By: Amanda Sandström Beijer
Photos: Daniel Iglesias
This Australian woman started out from the idea of potentially being asexual and eventually found her pleasures as a submissive. Today Selena is a consent coach and part of the underground kink scene in Berlin, where she discovers new pleasures every weekend.
From the outside it looked like Selena was living in a heteronormative relationship as a man with his wife and two children in Australia, working in science. Since then, a lot has happened and today Selena is discovering the sex club’s various colors, each weekend fulfilling new dreams and desires. With Playful she opens up about her life and why ’Christian Bale’ wouldn’t last a hot minute in a BDSM basement in Berlin.
– I am trans female and have known it since I was four years old, when I joyously gave myself the girl-name Moon. There was no room in the world whatsoever for a trans child in ’70s Australia. It was a brutal culture, especially when it came to people of difference. However, it was freeing to hold the conviction that somehow, I would one day wake up a girl, or that science would make me fully female. Selena continues;
– That was just before puberty reality hit home and I had to hide myself. One mixed blessing for me is that I am genetically intersex, so my body never masculinized, and I grew feminine breasts at 14. On one level this was a dream come true, on another, it led to constant harassment, groping and assault at the ’all boys school’ I was sent to.
Somehow Selena managed to get through her youth and became a scientist, got married, had children, and lived a life in Australia that on the outside may have looked pretty heteronormative.
– As a scientist, and being in a male dominated profession, I hid under my business suit which I wore even in academia to hide my chest for fear of unwanted attention, I knew that I was intersex, and I tried to comfort myself with a non-binary identification. Slowly I began to prepare for transition, something that always seemed so forbidden, until one day when it became compulsory. Without it I knew that I was not going to live to see my children reach adulthood.
Selena is today in an open relationship where her partner is still living back in Australia.
"She knew about my gender dysphoria at the beginning of our relationship, and, in talking about it with her, she thought that her acceptance of me, as male, would soothe my need for transition and I thought that her love could make me whole. It sounds really naïve now, but we were both so inexperienced because we were both demisexuals, and virgins when we met" Selena says and continues;
"My partner was the only reason that I didn’t transition till so late. She is very straight, so she is no longer drawn to me sexually, therefor we have agreed to open up our relationship. Ultimately, I believe polyamory is a much healthier model. No one person can ever be someone’s rock or one-and-only. My partner was not into kink, for instance, although she was fully aware that I was and knew about my kink activities."
The discovery of being submissive, as well as into kink has been present for Selena a long time, although something she didn’t want to acknowledge.
" I always had submissive phantasies, although for long I tried to push them away as perverted. My ultra conservative upbringing made me think that they were utterly evil. I was, aside from my BDSM phantasies, almost asexual. I think this has to do with my genetic state and the fact that my body before artificial oestrogen therapy made almost no ’sex hormones’, meaning the hormones that create arousal. There were no words for the asexual spectrum when I was young, I related to none of my friends of any gender when they described sexual experiences and the concept of libido. Of course, I understood it abstractly, but it didn’t resonate with how I felt. And that made me feel triply broken: trans female, submissive with ’warped’ thoughts, and, aside from that, asexual" she says and continues;
"But I have always been very tender, and I feel romantic and platonic love powerfully. I have always adored touch, especially as an expression of tenderness. I can see the first important aspect of my submission. I am nurtured by and emotionally filled up by acknowledgment through a partner’s genuine pleasure. The fact that my own genitals have never been erogenous probably heightens this need. I truly get off on a partner’s joy. I am a deeply tender person, I pour my body, heart, and soul into my expression of sexuality and tenderness. Actually, I have heard several Dom’s say that their partner’s reaction is everything for them. So, I think this is simply the submissive manifestation of the universal human need to be acknowledged and to be seen. In my before-transition life I was not seen for who I was, so now there is a lifetime of this yearning bursting forth from me."
"Another phase of my sub side was when a friend suggested that she would tie me breathtakingly tightly. She was very intuitive and gentle. Although I have come across riggers who have not been as gentle and who were much less intuitive. Heavy bondage and pain have ended in outpourings of emotion for me; this catharsis was the only way I could reach the frozen grief inside me. Sub space and the intense sensuality of scenes brought me fully into myself."
Selena has tried to control and wrap herself around her thoughts and mind through meditation, although it’s been years of failure. But when trying BDSM it worked instantly.
"I have since met several subs who find submission with intense sensuality to be the one way that they can truly come into themselves and achieve what meditation aims for but fails to do for them. In deep sub space, I began slowly to see myself truly, and slowly building self-awareness. The deep trust I built with my Dom made me feel worthwhile, seen and truly loved for the first time in my life, and these wonderful feelings of nurture swelled and grew more and more the deeper and more vicious we went."
