Rebecca Kling and Chicago’s Early to Bed Say “Trans Women + Sex = Awesome”

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As we all know, the Internet is made up of primarily two things: cat pictures and sex. Whether you’re looking for photos, videos, stories, discussions, toys, or partners, the good folks of the Web are more happy to provide a dizzying (and occasionally, nightmare-inducing) variety. Oh yeah, and ADVICE. There’s a veritable army of folks who want to give you advice on how and what to shove into where and when. Some of those things are really awesome, like our NSFW series on how to have lesbian sex. Some of them are things you should never actually pay attention to that make for rather amusing blog posts when queer girls try them out. Unfortunately, in this vast pornucopia of proffered sex help, trans people are pretty damn under-served. When it comes to sex, it sometimes seems like trans women only have two options for how others will view them — as being undesirable or as walking fetishes. We deserve better than that, dammit! Trans ladies are just as worthy of genuine, hot, enjoyable sex as anyone else.

Unfortunately, the resources to help us and our partners figure how best to have all that hot sex are not plentiful. Mira Bellwether‘s single-issue zine, Fucking Trans Women, has been pretty much been THE go-to source on the topic since she published it in 2010. Well, Chicago’s Early to Bed, a feminist-run, LGBT-friendly sex shop, has decided to get in the game as well. They’ve enlisted the help of trans blogger/performer Rebecca Kling to write a handy guide to getting it on directed at trans women and their partners.

This is the rest of the internet.  image via Mari Brighe

This is the rest of the internet.
image via Mari Brighe

While Kling’s guide, Trans Women + Sex = Awesome, isn’t of the scope and size of Bellwether’s zine, it’s definitely a well-written and fun introduction to a topic that’s deserving of considerably more attention. She splits her piece into four sections, discussing terminology, having sex with a trans woman, having sex as a trans woman, and getting sex toys involved. She gives two beautifully simple guidelines that underly her entire discussion, and I think they’re rules that we would ALL do well to think about when it comes to our partners:

1. Don’t Make Assumptions
1. Don’t Be A Jerk

While I suppose that she could almost just leave it at that, it wouldn’t exactly make for great reading. Luckily, she goes on to write a whole lot more about the social, psychological, and sexy aspects of getting down with transgender women. Perhaps one of the best things about her section of being the sexual partner of a trans lady is her section called “Don’t Put Your Shit On Us.” And no, those of you giggling at the potential double entendre, it has nothing to do with excrement; it’s about understanding that your hang-ups (if you have them) about sex with trans people are about you. They’re not our responsibility to help you fix.

“You’ve been told your whole life that trans women are icky and to be pitied (at best) or beaten up and killed (at worst). Your complex feelings are legitimate and important for you to process. But not with your partner. It is unfair and unreasonable of you to ask your partner to play therapist.”

As someone who’s had way too many awkward encounters with cis folks freaking out about how my body looks or works, it was really encouraging to see Kling cover this often-overlooked situation in a way that doesn’t put the responsibility on us.

Okay, so what about the sexytimes parts? After all, I said this was a SEX guide, not a don’t-be-an-asshole guide. Well, the sexytimes parts are, in fact, quite sexy. Kling does an excellent job at being descriptive without being overly clinical, and sexy without it becoming erotica. It’s not Penthouse Letters, but it’s definitely not a textbook either. She discusses a wide variety of different ways that trans people can have sex, from oral, anal, penetrative, toys, or all by ourselves. She discusses three different techniques that are relatively specific to trans women: muffing, kangarooing, and telescoping. (Admittedly, the latter two of those were totally new concepts, even to me!) While they may not be for everyone, they do give some pretty interesting new options for exploring a AMAB body. She also gives a lovely overview of some of the ways that trans women can be different when it comes to sex, whether be because of hormones or dysphoria. Best of all, she constantly reinforces that trans women are just as worthy of hot, healthy, fulfilling sex on their own terms as anyone else:

“My gender is what I say it is. My body means what I say it means. The same is true for you. Please don’t let anyone else – your partner, the porn you watch, the society in which you live – tell you that you are anything other than awesome, fun, sexy, beautiful, hot-Hot-HOT.”

If you’re a trans woman, the partner of a trans woman, or someone who might someday be the partner of a trans woman, then it’s definitely something that’s worth a read (and if you haven’t bought Fucking Trans Women yet, do that too!). After all, knowledge is power — hot, sexy power!

Profile photo of Mari Brighe

Mari is a queer lady scientist and educator from Detroit, who skillfully avoids working on her genetics dissertation by writing about queer and trans life, nerd culture, feminism, and science. You can frequently find her running around at science-fiction conventions giving panels on consent culture and LGBT topics or DJing at fantastically strange parties. She is a contributing writer for TransAdvocate, maintains a personal blog at TransNerdFeminist, and can frequently be found stirring up trouble (and posting selfies) on Twitter.

Mari has written 18 articles for us.

21 Comments

  1. Thumb up 6

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    While I think this guide is generally excellent (and she very much says it’s from her viewpoint only) I do think it’s too penis-centric and ignores trans women who have had SRS or have those who have sex with men. SRS (in my opinion) doesn’t mean trans issues and identity just magically disappear and you’ll be treated or experience your body like cis women (not that there’s one experience among them either). I also wish the guide would address trans women who have real issues seeing their bodies as worthy of sex. I’ve known a lot of trans women who just feel bad about anyone appreciating their bodies and while it’s understandable why the guide has a sex positive tone, there are a lot of women in the community who just aren’t even at the point where they’ll be open to that. It’s a great start and a good, more mainstream addition to Mira Bellweather’s zine.

