Women On Top Of The World: a snapshot of what one woman thinks about during sex

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Women on Top of the World, edited by Lucy-Anne Holmes, is an intersectional and inclusive collection of 51 first-person testimonies by women about what they think about during sex, accompanied by some incredible illustrations. In the following extract, we hear from Jennifer, 39, about what goes through her mind when she gets intimate. 

Abstract illustration of curves and diamond shapes in different shades of pink to illustrate thoughts during sex
Women On Top Of The World: 'Shades of Pink' illustration for Jennifer by Chrissie Hynde

I’m a few years into the medical side of my transition. My testosterone is suppressed with medication so it’s lower than it is for the average cis-gender woman but I haven’t had any surgery yet.

I really like the drop in testosterone. I don’t have a hormonal impetus making me horny now; rather, it comes from feeling safe with someone – lots of cuddling, kissing and laughter – and I enjoy that. I have much less sex, but when I do, it’s a really special experience; it takes longer and is sensitive and emotional. I don’t really miss the way I used to have sex.

I have one partner who I’ve been with for four years, and another coming up for two. I also have some long- term cuddle buddies; they’re also partners but in a more platonic and affectionate way. It’s a chosen family, everyone is interlinked with each other. I’ve been polyamorous for fifteen years; I wouldn’t want anyone to have less love than they could possibly want because they are in a relationship with me.

And I love it when there are more than two people being intimate – all the shared energy and happiness is really beautiful. It means I can relax, stroke or kiss someone or give them head, but have a more chilled out or lackadaisical role sexually.

I really enjoy a slow progression of gentle stroking, a long dance towards going down on someone. Kissing the bottom of someone’s stomach, the curve around a hip, the small of a back. I like to hold someone while that is happening, wanting them to feel held and loved. Hearing their voice is a big turn-on for me, someone telling you what they want you to do or what they’re enjoying. I make lots of little happy whimpering noises.

Illustration of woman lying in bed with view of sunset in the distance visible through window
Women On Top Of The World: Illustration of Olga, by Barbara Malagoli

I’ve always seen myself as a bit like my mother, someone who looks after people. I’m not good at wanting things for myself or feeling that I am entitled to things and that means, in sex, I’ve tended to share intimacy around me by giving, and been slightly uncomfortable when there is a disproportionate amount of attention on me.

I like gentle strokes on my bum, my sides, the inside of my thighs, stomach, neck, collarbone and boobs. I really like my boobs. I haven’t had these for most of my life, and now I’ve finally got them I am just thrilled. I’m joining the itty-bitty-titty committee, as my partner would say.

When I receive oral sex now, the physical sensation is a lot different; it’s sensitive but not always inherently pleasurable. I will need a narrative going on in my head, which is emotional and centres on feeling wanted, attractive and comfortable with someone, and I have to focus on that. If I am going to climax, it will be a long process with lots of that thought involved, but if I am anxious or stressed it won’t be possible.

Talking about the penis is quite difficult for trans women, unless they are talking to each other. People think it’s exactly the same organ as it is for a cis guy, but it’s not. I generally have to take medication if I want to have any erection. Over time, a woman’s penis will tend to get smaller and start to smell or taste more like a cis person’s vagina than it used to.

I’ve always had a difficult time using my penis. I had a weird disconnect, feeling like it didn’t work properly, but also not really wanting it to. A lot of guys are really into giving blow jobs to trans women, but I just didn’t want that, it didn’t feel like the feminine energy I had was being seen. They were singling out that part of me which I still thought was the masculine bit, and I didn’t like that.

Over time, though, I had experiences of being naked at parties, and saw and befriended women with penises and talked to them about their gender identity. They didn’t see it as a masculine part – one friend called hers a ‘girl dick’, another a ‘lady cock’ and another said she had a big clit.

There is a lot of hatred of trans people at the moment. I am very aware of how people see me; I have a lot of fear and a lot of shame. I think I’ve reacted to people’s disgusted and aggressive reactions to something they see as freakish.

But I have an amazing community around me. I think I must be one of the luckiest trans women in the country.

Cover image of Women On Top Of The World book edited by Lucy-Anne Holmes
"Women On Top Of The World: What Women Think About When They're Having Sex" edited by Lucy-Anne Holmes

Women On Top Of The World: What Women Think About During Sex, edited by Lucy-Anne Holmes, is available from 25 February 2021

Lead image from Lucy’s extract, illustrated by Alice Skinner

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