Dear Gentle Butch,
My young adult trans son gave us his Christmas wish list today, and it includes a packer as one of his top three wants. He sent a link to one that is very realistic-looking. I want to affirm him, but I blush at the thought of buying him a mail-order penis. Should I just get over it?
— His Mom
You wrote me instead of, say, “Miss Sexphobe,” so you know the short answer will be ‘yes.’
Get over it. Buy this affirming gift for your son as if it were a prosthetic hand or ear. It’s just a body part.
That said: I get why this is anxious-making for you. I do. So many cultures (I am perhaps erroneously presuming you’re an American, because I am an American, and we are so ridiculously presumptuous in this way), ours in particular, see genitalia as essentially sexual when in fact they are also waste disposal systems, baby birthing centers and sometimes gender markers (at least in your son’s case; many trans men need these in order to use the correct bathrooms but also in order to feel right.)
But we see them as just sex sex sex sex sex sex sex.
And sex, as we all know, is essentially shameful, and certainly a taboo subject for parents and children (even adult ones) to discuss in any detail. I mean, why not just get your kid a dildo, ya damn pervert?
I could go into all the reasons why this is ridiculous culturally-enforced bullshit, but you already know this. You know you need to get over it. But the thing is: traits, attitudes, and limitations that are a product of our society are not imaginary. They are real and they are powerful.
So let’s assume, for the purpose of argument, that buying your kid a very realistic prosthesis is embarrassing, feels sex-related, and makes you cringe — and this isn’t going to change any time soon.
Instead of telling you to easily shrug off centuries of repressive bullshit our culture has heaped upon you, I want you to consider that your son has the same damn baggage weighing him down.
Have you ever thought about your parents’ knowing anything about your sex life?
I KNOW I’M SORRY I’M SORRY
But if you have, you have probably been very squicked out and wanting to change the subject as quickly as possible.
Have you ever been caught masturbating or rolling around with someone by your parents? Have your parents ever found birth control that you were trying to hide from them? Have you ever watched a movie in which a sex scene suddenly hoists itself into view with your parents? Even if none of this has happened, does the thought of it make you want to crawl into a hole with a ladder to another hole with a passage into a secret room from which you will never have to emerge as long as they are still living?
It is EXCRUCIATING.
And your son faced that excruciating awkward embarrassment to add a packer to his wish list. He deliberately decided to deal with his parents thinking about his penis, and knowing exactly what it looks like.
He has already done a FAR braver thing than what he is asking from you.
Packers, especially high-quality ones that may or may not be STP (stand to pee) prostheses, are expensive as hell.
It’s something that he needs for his quality of life that he might not be able to afford right now. That makes it the perfect gift from a parent.
So, yes. Get over it and buy him his damn penis.
And Merry Christmas.