Without portraying myself as too much of a pervert, I am utterly fixated on the sex lives of others. I have an almost inexhaustible curiosity for what, exactly they do when nobody is around.
By the same token, I don’t have any interest in pornography. I see zero titillation ensuing from watching two complete strangers frick-frack in whatever delightful way takes their fancy. Because I’m nothing more than coldly, unsexually curious about other people’s sex lives.
So, I 100% understand that cis people’s apparent obsession with trans bodies and trans sex isn’t entirely perverse. A decent chunk of you are just curious as to what goes down when the lights are out.
Me too. See, I’ve been having sex as trans for nearly eight years now. I’d hate to think I was doing it wrong. And it was partly to this end that I attended a safe sex workshop for trans men.
Previously when I’d seen “trans safe sex” workshops advertised, they were all geared towards trans men who have sex with women, with a little bit tagged on the end about making sure to get regular smear tests.
However, this one was great fun- we opened up by trying to get a condom on a dildo we couldn’t see in the quickest time. It took me the longest- which, as two of the attendees had never put a condom on anything before, was particularly shameful. After that, we got to discussing our hopes and fears about sex.
Now, I’m not going to breach confidentiality by discussing anything that was said, but during the discussion a few things became obvious.
Firstly, that talking about sex is important and that those of us who want to have it should feel able to talk about it.
Secondly, nobody but you knows what strap-on you want.
Finally, that there is no one way for trans people to have sex, in the same way that there is no one way for anybody to have sex.
In September of last year I visited the sadly now-closed Institute of Sexology, which was an exhibition that combined history and art to provoke thought on the nature of sex. Particularly moving, I found, was a piece by Neil Bartlett called Would You Mind? This sought to anonymously ask people of all ages and genders about their sex lives, and also ask them what they wanted to know about the sex lives of others.
Nearly 20,000 people completed questionnaires which now comprise part of a collection in the Wellcome Library. I was one of the last, meaning the questionnaire I filled out was entirely comprised of questions submitted by the general public rather than Bartlett.
The snippets I read were amazing. And I couldn’t help but think, on the last day of the exhibition, that it was a shame to see it all go. Because cis or trans, there’s no right way to have sex, and I think we forget that sometimes.
Asking trans people about sex shouldn’t be an interrogation, it should be a discussion, and only if all parties want to talk about. So, the next time someone asks me how I have sex, my response is going to be, “how do you?”