Fifty Shades of Gender podcast graphic with Kai Grey

Episode 84

A conversation with Kai Grey

TRANS-MASCULINE, TRANSGENDER, QUEER (NON-BINARY)

1 hr. Recorded on 1 July 2022. 

Kai’s pronouns are he/him, and he is trans-masculine, transgender, queer, and a tad non-binary. Find out what that means to Kai in this episode.

We also talk about the importance of representation, experiencing intimacy and sex and navigating expected as well as unexpected changes being on T (testosterone), consent and re-establishing boundaries, separating masculinity and femininity from body parts, qualities, and dynamics like dominance & submission, and never being done with transitioning.

“When I have sex with someone, there are things that I’m not comfortable doing…it has nothing to do with shame; it has everything to do with how I see myself together with another person.”

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TRANSCRIPT [expand to read]

Esther: Hello and welcome. What’s your name?

Kai: So my name is Kai Grey.

Esther: Hello, Kai. So let’s talk a bit about gender. The last time we spoke was about three months ago, I believe. And you were just starting your journey with testosterone, but let’s rewind a bit. First of all, what is your experience of your gender? What’s your journey been like?

Kai: Oh, it’s been such a long journey. I think. I already knew I was trans when I was about 16, 17, but I didn’t know the words back then. So I grew up in the nineties and early two thousands. We didn’t have any of the language. In that time around, especially trans men. I knew about trans women, but didn’t really understood what it was. And there was no real representation, especially in the Netherlands. There is a lack of information around these topics. And I think trans men are one of those fewer discussed options possible, especially nonbinary trans men is something it’s recent. Something started around my 17. I had an online persona male. Which I felt was really shameful and really hurtful. It was a hurtful experience for me back then, because I lacked knowledge and language around it. And it was a big secret that secret came out. Which of course it would’ve been fine right now. But back then, I didn’t really understand why it was such a joy to be.

So the name that I used for myself was Joris, why I loved being him insTd of using my dead name and all these kind of more female representations for myself. Yeah. So it started then, and then. It’s continued my exploration and gender continued via YouTube videos. I found a lot of trans guys on YouTube when I was a little bit older and I showed my ex-partner and said like, “Hey, these are trans men!” and I was really excited. I didn’t understand why I was so excited. But it felt like finally I found people that looked and sounded and kind of acted like me, which might sound really strange to people, but for me, it was really important to see people that looked like me. Yeah, a little bit more like gay trans men felt more at home than stereotypical cis men. If that makes sense.

Esther: Yeah. Yeah, it does really. Because, well, I was just thinking about how long we’ve known each other. Not very long. I don’t even know how we met, but like we’ve been on each other’s radar on Facebook, mostly for, for a while. And then I remember your, your coming out and, you know, your name change and all that stuff. So what made you come out when you did what led up to that?

Kai: Ooh, that’s such a good question. I have already had a lot of conversations around gender for about a year or so prior to me telling the world like, Hey, these are, is my new name. This is my name, my pronouns. This is kind of my “labels” that I am comfortable using for myself. But I already had conversations around this for a year, and I remember people asking me about it while I didn’t really understood myself, what my gender was. So people had a couple of statements, like, “oh, I love that you talk about being nonbinary,” which is not really a label that I use for myself. Or, yeah, you’re one of the guys. That’s why you’re so comfortable around cis men and why you love to be friends with men insTd of dating them. So these were the conversations I had and there was also a woman I dated for like a really brief time. And she said to me, you’re the most masculine person that I ever dated. And I was like, Ooh, I like that. And she didn’t like it because she identifies as a lesbian. So she didn’t really see herself with me because I am too masculine for her, which is interesting.

Esther: It is. Yeah. So, I mean, the labels you were using when you came out, you, you, you gave me labels, trans masculine, but you also talk about being a trans guy, you know, all that stuff. Trans queer. And then you said you were a tad nonbinary. Do you, do you feel like maybe you, you moved into the nonbinary space on your journey to being trans-masculine or trans guy? I mean, how does that, how did those labels fit together for you?

Kai: Yeah. Beautiful. So I think. For me, it’s the same. When I came out as bisexual, when I was 14. It kind of felt like an in between label, safe label to use.

So you could dabble into the heteronormative world, but you can also dabble like in the queer space. And I think nonbinary is that space for me as well. It’s like bridge between, literally transition from female to male for me personally. So this is not, I’m not speaking for everybody, but for me it felt like a safe space to play with gender, gender, more so than making a statement around it. And I feel still like a dash of salt of nonbinary-ism is there because I never would ever see myself as cis man because I’m not, I’m a trans guy. I’m a trans man. So I would ever wouldn’t ever be comfortable with using this labels. And also your question around what made me come out is I felt safe enough.

I felt that I had enough language. I understood myself better. And then I could verbalize it to other people like, Hey, this is how I want you to approach me. Yeah. Comfortable enough to be myself. I think.

