Being able to talk to your partner is an important part of any relationship. And in every relationship, people may have unique needs, desires, and boundaries that they want to talk about. Whether it’s talking about birth control, STI prevention, or just how you’re feeling, it’s important to find ways of talking about safer sex that work for everyone involved.
Different people may talk about sex, sexuality, and their bodies in different ways. This applies to transgender people as well as to cisgender people (people who are not transgender). If someone is trans — or even if they’re not! — it can take time to find ways of talking about sex (and safer sex) that feel comfortable for them, and that’s okay.
Why do transgender people specifically need to talk about safer sex?
In order to talk about safer sex, transgender people may need to explore different words and ideas to find what works for them.
Unfortunately, information about preventing STIs and pregnancy is often written by and for cisgender people, and may not take trans peoples’ needs and concerns into account. This can make it harder for trans people to learn about STIs and pregnancy in ways that are comfortable and apply to them.
You can read about how trans people can protect themselves and their partners from STIs here.
Using language that feels comfortable
Transgender people may have specific words that they use for themselves or their body parts. You can talk with your partner about which words or pet names you each prefer. This is a great way to help everyone feel comfortable and safe. Having this conversation before you start having sex can take some of the pressure off.
Sometimes people don’t know what words or names work for them and that’s okay too! Playing around with different words can be fun, but it’s important to set and respect boundaries. If a word makes you or your partner uncomfortable, you can stop using it. It isn’t ok to use words that someone doesn’t like, especially if they’ve asked you not to.
When talking about safer sex means coming out
Sometimes, having a conversation about safer sex may mean that a trans person needs to come out to their partner. Coming out is a personal decision, and can mean different things to different people. For example, if someone wants to talk about doing a specific sex act with their partner, they might need to talk about certain parts of their bodies as well. But coming out can also be part of a larger conversation about what it means to the person to be trans, and how their partner(s) can make them feel safe and supported in general.
Some of the factors people may consider when coming out to a partner include:
- who they’re with
- how well they know each other
- what kinds of sex they want to have
- what kind of language they want to use to talk about sex and body parts
- where they are
- how safe and comfortable they feel
If you’re a cisgender person and your partner comes out to you as trans, it’s important to let them know that you support and respect them. It’s never okay for someone to use a partner’s trans status to make them feel bad about themselves, or to out them as trans without their consent.
Respecting boundaries when talking about safer sex
Transgender people might have parts of their bodies where they don’t want to be touched. This could be for a lot of different reasons. Some transgender people get stressed and uncomfortable when a partner touches certain body parts, while others don’t. Also, if someone’s had surgery, those body parts may be sensitive, or still healing. Talking about this before having sex can help everyone feel safer.
A trans person may have a particular body part or use a particular word for it. It’s important not to make assumptions about what kind of sex someone wants based on what their body looks like. For example, a trans woman with what she calls a penis may or may not want to use it for penetrative sex.
You can ask your partner what they like and talk about what you enjoy. This lets everyone learn about their desires and their partner’s. As long as everyone’s excited about what they’re doing, there’s no right or wrong way to have sex!