by David Wraith
Most of the time, when Team SEX+ is out and about, it’s at our own events where most people we meet are fellow travelers. The summer months gave us the chance to get out in the community and interact with people who are less familiar with who we are and what we do, at events like Pride Fest, SlutWalk and the World Naked Bike Ride. This has led to me getting a question that I totally understand and yet find a little troubling. Transgender individuals, in person and online, have been asking if they are welcome at our events.
Now, this question makes perfect sense. Trans acceptance in America is probably about forty or more years behind acceptance of other minorities. We have not reached a point in history where trans folk can assume a space, even a so-called “sex positive” space, will be welcoming or even safe. So, I understand why the question gets asked, but every time I hear it, I feel like I’ve failed somehow, even if the question comes from someone completely unfamiliar with SEX+STL and what it is we do. I guess it’s less a sense of failure than it is a desire to live in a world where no organization could call itself sex positive, or pansexual, or whatever, and not be inclusive of the trans community. However, I know from conversations with people in the community that we do not live in that world… yet.
One of the very early criticisms of SEX+STL was that we didn’t do enough with, for and about the trans community. While this is not something we can ever completely satisfy (how much is “enough”?), it’s something I feel we’ve addressed. We’ve worked with such trans luminaries as Buck Angel and Lee Harrington when they’ve visited St. Louis, featured trans writers on our blog and co-sponsored SlutWalk with the local trans advocacy group, TransHaven.
I think one of the reasons I haven’t done more outreach on behalf of SEX+STL to the trans community is that I simply haven’t thought about it. And while this lack of thinking on my part is certainly a symptom of cisgender privilege, it’s also due to the fact that I’ve had so many transgender lovers, friends and colleagues that I don’t “other” them in that way. And yes, I cringed as wrote that last sentence and realize it can be taken as the cisgender equivalent of “I don’t see color… and by the way, some of my best friends are black.”
Incidentally, at a recent event, a black woman asked me what SEX+STL does for the black community. After thinking about it for eleven seconds, I had to say, “Nothing.” That is to say we do nothing for the black community that we don’t do for the white community, Latino community or Asian community. A better answer to the question of what we do for the black community would have been, “Happy hours, clothing optional meet ups, coffee talks, parenting groups, a book club…” because what we do, we do for everyone. With no special minority outreach, our events are among the most racially diverse alternative sexuality events I’ve ever attended. And believe me, I know what it’s like to be at alt sex events with attendance in the hundreds and be the only person of color there.
So, I say all that to say this: SEX+STL is for all consenting adults who want to explore responsible sexuality. If we’re not doing a good enough job appealing to you or your demographic, let us know. But realize we will probably enlist your help in fixing the problem. That’s how we roll.
Join us for Transthropology, an afternoon of uncensored Q&A about the lives and experiences of Trans* identified persons. Presented by the St. Louis Trans Visibility Project, TransHaven and SEX+STL, Sunday, November 19th, 2pm at Shameless Grounds.