Esther: Awesome. Yeah. So. About three months ago, as I mentioned earlier, you were about to start your journey with testosterone. And how has that influenced, I mean, your journey, what’s it been like being on T and you’ve, you’ve shared a little bit about it on Facebook as I’ve read. Yeah. So where are you at with that now?

Kai: Oh, that’s I love talking about T. It is, I think it’s my favorite topic because, let’s see. So what’s the journey been like? It’s been really a calming process, really reaffirming of my gender. And it’s almost, if you take hormones. So I don’t wanna say that it makes you really a trans guy. If you take hormones, let’s just take that out of the equation because it’s not, but for me personally, it was a good choice. I wanted to reaffirm for myself and reestablish my gender and it feels like someone switched on the lights for me, literally someone flicked that switch and was like, oh yeah, motherfucker. You’re on T! This is amazing. I love this. And especially sexually wise, I feel this is how I should experience sex for myself. And I wish I started way sooner with taking testosterone. So it makes me really calm, makes me really calm in my own personality. There’s no highs and lows and almost a hyper state sometimes. That unsureness that I felt before is gone. Also, I feel that so, I have a lot of anxiety that is my daily life, which is like the way I am, but I feel that that’s almost to a simmer now that I’m taking testosterone. And I love, so I wish my voice was way deeper, but it’s like, it’s already getting there. So that’s, that was my number one thing is voice dysphoria. I love that in the future, it will be way lower. So that expectation for me is there and I love thinking about that, like, oh yeah, your voice will drop will be amazing. Because then it matches how I see myself. Yeah. And I think also in the face changes is it’s really astonishing, what can happen in three months and your muscles and hairy arms. And I, I love all things also bottom growth. I love all aspects of T!

Esther: Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. There was one thing I wanted to sort of touch on when you said you came out as bisexual at, at 14. Yeah. And you said that was kind of a journey in a similar way to the nonbinary thing. So do you, do you feel like you, that was a step on the way of being. Are you just attracted to women? Is that what you you’re saying? Is that, is that where you’re at or is that where you ended up?

Kai: Oh, I love, this is a good question because I have no idea. My preference has always been women. Sexually… dating.. In a romantic way as well, but I find using… So, because I see myself as a trans guy, I would say that I’m all my friends say you’re so straight. You’re such a straight dude. Every time a beautiful woman passes by, I’m like, oh, I cannot think anymore. I cannot function. But I would be so uncomfortable using a straight label for myself because I find it so limiting for me. So I would say that I’m queer or sexually fluid because if I see a cis bisexual dude, I have the same response because of the femininity. Usually it’s not an assumption, so not all bisexual guys are really feminine, but if they’re feminine, I’m like “Oh! So cute!” Just that person. So I think more sexually fluid queer than bisexual or straight.

Esther: Yeah. Interesting. So you, you, from what it sounds like, maybe you’re attracted to like feminine qualities and stuff. I mean, what does feminine even mean? Right. So, yes, it’s a, it’s a big subject, so yeah. Yeah. Do you feel your, your attractions have changed since being on T? Has something changed there or evolved?

Kai: Mm. That is a really good question. I think when I think, think about having sex with guys… So let’s just say cis guys, because trans guys is a different kind of thing for me. Of course. They’re we’re all men, but yeah, for me, it’s a different level. Yeah. I would say. If I now have to touch a cis guy sexually, I’m like, oh, hello, like I’m. Oh, I wouldn’t think about… And that is just an acceptance for myself now that I have T. But I would love to kiss everybody. Like kissing is amazing, so I wouldn’t limit myself, but when I, when it comes to taking off clothes of someone else, let it just be a woman. Yeah.

Esther: Yeah. Amazing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And how, how are you experiencing like physical intimacy and sex that you’re on T? So has that changed for you?

Kai: That has changed so much. I’ve always been this horny motherfucker. I love having sex with everybody. I just love it so much. But that was pre-T, it was more a concept in my mind. And I had to build up to the desire way more, like telling myself stories about that person in my mind, fantasies really build up the fantasy with that person, prior to being intimate with someone. Now it’s just, when I get aroused physically, I’m aroused mentally as well. I’m just ready to take on whatever opportunity comes my way. And it feels like it feels like a nuclear bomb going off. This is a quote from, I think her name is Mercury. It’s a trans woman and she says, And it’s right. It’s like a bomb going off. And you’re just, I told the person that I’m dating we’re in an open nonconformist thing that we have. The person that I’m dating, I said to her, I turn into a stereotypical guy when I’m horny. I cannot think I cannot function. I cannot speak and I love it. I love for myself to be so dumb that I can only have sex with someone. And I said to someone recently, one of my friends, I said, if there will be an apocalypse, I would repopulate the world with my horniness. Whether I have sperm or not, I am capable. Just ready to…

Esther: I love it. Yeah. Yeah. I was just thinking about what you said about your, the fantasies you maybe felt like you needed to use before you were on T. Was that to do with like the whole scenario or the other person, or maybe how you felt in yourself and in with your gender? Was it to do with that more?

