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CarnalNation

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Suffer in Silence: Surviving Abuse as a Trans Male

I remember it clearly—morning in the drab hotel room. A rumpled bed. Him, me, getting dressed. He had finished raping me barely fifteen minutes before.

I hadn't named it "rape" yet, or even thought to call it abuse. I'd consented to the sex, after all, up to a point. I was trying very hard to convince myself that his surprise—distinctly non-consensual omission of a condom—was nothing more than a minor detail. Pregnancy and life-threatening disease had already been dismissed by him as possibilities. "I'm clean, and you're not going to have a baby," he'd said with firm conviction. The fact that I had said "No," too, was now nothing but a triviality, which he had brushed off with equal nonchalance.

That morning I needed to believe in his twisted version of reality. To doubt him would have been to admit that the unthinkable had happened: that I had been victimized by a man I had thought I loved. So I ignored my conscience, everything I had been taught in sex ed, and everything my mother had ever tried to tell me, accepting him as my sole moral authority. All of this is part of what is called Stockholm Syndrome. 

I was pulling on my stockings when he asked me what I "normally" dressed like. He only ever saw me all tarted up or stark naked. I jumped at the opportunity to tell him just a little bit about how uncomfortable I felt in my own skin, about the sacrifices of identity I had already made for him.

"Oh, you know, tomboyish, a little punk-- What?" I stopped short as he made a face. "Tomboys can be hot," I said defensively.

"If you dress one up like a pretty girl, maybe," he leered. Staring at my legs, he added, "Tomboys don't wear fishnets."

Conversation closed.

That night, he raped me again. This time there was no "ambiguity" about it, nothing "gray area" about the twelve hours that went black, permanently lost to my memory, after I accepted a drink from him.

And it didn't stop there. For two more days it went on and on: the repeated failure to stop when I said stop, the refusal to use contraception or even let me buy a morning after pill. For a week after we parted ways I was in and out of the doctor's office with mysterious bleeding, various infections, and finally, an STD. So much for "clean."

I didn't have a baby, no thanks to him. I did finally get hold of the pill on my own. Perhaps part of the motivation for his actions can be found in what I had thought was a sick joke. Once, when I'd told him I never wanted children, he'd threatened, "Don't make me tie you down and breed you." Only maybe it wasn't a joke after all, since that is more or less what he did.

Perhaps I'm biased, but I believe that to be sexually abused is one of the more horrible experiences that a person can go through. It used to be called "a fate worse than death." For a while, I thought there might be something to that. Thankfully, I got over being suicidal, and lived to know better. No fate can be worse than death; there is no healing from death.

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Rape

Thank you for this article, for your courage, for your sharing your experiences here.  Rape by any other name or for whatever excuse is rape.  You're absolutely correct in everything you write here and you write extremely well.  My experience of men being raped by women and men is limited but I have heard such stories from these men, and I'm astounded, amazed, humbled, and honored all at once.  In my previous work as an addictions counselor, I heard too many stories from straight, gay, bisexual men who were victims to the macho stereotype of maleness.  It's sickening. 

I cannot thank you enough for this article and I hope many, many people will read it and refrain from victimizing the person, male or woman, trans or otherwise, who has been raped/molested by someone else.  It's pure sadism and needs to be confronted and acknowedlged...just as you are doing.  Keep speaking loud and often, Asher, because you're not only speaking on behalf of yourself and other trans men and women, but for this society of ours.  Change must come and it only comes by the actions of such people as yourself...speaking their truth!  Thanks again and again.


Ken in Oakland, CA

Thank you for writing this.

Thank you for writing this.

You're welcome.

You're welcome. Thank you for reading it.

The end of February will be

The end of February will be the one year anniversary of my starting hormones and just one month before that will be the one year anniversary of when I also was raped. I can't pretend to understand the transman experience, since mine was the opposite. I'd never felt right in a man's skin and sought transition for a long time. I was startled at just how poorly we've learned, as a society, to deal with sexual violence, one of those many many many things I had taken for granted as a man for so long and had to learn, those experiences women are raised to understand, accept, stay quiet about. I'm just as startled in a way to hear how the victim's gender can further exacerbate the problem. I know it, the world serves us all constant reminders if you're looking, but it just startles me every single time. Startles and sickens.

