Writing Myself into the Erotic

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.

The thing about fantasy—one of the things about fantasy—is that none of us fantasize the same way. When we close our eyes (in the dark, in the shower, alone, with our partners) and take ourselves to that inner place where we find our pleasure, none of us get to that place the same way.

There’s a beauty to that. I’ve always loved it. I’ve loved knowing that each of us has that secret place inside of us, where our imagined body is ours alone, whether it matches the physical body or not.

“You called me sweetheart,” he says. It comes out in a gasp as he sinks down, stretch and heat. He takes her into him like she belongs there, each new inch a blessing, too much and not enough. “No one ever calls me sweetheart.”

I discovered fanfiction in my seventh-grade computer class. I don’t remember the exact assignment, or how—or why, honestly—we were given so much leeway to be searching for whatever we wanted without any kind of instructor oversight, but I found myself scrolling fanfiction.net with little to no supervision.

This was back in the days when sex scenes in fanfiction were coded as lemon and lime–these days, to use Archive of Our Own comparisons, a lime would be rated M, a lemon rated E, but honestly it was always a blurry line–and I was never the kind of kid who let a “not for kids” rating stop me from clicking.

Fanfiction was my first exposure to queerness–my first glance into the world that would become my home, my community, my safe place. It was my first glimpse at the myriad possibilities of ways to love, ways to be touched, ways to have a body.

I found fanfiction while on the cusp of my body turning into something I didn’t recognize and wasn’t sure how to live in. Sometimes, I think that saved my life.

“Look at me,” she breathes, and opening your eyes feels like an impossible ask, but you do it, because she’s the one asking. She’s spread you so wide you think you could cry. Your stomach is slick where you’ve already come, and if she asks you to do it again, you will. “There you are,” she says, and kisses you until you shake in her arms. “I see you. I see you.”

The year I turned 25, I wrote 100,000 words of slash fanfiction, bought a strap-on, and taught my partner that sometimes I was a bottom and sometimes I was a woman, but I was very rarely both. I cried for a half-hour the first time I wore it and he made me come.

Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. I have a reputation, in just about every fandom space I’ve been in, for sex scenes with an undercurrent of terrible vulnerability—the ones that cup your face in your hands and whisper, in order to accept tenderness, we must first accept that we’re allowed to be broken. That hurt/comfort bittersweetness that breaks our hearts and puts them back together. Writing those scenes lets me shape the pictures I come back to, when I reach for an image to turn me on or make me come: when I’m in bed, alone or with partners, I often keep my eyes closed, and the body I imagine myself in, the body that receives touch, isn’t the one I see in the mirror but the one I hold in my head, flatter in the chest and broader in the shoulders and hard between the legs. Holding the picture of that body and letting the scenes I’ve written play out in my head turns my dysphoria into a buzz instead of a roar, and lets me experience touch and taste and pleasure in a way that makes my body sing.

Sometimes it makes me wonder if I’ve gone too far the other way—if fantasy has become dissociation, if I take myself so far into the space of an imaginary body that I’ve lost connection to my own. But sensation breaks through: the sweet smell of my partner’s hair when I kiss her neck; the press of fingers inside me, thicker than my own; the taste of silicone, the sound of skin-on-skin. My body is real, and I live inside it, and I am not less trans just because I let it bring me pleasure.

You slip two fingers inside him, where everything is slick and wet and open. His breast is soft against your other hand, and when you thumb over his nipple, he arches under your touch. “Can you come like this?” you ask, your mouth against his hip, and the muscles around your fingers flutter like a hummingbird heart.

I write a bit of myself into every scene, every kiss, every orgasm. I bring every scene off the page, into the space behind my eyelids, behind my breastbone, between my legs. I write myself the scenes I need to read—the ones that find the place between fantasy and reality and brokenness and healing, and dig in until it hurts with the kind of sweetness that makes you lean in, not away.

When I tell people that I wrote myself a sexual body, I don’t know if they believe me. But our bodies are stories as much as they’re anything else. I wrote myself love stories until I could see myself inside them, until every fluid, transient expression of my body and gender and self has space to be seen.

I see myself there, desired, embodied, touched. It sinks into me like a physical presence, and I open to it like a lover. I feel every inch of it. I drink it in deep, and it feels good all the way down.

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+!

Shelly Jay Shore

Shelly Jay Shore (she/they) is a writer and nonprofit fundraiser in New York/Colonized Lenapehoking. Her creative fiction and nonfiction celebrates diverse characters and perspectives, and her activism centers on expanding civic engagement and social justice. In her limited free time, Shelly reads a truly alarming number of books, experiments with home bartending, wrestles with her dogs, and attempts to raise a functioning human being who will only need the normal amount of therapy. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Shelly has written 6 articles for us.


  1. honestly, i’m currently on a deep deep dive back into fanfiction after having also initially discovered it around the same year as you. this is also happening with a weird sex & gender moment in my life and i have been trying to contemplate how/if fanfic has a place here and this was such a wonderful perspective, so thank you.

  2. yes. I have started to write a kinkfic that very much dips into trauma and also for me the relationship pain and wanting to suffer even to the point of it not being a sexual thing, but a proof of trust, an attempt at growing over yourself.

    I remember, being so young, before I even ever had been in love, when I started to dissociate because of dysphoria, I was laying awake and thinking about the beauty in someone being willing to bear a weight for me and me doing the same for them, the aesthetics of being someone’s one so far you want to carry them deep inside you and on your skin.
    And doing that as me.

    I hope I will ever be able to to do so..

    I’m 34 now and the first time I published something and. while I do write to me, for me, about a character I might want to observe, maybe be, maybe just see the characters I wrote interact with a beautiful world that’s also broken and vulnerable and complicated…
    it’s a great feeling when someone else feels like that’s something that gives them happiness, pleasure, knowledge or amusement, something.

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!