Kai: Oh yes. Yeah. It’s definitely a gender thing. So I had a phase in my life where I presented quite feminine. Really uncomfortable with that label, but I felt I needed to belong within a heteronormative dynamic. So my ex-partner cis male… I felt I needed to be that person for him. Feminine. In the bedroom, a bottom, just doing that experience with him because I love intimacy. I loved intimacy with my ex-partner, but sex was always a thing that I had to set the stage for myself. Like I had to be ready and prepared, which is an aspect of femininity that I didn’t like for myself. So others could be really enjoying that part. I can’t like, I couldn’t really enjoy it. It was more of, okay. We have to get this done. I love to be intimate with you, but just have to be prepared for that and have to be feminine. And really, I don’t know. It wasn’t way more. This is gonna sound weird. So if my ex partners, multiple, all will listen to this, it’s gonna sound like I’m rejecting them, but it’s not it for me, it felt like I needed to act feminine in the bedroom and in that, in those relationships. Mm. Yeah. Interesting.

Esther: Yeah, that makes sense. It’s like, I guess playing a role almost that that’s not really, you, but thinking that is how it’s supposed to be. This is how I’m supposed to be. Yeah.

Interesting. Wow. Yeah. So when it comes to. Experiencing intimacy and sex. Do you have any more, you’d like to share about your experience on T in that?

Kai: Yes. Let’s talk about penises. Can we?

Esther: Let’s talk about penises? Why not?

Kai: I love it. Yeah. It’s a, it’s a really good topic for me. So when we spoke, I think I mentioned like, no, I don’t have any bottom dysphoria. I’m fine. Like having a vagina is fine, which I still believe is true for me. I don’t wanna change anything in that aspect. But starting T made me realize how much bottom dysphoria I actually have. Which is, I think I always had it, but never really realized the dysphoria was there. And that has been simultaneously a really beautiful experience, a really coming home experience for me. Because dysphoria for me is also an affirmation of my gender.

Esther: How interesting. Wow.

Kai: It’s like, oh yeah, you’re really trans that’s really there. Like you have this, dysphoria, how horrible it actually is, but still it’s an affirmation like, oh yeah, I feel this, but also, so it’s a beautiful experience, but also hard experience to come to terms with like, so let me describe it this way for people who are listening. When I have sex with the person that I’m dating right now, there are moments that are so intimate between her and me, (she uses she/her pronouns) and when I have sex with her, there are times when I want to penetrate her with my own body. So a penis, which I don’t have. So that has been a really painful, but also beautiful experience coming to terms with, it’s like a phantom penis. You think you have it at the moment, but you don’t, you realize like it’s not there. Like, there is a part of me missing, which has been really interesting. And she she’s okay with me talking about this. So I just wanted to put it out there. She’s fine. Because she says like the more representation around trans topics, the better, and she has in the bedroom when we have sex with each other, she can make me feel really masculine. The way she touches me, the way she affirms my gender, the way she speaks to me, especially when we have sex. The way that she touches me is really, really she’s feminine. I’m masculine, which is super amazing. So having these really intimate moments with her, especially when I have bottom dysphoria during sex. It’s been such an eyeopening experience for me. Really intimate, really eyeopening.

Esther: Wow. Yeah. That sounds amazing. Cuz you mentioned bottom growth, which is something that happens if you, if you take testosterone. Right? So how, how is that feeling? How are those changes? How are you experiencing those changes for yourself?

Kai: Oh, that’s that’s a cool question. It feels like, so especially when I have sex with her I notice it. Like, oh yeah, stuff is growing down there. So I’m yeah. I’m growing a small penis, which is really fascinating. And prior to T, I thought. I’m not sure if I want it. I had a little bit of anxiety around little bit of insecurities, like, oh, what if it will look weird?

Which it’s not. Like it grows so slowly. It’s just a part of your body that’s growing. Just like you’re growing your hair out or something. Yeah, but you’re growing a penis, which is funny I think and every week it feels like I have a new body part. So every week we have to reestablish when we have sex, how she should touch me for me to orgasm. Which is super cool to do. Like, it is really fun. And every week it’s different. Like, oh, now you need to do this? Okay. Well, fine.

Esther: That is so fascinating. I think it just highlights how important it is to have these conversations with each other. Cuz there’s, I think too many assumptions going on. Yes. And there’s things we don’t talk about with our partners that we really should be talking about.

Kai: Yes. Regardless of gender or sexuality.

Esther: Yes, totally. Yeah. Even in cis-het dynamics, you know? Absolutely. There’s, you know, there’s assumptions like women’s women’s (laughs) women enjoy this. Women should be doing this. They should be experiencing this. They should be feeling this the same with men actually, you know, men should be, you know, this way and they’re allowed to be this. And not that there’s so much going on in there. That definitely needs to be challenged, I think. Yeah. Yep. Absolutely. Yeah.

So how do you foresee things going forward? Do you have more thoughts on like, I mean, what was, what was expected and what was unexpected? I guess we’ve talked a little bit about that already, but do you have any more thoughts about expected versus unexpected changes since you’ve been on T?