I wish you healing in the new year, and love

Courage and Commitment

Thank you seems hardly the appropriate language for such a courageous piece Asher, but here goes...
I was immediately reminded of the amount of years of sexual abuse I suffered, as female bodied, and how difficult it is to relay this abuse to anyone, (due primarily to reactions of discomfort), but I was also relieved to see out writing on the subject.
Bravo to you for being so courageous and committed to change!

Thank you.

Thank you for your story. ::hug:: You are very brave and courageous, and are true to yourself. I have trans friends who are survivors, and hearing your story reminds me of how very strong and very brave they are. Congrats on your T-versary, and have a blessed day!

I want to create that space to share and organize around it...

Asher... I am so interested in talking with you further. I am currently working on an anthology I am calling "Queering Sexual Violence". I want it to be a place where we can share our stories and call out the spaces in which our stories can't be shared... confront the anti-sexual violence movement and heterosexual norms, in hopes of creating more spaces and create progress with prevention work. I would love to send you the Call for Submissions... feel free to email me at queeringsexualviolence@gmail.com.

Thanks so much
Jennifer

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your story. I know online support isn't the same but perhaps in time you'll find support in real life or those of us who can relate to some of what you went through will be able to help.

 

Edit to add: Oddly, I refused therapy after a completely different technique put all the blame on me. And in response, I figured it out for myself, often badly, and still have nightmares sometimes at 43. I also became more feminine, an old school NYC punk and then 80's club kid (I have good genes, and I lucked out with not getting aids), realized I'm bi/pan sexual, and polyamorous (after a lot lot of casual sex).

I feel your pain

I felt that you pushed some buttons, suppressed feelings I had, so I have to answer. I also have suffered from sexual abuse, and since then found out that I like things that aren't considered vanilla in most prospects. I've somehow been worried, and cencored myself beforehand because of it, that my (possibly) BDSM sexuality would be connected to the act of abuse I faced. I feel that there is a connection, and I interpret that in your case maybe as well, but it's the other way around.

When I couldn't show my true nature, hadn't yet accepted it, I unconsiously tried to trigger the power imbalances that work for me in all my sexual encounters. I chose older, more experienced partners, who were obviously uncapable of emotional communication, and so ended up harming me. I had some gender trouble, too, trying to find the right gender and the right sexuality among the few that were on offer. I took all the bad stereotypes out of both feminine and masculine, and tried to live my life like I could in a vacuum where gender and sexuality are what I say they are. Well, people didn't treat me as I wished they would, and many men treated me more intensely (pretty rough I'd say) because I was so masculine, not contorting to the image of femininity.

The abusive relationships were a string of men through my whole life, but it all ended up in one very clear, non-gray and non-consensual rape. It was the last stop. Only that could make me figure myself out all over again. Nothing could be as scary, so after that I've slowly gathered the strenght to get to know myself, my sexual needs, my fantasies even though they are scary. Now I don't suppress them any longer, but I still feel scared of what I want. And why is that? Why would I be so scared of what I want, consensually, to do in my own relationship? Because I've been taught that as a liberated woman, I must not submit.

Now I'm trying to understand what went wrong, and speak up, so that all the next generation doesn't have to go through the same hell I did. But it's hard to get all that said if someone is accusing, or even hinting, that my sexuality is somehow warped because I was sexually abused. It's still so fragile. My words for it I mean, my sexuality is pretty clear even if it's still evolving.

Thanks for speaking out loud.

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Asher Bauer
January 8th, 2010
Asher Bauer's picture
Asher Bauer is fast becoming a fixture in the San Francisco kink community, and intends to stay that way. He has worked as a Queer Educator at LYRIC (Lavender Youth Recreation And Information...