A Fine British Willy
On Friday, it will finally be released. Muir has been anxiously awaiting this day for a year now, and we’re planning to stay up until midnight to be sure we’re the first in line. Not to see a blockbuster movie, or to buy the new XBox game or latest iPhone, but to purchase a tween-sized, lifelike silicone penis. The EZP Junior.
This ingenious device does exactly what its name says it does: Makes it easy for a FtM kid to pee the ways boys usually pee--standing up. Not that long ago, I had no idea that such a thing existed, or that being able to pee like a boy was even something that mattered to Muir. But last winter, when he was facing an emotional breakdown, questioning whether the fact that he didn’t have a biological male body meant that he wasn’t a “real” boy, the ability to pee standing up was the only thing he could identify that would make him feel better. Thanks to his puberty blocker, he knew that he wasn’t going to have a girl’s puberty, and that was an overwhelming relief. We’d had age-appropriate talks about future surgical options for the creation of a penis. But these weren’t enough. The promise of a future penis wasn’t going to solve the sense of living in the wrong body that he was experiencing now.
He confessed that he had tried to pee standing up for years, but it “only worked some of the time.” He knew that if he could have a penis that would make it possible to just unzip his fly and go, he would feel at home in his body. It might make a difference in helping him work through the terrible depression he was experiencing.
At the time, watching Muir go through such intense emotional turmoil, I felt incredibly helpless. We were seeing his therapist and pediatrician twice a week, we talked endlessly about his feelings, I held him when he sobbed for hours, I worked with his teachers to make sure he didn’t fall behind from missing so much school. But for the first time since he was born, he was experiencing something I couldn’t fix. It seemed there was nothing I could do that would alleviate his suffering.
But when he shared the idea that would help to pee standing up, I thought, “I can make that happen.” I had no idea how, but I had the Internet, and years of pulling together weird crafts and costumes with a bunch of junk and a glue gun had given me the hubris to believe there was nothing I couldn’t construct given time and ingenuity. Sure, a stand-up pee machine was going to be more complex than the Ziggy Stardust costume or gypsy tent of my past creative endeavors, but I was undaunted. I even envisioned enlisting Bryn to put his art school skills to work making some kind of mold for some kind of flexible penis-like material (without having any idea how he’d do this, or if he was even going to approve of the idea of his newly-transitioning kid wearing a “pretend” penis).
I just assumed there had to be a solution. The world is full of FtM people, and surely many of them had solved this challenge. After all, surgery is expensive, and not everyone wants it, and there must be other boys and men out there who just want to pee standing up. I assured Muir that I was on it. We would figure out a solution and he would be able to pee like a boy.
I fired up Google, grabbed a notebook and pencil, ready to pull random ideas from random places and make supply lists and sketches. It was going to be a project like no other. Imagine my surprise when I typed in “transgender stand up to pee”, and the first sites that popped up were The Ultimate Guide to STP (STP=acronym for stand-to-pee), Stand-To-Pee-Devices, The EZ-Pee: Transthetics, PeeCock Products, and FtM Connect Stand-to-Pee Packer. Clearly, helping Muir stand up to pee wasn’t a challenge that would require my own groundbreaking creative ingenuity, just a credit card and some instructional YouTube videos.
I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised, given that many of the construction techniques used in the booming sex toy industry can obviously be adapted to the needs of devices for FtM customers. Maybe, given Muir’s mental state at that point, everything just felt so overwhelming that I couldn’t imagine that a simple, “off the shelf” product existed to help us solve our problem. Regardless, I was blown away by what I discovered.
I learned about basic STP devices (which are typically some variation on a funnel), STPs made of silicone (which look like a very realistic penis and function like one), and packers (which are realistic silicone penises just used to fill out a guy’s pants). They were made from a variety of materials, came in a variety of colors and sizes, and some companies even had special sizes for boys. Not only that, but they had uncircumcised versions, which, for a boy who thinks he would have been happiest living at Downton Abbey at the turn of the 20th century, is the only truly acceptable penis.
Prior to the moment his first STP arrived in our mailbox, I had seen Muir truly, mind-blowingly ecstatic a handful of times: When he saw Elmo live at age 3, when he got his first part in a professional play at age 8, and when he saw Hamilton. He had the same unbridled joy when he unwrapped his first STP and harness, drank a ton of water, and then hung out in the bathroom for two hours learning to pee standing up. It wasn’t easy at first, but before long, he got the hang of it. After such an emotionally trying month, filled with long days of crying and anxiety that he might hurt himself, Muir actually smiled. He giggled as he practiced his aim and tried not to hit the floor (which, I assured him, even the most experienced men often can’t seem to manage 100% of the time).
“Are you happy?” I asked him. “Do you think it’s going to help you feel better?”
He said, “It makes me feel like myself. And that makes me feel better.”
For the first time in quite a while, we both felt some relief, and were empowered by the realization that seemingly thorny problems might not be so tough to handle after all. Muir outgrew that first STP within the year. But it served its physical purpose, and had an amazing impact on his emotional well-being. After the turbulent, terrifying winter, he started going back to school. His depression lifted, and the uncontrollable crying stopped. His confidence returned, and his sense of peace within his own body. All it took to change his life was a few hours and $80.
Muir did the research for his next STP on his own. He’s had his eye on the EZP Jr. model from Transthetics (which is doing some incredible work in FTM prosthetics, “for the man who has almost everything”). He literally danced around when he saw their STP, which requires no harness, looks as real as any penis I’ve ever seen, and can even be worn under a swimsuit and while biking. Only trouble was, they only offered a “cut” version. I reached out to them to see if they planned to offer an uncircumcised model in the future, and it turned out that they were indeed working on this, though they couldn’t name a specific release date. I suggested to Muir that we go ahead and order the cut model, since he needed a new STP, but he wanted to wait. After all, they are $195 (in his mind, half a ticket to see Hamilton again, or half the price of the custom wingtips he’s got his eye on), and he doesn’t want me to spend money on a less than perfect EZP.
And at last, his patience has paid off. A few days ago I got an email announcing the limited release of the Uncut EZP Junior this Friday. Ordering will be open for 24 hours, and since Transthetics products are handmade in limited quantities and sell out in a flash whenever they take orders, we’re not taking any chances. We’re placing our order as soon as the clock strikes twelve.
Of all the things I once could have imagined I’d be buying my child, a little silicone penis was never among them. Even now, when I see his STP on the side of the tub after his bath (where I am trying to train him not to leave it), I occasionally have a moment where I think, Wow. Life is sure weird.
Weird or not, it’s a life where my son can be who he is, and where society, technology and creativity continue to come together in new ways to support all of us in living authentically, in being our true selves. It’s a life where a desperate mom can save her art supplies and hot glue gun for Halloween, and leave the crafting of a fine, early-twentieth-century British willy to the experts.