“How is having sex with a trans person different? I have a pretty serious crush and I don’t want them to feel invalidated.”
I understand the urge to make your partner feel “normal,” but I believe it’s important to acknowledge the diversity of bodies and minds in gender nonconformity. One should not assume that all people want to be touched in the same way, as it leads to bad sex. (This advice is especially applicable for a cisgender person with a transgender partner).
We’ll start with some general advice. First, you shouldn’t talk about a trans person’s genitalia unless you are literally being offered that information (usually because you are about to have sex). Second — and this advice applies to any touching, kissing, etc., not just sex — start by asking questions like, “What words make you excited or turn you off?,” “How do you want to be touched?” and “Any places or activities we should avoid?” before things get heated. (Of course, this comes after: “Do you want to have sex?” followed by, “Yes!”) Then be patient and if things need to stop, don’t act hurt or annoyed that your trans partner isn’t responding the way you might imagine a cis person would.
If you are trans, sex with a cisgender partner (or anyone) can feel daunting, but the right partner and the right communication can make all the difference. Keep your own safety in mind, but don’t let the concern for being “too complicated” deter you from intimacy. Don’t settle for less than respectful, gender-validating, fun sex. Everybody has boundaries and wants, and you’re no different. Ask yourself the same questions you’d ask a partner so you’ll know the answers when the time comes. It’s possible that the conversation will be difficult or kill the mood, but partners who really care for you won’t mind. You deserve intimacy that makes you feel safe and seen. For more information, check out Tobi Hill-Meyer’s articles at www.thestranger.com.
If you have a question you’d like our columnist to answer, send it to email@example.com.