Let’s Mention (Queer) Gender: Which Means You’re a Top/Bottom/Switch | Autostraddle

Queer women are always down to really enter into it about what we *mean* once we mention
‘topping’ or ‘bottoming’
— so can be we! Which is the reason why we performed
a whole detailed survey
of y’all on the subject a few years ago, doing the evaluation on which y’all indicate whenever you discuss
, and
. As always is apparently the outcome with us, however, it felt like there is even more to plan right here. In spite of how much survey information we collect, it’s difficult to get at the way that these tactics perform out in the genuine everyday lives, and exactly how a couple using the same terms for themselves might embody all of them really in a different way. It decided the only way to truly explore how that performs would be to, you are sure that, talk to both — so here is a few talks among AS staffers looking to get towards base of just what queer sexual characteristics mean within real life.

This conversation was around exploring the concern of:

Just how maybe you’ve defined (or perhaps not) your part in time? Has actually it changed, did you initially believe you “were” a very important factor and now you ID differently? Exactly how did that sense and just what did it raise up? How will you ID today, and in which do you actually see it included in that ~ journey ~?


I think while i understood what topping and bottoming was actually pretty early in “being queer,” it didn’t happen to me to also ID together until when I got separated at 28 and dedicated to everyday relationship with women and trans folks of different genders – before then it felt like since I have ended up being dating both women and cis guys and ended up being often in lasting relationships it don’t feel as relevant — a lot more like i simply performed any worked for the reason that connection. I do believe it also had too much to carry out with youthfulness and insecurity, however, because I believe I’d ID largely equivalent (as a top) now regardless of commitment position.

I’m in addition recognizing upon considering it that while We today virtually exclusively top and ID as a result, for some time long-time We described my self to other individuals as a ‘top-leaning switch’ – i do believe a high identity thought so large and impressive and scary for me that it decided some thing I experienced to earn, or like basically stated it then I would disappoint intimate lovers. Uncertain what Ii thought helped me a lot more of a “real” top or “only” a top – performed I think I had to develop a lot more knowledge? That tops needs to be more masc-presenting? That i ought to simply be having sex in specific ways? Not clear in my opinion today! But to tell the truth, exactly what forced me to more confident in calling me a premier definitely was having more sex – noticing that we practically exclusively planned to top when I performed make love, and had better sex with increased suitable associates once I had been clear about this — plus that my associates appeared to feel I happened to be over sufficient at it.


I usually write-in options can be regarded as vulnerable, but currently talking about this feels prone in a way I really usually avoid. And so I regarded perhaps not participating! However I decided that maybe some people would find everything I have to say relatable and that I’m a goddamn hero thus here we go.

I really have a problem with this question and they brands. A year ago once I had been newly unmarried and online dating in the queer area the very first time I thought truly focused on learning which tag fit myself. We agonized over it much. I’m sure topping and bottoming outdoors cis homosexual male areas simply about certain acts, but I thought — and feel — like my identity is challenging as a trans lady with a penis who does not have that cock easily had more income. And that is actually only 1 on the dilemmas. There is also the point that before transitioning I found myself topping because as a cishet male that has been the thing that was expected of myself. Therefore this past year I was thinking really ok after that maybe i am a bottom. But that never ever experienced correct possibly. But did it maybe not feel proper because I don’t have a pussy? Made it happen maybe not feel correct because I’m not regularly it? Or have always been i recently a leading? But what’s anticipated of a trans woman peak? I’m such as the expectation is actually — and has already been— I would be drilling someone with my cock and that’s not at all something I would like to do with the exception of very rare circumstances. Personally I think like most trans women I know are particularly loudly and proudly bottoms or clothes and also have such clarity with what it means in their eyes despite their particular link to their unique genitalia. Also it always makes me personally so envious! Fundamentally we quit on this subject quest and decided to just contact my self a switch. But also that feels incorrect, because when i’ve gender I am not necessarily aware of topping or bottoming unless anyone I’m making love with is quite clearly one or the different.

My personal most useful sexual encounters have varied very commonly re: intercourse acts and dynamics. In my opinion with each brand-new person — and extremely each brand new time with each individual! — i recently want to satisfy as two bodies getting enjoyment and experience of each other? And that I do not claim that to suggest like i am above these labels or everything. In reality, whether it’s after surgical procedure and on occasion even before I fully propose to wind up as “lol remember when I was youthful and foolish and did not understand I found myself a BLANK.” I just don’t know just what that blank is. Can there be a test I can simply take? A Buzzfeed test? Could well be beneficial. tysm!

Rachel, unless you care about discussing, what DOES becoming a leading suggest for your requirements? Actually decided where identification and vibrant does it mean various things to you personally dependent on your lover?

