A guest post by Andy Semler
If you were to peek into my bedroom window one evening, there’s a good chance you’d be greeted with the sight of two steamy-hot naked bodies (lucky you!). Mine: slender limbs, white skin, short hair, small breasts, hourglass waist. The other: muscular, white skin, short hair, large bone structure, average-size penis. You’d probably conclude that I’m a straight or possibly bisexual woman who loves having fun with her boyfriend. If so, you’d be wrong. Not because I don’t love sex with my partner, but because I am not a woman; I am a genderqueer trans* person.
Let me divert to a little T Vocab 101 before I continue: “Genderqueer” is a gender category which sometimes overlaps with both binary categories of “woman” or “man” or sometimes is a separate gender entirely. “Trans” is an adjective used to describe people who were assigned the wrong gender at birth, “cis” being the counterpart used to describe people who were raised as the gender they’re happy with.
So what does this have to do with sex-positivity? At it’s most fundamental level, sex-positivity is about bodies. Bodies, bodies, bodies! If you don’t have a body, you’re not having sex, at least no form of sex we’ve discovered thus far. Sex-positivity involves understanding how various bodies work, what gives pleasure, what makes us each love the skin we’re in.
Trans* bodies are often left out of the larger sex-positive conversation. I realize this isn’t intentional and is the result of people simply discussing what they’re familiar with, which is their own and their partners’ cis bodies. People typically say “men” when they mean “people with penises/prostates” and “women” for “people with clits/vaginas”. Unfortunately, this has the side-effect of sending the message to trans* people that we’re not included within sex-positive discussions or that our bodies aren’t considered healthy objects of desire. Sure, Jiz Lee and Buck Angel are sometimes mentioned as role models (which they certainly are), and there’s the occasional interview with a transsexual fetishist. But for the most part, trans* people aren’t included within the “normal” conversations of “normal” sexual people doing “normal” sexual things.
I surveyed a few trans* people for what they’d like the sex-positive community to know about their bodies. I kept getting the same responses: that they might not always like their bodies; they might feel discomfort or even hatred with particular aspects of it. But they are not merely the sum of their parts. They still love being sexual, and they still desire respect from others as sexual beings. One anonymous woman put it best when she replied, “I wish people knew that trans* bodies are NOT inherently artificial, no matter what has or hasn’t been done to them to make them conform to our gender identities. Our bodies have the same sexual needs as other bodies (not to erase asexuals).”
My own relationship with my body as a genderqueer person can be complicated. Sometimes I wish I could wake up tomorrow and look like something else, something different, something that doesn’t fit in with either the male type or the female type, so that people would stop putting me into the wrong box at first glance. I can love my breasts one moment then hate them the next. Certain days I love penis-in-vagina sex; other days I wonder how something so horrible could ever have become quite so popular. Even still, I really do appreciate my body for what it is. I’m learning that my hourglass shape doesn’t have to imply softness or femininity, but it can be confident or aggressive or alluring or even indifferent, based on what I make of it.
My sexuality helps give me the power to learn to love my body, and to teach others to respect it as well, in all it’s queerness. That’s what gender-inclusive sex-positivity is all about – creating a safe space for self-exploration. Together we can celebrate all types of lips, fingers, breasts, necks, eyes, penises, backs, chests, vulvas, feet, navels, and anuses, sometimes all at once on the same person. We can celebrate all bodies, all sexes, all genders, because we can all be positively sexual.
*I know you’re all looking down here because of the asterisk after trans*. Well, it’s not a footnote, it’s actually how the word in question is spelled. Trans* is an inclusive term which may include but is not limited to the categories of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, bigender, non-binary gender, androgyn, neutrois, agender, gender fluid, gender fuck, cross-dresser etc. (some of which overlap others).
Andy Semler is a 25 year old nerd living in St. Louis, MO. Ze is the author of Nerd is my Gender, a blog that explores genderqueer issues, sexuality, feminism, and nerd culture. Some believe that Andy was born with the ability to teleport—and it is true that ze screams “Bamf!” as ze leaves the room and leaves behind the faint smell of sulfur—but mostly this is because Andy is so proficient at the internet that ze appears to be in multiple places at once.