Note: This survey is no longer active.
Since we started Trans Health, one thing that has struck me is how people are responding to my columns on sexuality. It seems to me that transfolk lack outlets for expressing themselves as sexual beings, because every time we release a new issue I get all sorts of emails thanking me for what I’m writing.
This phenomenon is something I’m finding totally fascinating, and I would love to get feedback from our trans readers–and readers who are partners of trans people–regarding what you feel are the most important issues facing us and our sexualities today.
My main concern as a trans sex radical and sex educator is that in North America, sex isn’t a subject that is usually discussed out in the open. I know kids (and I am one of them) who had their first sexual experiences without even being aware that there were methods for safer sex and birth control. Nobody talked to me about masturbation, and the only thing I heard about kinks was that they were creepy, immoral and just plain bad. My sex education courses in school were about reproductive physiology and anatomy. The subject of queer sexualities never came up, there were no discussions about orgasms, and I don’t know if anybody ever mentioned the clitoris to me. It was like sex was purely about inserting Tab A into Slot B and making babies.
Babies are a good thing. I used to be one. But as a person who will never reproduce and who has never had even the slightest interest in having children, my sex education was woefully inadequate.
One thinks that I should have been able to learn about sex on my own, right? Ideally, yes. The resources were out there when I was a kid, though they weren’t really as available as they are now. The problem was that I was imbued with such a sense of shame and embarrassment about sex that I wouldn’t go near the section of the bookstore where they had the books on sex. I didn’t want anybody to see me. I didn’t want anybody to know that I was interested in sex.
How screwed up is that?
From what I’ve heard it’s even worse for many trans people. If you didn’t start out in a readily sexual environment–like identifying as a gay man or a lesbian before you came out as trans–it’s very likely that the issue has never been discussed in public. One trans woman told me that she was afraid of asking questions in a sex shop–apparently a trans-friendly sex shop, too!–because she didn’t want to be seen as a freak or, even worse, a sexual predator. And even if you do find the courage to ask, what resources do you have? Sure, there’s lots of stuff relating to pleasing your partner, and specialty books like Betty Dodson’s Sex For One (perhaps the finest book ever written on masturbation; if you don’t have a copy, stop reading my column and go buy one) or The Ethical Slut for poly-inclined people. Unfortunately I have yet to see any book, discussion group or magazine dedicated to the subject of trans sexualities that doesn’t treat us as objects.
A friend and I are writing a book for this very reason. Our working title (which I love, but which might change) is When Someone You’re Fucking is Trans. We’re going to be discussing things like the actual mechanics of sex between partners when one or more of them are trans-identified. We will talk about negotiating relationships and partnerships, and about how transitioning can affect one’s sex life.
What I would like to ask from you, dear readers, is that you take a few minutes to read over the survey below, answer as little or as much as you feel comfortable, and email it to me. The more information we have, the better off we will be.
Big hugs in the New Year,