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I am able to try to, yeah! With similar caveat that like, this does not feel fixed and it seems actually possible I really could study right back on this in annually and feel/say something else? I think right now this means many concretely that i’m beloved and enthusiastic about ‘doing to’ my gender lovers without having everything completed to me, and often even if my personal sexual partners genuinely wish to screw me personally or drop on me personally or etc etc, i’m at best only medium interested in getting that, and the majority of of the time not anyway interested. In an even more meaningful feeling that gets a lot more at love, the things I in fact escape gender or exactly what it ~ method for me ~, I think exactly what feels truly key to me personally about sex immediately and what becomes me personally down a lot of is actually producing a space and facilitating someone else’s experience in becoming actually prone and feeling rigorous things, like orgasms or intense sensory stuff or becoming in some susceptible headspace linked to bottoming. But I don’t obviously have a desire to be in that susceptible area myself or feel many rigorous circumstances (at the least on an actual degree). A lot of my hottest sex has been defined by giving intensive encounters to many other men and women, therefore feels really hot and advisable that you us to type of take fee of a sexual experience so that it’s easy for your partner to get to that destination, if it is practical.

But In Addition a layer of your is I Would Personally say I’ven’t had totally vanilla intercourse for…. years? And therefore there was possibly usually some amount of deliberate energy vibrant or kink vibrant around that, and that I you should not actually know how much cash of a significant difference that renders! I’d love to hear ideas on that off their individuals!


That undoubtedly is sensible! I am wondering to listen to away from you or anybody else whom identifies as a high how you chose that that was fine? I guess I feel this pressure or idea that intimate upheaval or dysphoria or simply good ol’ fashion mental walls will be the reasons why you should should give attention to undertaking to versus being done to and therefore are points to function with. But maybe those things could be the explanation hence does not mean they should be overcome? To not ever instantly deliver the talk to a potentially dark place, but i suppose I feel a specific shame or something when I enjoy topping. Like we wonder if there’s this entire additional world i really could also take pleasure in or would take pleasure in more basically merely worked through my personal crap like some type of bottom FOMO. But maybe that is not real? Perhaps the shit i have to sort out is just preconceived notions about what gender is meant to indicate. Really interested everyone’s thoughts!


Haha If Only We understood! I was merely thinking similar, “i ought to truly keep coming back and qualify this by describing that We went through a soul-crushing split up and total personal crucible and it’s really truly impractical to state whether this can be some immutable trait of mine or like a clear shortage regarding being able to engage authentically with vulnerability.”

But perhaps you’re proper and it also doesn’t matter? Or maybe the difference between “real desire to have reasons” and “fake wish for not the right explanations” is not actual, much more particularly.


I usually realized that i needed to really have the most control in virtually any intimate circumstance; it’s whenever I believed happiest and most aroused. I desired as usually the one to address, initiate and more — I becamen’t conscious was going to coincide with a certain sexual name until later on.

In my own last relationship it started with me topping then again changed much more to bottoming. We look on it and think because I happened to be the woman basic wlw connection, i desired her feeling safe within her queerness and that I believed providing their more control intimately was one method to do that. Whenever that relationship ended I understood I could have found improved ways to motivate the girl without sacrificing my sexual select, regardless of if it was however gratifying.

That said, we identify as a Femme Top Leaning Switch – nowadays light on switch, and I think my quest in determining the thing I identify as it is over. Within my newest casual affairs (wow We appear to be an early 90s life time flick) i have been leading in most except one plus it all felt comfortable and dope.


Often I mention my very early sexual record like, “well I thought I became a leading and converts out…,” and while that isn’t specifically genuine since there was not that style of energy dynamic present, I found myself the person undertaking more of the items to lovers’ figures. I additionally don’t understand I appreciated penetration, do not get faraway from manual arousal, and now have never ever loved receiving oral due to an early intimate attack, so me personally doing things to other individuals only made even more feeling than the reverse. But while there weren’t explicit energy characteristics like I now associate with kink, there were always energy imbalances inside other person’s support – these people were more capable, or these were a decade earlier – and I eroticized the crap away from that.

I then had my personal first real bottoming experiences also it decided a whole globe opened. The notion of whatever else again felt inconceivable.

I happened to be a submissive in a lifestyle kink dynamic that started since truest connection i have previously skilled and rapidly became very muddled with genuine power imbalances and mechanisms of control in many ways which I thought were very clear they moved without saying and which that ex would not, i do believe, realize existed. Giving out energy is only hot — for all — for those who have capacity to share. Circumstances would not work right or i’d see inconsistencies or lies and imagine, “Well basically share much more power so we agree with standards because of this then that’ll correct everything!” which explains why I got my personal separation forms back at my 30th birthday.

Because connection, that has been D/s greatly featuring age play, I was only a little woman. The end of that dynamic remaining me personally not simply perhaps not feeling safe becoming very little any longer, and maybe not feeling secure getting a lady anymore even while i have switched “hard femme” around 10. With some distance, it really is much easier to notice that I’d sex emotions well before we ever came across that ex and that ex had absolutely nothing to perform at all beside me figuring it out (another one did even so they you should not need the display time), nevertheless the situation did leave me personally feeling alienated through the kink identity which had felt a lot of correct.

