CW: Sex. This article is part of our series on trans sex education, and contains explicit sexual content.
Sex can be a scary topic no matter if you are cis or trans, but it can be especially fraught for trans people who are still on their gender journey.
Some trans people might be fearful or anxious about sex and sexual intimacy and all it entails. It’s important to get to know what your own boundaries are and to get comfortable saying the words out loud. It can be a good idea to get your thoughts clear and you can practice saying things to yourself so that it’s easier when the time comes to say it to other people.
Think about the kinds of things that you want a sexual partner to know, like what kind of language you use for your body parts, how you want them to treat you and what you want them to do to you.
Derbyshire based Psychotherapist and trans man, Mr DK Green specialises in the areas of gender, sexuality and relationships. DK feels trans people need to be proactive in getting ahead of managing expectations, he suggests saying things like: “I might not look like what you expect me to look like, I might not feel like what you expect me to feel like.”
DK advises people who are dating someone trans to educate themselves about trans people and the variety of trans experiences. This is so they can get comfortable with talking about the subject.
In trans bodies you have no idea what’s under the hood, unless you have that conversation.
The person could be anywhere on that journey. Don’t assume they’ve had surgery or indeed that they will, because some people don’t.
Not all trans people have the same kind of bodies, or the same kind of feelings about their bodies. Some trans people might be happy with their bodies and don’t want to change their appearance. For some people it’s about having their gender respected and acknowledged. Much like sex with a cis person, it’s wise not to assume anything about a trans person’s body. So, although it may feel awkward and uncomfortable at first, talk it out.
If the trans person doesn’t initiate the conversation, you can open things up by asking, “Would you like to talk about sex?”
DK says most trans people have things that they’re more comfortable talking about:
Like using the word front hole rather than vagina – as vagina is such a gendered word. It’s important to know what words the trans person is comfortable using. If you want to have sex with a trans person you need to know ‘What does this person want me to call it?’
DK gives the example of trans women who have penises, “Some trans women who don’t have surgery say ‘This is my girl penis’, or may simply prefer not to reference it at all.”
Everyone has their own level of comfort and their own way of wanting to talk about their bodies and sex…It’s about finding out what’s ok and what’s not for that individual.
This level of communication requires detailed conversations and an openness to hearing things that aren’t cis-normative. If you’re having sexual relations with a trans person try and have an expectation that things will be different, this will make it easier to go with the flow and could even lead to it feeling more freeing and exciting.
Talking about and having sex can be a source of great anxiety for people, but it can also be lighthearted and fun.
DK says keeping an awareness that other people’s stories aren’t going to mirror your own can be helpful.
Every person’s body is different in different ways – like all penises are different – and [sex with a trans person] can be just as sexy and exciting and fun as sex with anyone else.
Say things like, Hey do you want to talk about words, and language and what you call your junk and what you want to happen? If you’re going to have sex with a trans person you kind of need a roadmap.
Consider the practical and physical limitations or requirements of some trans bodies. Some people who are post-surgery might find penetration more difficult – their genitals might be extra sensitive, you might need to be especially gentle or you might need lots of extra lube.
Other people don’t want their genitals touched at all. DK says to familiarise yourself with what your partner likes and doesn’t like. “For example, some trans women like the part between the testes to be gently pressed or pushed as it feels like a vaginal opening.”
“For trans men you can use your fingers on the “clit” and do a stroking motion that feels like being jacked off.”
DK points out the vast differences that can occur for trans people and the different types of genitals people can have: “Some have different types of penises, the surgeries available to trans guys is like a smorgasbord, you can have different bits of it; you don’t have to have it all.”
Urethral rerouting allows people to be able to stand up and urinate but not everyone wants that. The rerouting could be anywhere, you don’t know what you’re going to find. Some might have inflatable pouches or internal rods, that can make the penis erect.
You need to know how comfortable that person is with what they’ve got. It all comes down to experimenting and communicating.
It’s also important to be aware of the psychological factors involved with something as vulnerable as sexual activity. Some trans people may be scared of sex as it might not be something they’ve tried yet, or that they haven’t tried with their new genitals.
While every trans person is different, trans people may like to be treated as the gender that they are. So regardless of their body, you can treat a trans woman’s genitalia as you would a cis woman’s genitalia.
DK says, “If you’re having sex with a trans man, treat the “clit” like a penis, treat the labia at the bottom like balls.”
The same kind of thing for a trans woman with a penis, treat it like a vulva.
Not all people will want this so communicate with the person. Just like how everyone is uncomfortable with some parts of their bodies, trans people are no different. You’ll need a conversation beforehand and one during, because you have no idea what someone’s comfort level is.
The more present you are, the better the sex will be, so leave space in your sexual explorations for looking and touching. Initially it may be only guided touch, if the trans person isn’t comfortable with you looking. A lot of the joy of sex comes from the excitement and energy of being with someone you’re attracted to. Take time to enjoy it.
Find out more about Mr DK Green by visiting: http://www.dkgreen.com