This is a post about a new “Safer Sex” guide for trans people. Thanks to our friend Donesoverydone for the link. From the HRC article introducing the guide:
“Today, the HRC Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, and Whitman-Walker Health, a community health center with special expertise in LGBTQ and HIV-related care, released Safer Sex for Trans Bodies, a comprehensive sexual health guide for transgender and gender expansive people and their partners. The guide fills a significant gap in inclusive, publicly-available sexual health resources for transgender and gender expansive people.
This first-of-its kind resource was drafted by HRC and Whitman-Walker Health in consultation with Casa Ruby, Trans United Fund, and TransLatin@ Coalition. It was made possible with support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation.”
I read through it and although there’s a couple of good points in it (such as “use a condom” and “don’t have sex with a drunk person”), most of it is a train wreck. To do a full critique of this guide would probably turn into an entire dissertation, so I’m just going to focus on a few particular things, mostly involving the renaming of body parts and the inclusion of BDSM and “transactional sex” (prostitution). There’s some information in there about preventing HIV using certain drugs, and I am not informed in the area of HIV drugs so I will not comment on that, but that is surely an interesting conversation too.
The guide begins by defining some terms:
“We, as trans people, use a variety of words to describe our gender and our body parts, and these words can be very unique and personal. There’s no one right way to refer to our bodies, but to keep things consistent in this guide, we’ve decided to use the following words in the following ways.
TRANS: Anyone and everyone who feels they are part of the transgender community, including folks who identify outside of the gender binary. Being trans does not necessarily mean that you have had surgery, want to transition or use specific pronouns. It’s all about how you understand yourself.”
Right…so anyone can be trans for any reason. This definition leaves it so wide open that the term is completely meaningless. “It’s all about how you understand yourself” could mean absolutely anything. Reading through this guide makes me think that “trans” probably refers to “people who want to rename their body parts.”
“TRANSFEMININE: Anyone who was assigned male at birth and now identifies with femininity.
TRANSMASCULINE: Anyone who was assigned female at birth and now identifies with masculinity.”
Fair enough. You can be male and identify with femininity. You can be female and identify with masculinity. That’s fine! It’s not a problem and it doesn’t require a solution.
The next section is where it gets real fun. Just to warn you now, you might spit out your coffee (or burn down civilization) when you read this next part.
“PARTS: We use this word when we’re talking about genitals or sexual anatomy of any kind.
DICK: We use this word to describe external genitals. Dicks come in all shapes and sizes and can belong to people of all genders.
FRONT HOLE: We use this word to talk about internal genitals, sometimes referred to as a vagina. A front hole may self-lubricate, depending on age and hormones.
STRAPLESS: We use this word to describe the genitals of trans women who have not had genital reconstruction (or “bottom surgery”), sometimes referred to as a penis.
VAGINA: We use this word to talk about the genitals of trans women who have had bottom surgery.”
Where to even start with this shit show?
Medical/psychological professionals should use correct clinical words at all times. One of the marks of professionalism is using the correct terminology for your field. These words like “front hole” and “strapless” are fucked up things that people say about their genitals when they are dissociating from their bodies and trying to imagine themselves as someone else. They are also words that only make sense in the context of the porn-soaked sex-pozzie movement. It is completely wrong for medical/psychological professionals to take people’s coping mechanisms and creepy reinterpretations of their genitals and turn them into terminology in a health guide.
This is the entire issue with transgenderism, of course. Gender dysphoria is the only condition where a medical professional will affirm someone’s coping mechanisms as an “identity” instead of treating their underlying issues. Once upon a time, I went to counselling because I believed I was stupid and worthless. They didn’t affirm my identity as a stupid person and try to get me legally labelled as having an intellectual disability, they recognized that I had low self-esteem and helped me with that, like professionals do, and I am now a healthy and happy person.
Now what mental health professionals are doing is just taking the words of people with mental health issues at face value when they reinterpret reality, and inscribing that faulty interpretation into law, medicine, education, and health care. It’s fucking scary.