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      I’m not disagreeing with you, however King mentions at the end that she has had SRS so… I don’t think she intentionally ignoring women who have, perhaps just thought a little more focus should be paid on transwomen who haven’t/never will. Although she does say it was fairly recent, so maybe she’ll write another instalment in the future about fucking post-srs women!

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        Yes, I saw she’d had SRS, but I just feel too much is already made of the pre/post op divide. Trans women, whatever their genital status, have many overlapping issues they’re dealing with. It’s not just a matter of “have SRS and everything is fine and dandy” nor do trans women who have had bottom surgery get some magical acceptance as women either socially or sexually. I can say from personal experience that most people who wouldn’t have intimacy with a pre-op trans person wouldn’t be intimate with a post-op trans person either no matter what they claim.

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      Rebecca here. This feedback is super helpful! Now that I’ve had SRS (in Dec ’13) I definitely hope to expand the guide to include info on life as/with a post-SRS trans woman.

      I’d also be curious on your thoughts of how to tackle what is, as you say, a very real issue of trans women viewing ourselves as undesirable. I do want the guide to remain at least primarily light, but am not opposed to acknowledging that Things Can Be Hard.

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        Rebecca, thanks for writing this article! I don’t think any one look at trans women’s sexuality can encompass everything, so it’s great to have your voice and experiences added to the existing resources. Given that the those resources are few in number, your contribution is especially welcome!

        I think the best approach to discussing sexuality in general, and trans women’s sexuality specifically, is to have a multiplicity of people talking about the topic. There’s great diversity in our community, and I would love to hear what many others have to share.

        Thanks, too, to Early To Bed for being a part of this! I’ll definitely have to stop by the next time I’m in the Chicagoland area.

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        Hi Rebecca, thanks for responding. I’m not going to pretend body image is an easy issue to deal with. Unfortunately, how trans women are viewed is with much the same messed up filters with which cis women get portrayed, plus we have the added weight of justifying who we are, our very ‘authenticity’ and what our womanhood (and bodies) even represent. It’s a lot. Needless to say, so many trans women who are in media (Janet Mock for example) are very cisnormative looking, get a lot of props for that and, to a certain extent, are permitted access often because of that cisnormative appearance. Perhaps because of internalized shame, far too often people in the trans community fall into a trap of giving instant props to trans women who pass—a fate of many oppressed groups who create their own hierarchies by mimicking the larger culture. We’re so happy to hear happy trans stories that we often don’t stop to think how certain narratives impact persons in the community who don’t fit those stories or appearances. We need to resist this impulse. We need to make certain all kinds and bodies and ages and races of trans women get representation. Anything less than that is buying into a view of womenhood I want no part of.

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    This is so awesome! For a little while I’ve been exceptionally nervous about the sexual aspect of relationships, almost to the point where I’ve been thinking that I’ll simply have to wait until I get SRS before I am able to have any sort of enjoyment from sex. Not so, it would seem! So well written and informative, too!

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      Thanks for your kind words! I’d definitely say that no trans woman should ever feel pressured to be sexual if they’re uncomfortable with their body (hell, no cis person should be, either), but also that trans women should be allowed and encouraged to enjoy our bodies, even if that body isn’t quite what we’d like it to be. I definitely had moments where I felt like any acknowledgement of my body (and my penis, in particular) giving me pleasure meant I wasn’t ‘really’ trans, and that’s just not true.

  3. Thumb up 6

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    This is a fantastic resource for what it is. The penis-centric objections (on this and the Facebook thread) are covered in Kling’s disclaimers: These are her pre-operative experiences, which she plans to update with thoughts post-surgery. While treatment and body image issues are important topics, no one guide can be everything to everyone. We should try not to demand “inclusive as possible” when we can demand “only inclusive as is useful”, instead. Otherwise, Kling might as well have said, “Don’t be a jerk” and left it at that.

  4. Thumb up 4

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    I look forward to reading this book. And I hope it conveys that trans women are not only capable to give and want hot sexual female love, but also, to give sweet, loving female partner love.

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      thank you for speaking up on this, i really appreciate, because it’s a subtle but important matter – but don’t bet on anything conveying that message. when every single one of the women in question i have slept with (there are a few, maybe 7) has this being expected/encouraged/required of her the first time in her entire fucking life – it really makes you wonder how much all the positive talk is worth.

      Nevermind the much darker trail of thought regarding transsexual women perceiving other of their own through cis eyes and thus being their own prison guards and also failing to implement this.

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    This is awesome! Thanks for the info!
    I have something to share, It’s about my sex toy a vibrator, it’s the Wild G-Spot Vibrator, I bought it online at adameve.com, been using this vibe for a couple of months now and it’s really awesome! Plus I got it with lots of freebies like free gifts, totally hot and sexy DVDs, free shipping (love this offer very discreet) and the best part…50% off. And if anyone wants to purchase this vibe or any kind of adult toys in adam and eve, don’t forget to use PROMO50 coupon code at the checkout so you can get the freebies and the discount, and also note that the free shipping offer is available within US only ;)

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    I tried to purchase Fucking Trans Women when it came out but somehow the download didn’t work. My wife, who has a trans* history, was my first (and so only) partner. At one point I was looking for resources, but for the most part open communication helped us through sexy times. Then after her surgery she had depression and limited sensation which was frustrating for both of us. Now over a year after her surgery she is finally finding sexy times more pleasurable. But it still has some complications. So thank you to Autostraddle for reporting on this issue and to Rebecca for writing about it. Also I look forward to a post-SRS edition!

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