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One term doesn’t fit all.
Ah yes, it’s time to talk about everyone’s favorite topic: girldick.
“Wait, girldick?” you may ask. “What’s that?” If you haven’t heard the term before, then buckle up. We’re going on a crash course through one of the most important parts of navigating trans womanhood—figuring out your genitals.
Before we dive into the world of the feminized penis, though, there’s some terminology we need to get out of the way. Some trans women use the term “pre-op” (pre-operative) to describe trans girls who still have their genitalia at birth, such as a penis and testicles, but plan to receive sex reassignment surgery (SRS). Then there’s “non-op” (non-operative) trans women, or trans women who have declined to undergo SRS and remain with their birth genitalia configuration intact. In this column, we’re focusing on both pre-op and non-op trans women with penises. (And while we’re at it, regardless of age, “trans girl” is a popular term used by other trans women to describe other trans women, often in an affectionate or endearing way.)
Many of the words trans girls use to describe their bodies are passed along through the trans community, whether through sexual health resources or simply spending time with other trans women. There’s no universal standard here, of course; every girl has a different set of words or phrases to talk about their private parts. It can take a long time for trans women to figure out what feels right for them, and they may be exposed to new words gradually over time. Case in point: Earlier this year, I hooked up with a woman that referred to my perineum (the sensitive strip of skin between the testes and asshole) as my “pussy,” and it totally blew my mind. I had no idea I could talk about my body that way.
“Girldick” (or “girl dick”) remains one of the most popular words by far, and it’s one I personally prefer. It’s soft, gentle, and feminine. It’s also directly affirming. Whenever I use it to describe my body or another girl’s, it reminds me that I am a girl, and that the specific genital configuration I have between my legs doesn’t really define anything about my gender.
Who would think!
“Girldick” is a great term for so many other reasons too. It’s versatile for one. A “girldick” can be inserted into all sorts of holes for penetrative sex, or it can be a limp and receptive thing too. As a top-leaning switch, that flexibility is perfect for me and gives me just enough room to define my sex life on my terms.
The word “girldick” also reminds me of how estrogen feminizes trans women’s penises. For instance, while penises exposed to testosterone are coarser and easily become erect, estrogen makes the penis’ skin thinner, softer, and more sensitive. It tastes and smells different, as does its ejaculate, which generally looks clear or milky. As author Rachel Anne Williams writes in the Medium post “What Is Girldick?” “the feminine penis post-HRT is truly a girldick.” Of course, as Williams points out, one doesn’t have to be on HRT to have a girldick.
I love the way you step on my girldick
— sextsbot (@sextsbot) August 21, 2017
Please feel ashamed of my girldick
— sextsbot (@sextsbot) November 16, 2016
These days, it’s hard to stumble across trans-affirming sexual resources that don’t use the term “girldick.” Broadly’s guide to oral sex with non-op trans women references the word, and Scarleteen uses it as a catch-all to describe trans women’s penises. Then there’s Allison Moon’s Girl Sex 101, in which Moon polled 15 trans girls and found trans women “unanimously” used “girl dick” to describe their genitals. Even YouTuber ContraPoints uses the term (and, like me, wonders why we aren’t talking about the mouthfeel).
In her trans horror novella F4, author Larissa Glasser uses the term “girldick” quite liberally. Glasser began HRT in 1997, and she told me about her years as a trans girl in the late ’90s and early 2000s, where she felt “very gatekept by cis doctors and caregivers” and “didn’t like to look or think about my genitals at all before surgery.” Back then, Glasser remembers trans girls using terms like “outie,” which is still in use today, as well as the phrase “turtle,” which isn’t.
Some trans women felt proud of their penises as if it was “this excellent perk,” Glasser explained, but she felt ashamed of her body when she was pre-op.
“Having a ‘turtle’ or whatever used to really make me feel ashamed, like I wasn’t fitting in and that I was born with a terrible flaw,” Glasser told me. “Now after increased visibility and assimilation, I think it is empowering to include ‘girldick’ in the vernacular. When I wrote my debut novella I threw the term around rather freely… I think I was overcompensating, trying to make up for the years I felt so much stigma.”
Of course, not every trans girl likes using “girldick.” Some girls prefer the term “clit,” in part because it’s analogous to cis women’s own phallic organ, the clitoris. HRT’s effects on the penis make it behave like a clitoris after all, so it’s a pretty fitting term. “Clit” has a soft, feminine ring to it too, but like “girldick,” it’s sexually flexible. A clit can be penetrative, or it can receive pleasure. I’m a fan of the word myself, and I use it a lot when I’m bottoming because it has such a feminine connotation.
But there are more choices! Outside of “girldick,” “clit,” and “outie,” there’s a long list of words that non-op trans girls draw on to describe their privates, including gender-neutral terms like “strapless” and “junk.” On the other hand, some trans women love using “dick” and “cock,” which is perfectly fine too. I use it myself.
While some trans women like words that revolve around having a feminized penis, that isn’t the case for everybody. I spoke to one trans girl, Emma, who prefers the terms “pussy” and “vagina” for her private parts.
“Even before transitioning, I didn’t consider myself someone with a ‘dick.’ It simply was different from when I saw similar on others,” Emma told me. “That I haven’t yet had surgery to change the shape of my parts doesn’t make them any less what they are.”
Emma stresses that trans women considering words for their private parts should focus on the fact that “it is first and foremost their privates.” They should choose the words that work best for them, not a “manageable box” designed by others.
“Approaching womanhood from different perspectives is true of all kinds of women,” Emma told me. “Attempts to sanctify womanhood as one distinct pillar will always exclude some women, and historically, that has primarily hurt trans women and women of color.”
I’m a big believer in the idea that trans women should be proud of their bodies—whether they’re pre-op, non-op, or post-op. After all, that’s what’s so great about trans womanhood. As trans girls, we’re bonded together by our differences, not just our similarities. One non-op girl can call her privates a “girldick,” another girl can call them a “clit,” a third can call hers a “pussy,” and a fourth can simply use “cock.”
All four are wonderful terms that show the beautiful diversity of trans women’s sexualities—and they’re just a snapshot among many, many others that you can use, too.
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.