Up here, down there: exploring trans sex

Trans sex is a topic that many seem to avoid in conversation because it includes talking about not only sex and how to have it, but also the many variables that come along with trans sex such as dysphoria, hormones, sexuality, gender, presentation, toys and, of course, communication. 


It might sound daunting, but transgender sex isn’t different from cisgender sex in that you will need consent, good communication and a safe word. Trans sex just adds a few nuances unique to trans people and even cis, lesbian, gay, bi or pan folks as well. 


Let’s start with partners. Trans sex can look like many different kinds of couples. Trans sex can include two nonbinary individuals, one trans woman and one trans man, two trans men, two trans women, even a cisgender person or a trans person and a nonbinary person—there are so many possibilities. Gender identity can be unique and personal; ideally a partner understands this themselves and about their partner. Sexuality can also be unique and the common understanding between yourself and your partner about each other’s sexualities, even if you’re questioning, should be taken into account in partner communication. 


Trans folks have a tricky line to walk when it comes to their bodies and the way that society sees them. Some have dysphoria surrounding their genitals, chest or other body insecure areas. Some have gotten surgeries like top or bottom surgery to feel more at home in their bodies. Hormones are also used by those who want to modify their body in a way that gives them bodily characteristics that they didn’t have before such as facial hair or breasts. Some trans people also have social dysphoria, feeling very uncomfortable with how society sees them. Dysphoria can range widely with all sorts of trans folks from severe, to mild to not at all. 


Some trans folks only feel gender euphoria in certain gender-affirming situations and that is how they realize that they are trans. During sex, these body lines don’t have to be walked alone. Communicate with your partner about the type of dysphoria they have, if any. Make sure you aren’t touching anywhere that will make them feel dysphoric about their body and, again, consent is key. Ask them throughout whether they like what you are doing and whether it feels good. If it doesn’t, stop and talk through what would feel good. These are vulnerable conversations, but they can pay off in the long run when your partner is potentially feeling bliss later on. 


BDSM and toys


LGBTQ+ folks have a long history of participating in BDSM—bondage, domination, sadism and masochism. Not all trans people participate, of course, don’t go assuming that your partner likes bondage—please communicate with them. 


One constant that is used throughout BDSM is the use of sex “toys,” or tools used for pleasure. Most people probably have at least one toy at their home for masturbation, but they are extremely useful with partners. In BDSM, common toys include fuzzy handcuffs (for beginners), restraints, whips and a variety of vibrators, dildos and cock rings, just to name a few—and I mean a few. BDSM tools and toys are so vast and varied, a whole essay wouldn’t cover it.


You can find many of these kind of toys at Portland’s trans-friendly and feminist sex shop She Bop, where you can also find many other tools and guides for LGBTQ+ sex. 


Again, never assume your partner is involved in BDSM. If you want to try BDSM with a trans partner, make sure that they fully consent, because it can be an awkward process starting out. However, once they are into the scene, they might never want to leave. From personal experience, it gives a sense of liberation and freedom in your body, gender and sexuality. 


Gender presentations and safe words


A few last topics to touch on with trans sex is gender presentation and a safe word. Gender presentation doesn’t dictate someone’s gender. If they are femme-presenting, they can still be nonbinary. Same as if they are masculine-presenting, they can still be a woman. Gender is innate, while presentation is outward and can look different than stereotypes. Always make sure to respect your partner and gender them correctly. If you don’t know their exact gender, ask. And if they don’t know yet, that’s okay. Use what works for now and check in with them again later on. 


Lastly, safe words. Make sure you have one. They can feel silly and unimportant, but they are necessary. They should be simple and easy to remember, such as “blue” or “grape.” Words like “stop,” “please” or “no” shouldn’t be used as safe words because they can be connotated with pleasure in certain sensual situations. However, you should talk about these with your partner beforehand, and make sure that they know that no means no before starting any sexual touch. 


Overall, just check in with one another. Cisgender sex should be this way too, but with transgender sex it is extra important. As long as partners are treating one another with utmost respect and care, then trans sex can be easy and fun.