The word vagina has been taken away from women and given to men. A woman’s vagina is called a “front hole” while an inverted penis is called a vagina. Men have always wanted to own vaginas. Even the word vagina means “sheath for a sword” because men appropriate vaginas for their own uses, believing that they exist for them to stick their penises into. But vaginas actually exist to allow a passage from the uterus to the outside of the body to allow menstrual blood and babies to exit the uterus. The transwoman who gets a surgically created hole in his body sort of does have a “sheath for a sword,” because that’s all it is—it’s not a birth canal. The term “front hole” would be more accurately used on a transwoman’s hole than on a real woman’s vagina. Our vaginas are not just holes, and calling it that is disrespectful.
A transwoman’s penis is called a “strapless” as a way of comparing his penis to a strap-on dildo. Presumably, a transwoman’s penis is a dildo that doesn’t require a harness. This term would surely be used by a transwoman who is attracted to women and thinks of himself as a “lesbian.” Transwomen cannot be lesbians because lesbians are females who are attracted to females. A male penis is not a dildo and does not resemble one in the slightest. A dildo is an inanimate object that lesbians use to pleasure each other, and a penis is a male organ that is a part of the male body. Although lesbians may be interested in dildos, we are not interested in penises. Calling a transwoman’s penis a “strapless” can definitely be seen as insulting to lesbians.
“Don’t assume that every person you meet—trans or otherwise—will use or understand these words. In most cases, the best thing you can do is ask which words a person uses to describe their body. Remember: Our bodies are our own to name and use.”
You’re not just supposed to ask for a person’s pronouns anymore, you have to also ask what words they call their body parts. Dating one of these people must be a mine field.
There are quotes from trans people throughout the guide, and here’s one from “Cole, 29, male (FtM)”:
“Call it my dick, and don’t hesitate when you say it, because that’s how I know what you think and how you feel about what you’re saying. Don’t say cunnilingus, say head. Use the words you would use for any other guy. …My body is different. Chances are good that I have more experience with it than you, or anyone. I probably know what feels good. Whether that’s what I like to be called… or how I want to be touched.”
This is fascinating. What do women gain from calling their clitoris a “dick”? How does it change their sexual experience? What does the word “dick” mean for them? When this person says “that’s how I know how you feel about what you’re saying” what does she think her partner feels? Obviously the word “dick” carries a meaning for these folks about how they feel about their clits, and I’d sure like to know what that feeling is. My TERFy advice, of course, is that however you experience and relate to your clitoris, you are a normal female. Any way a female feels is a female feeling.
Look at how they throw in these fake terms for genitals when talking about STIs:
“Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are passed from person to person through sexual contact, primarily through bodily fluids (e.g., blood, breast milk, front hole or anal fluids, semen/cum and pre-cum). While STIs are generally curable or treatable, they can cause serious health problems if left ignored and untreated.”
Front hole fluids! Jaysus. I’m surprised they are even allowed to say “breast milk.” Shouldn’t they say “chest milk”? They’re probably gonna get in trouble with the breastfeeding FtMs over this one.
Here is a paragraph about condoms that becomes completely incoherent to anyone not fluent in Trans Speak:
“A glove can also be turned into a barrier that accommodates a dick exposed to hormones or a smaller strapless. You can make this combo dental dam/condom (a condam!) from a glove by cutting a line up the pinky-finger side, removing the fingers (but be sure not to cut the thumb) of the glove, and placing the thumb hole over the dick or strapless. This way you can lick, suck or stimulate all the sensitive parts in that area.”
So to translate this into English, you can make a combination condom/dental dam by cutting the fingers (but not the thumb) from a glove. The thumb of the glove goes over the protruding genitals and the “hand” part of the glove covers the surrounding area. This works well for a penis that has been reduced by female hormones, or a clitoris that has been enlarged by male hormones. This is good advice, actually, however incoherently written.
This guide talks about consent, which is good, but look how they throw in a sentence about “transactional sex.”
