Penis and Vagina; Being comfortable talking about your own body

Willy, wang, weiner, peter, pecker, love muscle, johnson, skin flute (take deep breath) one eyed wonder, dolphin, package, member, shaft, tool and schlong; All playful names for part of the male anatomy, the penis.  Forgive me but I won’t even start with all the names, some playful and some just down right disgusting, that people have come up with for the vagina – oy!

Penis and Vagina: parts of the body that, if nothing else, have interesting and creative names to describe them, yet the two words themselves can make someone blush and hem and haw with their speech.  For centuries it has never been polite or good manners to mention these two body parts, the penis and vagina, in public or even in private for that matter. The shame, discomfort, embarrassment, what ever it is, all started back at the dawn of our existence on this planet. In the book of Genesis in the Bible, at the time of Adam and Eve's original sin, God opened their eyes to their nakedness and they were ashamed.  And that has carried on, from generation to generation to this very day.

But they, the penis and vagina, are just body parts just like your nose, knee, big toe and liver.  Why should we be ashamed or at the very least uncomfortable saying those two words? It has taken a lot of work for me to over come years of discomfort to be able to say penis and vagina in an open conversation, but for me, I had to.

Being transgender and looking forward to someday having genital reconstructive surgery, I had to start getting comfortable talking to my doctor and others about certain body parts; breasts - no problem, but the anatomy found between the legs is another matter.

I’m trying to be an open person, much more open than I ever have been before.  Trying to be one willing to answer questions about all aspects of being a transgender woman, even when it comes to talking about what is done to the penis to make a new vagina.

Long before I made the final decision to transition, I started learning to be comfortable using the words penis and vagina.  It’s been nearly twenty years since I started a career as an EMT.  Back then I was a very shy kid.  I really hadn’t experienced the world yet.  In fact I really hadn’t grown up yet. It took some time for me to be comfortable, working in the medical field, to be able to ask very personal questions of my patients.  I struggled with the words, never wanting to cross someone’s personal line of comfort or even their line of modesty.  Even if I asked in the most professional manner, many of my patients themselves were uncomfortable discussing with a stranger their periods or genital injury.  (And believe me, I could make a grown man weak in the knees if I told you the injuries I saw that guys have sustained to their penis or scrotum.)

So much time has passed since then and I still struggle.  I’ve been married, seen not only the delivery of my own two children, but I have assisted in the delivery of 3 or 4 other children in my time as a paramedic and I still struggle.  As much as I can talk about the penis and vagina when discussing the anatomy in general, when it comes to my own body though, I struggle.

When chatting with close friends, you would think that I would be comfortable talking about this, but you'd be wrong.  These are friends I share everything with and I still hesitate when discussing my current anatomy.  I loathe the genitals I was born with.  Every time I look at it, talk about it, think about it – my heart sinks.  IT is a reminder that the transition is far from being completed for me.  And because of IT, I still face discrimination.  Because of IT, some men and women don’t see me as a woman, but something different, something strange and that makes them uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable to the point of women not wanting to room with me all because of the penis; the anatomy I was born with but something I have tried very hard to escape from defining me!

I still have a long way to go.  A long way when discussing my anatomy, but I am making strides – slowly.

One of the other influences that is holding me back is my upbringing.  I grew up in an era where the penis and vagina just weren’t mentioned in ‘proper’ company.  They were your ‘privates’ and they were to stay that way. I don’t remember much from the sex ed we all had to go through in elementary school. I don’t remember them mentioning the actual names for the boy parts and the girl parts.  (Maybe they did and being brought up in a conservative environment, where modesty was the rule, I just don’t remember.)  But even now, in some circles, the vagina and penis are still considered your private parts and should not be mentioned outside the privacy of the bedroom or the doctor's office and if that is the case, in no way would I ever suggest that you are in the wrong and you should be more open with your vocabulary.  To each their own and I would never judge.

But for the good or bad, things could be changing, not just for me, but for at least my little portion of the world.  In a conversation with many of the other writers here at ChicagoNow, I took an informal survey.  To my surprise the tide seems to have shifted.  Overwhelmingly, the sentiment seems to be that it is no longer taboo to use the words penis and vagina.  Many still use more of the playful names, but they have no issue saying the once forbidden words (except maybe around their parents).

By writing this post, I have tried, to the best of my ability, to break down the stigma for myself around those two words.  I would be interested in hearing your view or opinion on where your comfort level is when using the words penis and vagina.  Are you totally comfortable spitting these words out or do this words only belong in the bedroom and doctor's office?  I will insist on one rule - please respect each other and the individual opinions.  There is no wrong answer.

So with that being said  . . . Let's talk.

 

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Filed under: Transition

Tags: penis, vagina

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    Meggan Sommerville

    Meggan Sommerville is a Christian transgender woman with a heart for educating others about the transgender community and her faith in her Savior, Jesus Christ. Her career life has taken her on a variety of adventures, from being a veterinary technician in the Western burbs of Chicago to being an EMT/Paramedic, EMS instructor, and a paid on call firefighter for Bolingbrook , Illinois. Since 1998, she has been the frame shop manager for a national craft retailer. You can contact Meggan via email at Transgirlatcross@aol.com or find her on Facebook at Trans Girl at the Cross

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