Shawna Scott and sex are synonymous in the Republic of Ireland. Since setting up her online sex toy boutique, SexSiopa.i in 2012, Shawna has created a name for herself as the go-to person for all things sexy.
When looking for non-toxic sex toys for herself, Shawna said she found it difficult to find spaces that suited her as a customer. “I felt very uncomfortable and intimidated by male dominated spaces, and the only other options were very non-diverse, heteronormative “female and couple friendly spaces.”
This experience led Shawna to create her own sex shop. “I was determined to set up a shop that was going to be a comfortable place for everyone to visit, and all the products would be made from bodysafe materials.”
Toys for trans people
Sex toys are for everyone, Shawna states:
Regardless of gender, they can serve a very important function in our lives that allows us to get closer both to ourselves and the people we have sex with.
They are there to provide variety and allow us to explore new ways to give ourselves joy and pleasure. They can teach us what kinds of sensations we enjoy and in turn help us to advocate for ourselves when talking to a partner about what we like.
Shawna recommends particular products for trans and non-binary people.
There are sex toys and gender expression products that are marketed specifically at the trans and non-binary communities. New York Toy Collective are probably the most renowned when it comes to silicone packers, dildos, and chest binders.
Shawna says some manufacturers have created smaller sized masturbation sleeves for transmasculine folk who are on testosterone and have some growth. Then there are clitoral stimulators and vibrators in all shapes and sizes for post-op trans women. These are safe and effective and an excellent way to explore and get to know your new body.
I also stock some really lovely gender non-specific dildos, vibrators, and anal toys that I’ve been told by customers across the gender spectrum have allowed them to feel more at ease, relaxed, and even euphoric about their bodies and pleasure.
When it comes to Sex Siopa I try to source as many products as I can that might have multiple uses or can be used by many different kinds of bodies, because apart from gender, everyone is also a little different when it comes to ability, experience levels, physical sensitivity, and personal preference.
Matching the sex toy to the person
Shawna offers a personalised and discreet service to help people find the sex toys that are right for them.
Matching the right item to someone is like a problem solving exercise. I take all their requirements into consideration and recommend something that will suit each individual customer.
For some people, this kind of sexual exploration can bring up complicated feelings. Shawna attributes this to the way these products are often marketed.
Most large manufacturers, still to this day, rely heavily on cis heteronormative visuals to sell their products – pinks & purples and very feminine designs for vibrators. Lots of blacks, blues, and flesh tones for masturbation sleeves. You also have “realistic” toys that mimic the look of certain genitals which may trigger feelings of dysphoria.
The power of a sex
Shawna recounts how some of her customers have said using sex toys has helped them work through their grief, reclaim their bodies after trauma and to rediscover their sensual side in old age.
The woman told Shawna that the experience of buying toys through a company that actually put some thought into what they were selling and how it might be received, made all the difference.
She said that it was down to the simplest things – the colour and packaging were gender non-specific and I had giftwrapped each toy, which I do for every order. Small things like that to make people feel special and excited to receive their products, but I suppose I didn’t even realise how especially important it was for my trans customers.
According to Shawna, strap ons can be a great option for trans men. Like other sex toys, the aesthetic of the strap on down to personal taste. “Some folks may be really put off by realistic fleshy tones, while others may feel more comfortable and less self conscious with a realistic dildo.” Shawna says.
When it comes time to choose the right strap on, Shawna offers some advice:
Apart from personal aesthetic and preferences, the main thing to consider when shopping for a strap-on and harness is comfort, functionality, and making sure you feel sexy while wearing it. Harnesses can be found at every price point from a very basic adjustable nylon one to custom made vegan leather ones.
There’s a common misconception that anal sex means going straight into penetration the way you might with vaginal penetration, but Shawna advises against this.
That is a top notch way to hurt yourself and have a really bad time. Anuses and vaginas don’t work the same way and because of that, much more care is required to make sure you have the best time possible.
It’s always important to warm up first, go as slow as a snail, and use plenty of lube since the anus doesn’t self-lubricate. Start with a finger or a small bum plug just to relax the sphyncter muscle, before moving onto larger toys or a partner’s penis.
If anal play isn’t your cup of tea or you are unable to participate, there’s a lot to be said for outercourse. It’s much safer than penetrative sex and still feels incredibly pleasurable. Try using a little bit of oil based lubricant between your thighs and letting your partner grind between them. Or have them grind between your butt cheeks.
There are many situations where self lubricating may be difficult, whether that’s because of HRT or other medications or because you’re planning some anal fun, so investing in a good quality lubricant is imperative. Lube has a bad reputation Shawna says, though these days it doesn’t have to be sticky and smelly.
Hackable sex toys
The best sex toys, according to Shawna, are easy to use and intuitive:
Many of them might have multiple uses so they’re quite versatile. Most come with some instructions, but they’re also easily hackable. For example some dildos, vaginal dilators, and bum toys come with a looped handle which you can pop a smaller vibrator into to create a larger vibrating dildo / dilator / bum toy.
Also many wand vibrator brands like Doxy, Magic Wand, and Le Wand sell attachments for their toys to suit your body and the kind of fun you want to get up to.
Using sex toys is a really personal thing for everyone but one thing is clear, no matter who you are, whether you are trans or cis, sex toys guarantee one thing: pleasure.
Pictures courtesy of Sex Siopa