Archives for category: sex

I know, from gigs to sexual health clinics. It’s quite the jump, yeah?
Never let it be said that I don’t like to keep you on your toes.

So, lets get our cards on the table. I’m going to tell you something, and you’re going to judge me.

I’ve never been tested for any STIs.

As I’m a big fan of context, allow me to explain.
Most of my life I’ve been in long term relationships, and when I’ve not been in said relationships, I don’t tend to sleep with lots of people, despite any impression I give off.
My thinking was that because of these things, the chances of me having anything would be slim to say the least.

I can hear the intakes of breath and the silent shaking of heads. I know, I know. I’m an idiot.

Anyhow, I realised the blindingly obvious fact that even if you’ve only been with a few people, you don’t know their histories, and it only takes one person, with something, to pass it on to you.
And that’s why I decided to get checked out.

Sexual Health Clinics are pretty much like every clinic I’ve ever been to. Looking around there are a few people, mostly looking fairly anxious, sitting on chairs.
I have to fill in a form, and I’m immediately on guard, because forms and trans people often do not mix well. Luckily, it’s relatively trans friendly, in that it has pronoun boxes, and a box to tick if you choose to identify as trans. It does still assume all male identifying people have penises and all female identifying people have vaginas though, which is a problem for me, and a post for another day.

I wait for a bit, looking around, listening to the radio that’s playing in the background. An advert comes on for a car insurance company called Drive Like a Girl. It’s probably the most patronising and offensive thing I’ve heard them play so far, and they’d just played Blurred Lines.

I get called by a nurse to come to a room, and it’s a man. I ticked a box saying I didn’t mind who saw me, but now I feel like I do mind. Suddenly I feel like my identity is under threat, as he’ll ask what bits I’ve got, and I feel uncomfortable about telling him, because he’s a man, and my experiences of men are nearly always negative.
I don’t know what to do, because if I say I’m not comfortable after all I’m going to feel like a jerk, and also, I’ve been waiting for half an hour now, and I can’t stand to wait any longer with that radio station playing its horrible songs and incessant adverts.

In the end I do what everyone would do, I go along with it. The commercial radio was the clincher if I’m honest.
We go to a room, and I start saying how I’m actually kind of nervous, and that I didn’t bring a friend, because I thought it would make for something good to write about if it was just me, but that now I regret that because I didn’t think it through, and how that is pretty standard for me.
He smiles and says it’s alright, everyone is a little nervous sometimes. He is reassuring and kind, and I feel like I let my preconceptions and past experiences get the better of me. Not for the first time I also think I’m an judgemental jerk.

He does ask me what bits I’ve got, but he does it in a way that’s so matter of fact, yet sensitive, that it’s okay.
He then asks me if I’d like to piss in a jar.

I’m very keen on this offer, as I’d been holding it in for about two hours now. He also took some blood, and did a throat swab, because well, y’know, oral?
We chat whilst this is all happening, and he tells me about how Syphilis is one of the biggest STIs affecting the area where we live. I have an overwhelming desire to tell him about how everyone thinks Henry VIII had Syphilis, but that actually there’s little evidence to prove this. I’m about to blurt it out in a oh my god I’m nervous so I’m going to say anything sort of way when he asks if I’d like a leaflet about it, and I forget all about Henry’s sti issues, and instead say it’s okay, I don’t need one, even though I’m interested in reading about it. I do this because I’m trying to be polite, and don’t want to put him out.
He gives me two Syphilis leaflets anyhow. This guy is good.

He asks me about the last couple of times I’d been with someone, and I tell him about the French woman I slept with once, and the friend I was with for a bit. For some reason I feel the need to go into detail about both these times. I have no idea why, but he seems to be happy to listen, and offer useful commentary on what I tell him.
It strikes me that I really misjudged him, and I did it entirely based on his gender. When people do that to me it really upsets me, and once again I feel like a jerk.

After all the tests are done we start to wrap things up. He tells me they’ll ring me if anything shows up, and text me if it’s all clear. I get up to go, and I want to give him a hug a say how lovely he’d been. I didn’t because boundaries but I wanted to. In the end he gave me a double hand shake, and I told him he was awesome and that I’d happily come back for more check ups if he did them. Maybe I need to work on verbal boundaries a bit more.
I leave feeling happy, and feeling that I’ve learnt something about my own preconceptions, and also about Syphilis.

A week later, as I was sitting in a cafe, being a writer, my phone buzzed. A text message from the clinic had come through with the all clear. I smile to myself, and think thought as much. Maybe I’ll hang onto those leaflets though, just in case.

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I have, and will, sleep with people on first dates. I don’t always do this, but given the right situation, it is something I do.
There is a preconception that women who do this are somehow, less valid as people, even the words used, things like promiscuous, easy, predatory, are all demeaning and negative.
This we all hear, and this we all know, a woman who sleeps with people early on is somehow less valid than a man who does the same.

As a trans woman the validity is diminished even more, as in societies eye I’m already less valid anyhow, in that I’m often seen as less of a woman, and this reflects in how I’m perceived when it comes to sex.
Now this is entirely based on my own experience, and as I’ve said before, it may not be true of everyone, but I find that as a trans person, the pre conceptions of being promiscuous, easy and predatory are often there even before I sleep with people.
Trans women in particular are sexualised, often fetishised, and nearly always othered (as in ‘not one of us’. There’s an excellent piece explaining this more here.) in films, television and popular culture. Popular culture is just that, popular. It sinks into people’s minds, it creates impressions of what to expect when we come across particular situations, and in the case of trans women, those impressions are often pretty fucked up.
I’ve spoken a bit about this before, in regards to mental health issues, but these preconceptions are there when it comes to sex as well.

