I was trepidatious to have a book titled “Vagina” sent to me here in prison. A book cover with that word on it would surely raise some eyebrows in the prisons mailroom, which enforces a strict no pornographic material policy (a policy I am generally in favor of). But when the book arrived to me a week after it was ordered I went to mail call and quickly ushered it back to my prison apartment (a cell).

I dug into the book almost immediately in fear that it was going to be somehow taken from me, after all, it’s topic is the thing I’ve wanted most in my life as a transgendered woman. Me having a vagina would signal my completeness, as in, right now I am incomplete. But, as I turned each page I quickly realized that Wolf’s work is quite groundbreaking and she explains where one might draw the conclusion that the word “Vagina” on a book cover would not make it beyond censorship.

Something else she explains is female arousal. I noticed a sharp decline in my own libido once my hormones took hold and my ability to reach orgasm is almost obsolete, almost. At the very least, it was deeply unsatisfying. Before the read I noticed that I developed fairly new physical reactions to things like scent and physical touch, both senses have exploded within me creating quite the array of reactive emotions. Wolf details them all giving my valuable insight as to why the smell of some men’s sweat suddenly turns me into a primal being with urges that are quite strong (something not so convenient in a mostly male prison, let me tell ya). She also explains, in detail, why reaching a satisfying orgasm can be so challenging for women, myself included.

By the time I finished the book I had a better understanding of my own bodies recent reactions, and a lack thereof at times, along with a sense of hope. The postoperative suicide rate among transgender individuals is high and one of my own concerns has been the sudden inability to experience sexual pleasure. Wolf’s book gave me insights as to how to work with my body to experience pleasure more satisfyingly by understanding how women’s anatomy communicates with the female brain. Now that I understand what’s happening with me both physiological and neurologically I can create a stronger sense of gender congruency, a big deal for the trans community.

All gender’s would benefit from reading this book. It gives women the information needed to communicate their needs and explore their own bodies, even unlocking potential in other, seemingly unrelated areas of life such as creativity and confidence. It gives men an understanding of how to respect the differences in gender and create a mutually satisfying partnership in sexuality and sensuality.

It also got me thinking that there is significant room for studies into the transgender brain and transitional process. Perhaps a new field of study for me? We’ll see.

With Love
Ruth Utnage