I get asked that all the time nowadays, certainly by natal women in my circle, who seem very keen to know. And why not: it's an obvious question. My trans friends, especially my unattached post-op trans friends, also appear to regard this as a hot topic. What everyone means is this: you've been converted, and you're still healing, but you will become fully-functioning...so what are you going to do with the new equipment? In other words, are you thinking about a relationship with a man or a woman, or what? And will it be a sexual relationship?
Which immediately begs the question, am I looking? That's easy to answer. Absolutely not. I am not looking for anyone. I do not want the hassle, the heartbreak, and the disappointment. Nor the humiliation, if it's pathetically obvious that I'm yearning for a very special companion, and I get totally ignored. I simply don't want to share my life. Circumstances and temperament have made me solitary and unattached and completely independent. I want things to stay that way, to the extent of fighting tooth and nail for my continued freedom. So it's no compromise and no surrender. Any man who chooses to brush this aside, and presses his ego and bad breath on me, will get the best kick in the balls since Paul Newman demonstrated the art in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - you know, when they arrived at the Hole in the Wall, and there was a challenge to Newman's leadership. So there. Men, you are warned.
I will be much kinder to women who make an approach. But even so, I've already found that I want to back off big time if there is any hint of pressure or obsessiveness. It's instinctive and it's absolute. I don't think I'm likely to change.
Oh dear, this all makes me sound very, very unlovable. But really, what do I want with some superannuated man who chiefly wants somebody to look after him? What's in that for me? Love and companionship? Hah. I get as much from Teddy Tinkoes, and no argee-bargee with it.
And in any case there's a fundamental barrier to any liaison: M--- and I have not absolutely said goodbye. Indeed, there remains the tenuous possibility that better understanding and a radical change of viewpoint might enable us to become close friends again. I'm not betting on it, but while that slim chance exists I just couldn't start anything with someone else. It would feel like commiting a betrayal.
Nevertheless, I do present myself to the world as a woman, and must expect to be treated like one. I can't literally walk around as if I'm the only person on the planet. Women will be glancing at me, perhaps to judge my looks and to see what I'm wearing, and maybe whether I pose a threat. And men will be glancing at me too, perhaps with other thoughts at the back of their minds. Most will dismiss me in an instant, but some won't. I need a strategy for them. Civilised professional types are easy to cope with, and won't embarrass me, but what on earth do I say to a loudmouthed sweaty builder in a vest who says he can give me the best time I'll ever have? Do I pretend not to hear? Or what? Tricky. This sort of thing isn't mentioned in the Nuffield Hospital take-home notes.
Can one simply be friends, and have a purely verbal engagement in appropriate surroundings? But if it's a man talking to a woman, then it's all too likely that at some point things will slip over into tactile territory. I do realise that it's entirely normal for a certain amount of touching to occur in ordinary social situations. And if an educated, interesting, attractive, open-minded, well-travelled man of fifty-something with some experience of life's knocks gets into conversation with me in a busy city pub at the right time of day and in the right circumstances, then maybe I won't mind him idly touching my arm for an instant, or even caressing my hand if the talk takes a sentimental or emotional turn. But that's as far as I'd want it to go. And I'm not in any case going to linger, in case he gets ideas.
And I'm not going to object if a forty-something man does the same, although I'd have to give him fair warning that I'm older than he thinks - and be prepared to prove it, if I want to get rid of him.
But I don't think I could take a thirty-something man seriously, or anyone younger. It might seem flattering, but I think my advanced age is very obvious, and if he claims to find me alluring then he must either have a psychological issue, or else he's taking the mickey for the benefit of his watching pals.
Forget romance. I've no rosy illusions about being chatted up. If indeed it happens at all.
And so when might those exciting new bits of mine come into play? Well, so far as I'm concerned they are not likely to. I really don't fancy a man's unwashed dysfunctional willy making a mess in my vagina, thank you. Or any other orifice. Let him stick to polite conversation.
Still, I've noticed a strange thing with most post-op trans women that I know. They were generally attracted to women when in their former male mode, and weren't gay, and would say that after surgery they'd be seeking out women as before. But once the surgery is performed, a kind of mindset change occurs. They notice men more, and begin to find them interesting, and suddenly it isn't out of the question to have a boyfriend. Indeed that becomes a prime ambition. Maybe it's a hormonal effect - the complete loss of testosterone, the total dominance of oestragen. But evidently something has happened in the brain. Well, how do I know that the same thing won't happen to me?