

And I love that I love that talking about the important thing. intention and the energy because, you know, the reality is that sex and sexuality is so much more nuanced, right? Than the world tells us. It's like you, I don't know, you know, you grew up and you see those movies where like, men, people are attracted to each other, and it all fades to black, you know, I was born in the 70s and then always faded to black and you don't know what's happening, right. And I was brought up Catholic, and, and then I was like, there is like a whole world of stuff that can happen. And also, those things don't always have to go with romance, either, you know, sex by go together with love, if it might not, it can be a both hand and also why even is love right? And that could be a ladder, a ladder conversation. And what I love about your book, even though it is really sound in terms of if a provider, I want every provider to read it if rider picks it up, you know, there's a lot of sound stuff for providers, but there is this message about kind of intention and energy and eroticism and embodiment and trans joy ultimately, right. At least that's the feeling I got from it that this was really about supporting this this fully embodied trans joy through the lens of sexuality. But yeah.

Lucie Fielding:

There's a incredible and I talk about this story in the book a lot. There's a my favorite, queer trans kink, erotica writer Sin West who passed away in August, September of this of last year. Had this short story collection, show yourself to me and the last story strong has this wonderful, it's a story about gender play. And they have this line thinking of gender as an elaborate sex toy. And, and I've just, I've been captivated with that image, you know, like, how can gender be an elaborate sex toy? Like how can our bodies be an elaborate sex toy. And, you know, I also talked about polymorphous perversity in the book, you know, which is it's a concept that originates in Freud and the kind of the psychosexual stages of development, but you can throw all of that out what it means is, it's the disposition that all of our bodies have throughout the lifecycle, to experience pleasure in multiple ways, and in multiple zones of the body, that it's not just confined to the genitals. I mean, that's what the whole like, you know, anal stage oral stage stuff was for it was talking about polymorphous perversity, and, yes, he then went, took it in some really awful directions. Yes, but I really love that concept. And I think that that is so queer and trans and you talk about, I'm so glad that, that that's the message that you drew from the book, because that's really, you know, so often, the story that we have, is to listen to cis people, or to watch like, representations of trans folks until like, five years ago. And the movie, the documentary disclosure does a really good job at highlighting that.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely.

Lucie Fielding:

Is that you know, like we are to see that representation like we are supposed to be these sad, traumatized, constantly oppressed, Loveless, sexless, pitiful creatures, and why would I want to transition? If I were, you know, if all I had to look forward to was just being a pitiful creature.

Alex Iantaffi:

But then have to trick people to fall in love with us, right, that like that we ascertain hiding, you know, whether it's like, boys don't cry, or whether it's other, you know, whether it's trans masculine or trans feminine folks, there always has to be a certain amount of hiding a certain amount of conforming to dominant ideas about what gender is, you know, it's yeah, like, that's so messed up.

Lucie Fielding:

Yeah, it's so messed up. And, and like, you know, I think about, yes, we experience a great deal of intergenerational trauma, and we need can and collective trauma and event based trauma and minority stress. And all of that is is the case, I'm not saying that that's not, you know, I'm not saying that's not a reality for many trans and non binary folks, if not most, what I am saying is that cis folks, concentrate exclusively on the intergenerational trauma and not on the intergenerational wisdom.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yes.

Lucie Fielding:

And, and what is like baked into our communities, there is so much that we're passing like stuff about muffing. You know, you're talking about like, the ziens, and the, and the blogs and the Tumblr posts and things like that, like, and social media accounts Reddits. Although Reddit can be a dumpster fire, too, but like, button, like, how can we tap into that, like muffing is part of that the hankie code is part of that intergenerational wisdom. It's that way that we tap into the fact that we have a lineage, we have ancestors. And while our our history is not one of like, you know, the human normative, you know, progress narrative. It's not it's there's a lot of struggle, but there's a lot of joy in that struggle. And I wrote the second half of the book while in the midst of the pandemic, and and I found myself as I was reading as I was, you know, just trying to figure out how am I going to sit with this how am I going to sit with my clients during this because I am not okay. I'm suddenly I started turning to like, books like Coming To Power or, and Amber holla bell's you know, My Dangerous Desires and Douglas Crimps essay, How To Be Promiscuous In A Pandemic, and it's and these are, you know, voices from the 80s and 90s. Yes, you know, we know as queer and trans folks how to take care of one another in the face of a larger society that pardon my language doesn't give a flying fuck and is actively seeking to harm us.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yes.

Lucie Fielding:

We have, we are the ones responsible for our communities of care, queer folks are responsible for the creation of safer sex models. Like, and that's, that's the intergenerational wisdom I'm talking about. We are inheriting that just as much as we are inheriting all of the fucked up settler colonialist bullshit, of like, displacement and genocide, all of that is there. And all of that we're also we're also that's also our legacy. And our lineage. But so is the joy.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely, it's, you know, that and that belonging, the joy and the belonging, you know, it's like when my friend Dr. Penny Murray talks about gender blessed ancestors, right? That when we can connect to those kind of gender blessed ancestors, transistors, whatever we want to call them, like there is a belonging to a resilience and a healing and knowing that is so much greater than than us in this moment, right? And, ha, yeah, that makes sense. I, you know, there's comfort in that belonging in so many ways.

