The Night I Learned to Be In My Trans Body

The words "hot trans summer" in pink and orange gradient.

Hot Trans Summer‘ is a series of essays documenting the complicated pleasure of being trans, curated by our trans subject editor Xoai Pham.

It was an unseasonably pleasant, breezy day for early June in Japan. I was leaning restlessly on a pillar at Narita station, second-guessing the outfit my friends had helped me pick out. Maybe the jean jacket and skinny jeans had been a critical error and the sight of denim on denim would make my classy date jump right back into her cab. My thoughts were interrupted by a lilting voice shouting, “Mollyyyyy! Hiiiiii!!!”

Heads turned to locate who had made that enraptured sound. May bounced towards me in a loud, colorful skirt and a simple white tee. The airs I`d been preparing to put on floated away in the breeze.

She was a bit shorter than me, but had a presence that made me feel small, in a good way. With deep brown eyes, and an adorable arrow shaped nose, she was uniquely beautiful and, at 41, could easily have passed for 29. Over soup, we talked about our passions, queerness in the United States and Japan, and her favorite fashion designers. May’s talkative nature made conversation effortless. She was the manager of a large banking firm, which explained the five-star hotel suite she’d booked for us and her refusal of any help with payment, but she still found time to run marathons and compose electronic music. The glamorous, erudite persona I’d created in my head based on our text conversations crumbled away to reveal a goofy, exceedingly charming woman.

Our conversation calmed, and the dregs of soup clung tight to our bowls just as anticipation clung to the air between us. She smiled and said “Shall we grab a taxi to the hotel?”

The suite was lovely, and on the 16th floor, I had never been taken so close to the sky for a hookup. As we sat together on the couch enjoying each other’s company, she complimented me on my curly hair and, without warning, ran her fingers through it. Her hand against my head sent an electric shock through my body that fried the language center of my brain. I tried to say, “Thank you! It’s natural, but sometimes my students ask me if I’ve gotten a perm.” But all that came sputtering out was “O-oh, haha… It`s, um, thank y-… you.”

The look on her face told me that she knew exactly what had happened. We locked eyes as she continued stroking my hair and a wry half-smile flitted across her face. The memory of that look still gives me goosebumps. In that moment, we both became acutely aware of just how much power she had over me, and how entirely incapable I was of hiding my reactions. She kept me on the couch for a while longer, teasing me with benign small talk and idly caressing me in a way that, in any other context, would seem completely innocent. Though we both knew that her touch was as intentional as my face was flushed. Then, she dropped our little charade. Her fingers sailed over my shoulder, up my neck, and cradled my chin. “Would you like to move to the bed?”

I managed to squeak out some sort of affirmative response, and she led me by the hand over to the big, cushy, king-sized mattress. “Lay down and relax.” I did, as she settled down next to me. “Can I kiss you?” she asked, and I eagerly let out the first “yes” of many.

Kissing her was like losing yourself in a daydream so vivid it blocks out all of your other senses. She kept one hand in my hair as she wandered, gentle as a feather, from my lips to my cheeks, my cheeks to my ears, my ears to my neck, like she was charting the landscape of my body and staking her claim. She undressed me, and her kisses grew heavier as she expanded her territory. Before going any further, she told me that she wasn’t interested in any reciprocation this time. She wanted all of the focus on me.

Being a trans lesbian, I’ve struggled with some intense hang ups around receiving pleasure. Despite past partners’ insistence to the contrary—even a millisecond of hesitation or a single misinterpreted expression would seize me with the fear that I was somehow forcing myself on them—and that anything done to me was out of some obligation or a need to be “progressive”.

There was no room for doubt with May. She was confident and sure of what she wanted. And what she wanted right then was me, just how I was.

“Turn over and open your legs.”

Her authoritative tone launched a flurry of butterflies through my stomach. Now, technically speaking, I had been fingered before. But only ever as a warm-up for something else. This, however, was the main event. As I lay face down, fists gripping cool, silky bed sheets, I thought, Oh, so this is it. This is sex.

After what could have been hours, she gave me a chance to breathe. I had fully expected it to end there, but as I pried my face off of the pillow, I saw May standing beside the bed, adjusting a strap with a playfully devious look on her face. And the next thing I knew, my legs were behind my ears.

The two of us were so totally enveloped in it that she slipped completely into Japanese, and I into English, the both of us far beyond the point of bothering with a second language. No painting or poem could encapsulate the awe of seeing her over me, biting her lip and glowing with the sweat of her hard work.

As I lay there panting, looking into those deep brown eyes, I felt present and content in my own body in a way I’d previously written off as unattainable. In my childhood, I would pray desperately to God, begging him to make me a “real person.” It was an early expression of the oil-and-water disconnect between my body and mind that I regrettably came to treat as a fact of life. My mind was the real “me”, I thought. My body was just an unfortunate byproduct of my “situation.” something pitiable that I had to live in spite of, never with.

But then, on that summer night in Narita, they were my legs tangled with hers, my chest soaking up her warmth, my lips finding her lips. Me, desired in my entirety. In taking my body for herself, it was like she had given it back to me.

The next morning, May gave me money for a ride home, an indulgent goodbye kiss, and her word that I would see her again soon. As the driver pulled away from the hotel, it was as if the butterflies in me had multiplied to fill the whole taxi. When that next time comes, I hope I can give her some butterflies of her own.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Molly Hensley

Molly has written 1 article for us.


  1. Thanks, Molly.

    Trans women’s sexuality is something we have been taught to be ashamed off. Especially us lesbians.

    Your beautiful essay reminded me so very much of my first night with my (also trans) girlfriend.

    To embrace one’s gender, particularly when you come out late as I did at 48,it’s then another plateau to top to come to terms with being gay.

    And yet, both in your essay, and my own gay experiences, I recognise the absolute joy of a sexuality so shunned, finally basking in the glorious light of shared sapphic love.

    Please… Get on with part two…

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!