Being Transgender in Sex

In a special guest blog for Let's Talk About Sex, Disabled Collective Chair, Nathaniel McShane, discusses his experiences of sex as a transgender person.

There’s a distinct irony in having sex when you are transgender. You end up experiencing two sides to potential sexual partners. On one hand, some will be entirely turned off by the idea of going within 20 metres of a naked transgender person. Some will state that they are only attracted to “real men/women” (sidenote, trans men are men and trans women are women and this is not something I will debate – funnily enough I’m not all for debates regarding my own identity or rights, thank you very much). Some others may repeat their sexual orientation as though any proposition for sex by a trans person negates their sexuality, which it does not. At first, you will be upset, humiliated or disgusted (maybe with them, maybe with yourself) but over time, you get used to it.

Then there is the opposite side – fetishisation of trans people. People who are too eager to have sex with you, to the point where you feel like a tick on a bucket list. People who reiterate far too much how attracted they are to trans people, who never refer to you as anything other than the sexy trans person they want to have sex with. I have a Tinder message burned into my memory from a couple of years ago from a guy I had been speaking to for all of a day or so, telling me, “I’ve never had sex with a trans before.” In terms of pick-up lines, always aim higher than this as a minimum. If there is a bar to get over, then this one is somewhere in hell.

And then there are normal people – people who just have sex with others without taking it too far in either direction. Whether it be via a romantic relationship, friends with benefits, or just a hook-up, these experiences will (thankfully) make up the majority of your sexual experience. But you can still run into issues when the topic of being trans comes up. I am of the opinion that you should try to be as honest with any sort of partner as physically possible, but there are also deep thoughts and trauma tied to being trans that you may not feel comfortable getting into with every person you decide to have sex with. You may feel self-conscious of your body if you have body dysphoria as a part of being trans; every time I look at myself without clothes I feel a weird sense of distance from what I see. I see parts that shouldn’t be there but are, and parts that should be but aren’t. I’m not sure how to navigate that part of my life with another person yet. But at the same time, it doesn’t need to stop you. Sex is not one act; it is a multitude of actions that can be done in a multitude of ways. If you are too uncomfortable to do something with a certain body part, your genitalia for example, then you can try something else and anyone worth your time should support you with that. As transgender folk, our bodies are ours. They are ours to love, and ours to hate, and ours to keep and ours to change.

The simple fact at the end of all this is that having sex as a transgender person is inherently different from having sex as a cisgender person, yet it also isn’t. The parts may be different or they may not be and the body may be unfinished or complete, but at the core, sex is sex. Being trans should not be an obstacle that you have to navigate to have sex, but even when it is, remember that you don’t necessarily have to do it alone.