Kai: Yeah. So when it comes to my wishes, the only thing taking T for me was my voice. So I really wanted my voice to drop be way more like I see myself and also how I think I sound versus how I really sound. I wish that would have dropped more, but one of my friends said to me recently, and I thank her for it.

She said, “but you have voice dysphoria. You don’t even hear the changes in your own voice at the moment.” She constantly says to me, “your voice is dropping. Please do send me voice memos because your voice is so sexy. My friends are getting off on my trans experience. Which is funny, which I allow them to. And. I think unexpected is how much my face is changing. I didn’t realize how different I would look. And there’s also some fears attached to that. I think, which is I haven’t heard this before, but it’s so I come from a really strange family. A weird family. And I don’t wanna look like any of my family members, especially the feminine side. So I thought about this today.

Like, okay. I’m okay with looking like the male side of my family. Even though my family is a little bit like, they’re weird. Like, I don’t wanna be remembered of my weird family, but if I look too much like the feminine side of my family, I’m like, that’s too feminine. I don’t wanna be reminded that I had a period in my life where I looked more feminine and also going forward.

I, one of my gender specialists that I talked with, she said to me, in a couple of years, you will be so masculine. You will look so masculine. And at that moment I thought. Well, we will see, I prefer more the androgynous side. I prefer people to question my gender a little bit more. But on T I realized how masculine I actually desire to look, which changed for me a little bit.

So she said to me in a couple of years you will be so masculine. I’m like, and now I’m ready for, for that to happen. I’m like, yeah, just make it happen now instead of waiting a year. So the patience thing is really hard when you are medically transitioning, because it just takes a lot of time. And I thought I would be like, there’s no “ready” in transitioning. So there’s no end game, I think for me. But I thought I would be there like in a half year or so, like, oh yeah, let’s see. In a half year. And this is what my ex-partner constantly asks of me. “When do you think you’re done transitioning?” I think I will never be completely done, and kind of next steps are questions for me. What I really want is to chop everything off, like chop my boobs off would be a really good thing for me. And then I have been doing like some thoughts and reading and listening to podcasts and interviews around all the options with bottom growth. What else can you do? Yeah. And I’m sure that I don’t want phalloplasty. So I don’t want to create a penis out of another body part. That is something I’m sure of because the operations are so extreme still and further, I’m thinking of like playing with packers for now. See how that feels. So packer is like a, a penis that you buy, attach it to yourself. And that’s how I explain it.

Esther: Stick it in your pants, basically.

Kai: Stick it in your pants and see how it feels like. That would be a fun experiment. I’m excited for that one.

Esther: Nice. Yeah. I like that. In your, in your sort of journey of discovery and learning about the subject of, being trans and trans masculine and all that. What was it that you felt you really wished was easier to access? What is information that you struggle to find that you’ve learned that you, I don’t know, wished was easier to, to find?

Kai: Oh, I think this is a beautiful question on a statement in and of itself. When I was 17, I wished a lot of people would tell me back then, it is okay to play with gender. It is fine if you are not sure. It is fine if you wanna, one day you wanna be wanna represent as a guy, the other day, you wanna represent female or androgynous or you wanna play with expression. That is totally fine. I wish I would’ve known when I was 17 also, literally the name of your podcast, 50 shades of Gender. I wish I would’ve known that there’s so much variety and playfulness within not only sexuality-wise because that is totally different topic, but also gender-wise, I wish I would’ve known that it’s literally okay. Like it’s always better to be playful than to suffer.

Esther: Put that on a t-shirt right? Wow. Put that on a t-shirt. Absolutely.

Kai: Yeah. True. And still I am really, I still have a lot of fear around what would other people say? So it is the outside world that is… this is a myth around transitioning, medically transitioning, I think that the taking medications and doing alterations through your body makes you suffer. No, it is actually for me it’s how other people perceive me or my fears around perceptions of others, which is really hard. Someone yesterday that I haven’t seen for a long time on one of the side gigs that I’m doing, I met that person and she recognized me from before and she blurted out in a room full of people. She blurted out my dead name. Which was really hard for me. It was like, I was like, motherfucker! And I said, no, it’s Kai. Yeah, I really had to, so it is, I have to deal with discomfort of others all the time. And that is the hard part. Yeah.

Esther: Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. I mean, how have your, you you’ve got kids haven’t you? How, how have they been with your, with your transitioning and your process?

Kai: Oh, that’s that’s a funny question. So my kids both have gender neutral names. I’ve chosen that on purpose because I said then and I didn’t realize why I said it. I said, I wish I wish for them, for my kids, that they have a choice when they’re older. I didn’t realize why, because my dead name is really feminine. And I always hated my dead name. I always, it was, it’s so horrible for me when someone mentions it. So I said like, let’s have them gender neutral names. I let them play with gender. And I ask them from time to time, especially like when we have some free time, like, Hey, what do you feel like today? Do you feel like a girl or a boy or in between, or we play with that concept a little bit for them.

