The Crowdsourced Guide to Trans Sex: Partnered Edition
Written by Max Slack @theyrequeer
Disclaimer: Any personal experiences are written from the perspective of a white Trans man who is medically transitioning privately in the UK. These views are my own and do not by any means represent the wide range of experiences within the Trans community.
It’s Trans Day of Visibility 2022 and we’re sharing the first of a series of articles focussing on Trans sex and intimacy. All too often Trans folks, including non-binary and gender non-conforming identities, are sidelined when it comes to conversations about sex and pleasure. Many resources for Trans people (and their partners) are heavily focused on comparing Transgender bodies to cisgender bodies. They highlight differences rather than connections and focus on generalised experiences over individual pleasure.
The Crowdsourced Guide to Trans Sex is changing that. We’re collecting real experiences and stories from real Trans people. Sharing them to help you explore your identity, your body and find what makes you feel euphoric.
So, here’s our first collection, focussing on partnered sex with, for, or including Trans folks:
Gender presentation doesn’t equal identity or role in the bedroom.
So much more pleasure and intimacy can happen when we stop aligning ourselves with gendered expectations. No one person should be a top or bottom when it comes to sex simply because of how they identify. The same goes for initiating sex, wearing a strap-on or penetration. How someone presents themselves when it comes to clothing or appearance, or the role they prefer to play in the bedroom, doesn’t necessarily equal their gender identity. Don’t presume; communicate, ask questions, and leave your assumptions at the door.
I spent a lot of my adult life thinking I had to be a top in the bedroom because I was usually the more masculine person, which exacerbated my hang-ups about vulnerability and my body. Letting go of heteronormative opinions about sex has allowed me to explore and accept different forms of intimacy.
“Just because I enjoy having sex in my body assigned female at birth, or I enjoy wearing lingerie as part of my sexual practice, that doesn’t mean I understand myself as feminine or a woman”
“I have a body that gives me pleasure and I wear things that set the mood and make me feel sexy and empowered. Binary gender has no place in my bedroom”
“Trans men are not necessarily bottoms and can receive penetration without being submissive”
“It can be incredibly wounding if someone thinks differently of you gender-wise after having sex with you because of your body parts or preferred sex acts”
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Portrayals of sex in TV and film, and especially in the porn industry, mislead us into thinking that sex just somehow happens with very little conversation or communication. In reality, both for safety and enjoyment, we have to talk about what is going to happen before it does, especially as Trans folk and especially with new partners.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a formal, outside of the bedroom conversation about every type of sexual activity and whether you’re open to it. It can be an ongoing process that takes place via text, phone calls or in person. Consent is not a one-time thing, and when it comes to Trans bodies, things can change. I know for me I can be comfortable with one thing one day, and not the next. I have to continuously communicate with my girlfriend, or sometimes we just have to try things and see what happens.
There are few things worse in sex than someone referring to you or treating you in a way that turns you off. When it comes to intimacy, much like outside the bedroom, Trans folks may have specific ways they want (or don’t want) to be referred to, touched or treated. Consent is King (Queen, or Monarch) and the only way to get explicit consent is to communicate.
“Communication is vital before sex to ensure my partner knows what can be touched, what can’t be, and what I like and dislike”
“Intimately connecting with my own body is hard, but that is no reflection on them. I often avoid initiating sex because of this anxiety, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it!”
“It will not just happen if we go with the flow. I will need to have a conversation about how I like to be touched, what I like, and what is off the limits. I will not have sex with a person who does not understand this and who is not open to having a conversation about sex”
“It’s easiest just to have open communication about what we both like. This is great for sex with anyone!”
Bodies and body parts
Most Trans folks will tell you is that our different body parts aren’t as different as we might think. Everyone has genitalia, and people who are are into partnered sex can usually feel some sort of pleasure from theirs being touched by someone else. We’re educated about body parts in an intensely gendered and segregated way. Moving outside of cisgender heteronormative gender and sex expectations, allows us to access a new level of intimacy and comfort with our bodies. People’s genitals don’t define their gender, identity or how they want to have sex.
“If people are only interested in one type of genitals, I am not interested in them”
“I don’t trust people with genital preferences to be safe to have sex with as a nonbinary person”
“Sex doesn’t have to have such a focus on specific body parts or orgasms, and can just be about making each other feel good”
Words of affirmation, or (consensual) degradation
Language is SO important when it comes to Trans sex. It’s important to recognise that gender can be removed from conversations about sex acts, body parts and preferences (check out this Transgender style guide for examples). You don’t have to refer to body parts in any way apart from the ones you like for your own, and the ones your partner likes for theirs.
Those words might be ungendered or heavily gendered, completely depending on preference and what makes someone feel good. In the same way that removing gender can help people feel more comfortable, language can also be used to affirm gender identities in a way that helps people feel sexy and seen as they feel. Remember that how someone likes themselves or their body to be referred to when it comes to sex may not mirror how they present at other points in their life, and that is 100% okay.
I’ve met Trans folks who use biological terms only to refer to their body parts because they feel it is the least gendered. Others exclusively stick to nicknames, both gendered (pussy, cock, tits) and ungendered (junk, chest, hole). Remember that this is just about choosing words that work for you, rather than anyone else.
“It’s possible to talk about sex acts, body parts, preferences, and roles without gendering any of those things”
“It’s so validating when your partner calls your genitals what you want”
“It’s important for a partner to be patient with the fact that your body and what feels good is changing”
“Ask about what kind of language to use when referring to body parts and me as a partner. I'm usually femme-presenting and AFAB but gendered language in bed makes me extremely uncomfortable”
The D Word
It’s difficult to write about Trans sex without mentioning gender dysphoria. Although we’re trying our best to focus on euphoria with these articles, it’s important to acknowledge that the big D can rear its ugly head at inopportune moments, especially when sex is involved. Responses from our community referenced how different positions can feel dysphoric, and also how a dysphoria response can vary from day to day.
Make sure you’re clear about your boundaries with your partner, or if you’re not sure then say that. Sometimes we have to try things to know what works, and having the ability to say no and know it will be respected and understood is important. Take it slow, build trust and make sure you and your partner both know the score. Something I had to learn as my body changed with hormones was how to confidently share my needs and boundaries. As my girlfriend says to me on a fairly regular basis, “we can’t read minds”. If you want someone to use a type of language for you, or touch you in a certain way, ask. Remember that anyone who you are being intimate with should respect your boundaries, and if they don’t it’s a huge red flag.
“Some days I can do things or experience things that on other days I can’t, and I just need someone to be understanding and patient with my body and me”
“Certain positions can feel really dysphoric”
“As a pre-transition person, often I feel less dysphoria when I'm having sex with someone I love or am in a relationship with. To the point that I don't feel ashamed or uncomfortable by my body or physical sex”
A (hopefully) happy ending
All of our community responses for this series had one thing in common; That Trans sex can be beautiful, sexy, pleasurable, kinky, fun and joyful. Navigating sex and intimacy as a Trans person isn’t always easy, but a little communication and understanding can go a long way. So many Trans people never think they will be able to experience sex that is truly comfortable and pleasurable, but we know it’s 100% possible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Max, (pronouns: They/He) is a Trans content producer and activist based in London. As the creator behind @theyrequeer on IG, Max works with brands to help them reach the LGBTQ+ community. They believe that representation and authentic voices are the key to advancing LGBTQ+ rights, especially for the Trans+ community. With that in mind, Max is currently sharing every step of his medical transition journey on his Instagram, whilst supporting organisations to better serve, support and empower the Trans community.