"I also felt powerful, because some of my scenes re-enacted sexual abuse and assault that I had suffered in the past. My totally consensual submission to a woman was a powerful act as i tore the choice back from the toxic masculinity that had violated and crushed me and offered it as my gift to my Dom who reflected it back upon me in an act of profound love. Deep submission in BDSM allowed me at last to feel that I was truly me, and my body was my own."
Besides facing trauma, feeling belonging and building self-awareness, it also made Selena discover her true sexuality, accepting it herself and experiencing it being accepted by others - something that built confidence. Together with estrogen therapy, Selena started to feel arousal for the first time.
"I loved to bring sexual pleasure to someone else, but somehow it could never go the other way. And now at last that I can look upon my body with affection, something quite wonderful but scary has happened. I am experiencing ardent sexual feelings for the first time in my 58-year-old life. My body naturally made almost no sex hormones at all, so I think something began simmering for the first time three years ago when I first began estrogen therapy."
"But the huge surprise has been my GaOp. This was a step that I always wanted to take, but I had modest expectations for its emotional effect. Before I underwent the operation, I imagined it might feel like a step in the right direction. A little bit of a comfort. But suddenly I found I could look upon my whole body with affection, and it felt as though I was putting down a gigantic burden. I never knew I had been carrying, a mountain of frozen grief. And almost instantly I found my mind full of wonderful sexual thoughts, I could bring myself into a deep state of sexual arousal through thoughts alone, and I never knew the feeling could be so ardent, so fiery, so delicious. So now I am suddenly sexually as a teenager in a 58-year-old body. I am experiencing a true, solid sex drive for the first time - I really love being Selena."
Selena believes she learns a lot from being surrounded with people from the Berlin kink scene.
"I feel it’s been a privilege to learn just how diverse and beautiful human sexuality is, and I learnt a lot about it in the kink scene. Our mainstream culture focusses on the tiniest, heteronormative sliver in the centre of this spectrum, and that through the lens of unrealistic beauty ideals, so the world outside kink can leave many of us feeling broken, just for being who we are. Just like I think that Berlin has a kindness underlying its culture that comes from the need to stick together during the last century – I tell my friends that Berlin does Chaos really well, for its inhabitants have had to survive a great deal of it."
In many ways it’s as if Selena had been reborn, something that makes her experience life in a very different way than others in her age do.
"I have never really put myself out there as a sexual being, whereas most people my age have been at it for four decades and have experienced so much. It’s really hard when I have just a little idea of how to put myself out there, how to flirt, although I am a bubbly person in conversation and enjoy stoking the energy of others. I go totally ditsy, weak at the knees now in the presence of those I crush on, stammer and falter. I’m sure I appear like a 15-year-old in my behaviour and that must seem weird if not sometimes creepy. So, I’m somehow going to have to learn fast."
Soon after coming out, Selena was moving between Melbourne and Berlin and experienced play in public in both cities. She came across an organization named ’Curious Creatures’ who taught consent for the people that were joining their kink and sex parties and felt she wanted to know more.
"I found the idea that seeking consent as a joyous part of lovemaking and play, resonated with me, rather than simply checking off the boxes to cover one’s butt legally."
"The thing that I most enjoy sharing in our community is kindness, it is another way of saying, ’If you feel I do not see you fully, I will own that, and use that knowledge to become closer to you.’ Consent is a determination to always be aware that two people cannot share exactly the same mind and the same emotional landscape, and to react to keep one's partner safe if they feel one's intent differently from one's own feeling of intent. So, I began hosting informal workshops on these topics amongst friends, using ideas from the Melbourne workshop and adding a few I have picked up along the way."
Selena is aware that the words ’Sex positivity’ can be used without informing about consent, something that makes her fuming.
"Sex Positive should first and foremost mean the top prioritizing of consent before all else. So, anything that does not conform with this principle doesn’t deserve the term ’Sex Positive’. I say this quite passionately and with trepidation. I fear that ’Sex Positive’ is becoming a word that is being paid lip service to and risks going the way of the ’Sexual Revolution’, where it became all about making women and other non cis male people available for sexual service for the most powerful in society. "
"’Sex Positive’ does not mean you’re up for it all the time; when a truly sex positive space deals with an asexual person, something that’s quite prominent in the kink scene, it means the exact opposite. It respects the needs of everyone to be safe. My blood ran cold at an article I read in The Guardian, where a sex educator named Lala said that ’A lot of young men have co-opted BDSM [bondage, discipline or domination, sadism, and masochism]. They’re not into power plays and consent. They just like hurting women’. It represents valid concern of some people’s use of kink as a smokescreen and also the damage that mainstream porn has on the kink scene. BDSM can only take place safely in a totally consensual and truly Sex Positive environment, and it is for this reason that I find kink standards of consent are by far the strictest one encounters" Selena says and continues;
"The mainstream public fail to realize, for example, that someone like Christian Grey from 50 shades, would not last a quarter of an evening in the kink community I love."