Esther: I love that.

Kai: Usually they play, they like, oh yeah, I feel like a girl. Or feel like a boy or whatever in between a little bit more in between. Usually they say, and then it’s always, when we talk about these things, It’s always pretty quickly around. Can I have a snack now? Can I have something to eat?

Esther: yeah, I’m done talking about it. Feed me. Yes.

Kai: Yes. They’re really bored with a topic, but they’re trying on labels for me. So do they call me mom? Do they call me dad? Do they call me something else? Parent? And I notice, especially my oldest son. He makes statements to other people and saying like, yeah, but my mom wishes now to be a dad. So I’m calling him a dad and he’s really firm around it. Firming and establishing boundaries. Yeah. Yeah. Which is really cool.

Esther: That’s so cool. Yeah. Cuz if you think about it, obviously as both being Dutch, right. And I mean, I’ve lived in the UK now for almost 23 years. Wow, but like in, from what I remember, I mean, the Netherlands is very, they’re very open. They’re very, I don’t even know what word to choose, but things always felt like you can talk about sexuality. You know, all the things it’s very open. It’s very accepting in a way, but also like when it comes to gender, since I’ve moved to the UK and met loads of people here, It’s like, it’s really opened my eyes. And I don’t remember, obviously I haven’t been in the Netherlands for, for a long time, so obviously I wouldn’t have seen that anyway, I guess, but I don’t know if it’s the same in the Netherlands. Like if it’s as accessible, I mean, from your journey, what you’ve been through, it doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of information out there or…

Kai: No, not at all. So, I live in a really small province, and the conversations are really awkward here to have. So with the school of where my kids go this week, someone approached me and approached me as if this is a secret. I’m an openly trans guy. I mentioned to everybody that I’m transgender and what my pronouns are, and I’m really open minded, but they approached it still as a form of gossip, or a secret or something, that is shameful or weird. Even my ex-partner is, he says he’s open minded, but when I really listen to him and his parents, they’re not as open minded as they wish they are, which is normal for the dilemma. So we, we think we’re really an open minded country and really liberal, but we’re actually not when it comes to gender issues, we’re small, not open.

Esther: Yeah. Liberal. That’s a good word. Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cuz I remember when, when I was growing up, it was. You know, people yeah. Were lesbian, gay, bi, it was all fine. You know, it’s all part of the part of life and it’s all good. And yeah. But when it comes to gender, all of a sudden it’s like, whoa, what is, what is this thing?

You know?

Kai: True.

Esther: Yeah. It seems very different. Like seems to be a bigger gap almost between the sexuality side and like the concept of gender and wrapping your head around that. Yeah. Which I found really…

Kai: Yeah. But I think it ties back to representation. I’m now in a funny, can I share this because it’s a really funny story.

Esther: Absolutely.

Kai: Yeah. So I’m in a funny stage in my transition. So people cannot read me anymore, but which way I’m going, which is super fun for me.

Esther: Yeah. That makes sense. Like, if, if you’re maybe presenting in a more androgynous way, people don’t know, like, whether you are transitioning to, you know, male or female in a way, although those terms are not used by everyone, but yeah.

Kai: Yeah. Yeah. So one of my colleagues for the freelance jobs that I’m doing she approached me and she said, “yeah, I heard something. I don’t know if I can ask you questions around it.” And I was like, okay, here’s the big secret, the big reveal around, what did you hear? And then she said to me, “yeah, I heard something.” And I said, yeah, I’m trans, I’m trans transgender. And she said, “yeah, so you are transitioning to female, right?” And I laughed really hard. And I said, thank you for saying that, because that is so reaffirming to me. And she didn’t understand that she read me as male transitioning to female, which is super funny for trans guys. This is one of the ultimate experience, I think like, oh yeah, you think I’m cis, this is great. So indeed they’re they only think male to female trans people exist. They don’t think that female to male trans people exist. They don’t. They don’t realize that that’s a possibility as well, which is interesting.

Esther: Yeah, isn’t it? Yeah. Yeah. Cause a lot of the media is very focused on especially trans women and unfortunately they’re getting a lot of grief from all sorts of sides, but yeah, that seems to be when people think of a trans person, they think of a trans woman, mostly I, from what I’ve, you know, observed, so yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, the labels transmasculine, and then trans guy or trans man, how did they fit for, do you feel like both those labels fit you? Cuz I know you’ve, you’ve mentioned being a trans guy and in the, the labels you’ve given me, you’ve given me transgender and transmasculine. So I just wondered how, you know, how that, how that fits together for you and what trans masculine means and what being a trans guy means and are they different? How are they different?

Kai: Oh, I love that. Yeah. That’s a good question around labels. So for me, when I wanted to come out as trans, I was looking deliberately around the right labels to fit. And then I heard someone referring to themselves as trans-masculine nonbinary and I was like, yeah, I’m trans-masculine. Of course, obviously, and also masculinity in and of itself is a really interesting concept because we assume what masculinity is while trans guys trans men like me, who also have a trans masculine expression can shine a different light on masculinity, what it actually means to be a masculine person, regardless of gender.

