What I Would Tell My 17 Year Old Self (MRKH Edition)

Erinn Webb, MA, RDT

I am a trauma therapist and I have MRKH. I am aware that Ihave many privileges, which have allowed me to be safe enough to express my sexuality and get access to the support I needed, such as being able to afford therapy. In your story that might not be true. I know there are folks for whom naming that they have MRKH is a risk. Today I am addressing my younger self.

Dear little Erinn,

I know you’ve been very confused about sex and how to navigate it without a vaginal canal. Being 18 was hard. I’m glad that you were with someone who was loving to help you through it when you found out. I also know it hurt when he later told you about someone else he started dating, and what their sex life was like.

You’re in one of the most hormonal stages of your life. I get it. Trying to focus on homework isn’t easy when you have sex on your brain. But masturbating is the best way to figure out what you like and want, and there’s nothing bad about it. Also, those sex toys you’ve got in your drawer – get better ones that make more sense. – Latex? No thank you. – Silicone? Yes.

First let me redefine sex for you. You’re already starting to realize that sex is not a single action. Penis. Vagina. Please. Though this is what the collective has decided is “it” I assure you it is not. Don’t be fooled by pop-culture or your peers. They wouldn’t be asking you if you were a virgin if they knew what I know.

Orgasms. Sensations. Pleasure. And wow, your clitoris. The fact that this has been neglected in standard conversation about female sexuality is mind-boggling. Don’t even get me started on the way male-bodied hetero-normative people have been telling the story for too long. You don’t owe anyone anything. Believe me when I say, there are lots of ways for penis people to enjoy sex that don’t require that hallway to be open.

Sexuality is about desire, and desire can be fluid, just like gender can be fluid, in other words your feeling about it can change. Surprise! Finding yourself in the word queer is arevelation. Let’s talk about anal sex, and how getting over your hang-up about hygiene will give you permission to have some outrageously satisfying experiences. You have so much fun, you decide you don’t even need a vagina. The icing on the cake is that one day you do make one, while having a good time, rather than as something you felt you had to do. It turns out that having a consistent partner to play with does wonders.

But this letter is not just about the good times. There will be times you put yourself out there, and get some painfully memorable responses. Sometimes you will put yourself in risky situations, just to soothe your loneliness and cut through that feeling of floating. Like times you have sex with people whose names you won’t remember. You will corner yourself intofinding words to describe your body, and the differently bodied experience you are having. You will fumble sometimes.

You’ll wish you had been safer, and used protection, and been clearer about your boundaries. But I’m pretty sure consent is confusing for everyone. It is based on an agreement you make with yourself – and when you don’t know who you are, or what you want, – and are disconnected from how you feel, it is hard to see the line. You’re not the only one whose job it is to see it. 

I want you to know some of these encounters are not just about sex, but about being seen when you are feeling invisible. I know you feel like no one sees you sometimes, and nobody else can understand.

Dear Erinn, you deserve to be loved. And to be here. And to enjoy your life. I hope those are things you never forget. There’s so much more. Love, your grown-up self.

Click below to watch the video that was Screened at the Global Goes Digital MRKH Event on June 20th, 2020.


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