Lucie Fielding:

I felt so hugged. You know, like it, it made me feel part of something larger than myself. Yeah. And, you know, like, I live in a rural environment. And I practice in a rural environment. And so it's very easy for me to feel cut off from community. Like, there's, it's not like there's a leather dike far down the road, down the road, you know, like, even during a pen, even not during a pandemic, I can't go to one of those, you know, so, but I can tap into that lineage. And that's powerful, and that's supportive.

Alex Iantaffi:

That's beautiful. I feel like I could keep talking to you for another, like five or six hours, but I want to be respectful, I was like, This is great, maybe we should have a part two. I'm all about it. So maybe we'll have a part two at some point and kind of pick it up where we left off. And this is such a wonderful kind of place to start winding down from and one of the questions I always ask, Is that, is there anything we haven't talked about that you were really hoping to share? With the gender stories, listeners? Maybe we maybe we've gone all the places we wanted to go. But if there was something anything else that you wanted to add?

Lucie Fielding:

Oh, gosh, that's such a great question. And I should have been prepared for it and....

Alex Iantaffi:

I didn't send it to you beforehand to begin with the listeners. So it's really not your fault. It's mine. I usually send an email saying, I will ask you this, but no, you're being totally put on the spot.

Lucie Fielding:

I would say. I think the only thing we didn't talk about and that I always like to talk about is you know, the desirability politics piece.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yes. Say more about that.

Lucie Fielding:

So desirability politics, particularly comes out of black fat fans, like Hunter Shackleford. There's also a great article by Caleb Luna and, and it's all about like, how our desire, how like, we generally think about like attraction and desire as a as this deeply idiosyncratic, subjective thing, you know, it's like I like who I like. And, and I think one of the problems that we have is that, that in and that desirability the politics of desirability really clues us into is that there's an element of cultural construction there and a huge elderly and, and that's where a lot of like the dating while trans stuff comes in is that trans folks and non binary folks with respect to like dating and fucking cis folks because like t for t all the way, you know, but you know that there's this idea that we are not seen as objects of desire, and disabled bodies suffer from this problem. Fat bodies, elder bodies, many bipoc bodies in particular cultural context. And I really wanted to point out and not because like, I want folks to just like experiment with me, you know, like, oh, well, you know, like I need to be woke so I'm gonna go and date a trans person. I'm not saying that I am saying that like interrogate desire, we need to be interrogating desire, and and who we afford desirability and desire ability, the ability to desire is, yeah.

Alex Iantaffi:

I love that so much. I often talk to my clients about, you know, there's good research about visual diet and how it impacts the folks were attracted to switch up your visual diet. And you might be surprised, especially if you're having, you know, a lot of trans folks, I think sometimes we can have trouble finding ourselves desirable, right, because of that kind of dominant discourse and the kind of images that we see around ourselves, especially if we're not really falling within that kind of dominant norm, right? That's like, if you are like assigned female at birth, and you don't have like a six pack and are young and can be on the cover of Men's Health, you know, how are you even going to find yourself desirable, right, and trans feminine folks? Also, if they're not, you know, feminine in a certain way that's seen as desirable, for whatever reason, again, you know, usually sighs has something to do with it. Usually, even colorism comes into it by all of the things and yeah, it's like, once you start questioning, you know, even desire, it's like. Well, again, biological determinism, is it really biologically determined? Or are we just used to seeing being told this is what's attractive, and this is what's not. And then we see ourselves at each other through those lenses, right? So you talked about that.

Lucie Fielding:

And once we start talking about that, and breaking apart desirability, we can then talk about our entitlement to pleasure and our entitlement to desire that we deserve to have our desires, our boundaries, our needs, met with partners that we're negotiating with, you know, in a risk informed way. And we deserve to experience pleasure, like, once you deconstruct desirability, you can deconstruct the whole scarcity model bullshit, that tells us that, like, our desire, is less than our bodies are less than and we should just take what we what we can get. Which then it's grounds for such abuse in relationships, especially says trans relationships sometimes, but sometimes, sadly, when in T for T relationships too but it's that because of that scarcity model, right? Oh, I'll just who else is gonna want me not? You know, there's a whole world out there of people. And if nothing else, like we can, we can find ourselves desirable and worthy of all of that, that you just described. I love it. Yeah, I could talk with you. But yes, so we deserve pleasure. And I think that your wonderful book is going to help so many providers, and providers in their really broad definition of providers support so many more trans folks towards finding pleasure. And so yeah, it's coming out really soon in May 2021. And also, I hope we can have more of these conversations. And I'm just so excited to be sharing a field with you, Lucy, and thank you so much for being on Gender Stories today. Thank you for having me. This was such a joy and delight, and I could say the same thing about my admiration and esteem for being in the same field with you. It's such a privilege

Alex Iantaffi:

I love this mutual admiration moment. And dear listeners, I don't worry. I'm going to put in the episode description how you can find out more about Lucie's work or website and the book and where you can get the book from and preorder it if you want to. And in the meantime, I'll hope you can find many many ways to pleasure and I'll see you at our next episode, and goodbye for now.