So gender expression, gender, I don’t wanna intertwine these two things. So we can show that masculinity has nothing to do with aggression, for example. That is one of the first things that people think when you go on T, you get really aggressive. I’m really male and dominant…

Esther: Yeah, like alpha male, right.

Kai: That kinda thing alpha. And I, I know from a lot of people that always called me intimidating dominant, which is true. But there comes a calmness with my dominance and there there’s also a real calmness to my essence, but also my masculinity.

I was, again, this is a really funny story. I was at a friend’s house and I brought her flowers. So I’ve been a florist for three years. I was a florist for three years prior to designing gardens and I brought her flowers. And she wanted to finick around with the bouquet. And I said, “no, you sit down. I will arrange these flowers for you.” I grabbed the vase, never was in her house. I grabbed the vase, arranged the flowers for her, cut all the flowers. And she said, “you are so masculine, but you’re so calm. You just take over this space that is my house, arranging flowers for me while I sit down with a cup of tea.” That is masculinity to me.

So yeah. So that’s why masculinity fits to me. Trans-masculine. I would never call myself just a man or a guy because I find the label label trans so important for me. I find it really important that people know and understand that I am trans. That it’s not a transition from/to, but it is part of my identity. I am assigned female at birth and I will always be, so that is also a part of who I am. And then also trans guy, if I say trans man, that feels too finished for me.

Esther: Interesting. Yeah. Makes sense.

Kai: A final stage. Yeah. Yeah. Which I think I will never reach. Because going on T also helped me embrace a feminine part of myself. So if I would think I’m a man, I would automatically think of a straight, cis man, which I would never wanna be ever. No.

Esther: Yeah. Yeah. Amazing. So do you feel like then yeah, what masculinity means has been a real discovery and also you’ve redefined what femininity means to you?

Kai: True. Yeah. There is a soft and really caring side to myself that has always been there. I love like cooking for people and I love those are aspects that we tie easily to femininity. That is a social construct, of course. But there is a empathic softer side to me and I would assign these to female characteristics. I am quite like domesticated, and I love my house and all these, I love flowers and all these things. So you could say that those are feminine aspects and they fit beautifully in my masculinity, I would say.

Esther: Yeah, I love that. It is interesting. Isn’t it? All the qualities we assign. Masculine and feminine to, whereas in the end, they’re just qualities that we all have.

Kai: Yes.

Esther: To, to some degree, some people are more nourishing or nurturing or caring, and other people are more, I don’t know, proactive, and I don’t know what you wanna call it, but it’s, it’s interesting to me that we assign those masculine and those feminine, you know, they’re just qualities.

Kai: I’m just a human with all these traits and I’ve always been, so I’ve always been a really, when I meet people for the first time, I say, “Don’t be taken back because I can, I’m really fiery, but also really calm at the same time.” I have this duality in my characteristics anyway, if they’re masculine or feminine. And it is interesting to play with these labels attached to it and what they mean for me and for others. Yeah.

Esther: Mm. Yeah. I love that. Is there anything you’d like to add that we haven’t talked about? Feel free to check your notes.

Kai: Have we talked enough about sex? That’s always the question. (laughs)

Esther: No, never. We’ve never talked enough about sex.

Let’s talk more about sex.

Kai: No, please.

Esther: (laughs) I enjoy talking about sex, actually. It’s really funny cuz a lot of people, I think, especially I think the Netherlands is a lot more open when it comes to that subject and talking about sex and stuff. Whereas here people are a bit more reserved to say the least. So although it is obviously a subject that most people would talk about with, you know, people they’re close to or intimate with. But not even, not even enough in that way to be fair anyway. That aside, what do you wanna add about sex?

Kai: (laughs) Let’s talk about some bad sexual experiences in my transness. I think that is a good, that would be a good subject. So, when I came to kind of a terms with my gender. So that has been already for like a year and a half in the making, or so I would say. Didn’t know the words for it, but I knew I don’t merge with my assigned female gender at birth. I just don’t have anything to do with that. So, last year I dated a lot of women, a lot, a lot, a lot, especially straight women, which is really interesting. And fun for me to chase of straight women is really, it’s something fun for me. Straight bisexual women, women that are questioning…

And I remember a certain experience, which is sexually really interesting, but also a little bit weird. I was going out with a girl to a club and we had a lot of fun. Some incidents happened on the dance floor, which was really fun for her and for me, but we were removed from a dance floor because I was a little bit too sexual. Really enjoyed it if you know what I mean? So, and then we went back to my hotel room and we made an attempt to take, I wanted to take off her clothes and all these things. I was laying on top of her and I was wearing a belt. And then she said something to me, which was so horrible. She said, at least now you have something in your pants. And it was really, really weird. Like it feel, oh, at least it feels like you have something in your pants or, or something. And it was so shocking to me that she said that. It was so rude that she referred to my absence of having a penis in that way. And I, I was also a little bit drunk and I showed her the door really rudely. I said, now you have to go, you have to leave. I’m gonna you just have to go home. I don’t wanna have you in my room. And I got really angry and yeah. So that was a really weird experience for me. So things not to say to a, to a trans person is. Don’t point out the absence of somebody. It was really, it was a hurtful comment of someone.

