Why I’m Unapologetic About My Sensuality as a Black Trans Woman

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Author’s Note: This passage is coming from my experience as a Black Trans Woman, but is not meant to speak for all Black Trans Women, or to invalidate the spectrums of gray and asexuality. All perspectives, stories, and viewpoints are valid, but I can only be an expert on my own.

When I first attempted celibacy, I was identifying and living my life as a man, because I was being used for a sexual purpose, in exchange for validation that I could be wanted for something. I was constantly being told that I wasn’t “boyfriend material” (shocker and a half, right?), but word had gotten out around campus that I was a good fuck. That was years and years of living, and I was tired of it, so I decided that I would be the only one loving me, until someone was ready to love me for the person I was, and not what they could take from me.

Now I exist in my truth, as a woman, a sensual and unapologetic, but nervous, woman. The strange thing about this is that the things that used to trigger me about being a man (like lifting and playing sports) are things that now affirm me as a woman who cannot — and so, does not —conform. At this point in my life, sex has also been one of those things. While I was celibate the second time around, which only lasted about a month, to be honest, I realized something about me: sex is a form of self-preservation for me as a Black Trans Woman.

Meditate on this: a Black Trans Woman faces so many obstacles as a consequence for merely existing. She is hunted, not only by the state, but by her own people as well, as some sort of aspiration to an internalized sense of “manhood” by Black cis men. Add to this, the endless hurdles to find work and keep it, or to find other means of working that are not considered valid by society which increases the danger for them in many instances.

These are just outside factors to consider. Add to this the dysphoria, the constant misgendering from loved ones and close relationships that have proven to be mentally, physically or emotionally violent. Cap this off with the death toll, and the ever decreasing life expectancy, and I guess you could say a bitch like me might have a little bit of stress in her life! Go figure.

For me, as a Black Trans Woman, to witness sex as a form of affirmation, is to find the smallest diamond in a rough of shit covered knives, doused in lemon juice and sprinkled with salt.

For me, as a Black Trans Woman, to find her body not only as something worthy and magnificent (as it is), but to find someone to share that magick with, may very well be one of the only moments she has to enjoy a trying and very taxing life — one that’s always trying to kill her.

I was able to give my body to someone in this way recently, to feel a presence beside me and within me, that was a compliment to my being. Believe me when I say this: it was the first time in a while that I felt able to take on this strange, complicated, and altogether violent world I live in, with all of my identities attached. For a moment, there was music, sweat, voices, hands, mouths, hearts, and above all of this — peace…a moment of peace and bliss.

This… this is something I need. That’s an unpopular opinion potentially, but for me, it is something I need. In a world that seems to be all to focused on the idea of less and less women like me being in it, the moments where I can love my body, and share it with someone else who loves it, are moments I don’t think I could live without right now.

So I declare my celibacy absolved and my sluthood righteous, free moving and resurrected. I will work to center myself in other ways, so that I never fall into the shadow of another. I will focus my life, and then take self-care in the form of being a shameless fucking THOT, because that’s what liberation looks like for me.

To all my loves on their respective journeys, know that your journey, your story, your narrative, even when not in your hands, is still yours. You owe that to no one. Peace.

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Vita E. Cleveland

Originally from Cleveland, OH, Vita E has obtained her bachelor's degree in Percussion Performance from Baldwin Wallace University. She is the founder of TWOC Poetry, a brand/YouTube channel she created to increase proper media representation and knowledge for marginalized groups, focusing primarily on experiences as a trans woman of color. Vita E's talents have taken her across the country in a very short span of time, performing at Campus Pride in North Carolina, competing as a finalist in "Capturing Fire Queer Poetry Slam" in DC, and doing work with Black Lives Matter in the Midwest. She has recently formed a duo with J Mase III, known as #BlackTransMagick. When she is not performing, she spends a great deal of her time as the Social Media/Communications Coordinator for awQward Talent Agency, the first agency of its kind to specifically uplift the work of trans and queer artists of color.

Vita has written 1 article for us.


  1. “In a world that seems to be all to focused on the idea of less and less women like me being in it, the moments where I can love my body, and share it with someone else who loves it, are moments I don’t think I could live without right now.

    So I declare my celibacy absolved and my sluthood righteous, free moving and resurrected.”

    Just beautiful!

  2. This is fantastic. Thank you, Vita, for writing it, and more importantly for being alive and insisting on being free. And thank you, Autostraddle, for being committed to raising voices like this!

  3. Thank you all so much! I’m very new to writing pieces like this, and the support means a ton! :) <3

  4. This piece is gorgeous and layered and so genuinely felt and I absolutely adore it. Thank you so much for sharing. And extra love from a former Clevelander and fellow BW grad!

  5. I loved this! Thank you for sharing.

    I particularly liked the nuance with which you discuss sex: you talk about how sex is a really affirming practice for you, but without dismissing the value or validity of celibacy either. These are tensions that I am still working out in my personal life in terms of how I want to engage with sex, so it was really great to read your measured and thoughtful piece.

  6. Thank you for this. I appreciate your words and it prompted me to think about the role of sensuality in my life. <3

  7. Beautiful and empowering and I love love love how you write about sex as an affirmation of self. Thank you.

    • You’re so welcome! Thank YOU so much for reading it! I’ll probs submit another article again soon!

    • Is it? I have a need for touch and sex. That doesn’t mean that anyone else has an imperative to give those things to me, though. Enthusiastic consent remains paramount throughout all of my encounters. Am I dangerous?

    • Very much so. It’s a game of balance always, and it’s always important that sexual growth and discovery for me centers itself around me, and not around others. For me it’s not orgasm that’s potentially habit forming, it’s other people’s involvement in that endeavor. So (CW: sex), I masturbate more often than I used to. I go to things alone and get to know people, I explore toys and tactics (weird word for this context, but yeah) to ensure that I’m learning what I need from myself, and for myself, and then how it compliments with other people. I hope that makes sense, and I appreciate the viewpoint a bunch. <3

    • Thanks for reading! :) I’m so glad it resonates. This shit feels weird from time to time ya know?

  8. This is a gorgeous and deeply felt piece, thank you.

    I’d be very interested to hear about how you make this happen in your life. I’ve also experienced sex as life affirming and something that got me through, but with some serious minefields along the way.

    • Sure! To say that there have been minefields in mine as well would probs be understating. I have seen people, including myself, disguise sexual liberation as a crutch (ableism?) for going too far and not paying attention. This is dangerous because it essentially gives a person the opportunity to absolve themselves of mistakes, should any be made. “I was just expressing myself!” Bullshit, right? It’s totally possible to express oneself without hurting someone else, and not only is it possible, it’s something that should be actively worked towards. So there’s an example. In learning how to do this, I have become slower, more patient and more understanding to the needs of an individual in front of me, that may differ from my own.

      I think one of the ways I navigate this is by centering the energy into the practice of sex as a form of meditation. The breath, the sensations, the focus sometimes needed, the flow of energy when it’s not, the difference and connections between all of that. In ways I am both occasionally upset and joyful about, sex has never been “just sex,” and when it was, it sucked. So I push for something deeper every time (pun not intended). Hope that answers your questions, and feel free to ask more!

  9. This piece would be great, if it weren’t written by a rapist. Do a background check on your writers before letting them write, please. Vita was permanently expelled from a university for sexual misconduct and has posted a video herself admitting to sexually assaulting a former partner.

  10. The person commenting is an ex partner who has been stalking me, messaging my partners, colleagues, and even gig venues to tell people this information. I have receipts if people need that kinda proof.

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