by Yours Truly
As someone who takes the worship, adoration, and empowerment of women very seriously, and too as someone who is nonbinary but has a lesbian orientation, I have often had occasion to ponder and ruminate on the way my sexual and emotional orientation relates to women who are trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, or who in any other way manifest their womanhood in a way that is more complex than traditional cis, binary femaleness.
Put simply, there are women, and there are other women, and in another way there are other women still. And when you are a submissive whose D/s identity responds to such basic categories, how do you determine your duties, responsibilities, and approach in the face of this variety?
The question in all of this has always been what to do with myself when it comes to engaging and connecting with these different kinds of women.
It bears taking an extra moment or two with this point, because in questions of gender and especially when it comes to interactions between the people who correspond to them, too often the discussion devolves into an ignorance and prejudice that has no place in the calculus that I will attempt to demonstrate here, one that centers around impugning the ability of individuals to self-determine.
I refuse to simplify the question by making my struggle “their” problem, so to say some first things first:
- Sex and gender are distinct, and while one frequently goes with the other, there are many people for whom things are more complex, and this is reasonable, honest, and valid.
- It is the right of every human being to speak for themselves about how they understand, relate to, and demonstrate themselves, and that includes gender identity and gender expression.
So to begin with, the ability for a person to decide what they are is their own, and if someone tells you what they are you are obliged to take their word for it, because they’re the only one who can say so. Gender is determined by one’s own evaluation and identification, because gender is essentially a characterization of substantive personal meaning and affiliation, and in addressing these issues it is disingenuous to begin by failing to observe this.
- Human beings have a right to express and conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with their values and with their personal understanding of themselves. People are not subject to the characterizations of others and may engage with their personal expression without regard for what is expected of them on the basis of emergent or predetermined standards.
Meaning that all of us (men, women, or otherwise) have a right and a privilege to conduct ourselves as ourselves, as individuals, and we are not bound by any duty to a role or a category that is imposed upon us. Moreover, those whose expression challenges us toward a more complex, nuanced, and enlightened understanding of humanity that is possessed of greater accuracy and a closer approximation of the truth, should be appreciated and valued on the basis of this autonomy and its manifestation rather than badgered or berated to conform.
- There is no distinction to be made as regards the right or privileges of any two categories to involve themselves with any area of the human experience to which they feel a personal engagement and in which they find meaning, and this includes modes of D/s and kink.
- Nonconforming people of any variety are valid both in their determination of their gender identity and the means by which they express it, and in their autonomy in making that determination.
- It’s no one’s right to withhold womanhood from someone who declares themselves to possess it or to assign the same to someone who refuses it or.
- Nonconforming and trans people have just as much right as anyone else to involve themselves in D/s and kink.
And maybe all of this is to say that when interacting with a trans or enby person, even in kink settings, my attraction and whether or not my submission includes them isn’t the biggest social priority. And to me that’s a basic question of manners and avoiding presumption, which are important skills to develop as a submissive regardless of what kind of woman you are speaking to.
At this level, yes, I think as anyone who travels in kinky circles you have a duty to be nice to these people and treat them with respect, they way I think everyone deserves to be treated. And as a femdom practitioner of any role, I think it’s important to recognize a trans woman’s commitment to femininity (whether or not they change their sex or want to). We share values, and often believe in the same things, and it’s certainly not up to me or anyone else to gatekeep their inclusion, or to judge the role they’ve developed for themselves.
But with all that being said, there’s still something left.
I think what some people wonder is, “If I accept trans women as women, and I am a sub who worships women, does that mean I have to worship trans women and be subject to their authority?”
And the answer to that bears emphasizing– You don’t have to worship or be subject to anyone with whom you feel it’s inappropriate.
Even the most earnest, dutiful, self abdicating slave has a full and unassailable right to decline to engage with anyone for any reason. That’s as basic as it gets. You as a sub are in control of whose authority you recognize. And if for any reason it doesn’t feel right, you are not required to participate in order to live up to your role and persuasion.
I like fanciful, fantastical notions of being subject to “all women” as much as anyone does, but in the real world that is only ever partly a component of the truth. There are women who have betrayed me that I’d never submit to, there are women I’m related to, there are women who are excluded for maybe half a dozen other reasons or more. And all of the women to whom I’m referring have vulvas.
The point is that we all are each responsible for defining those rules within ourselves and being realistic about them. We set our own standards for who is eligible and who is not, and that’s not an element of dominance or submission. That is solely the province of the person who is going to submit and be subjected. And of course, for someone to enforce my voluntary submission is delightful, but I don’t imagine for a second that that should overrule a serious conflict I might personally have.
I think a good sub asks these questions and thinks about them seriously; “What are my duties and responsibilities? What is required of me? What must I live up to?” But appropriate answers to these do not include betraying your own feelings, or embracing a serious conflict in your ethics, or letting yourself be forced to let go of your principles.
And because you are in charge of that yourself, the flexibility in these rules is yours to determine as well. Am I breaking my hard limit for male dominance by being topped by someone who’s trans masculine or nonbinary? Not if it’s alright with me, and not if it doesn’t feel that way and I understand it differently.
If your orientation includes trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming women in the position of power, engage with them freely and be proud of it. But if it doesn’t, the answer isn’t to get to the bottom of whether they’re “really” women, or to argue with them over what right they have to be or do what they want, or to let yourself imagine that anything as arbitrary as anatomy is permission for you to stop being conscious and discerning about how and with whom you practice.
The answer, instead, to challenge yourself to be gracious and respectful, to honor them in whatever respects are consistent with your manners and etiquette, and to find appropriate ways of saying, “No, thank you,” in a way that is as honest about you as they are about them.