When the opening credits roll in Buck Angel’s new documentary and you see that it is an ‘I Love My Vagina Production’, you know that this is going to be a no-holds-barred look at demystifying the whole aspect of sexuality of trans men.
What the charismatic handsome hunky Angel does is fill this highly unusual ‘sex education’ movie with scenes of explicit sexual activity to ensure that we are shocked enough not to forget his message of how liberated these men became after transitioning.
In a series of in-depth interviews Angel talks to a several FtM (female to male) trans people about how they felt alienated from the bodies that they were born with and their decisions to transition into a male persona. They all had a great deal in common as they discussed the surgeries to get rid of their breasts, and how the effects of taking testosterone changed their lives in ways they never expected.
Before transitioning some of them had played the traditional female roles with their boyfriends, some of them were in relationships with lesbians, but once all the hormone treatments kicked in, they all seemed to notice that their sexual libido shot through the ceiling and they started to be much more fluid and open to all different types of people to have sex with. Most of them also followed the same route that Angel took and opted not to have ‘bottom surgery’ with the end result that have started to be proud of the vaginas that had disgusted them previously, and now they were being penetrated and actually enjoying it.
They all unanimously agreed that transitioning had changed their lives completely and for the better. Some of them are now in relationships, some have sex with other FtM guys like themselves, some like sex with men, some others like it with women. In terms of gender they all feel male. In terms of sexual orientation, they are very different – some of them are heterosexual (they like sex with women), some are gay (they like sex with other men or FtM men) and some like to experiment with men, women and FtM guys.
As an outsider, it is often hard to get beyond our preconceived ideas of gender and the labels that society insists that we all use. One of Angel’s talking heads was the comedienne Margaret Cho who perfectly articulated her take on it all. Her sexuality had been ‘straight’ and then ‘lesbian’ and then she realised that she loved men sexually, and trans men in particular. She now identifies, as being queer as that, she feels, is not limiting and it makes sense to her as ‘gay’ simply doesn’t cover who she is. And she aptly sums up the feelings she shares with many trans men by saying that she is happy with strap on’s…’a dick is a dick, whether it’s been bought or grown.’
The message that is loud and clear in Angel’s film is that the effects of injecting so much testosterone is that it makes you aware of many more possibilities and that your sexuality is never finite whatever your gender is. I am however also convinced that we would have completely grasped that concept without nearly all of the film’s subjects getting naked and playing with themselves on camera.
Above everything, Angel is a powerful advocate for making this community visible and giving them a voice, for which he needs to be applauded for.