If you’re a trans or gender nonconforming person, navigating sex can be hard. It can be especially hard when you’re with a cis person who doesn’t know what it’s like to be trans.
Sex can be complicated - you’re getting intimate with someone, after all, and that tends to come with a certain level of vulnerability, whether we like to admit it or not. Add the complications and risks that come with being trans in a very gendered society, and trying to navigate a hookup can feel extra complicated.
While there’s no perfect script for ensuring that a sexual encounter will go well, the following can be useful to remember if you’re looking to hook up with a cis person.
1. You And Your Body Deserve Respect
It’s not ok for anyone to comment on your body, ask you invasive questions, call you by the wrong name or pronouns, use terms for your body you’re not comfortable with, or touch you in any way that’s not 100% consensual.
2. Have Standards And Keep To Them
Your standards don’t have to be super high - but they should be high enough that, at the very least, you’re treated with respect and have your gender recognized.
It can be helpful to ask your potential date or hookup if they’ve dated/had sex with a trans person before. While this doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything, their response can help you gauge the extent to which they’re knowledgeable, respectful and open to learning.
If someone doesn’t see or validate your gender or your body the way you want and deserve, it’s ok to stop engaging with them.
If someone misgenders you and doesn’t seem as though they’re willing to put in the effort to work on it, you don’t have to settle. There are people out there who will respect you.
3. Your Gender/Your Body Is How You Feel It To Be, Not How Someone Else Perceives It
It can be hard not to internalize the perceptions of the world around us; it can be especially hard if your gender is constantly misunderstood, minimized or devalued. If someone doesn’t see or validate your gender or your body the way you want and deserve, it’s ok to stop engaging with them. Reach out to someone you trust for support and to remind you of your sense of self.
4. Know Your Boundaries And Assert Them
You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Ever. It’s ok to limit what you allow a cis person to have access to (or anyone, for that matter). Use these questions to help you define your boundaries:
- Do you have any “no” zones, or places on your body you don’t like to be touched?
- Are there types of touch (hard, soft, stroking, flicking) that you don’t like or that invalidate your gender?
- Does the thought of penetration (or oral, or anything else) wig you out?
- Are there specific triggers that will bring up past trauma, that would be good for your date to avoid?
- Would you rather your date bring their questions to google so you don’t have to educate them about trans issues?
Whatever your boundaries are, communicate them (and while you’re at it, ask your date what their boundaries are too). Having your boundaries respected is an important part of any hot sexual encounter.
And if something happens mid-sex that you’re not comfortable with, you don’t have to go along with it - speak up. It’s ok (essential even!) to communicate what you’re ok and not ok with.
5. Your Pleasure Matters
Identify your desires and communicate them. Tell your date what you like in bed. Make sure your date knows what makes you feel good:
- The types of touch you like
- The sex acts you’re into
- If you like to use toys or prosthetics
- If you prefer topping/bottoming/switching
- The language that makes you feel sexy, how you like your body parts to be referred to (do you prefer words like pussy? cock? dick? clit? junk? chest? chesticles?)
- Any other things that are validating and hot for you
6. You Always Have The Right To Protect Your Body
This includes using barriers and safer sex practices for any and all sexual experiences - innie condoms, outie condoms, gloves, dental dams, birth control if that’s something that suits your body, etc. If your date pushes back or tells you it’s not necessary, advocate for yourself, and don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.
7. It’s Your Choice When/If You Disclose You’re Trans
First of all, you don’t “owe” anybody anything. You’re not “tricking” them or “hiding” anything by not disclosing. It’s none of their business.
That said, some people prefer to disclose sooner rather than later, to avoid uncomfortable (or even unsafe) situations and so they can remove themselves easily if they need to. If you’re meeting someone from a hookup app, it could be useful to disclose up front before meeting up with the person, to gauge whether it’s someone you actually want to hook up with.
8. Remember, Cis People Can Have A Complicated Relationship With Their Body Too
This isn’t meant as a comparison; trans and nonbinary people face extremely high rates of discrimination, harassment and violence simply because of their bodies. Many struggle with dysphoria as well.
It can be helpful to remember, though, that having a complicated relationship with one’s body isn’t a trans-specific experience. Thanks to society’s nearly impossible beauty standards, cis people can also suffer from dysmorphia, eating disorders, low self-esteem and a host of other body issues.
Tell your date what you like in bed.
While most cis people don’t experience the particular challenges trans people face, it’s reasonable to assume the person you’re getting into bed with doesn’t have a perfect relationship with their body either. So sharing boundaries, turn ons, and safer sex preferences etc. can be tricky - but important - to navigate for people of all genders.
9. Your Worth Is Not Dependent On A Cis Person’s Desire
Society is centered around the desires of cis people; this doesn’t have to be true in our bedrooms. Many trans folks choose not to have sex with cis people (for a period of time or permanently) because they feel safer or better sharing their bodies with other trans people. It’s completely up to you.
Whatever you choose, you are badass and valuable and perfect just as you are - find people who recognize this, celebrate it and reflect it back to you. Your pleasure matters.