“Consent is the enthusiastic, mutual and voluntary agreement to do whatever activity you’re discussing. Giving consent is an ongoing process: You always have the right to say “yes” or “no” to any sexual activity regardless of whether you’ve done it before, whether you know your partner really likes it or whether you’re in the middle of doing it. We also recognize that transactional sex complicates consent. If at any point you change your mind about doing something, you should say so and your partner needs to stop.”
Whoa! “We also recognize that transactional sex complicates consent.” Is that maybe because “transactional sex” is a euphemism for prostitution, where a man who feels entitled to using another person’s body for sexual gratification pays money to a vulnerable person for the use of her/his body? Yeah, that fucking complicates consent, seeing as it’s not consensual sex at all when someone is paying you. When two people mutually decide to have sex because they actually want to, nobody pays anyone.
In their section on communication, they talk about “transactional sex” again:
“We recognize that communication can be complicated with transactional sex partners. In some cases, the recognition of the sex transaction can actually help frame sexual negotiation, but power and control dynamics can also make this more challenging. Hopefully, ongoing communication can help us have sexual experiences where we all feel safe and respected.”
Yeah, the power and control dynamics make communication of consent in “transactional sex” (prostitution) more challenging, because johns believe they are owed anything they want once they’ve paid their money and do not believe in the humanity of prostituted persons. (Or in some cases, they do believe in their humanity and specifically get off on dehumanizing someone they know is human.) The one who pays the money is the one who gets to decide, because that is the person with the power. If the people were on equal footing, there would be no exchange of currency. Once again, this is medical/psychological professionals affirming the coping mechanisms of vulnerable people. Prostituted people have to believe they can be safe and in control in a situation with a john, because without this belief, they wouldn’t be able to do what they have to do. But they aren’t in control as long as they have to fulfill other people’s wishes for money, and whenever a john feels like being violent, he gets away with it, because of his power.
This brings us to my next issue with this guide. There is a BDSM section! There seems to be a correlation between trans and BDSM. (Even a bloody summer camp for trans people has a BDSM workshop at it.) They introduce the BDSM section by specifically recommending it for people who don’t like using their genitals during sex:
“While plenty of us feel comfortable using our parts during sex, it’s also ok if you don’t feel comfortable doing that. Luckily, sexuality is broad, and there are lots of ways to be sexual without using your parts at all.”
If this paragraph just stood alone, I would be all for it. Like, if you don’t feel like you can have genital sex there are other ways to be intimate, like kissing, cuddling, and massage—which are all wonderful activities to do with a partner. But those sorts of things just don’t appeal to sex-pozzies, who are only into performance and transaction and being cool and edgy. What this paragraph is actually doing is recommending BDSM for people who can’t use their genitals during sex. And who can’t use their genitals during sex? People who are traumatized and disassociating from their bodies. Obviously the cure for trauma and disassociation is acting out scenes of violence or enacting actual violence!
“BDSM is short for Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism and Masochism, and encompasses a huge array of activities that some of us do for fun, sometimes in a sexual way. And of course, because many of these activities don’t involve our parts, they’re generally very low risk for transmitting STIs! However, there are some higher-risk BDSM activities that may expose you and your partner(s) to bodily fluids, including blood. All of these activities require a high level of skill and communication, and should not be attempted without mentorship or supervision by a more experienced person in the BDSM community. And since blood can transmit STIs, including HIV and Hepatitis C, these activities also require safety precautions to prevent transmission. Always use sterile needles, knives or blades; wipe up excess blood with a single-use cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol; and avoid cutting or touching any open sores on the skin. Because BDSM activities can involve very intense physical sensations as well as scenarios where people are reacting in situation-specific ways, most people use a safeword to indicate when a boundary has been crossed or when play should stop. Accordingly, a safeword is usually a word that you would not ordinarily say during play, such as “red,” “pineapple” or even “safeword.” You should always discuss your safeword with your partner(s) BEFORE beginning any kind of BDSM activity.”