Esther: Yeah, I find it interesting how I think we project a lot of stuff on, you know, we, we can there’s I think there’s a bit of a disconnect. Like maybe the way we see people, like someone might see you as very masculine.

Kai: True.

Esther: But then, because we associate masculine with male with man with penis with, you know, with all those things are like really interlinked. Then, like we project that onto the other person and therefore, if something is not ticking all those boxes, then ” it’s missing,” you know? Yeah. It’s, it’s really interesting when you think about it.

Kai: It is. Well, what I realizing these kind of experiences is why can’t we approach it as an holistic event. So why does it have to be a certain way because you assume indeed, my masculinity also requires me to have a penis? Which, if you ask the girls that I’m sleeping with right now, they’re not missing anything. (laughs) I think they’re happy that I cannot impregnate them. It’s a benefit. So there was something else I was thinking about. Yes, so the assumption also in regards to boundaries, when I have sex with someone, there are things that I’m not comfortable doing. Like a lot of people have, but they don’t always have to mention it. I have to reestablish my boundaries, especially sexually, so I don’t feel comfortable right now taking off a binder and my t-shirt, for example, because I wanna see myself as the most sexual version possible, which is really masculine and also dominant in the bedroom. And there was a girl that I slept with last year, a couple of times. And she constantly tried to overstep that boundary with me saying like, “oh, just take your clothes off. You don’t have to be ashamed. And it’s all fine.” And then I constantly had to reaffirm, it has nothing to do with shame has everything to do with how I see myself together with another person. Yeah.

Esther: Yeah. All boundaries are such a, such a big thing. And that I’ve realized for myself, this is something I never learned to do or set boundaries. So this is something I’m learning now or have been learning, you know, and that I think is an ongoing journey as well. And I think it’s so important though, to reestablish your boundaries. And I mean, I assume if, if you’re happy to talk about it and ask me asking you questions about it.

Kai: Absolutely.

Esther: So those, those are the way you feel in yourself in a sexual setting. I mean, there might be things that you are like, okay, I will do these things, but not those. And there might be things that you feel like I don’t want those done to me. I don’t wanna be touched here. I don’t wanna be touched in that way. This is okay. But that is not. And I feel like we could all benefit from asking ourselves those questions. Which we don’t do enough, you know?

Kai: No. Especially in relation to others. So I don’t wanna be penetrated at all. That would remind me of having sex with cis guys. And at the moment, I don’t want to be reminded of those experiences. Which, in and of itself was about intimacy has nothing to do with horrible experiences in that way. I just wanna put that out there. Because though at the moment, those were lovely experiences, but right now I don’t wanna be penetrated. I also think you have to set those boundaries up front before you start having sex. So, the girl that I’m dating. She says it has been eye opening for her constantly talking about consent. Whether it’s for her pleasure or mine before we had anything, we talked about consent all the time. Like, Hey, what can you say? What can you do? Also prior to having sex. She says, it’s the most horny experiences for her. Talking about consent before doing anything. Which I’ve never learned that myself. So when you said I’ve never learned this, I never learned this because I assumed it’s about cis male’s pleasure. Not about my pleasure. And now I feel so for me, it’s super horny when the other person gets off. I’m like, oh yes. Just, just come because it’s so nice for me. When we make that event happen, but the last part of sex is me coming, because remember I’m on testosterone. So when I orgasm I’m done, I just wanna go to sleep. (both laugh)

But also we have to be, so the people that I’m now sleeping with are cis women. And the event of sex itself is long. It’s really long it’s… I think most sessions are like six to eight hours of me fucking the other person. Then after the event, I’m just exhausted.

I’m now sleeping with someone and she likes it really, really rough. And I say to her constantly, so I sometimes use a strap on, but I find my hands way nicer. It’s cause I feel the other person. She wants to be penetrated until my hands just hurt and are broken. (laughs) That is her kind of stage of event. So if she would do that to me, I would feel so uncomfortable. Because I would be more submissive and Ugh. I just don’t see myself that way sexually.

Esther: Yeah. That’s another interesting connection. Isn’t it? Like the submissive side being more linked to, like, you know, the, the feminine or the woman or something like that. And the more dominant side being more linked to, to ma… I mean, I think that is a general assumption, whereas I think in the BDSM and kink communities, that assumption is not there. You know what I mean? This is just something that you can embody. Kind of like the, the, the, you know, dick energy, big dick energy, spirit dick energy. Do you know what I mean?

Kai: Yes.

Esther: Cause I’ve, I’ve had a conversation with Sophia in episode six, I believe, who talked about having a light cock, like an energy cock. Embodying that organ in a way, and playing with that energy, you know?

