River’s Ramblings: The Great Divide

I’ve been noticing an elephant in the room. Trans men in the Leather community are alternatingly accepted and rejected in our community. From Tyler McCormick’s win of IML in 2010, to the display of trans men at the Leather Archives and Museum, to the debacle over ILSb’s policy about trans men competing, I’ve been observing great prejudice and great acceptance in our community.

I’d like to share two different personal experiences with you.


River's RamblingsI was hanging around at the Eagle in Atlanta. This is always a special place for me, it’s the first Leather bar I ever Bootblacked at. I was standing out on the deck shooting shit with a group of friends. Another Leatherboy was encouraging me to offer a hot ginger Daddy cigar service. He was gorgeous and all of us were eyeing him. He was in tight jeans, chaps, harness boots, gloves… It was obvious to us that he was passing through. Working up the courage I began approaching him. “Sir, may I light your cigar?” He looked astonished and affirming that I could by nodding I reached into my vest grabbing the lighter and cutter. When I was done servicing his cigar, he began offering me the second one he had in his vest. Smiling, I accepted. We were two Leathermen. Cruising, chatting, sizing each other up. Finally he was starting to express his sex and kink interests. He is smiling as he begins asking me if I was into water sports and oral.

I’m blushing now. I’m not blushing because I’m embarrassed to enjoy these things; I’m blushing because if we’re going to have sex, he needs to know.

“Sir… I have to disclose something to you.” He is outwardly calm. “I’m transgender. I was born female. I haven’t had any surgery yet.” He blinks, replying, “No big deal. Wait here.” He begins walking off. Maybe he’s going to his truck to get condoms. I’m thinking desperately to myself. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. Finally after 30 minutes I’m taking a quick tour around the bar, and see him leaning against the dance floor wall. He is smiling at the twinks who are trying to get his attention. Oh. Oh no. Here it is. My stomach clenches. This is the special kind of rejection that comes with being transgender. The kind of rejection that occurs when someone can’t handle the thought of my nakedness, of my body being different.

It was CLAW weekend. The energy is palpable. 90% gay male energy in the space. Hook-ups everywhere. The moans, smell of leather, lube and rubber are permeating the air. I’m standing at the bar with a friend from Nashville. My classes were over for the weekend and I’m looking forward to relaxing. I see a friend I knew from the Atlanta Eagle. After chatting a bit he was offering to buy me a drink. I can’t remember exactly the conversation that was had but suddenly we were making out. I knew he was positive, so I asked him a question about viral load. He tells me all relevant information. I tell him as long as we are using a condom and he doesn’t come inside of me, then let’s have fun.

We proceed to have some awesome, fun, hot sex.

I was being accepted in this space by a hot cisgender gay man. I didn’t care that he was positive and he didn’t care that my genitals were shaped differently. He was feeling my energy and my masculinity.

So, my challenge to you, reader: what defines a man in your opinion? Does the size of the dick or the girth of the asshole really define masculinity? Are genitals that important? Or are masculinity and manhood in the head, in the heart, perhaps?

Boy River was SouthEast LeatherFest boy 2013. He has been nominated for Pantheon of Leather South East Regional Award. He has taught over 20 classes related to BDSM, mental health, fitness, boot blacking, sexuality and gender. His home dungeon is the Mark by CPI in Nashville, Tennessee. He is an associate member of the Panther Leather/Levi club and the Conductors Leather/Levi club. He is a member of the Boot Black Brigade. He is a sadomasochist, bootblack, gay man and graduate student, and a HUGE My Little Pony fan.