(Emphasis mine.) In my official capacity as a Vanilla Supremacist Kink-Shaming Shitlord, allow me to offer some better advice than this: DO NOT USE NEEDLES, KNIVES OR BLADES DURING SEX. If anyone wants to use weapons on you or harm you during sex, that person is abusive and is not a safe person to be around. The safest thing for you to do is get as far away from that person as possible. There should never be a reason to have to wipe up blood during sex, unless you are on your period and it’s menstrual blood.
Here’s how they describe the changes that testosterone makes in female bodies:
“Many transmasculine people taking testosterone will notice an increased sex drive, and your orgasms may feel stronger and more intense. It may, however, be harder for your front hole to get wet once you start taking testosterone, so it’s especially important to use lube to prevent tearing during sex. Tearing in your front hole can make you particularly susceptible to contracting STIs. Testosterone also causes your dick to grow (up to a couple of centimeters) and after a while, you will stop getting a regular period. If you are taking testosterone and having sex with someone who produces sperm and has not had their tubes tied (a vasectomy), even if you’re not getting your period regularly, you can still get pregnant. The only exception is if you’ve had your uterus and/or ovaries removed, your fallopian tubes tied or blocked, or effective contraception is being used. Again, feel free to ask your healthcare provider if you are concerned about causing an unwanted pregnancy.”
Thanks goodness they at least mention that trans men can become pregnant. No matter how masculine a female may feel, her female body creates a baby when sperm fertilizes her ovum.
Here are some surgeries that transmasculine people can get:
“Mastectomy/Chest Reconstruction: Remove excess tissue from the chest and masculinize its shape
Hysterectomy: Remove the uterus and sometimes the cervix
Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes
Vaginectomy: Remove the front hole
Metoidioplasty: Free a dick exposed to hormones from the ligaments in the labia to let it hang lower
Phalloplasty: Form a larger dick (with implant for creating an erection) using skin grafted from the arm, back, or thigh After metoidioplasty or phalloplasty, you may sometimes pee a teaspoon’s worth of fluid during sex. When you wear an external condom, make sure to pinch the tip to make space for the fluid. If a condom doesn’t fit snugly, but a finger cot is too small for your dick, you can use a cock ring to keep a condom in place.”
Breasts are “excess tissue.” A vaginectomy removes the “front hole.” Shouldn’t it be called frontholectomy? What’s the ‘vag’ in vaginectomy anyway? Could it be VAGINA? (But above they said only transwomen had vaginas!) Metoidioplasty: free your dick from your labia! You don’t want those pesky labia in the way of your “dick” when you’re trying to be all manly! And phalloplasty, where to get started on that? You can watch an actual phalloplasty being performed on YouTube. Surgeons take a large chunk of skin from a woman’s arm or leg and roll it into a cylinder and sew it onto her genitals. It does not resemble a penis in the slightest, nor does it work the way a penis does. It looks like a cylinder of arm flesh sewn onto a female. It comes with complications such as “persistently high rates of urethral fistulas and strictures.” Phalloplasty is an absolutely terrible idea. Even in this guide they admit you might pee a little during sex!
Let’s summarize the problems with this “safer sex guide,” shall we?
- Normalizing the terminology of the trans cult that reimagines body parts as something else
- Making it sound as though prostitution is basically acceptable and just makes communication slightly more challenging
- Promoting BDSM and making it sound as though it’s okay to use weapons to injure people during sex as long as they’re sterile weapons
- Promoting surgeries that have high risks of complications that put the patient’s health at risk
This doesn’t look like a safer sex guide to me. This looks like more trans propaganda that attempts to normalize the dysfunctional behavior of people who are struggling with trauma and disassociation, and that steers them toward more trauma and more disassociation rather than steering them toward health.
The way to have a healthy sex life is to love and accept your body and your self as you are and to have respectful and healthy relationships with people who care about you, while protecting yourself and your partner from STIs and pregnancy using the same methods that everyone else uses. This guide does not help with that. All it does is reflect people’s mistaken beliefs back at them, which is an unhelpful and unprofessional thing to do.