Just now I browse Rachel’s reaction that starts “In my opinion today it means the majority of concretely that I feel most comfortable and contemplating ‘doing to’ my personal sex lovers instead of having any such thing completed to me personally,” and had a moment of, “Wait in the morning I a premier???” Because that’s just me personally immediately. I do not wish to or feel secure getting specifically susceptible with individuals usually, and while I’m sure and just have practice with motivated bottoming, I don’t feel enthusiastic about it or in subspace nowadays. Yet. I additionally wish associates to make use of my body system like a fucktoy only for all of them. I don’t want to be susceptible, and I don’t want my body system specially taking part in such a thing we’re carrying out, but within whatever area they’ve developed as a high i’d like them to make use of us to screw and beat the crap regarding all of them while making all of them cleanse their own be removed my personal floor on their hips after ward.

I still want to get railed, but primarily I would like to think of that without any help time, you know?

Another piece of things are In addition have actually yet another pair of kinks that need a top skillset and understanding base to rehearse in a risk-aware sort of way, and I also haven’t any doms inside my life with those abilities and expertise, very particularly in quarantine they may be just notably shelved.


Alright but Rachel we conformed with so many things that you mentioned.

+ the truth that the ID “top” was at initial so daunting, although it was something which I was currently carrying out.

+ we go along with taking pleasure in generating an area for any individual i am with feeling, be directed, learn and really leave is a huge factor in me personally moving away from. To-be the main one accountable for taking these to that place is actually fulfilling.

Among the folks I happened to be fucking pre-covid though did that for me personally and it forced me to change on her and I think it believed so excellent to bottom because i did not need to “teach” the woman any such thing and it had been among the better intercourse I ever had.

I was hella satisfied but my natural interest to very top ended up being starting to occur however it was not anything i needed related to the girl.


Wow tops it’s not necessary to instruct initial? What’s that like lol

(kidding additionally perhaps not)


Really, i’m interested in the part that experience performs in everyone’s identification or activities, either standalone or relative to any given intimate lover. Shelli your own tale about bottoming to a person that was at an initial wlw commitment really was interesting in my opinion, due to the fact frequently narratives will be the contrary


I found myself surprised however the dynamic was actually immediate. We kinda fought when it comes down to control then again ended. It absolutely was fantastic and in that moment in my existence everything I wanted/needed intimately but In addition thought my organic wishes starting to arise therefore it would have been time for a conversation. Thinking back too, I actually don’t even think she realized we defined as a high.


Carolyn i’m thus curious that that resonates for you personally in terms of bottoming – this is so useful to me personally because In my opinion in many my experiences it is exercised in a way that men and women bottoming for me has actually certainly been embodied by all of them like, permitting me the means to access their body, but of course that’s not a necessity or what bottoming naturally “is”! I’d want to hear much more about just what bottoming might look or feel individually with regards to doesn’t necessarily consist of becoming vulnerable or having your human anatomy end up being ‘done to’ if you’re available to dealing with it.

I think with regards to experience like, I’m contemplating just what Shelli you’re stating about without having to train some one (lol) but also about creating an area; I believe it absolutely was in retrospect a real video game changer in my experience to learn that like ‘technique’ or ‘how’ to screw somebody or get some one off was not actually the crucial skill for topping some one well, and most of the modifications person to person anyhow; the skill that i truly needed a lot of to-be good leading was that sort of relational ability of making someone feel safe but in addition which makes it obvious to the two of you you are in control  — but in addition setting up area to allow them to perform or feel or perhaps be in a susceptible, uninhibited means. And therefore that ability ended up being anything I currently had experience with and also exercise in every part of my life already (like also editing, lmao). Therefore as soon as we linked much more with this and leaned in it much more, “experience” per se don’t feel as essential, and topping felt so much more comfortable and normal and those that bottomed to me taken care of immediately it so totally. And that I reckon that’s also the component for me that is like it bridges “vanilla” sex and kink – is if i’m taking that type of relational posture towards the encounter, that’s what lets the ability dynamic develop, whatever “kind of gender we are having.”


Yes! we 100% agree with you, Rachel. For my situation, topping is about curating a sexual experience. “approach” has its own location, but energy characteristics, words and creating space for susceptability are incredibly a lot more vital when you’re getting somebody off.

My personal first intimate dreams (and later, my first sexual experiences) involved myself topping. Possibly this had something you should perform from the direct women I dated as a young person. Maybe I Happened To Be #bornthisway?

These days I explain my self as a “top-leaning change.” For me personally, that means: 1. We constantly enjoy offering satisfaction, 2. I enjoy receiving enjoyment from certain folks in particular scenarios and 3. I can finest from {a place|a location|a