Kai: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I love that. When I learned recently to visualize me having a cock, everything changed for me. That is a life-changing… But it’s an energy you can play with. So I just wanna put out there that I feel… So she’s a power femme. She’s really powerful. The girl that I’m dating. She’s powerful. And I say to her, “When you wear a black short dress, you have all control over me. Like sexually you are in charge!” Because she can do anything to me when you wear certain type of clothes or, and she plays with that as well. That was, she says she’s not comfortable being the dominant one. She means not taking charge, which has nothing to do with being dominant or submissive at all.

Esther: Hmm. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. It’s such a fluid can be such a fluid thing, can’t it?

Kai: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And I know she has power, so, and I know she’s quite switchy. She wouldn’t admit it, but she’s really switchy. At a certain point when we have sex, she takes full charge of me. And she says, now you’re going to lay down and I’m just gonna do things to you that make you come. And I’m like, oh, okay. Yes, miss!

(both laugh) Yeah. It’s really nice. I love that. Love playfulness.

Esther: Yeah, totally. Yeah. So yeah, whatever gender you are, you know, playing with that fluidity of maybe dominance and submission. I wanna talk a bit more about the difference there, cuz that I feel like there’s more, there.

Kai: There is.

Esther: So how do you see the difference between like being dominant or being submissive? And obviously you can play with that dynamic in like a switch, you know, way. Yeah, but embodying that or acting that out in a way, how is that different for you? Does that make sense?

Kai: This is such a good question because the assumption is always that I am the dominant one, but everybody has their different version of what that means for me to be the dominant one. Well, I maybe have the right truth around this, not other people. So for me, I always initiate whether it’s sexually or another, every event in my life, I’m an initiator in and of itself. Does that make me dominant? I’m not sure. I think so. So I start sexual events. I always start them when I see someone that I wanna sleep with, it’s gonna happen because I’m making it happen. And that’s also how I started dating this girl. It was a long time of me seducing her in between my sheets, it took me some time and effort. So the initiation in and of itself could be seen as dominant. It could also be seen as, again, one of those characteristics that I have anyway. She reaffirms me constantly. She doesn’t wanna take initiative. She doesn’t want to start any kinds of events. She wants to be let. So whether it’s making dinner reservations or going somewhere or an activity or canceling, or I don’t know, choosing which movie to watch. She wants to wants me to choose, which I will do naturally anyway. So is that dominance? I’m not sure. It’s just my version of how I am as a person. I like to be in control. I like to take all decisions. I like to lead someone, whether it’s on a walk or sexually, it doesn’t really matter. I am a natural leader anyway, so…

Esther: Yeah, so it’s part of the dynamic you are in, and that, I guess that dynamic could change or be fluid depending on who you’re with. Because if you’re with someone who’s maybe a bit more “dominant,” you might find yourself a bit more switchy. It would be maybe a different, you know, you would maybe change that up more. I don’t know, you know, cause it could…

Kai: But I think I would hate that experience of being someone that’s dominant with me sexually. I would have a hard time, but it’s also a good invitation to try that out.

Esther: Yeah, it’s interesting, cuz you might find yourself naturally not attracted to people like that because that’s just not your thing. You know, but if obviously some things you might only discover as you’re dating people and having experiences with them, you know?

Kai: Yep. I was on a date with a very dominant, masculine person. And that’s how I kind of discovered that I don’t like to date these kind of, because it reminded me of some guys that I dated, while in general, I always dated very passive guys. Quite feminine, passive, but feminine and passive is not related to each other. That’s not what I’m saying, but they had these kinda dynamics. I was always in control in relationships. So for me, it’s a, if I’m talking about play and being so inviting to others, to play with their gender and sexuality, it might also be time for me to play with a more submissive role or more switchy role, which Hmm. I dunno if I would comfortable.

Esther: Interesting. Yeah. Each to their own, you know? Yeah. Wow. Okay. Do you have anything else you wanna talk about before we wrap up?

Kai: Hmm.

Esther: We’ve covered a lot.

Kai: We did. Yeah, we did. I loved it. No, I think, yeah, I think that’s it.

Esther: Yeah. Cool.

Well, thank you so much for sharing.

Kai: Yeah. Thank you so much for talking with me about all these kind of things, because it’s…

Esther: Yeah, it was so fascinating. Yeah.

About Kai

Kai Grey is a Garden Designer and consultant. He studied among the best to bring you the best; Garden Historian (Magna Cum Laude) with focus on community gardens, Regenerative Agriculture taught by Dr. Vandana Shiva, Permaculture Design Course (PDC) taught by Geoff Lawton and Bill Mollison. Soil advocacy with Kiss the ground, Soil food web consultant with Dr. Elain Ingram, Holistic Land management by Allan Savory and doing training with Piet Oudolf at the moment.

If you don’t find him knee deep in gardening books, he is outdoors on adventures, or going out for lunch with his two sons (dressed up as superheroes)

You can find Kai on polaris-landscape-architects.teachable.com, on Facebook and on Instagram @mister_kai_grey.

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