From my own personal experience, these preconceptions are most obvious when it comes to internet dating, which I’m guessing is because of the detachment the internet can create. In real life it’s less likely a stranger will approach you with an offer of anal sex whilst dressed as a maid, because the consequences are more real, whatever way it goes.
The internet absolves us of meaningful consequence, it detaches us from reality, and allows us to show another side, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

There is of course a degree of generalisation here, not everyone has these preconceptions, just as not every Trans person will object to fetishisation.
However, by applying labels such as promiscuous, or predatory, by detaching ourselves from seeing people as people, we are dehumanising an experience that is one of the most human things we can do, and that can’t be a good thing.

It’s easy to generalize, and stereotype people. We all do it, intentionally or otherwise. It doesn’t mean that these stereotypes are true of all people in that group, and I know this, having been stereotyped many times because of being a trans woman.
I think it’s important to state this, as inevitably, when I’m writing about personal experience, as I do, the people I interact with, will, on occasion, do shit that is classically stereotypical.
Let’s take men, for instance, because well, this is what this piece is going to be about…..

I find men attractive. Not all men, because there’s loads of them, and I am but one woman, but none the less, I am interested in them, in a sexual way.
It appears that they also are interested in me. Up to a point.
I know, I hear you, what is this point you speak off? Well friends, I think you know don’t you?
Men, in general, can’t deal with me being Transgender. They can deal with me being hot, and judging from the messages I get before they find out I’m trans, they deal with that just fine, thankyou very much.
But as soon as I disclose that I’m trans, everything changes.
So, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Why not just keep it to yourself, don’t tell them yeah?”

Here’s some reasons why that’s not an option for me…

  • I’m proud of who I am, and that I’m trans. Why should I hide that? I may be the reason people can’t deal, but ultimately the issue is with them, not me.
  • Sex. If it got to the point where there’s nakedness going on, we’d need to have a talk anyhow.
  • If we meet, and they realize I’m trans, then I don’t know what would happen. I have to ultimately put my personal safety first. Aside from anything else, it would be humiliating, even if they just walked out on the date.

So yeah, not an option.

Once a man finds out I’m trans, all bets are off. If I’m lucky they’ll just block me immediately. That’s the good option. The worse options include verbal abuse, objectifying language, and expectations that I’m up for anything, because y’know, all trans women are kinky nymphomaniacs right?

And then there’s another response. It nearly always starts with the phrase “I don’t have a problem with Trans women…” ,which if you type into Google translate* comes back as “I’m a ‘nice’ guy, I don’t have ‘problems’ with trans women, as long as you don’t actually want to sleep with me, or meet up, that is, although if asked I will now be adding you to my list of minority groups I’m okay with, just so everyone knows I’m a ‘cool’ guy, yeah?”

These guys, they, if anything are the worst. My latest interaction with a ‘nice’ guy involved him telling me that “I don’t have a problem with people like you, but I’d only be sleeping with you out of curiosity, so you’d only get hurt.”
Thanks friend, thanks for protecting my feelings so well. You’re a real gent, no mistake.
This was the same man, that previous to this, was waxing lyrical about how gorgeous I was, and that he didn’t even have to think about whether to message me or not. Bet you’re thinking now eh?

So, what’s a girl to do? I find myself thinking this a lot. I could just not date men, and stick to women, which is fine, but I do identify as bisexual, so why should I have to curb my identity to fit with society?

As I mentioned at the start, to a degree, the men I’ve interacted with so far have been stereotypes and extremes, I know not all men are like this, because well, I know some that aren’t. I do think that they are a minority though, and that many, many men can’t get their heads round what it means to be attracted to Trans women.

That though friends, is a post for another time….

*It doesn’t translate it as this, I’m being facetious to make a point, it’s like my super-power.

So yeah, continuing on from the last post, things got good, but, as you can probably guess, the day after I got a ‘can we just be friends’ text.

I’ve not had one of those before, and I’ll be honest, it took me a while to work out how I felt about it. On the one hand, I felt we’d connected, and that there was potential there for something more, but on the other hand, it was a pretty great night, and boosted my self confidence no end.

It’s tricky.

I think one of the problems I have/had ( not sure if it’s past tense quite yet or not ) is that at the time, I was clearly attractive enough to want to sleep with, despite my extra complications, but after the time, I wasn’t attractive enough to be with, because of my complications. It’s a contradiction, of sorts, right down to the fact that it’s also not a contradiction as well. My lovelife has gone all quantum physics on me.

I guess we also have to take into account alcohol, nighttime, ambiance and horniness ( Ugh, I hate that word so much ). It’s a perfect storm, where as soberness, daytime, hangovers and the satisfaction of getting laid after a dry spell are kind of like the perfect calm.

Overall I’m looking at it as a very positive experience, I wanted to have some intimacy ( which was pointed out by one of my friends, apparently I’d said this only a week ago, although maybe a little more crudely ), and I got it. It feels good to know that someone wanted to sleep with me, and wanted to do it enough that they actually well, did.

I think that things are looking up, and that i’m discovering how to have a sex life again. I think that means i’m not as fucked up as I thought I was, I think that means I could just be on to something good.

Freiya Benson

Writer & Photographer.

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