Gay male in straight female's body?

Dear Alice,

I am a straight female in my mid-twenties. Well, not really. Ever since my childhood I have been fantasizing about being a male. Specifically, I increasingly fantasize about being a homosexual male and even have dreams of having male organs. I have a steady boyfriend that enjoys anal play which really excites me (I imagine myself having anal intercourse with him). Since I am not technically a male, I also enjoy watching homosexual intercourse and fantasize about watching my boyfriend with another man.

I feel like I am having sexual identity issues. Have you heard of anyone else having a similar experience? Do you think a bisexual partner would be ideal for me? Do you think role playing or three-way sexual experience would help me get satisfied?

Aspiring Gay Male

Dear Aspiring Gay Male,

Questioning your sexual orientation or gender identity is a more common experience than many people realize. In fact, the Q in LGBTQ+ refers to questioning and queer populations. Reaching out to ask questions, as you’ve done here, is a great way to not only get more information, but to help others realize they aren’t alone in the process of self-discovery. While Western society often promotes binary notions of identity, expression, and attraction (such as male versus female and gay versus straight) the reality is that these concepts are far more complex. Along those lines, most folks recognize that the boxes historically used to categorize people are restrictive, outdated, and don’t reflect the true nature of human biology, identity, and relationships (more on this in a bit). That being said, just because someone identifies a certain way, it doesn’t dictate the type of partner that would be ideal for them or who someone with whom they’d like to be in a relationship. Through self-reflection and exploration, you may over time get some clarity on your ideal partner(s) and what sexual experiences would be most satisfying for you.

Human sexuality is multifaceted, especially when considering the interplay between gender and sexual identities. Before answering your question, it might be helpful to start by defining some terms (as a note, this list isn’t exhaustive):

  • Sex (or sex assigned at birth): a label, typically assigned by a health care provider at birth, based on genitalia, genes, and hormones. While historically these labels have been limited to male or female, in actuality this oversimplifies variations in inner and outer sexual organs and chromosome combinations beyond XX or XY.
  • Gender: a socially derived category for how people express themselves (through behavior, clothes, styling, talking, etc.). Someone’s gender identity is how they choose to express their gender — whether that’s man, woman, non-binary, or another identity. Since gender is based on social norms, not biology, this means that someone’s sex doesn’t dictate their gender.
  • Sexual orientation: describes to whom you’re physically, sexually, and emotionally attracted. Examples of sexual orientation include heterosexual or straight (attraction to gender identity different than your own), homosexual or gay (attraction to gender identity the same as your own), bisexual (attraction to two different gender identities), and pansexual (attraction to people of all gender identities and sexes), among other identities.
  • Transgender: when a person’s gender identity doesn’t align with their sex assigned at birth. Some transgender people may choose to transition by changing their clothes or name to better reflect their identity, while others may also physically transition through gender-affirming surgeries. Transgender people can identify with any sexual orientation.
  • Queer: a broad term referring to people from marginalized gender identities and sexual orientations. This typically includes anyone who doesn’t identify as straight or cisgender (a person whose gender identity does align with their sex assigned at birth). While this term was once considered derogatory, some feel it’s been reclaimed and is a term of empowerment. Given possible variations between generations of marginalized folks, it’s probably a good idea to ask others how they want to be identified rather than assuming.


You may be wondering how all of this plays out in practice? To start, it’s helpful to keep in mind that for some people, gender is fluid and may change over time. Also, in contrast to the binary definitions of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, it might helpful to think of each of them on a continuum. By thinking of these concepts in this way, it may better reflect the multiple ways a person can identify — both within and between spectrums. This means that where someone is on one spectrum doesn’t necessarily speak to where they are on another. All that said, for some people the process of figuring out where they lie on the continuums may take time and exploration. For others, they may know their gender identity but feel it doesn’t align with the physical characteristics of their sex assigned at birth. This discrepancy may lead to anxiety or social pressure to conform. The clinical definition for this distress is known as gender dysphoria and it’s typically diagnosed by a mental health professional.

As you explore your identity and what would satisfy you sexually, it might be helpful to reflect on a few questions about your preferences, both inside and outside the bedroom. Some questions may include: Do your feelings of being male exist in daily life, as well as in the sexual realm? Does moving through daily life being read by others as a straight female feel like a reflection of who you are? Have you ever noticed these fantasies about being male and having male genitals occurring outside of a sexual scenario? Thinking about these questions may provide some insights about whether you like gender play exclusively in sexual encounters, or it may tell you that your masculinity exists beyond that. For example, transgender people typically report feeling that their gender identity is salient both in and outside of sexual situations. However, for others, changing up their gender expression is something they enjoy only in the bedroom. Role-playing as different genders, using toys such as strap-ons, dressing in different clothing, and acting out your favorite fantasies are great ways to transcend the gender borders in the bedroom. Bringing another partner into the mix, as you’ve mentioned, may be another way to spice the bedroom up. Before sending out the invites though, you might start by having a conversation with your boyfriend about activities and situations with which you’re both comfortable and would like to try.

Kudos to you for being open about what you’re experiencing and for reaching out for more information. While exploring your needs can be gratifying, for some it can bring up stress and confusion. If it feels helpful, you may want to speak with a mental health professional to help you navigate these questions. To find someone you feel comfortable sharing with, you might try asking any prospective counselors about their experience working with transgender people or with people questioning their gender identity. For further exploration and to connect with others who may be able to relate to your experience, these resources might be helpful:

Good luck as you keep exploring!

Last updated Jan 22, 2021
Originally published Feb 18, 2015

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