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Trans Bodies and Sex

Jul 27, 2016

The first time I ever hooked up with a cis queer dude came with a lot of disheartening surprises. Things I soon learned how to navigate around. I learned to tell him that I was okay with keeping my binder on if he needed, that I could top if he wanted me to, that I could keep the lights off if it made him more comfortable.

Throughout all of this I found a common theme amongst my hookups with cis dudes: it was always me who was making space, making excuses, and making compromises for his feelings towards my body. I found that the only times I ever felt truly dysphoric and uncomfortable were when I was having sex with a cis dude.

So of course when I met a tall, handsome, gay boy at a party who told me he had never been with a trans boy before, who nearly worshipped me, and the sex we had I was ecstatic. I was so happy to find someone who loved my body so much but I soon found a pattern. I would play the part of submission because it turned him on, I would wear more revealing or feminine clothes because he liked how I looked in them, I would participate in these wild role-playing scenarios that always me in the same place: an over-feminine and submissive version of myself just to be acceptable to his sexual appetite. I realized again that his feelings for my body were paramount over how I felt about my own body, and that having my trans body be over-sexualized and fetishized felt just as bad as having my trans body ignored. Fetishization made me feel as though my body was all I was, while ignorance about my body made me feel as if my body was something I inherently have to be ashamed of because it differs from my cis partner’s body.

As a cis partner there are a few things you can do (and not do for that matter) that can help you embrace your beautiful trans partner’s body for all that it is, which is wonderful and complex and beautiful in its own right.

1. Before sex, ask us what words and terms we like to use for our bodies. This was something so radical to me, that the first time it was asked, I didn’t know how to respond. Before realizing that I controlled the language to my own body, I thought that certain parts of myself were off limits during sex, simply because I did not like the language. For me this meant that “boobs” became “chest” and that “vagina” became “crotch” and suddenly I was allowed to involve my whole self in sex and I felt safe doing so.

2. Validate us when we express wanting certain things in bed. This also means erasing preconceived gendered ideas about how two people should or shouldn’t have sex. I was always scared of asking for certain things because I was trying to “prove” my masculinity. I was scared to ask to bottom, to be on the submissive end of Dom/Sub play, for oral sex’ anything that I thought could possibly mimic what I perceived as “straight sex”. But the reality is that all my sexual experiences are unique, and that sex is about creating a fun and safe experience for everyone.

3. Please do not compare us to past partners. It feels like the default response when I’m feeling dysphoric is to tell me that I’m still “man enough” or “masculine enough” for you. When being compared to a past cis male partner, it enforces the idea that cis male bodies need to be the standard for all my male bodies. Telling me that you find certain parts of me just as attractive or more attractive than your past cis partners’ “even though” I’m trans just reinforces the cis male body is the standard I’m being held to and seeing as everyone’s body is their own, there’re really no “wrong way” for a body to look and this includes trans people.

Don’t get me wrong, navigating my trans body around sex is still really hard sometimes but it’s totally possible. At the end of the day my body is just that, my body and anyone who I invite to share that part of myself with should be respectful to it because it’s the only one I’ve ever had.

Ellis is a boyish Latinx nonbinary person living in a small house near a big river in Minnesota. They learned everything they know from Punky Brewster. Feel free to engage them @ ellis.lynn.perez@gmail.com. 

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