Historically, studies assumed that transgender sexuality might be distinct from traditional human sexuality. For much of the 20th century, what was described as “transsexualism” was believed to be sexual in nature, and so was defined along these terms. In fact, like all other genders, transgender people exhibit the full range of possible sexual orientations and interests, including the potential for a lack of sexual attraction.
Discovering your female sexuality can be exciting and, for some people, overwhelming – whether or not you have had lower surgery. Your sex life and relationships might change after you transition. On the other hand, things might stay the same as they have always been for you. You may have transitioned a long time ago and been enjoying a fulfilling sex life but just need a bit of sexual health advice. Wherever you are in your journey, the main thing to remember is that you’re entitled to have safe, enjoyable sex. You shouldn’t be pushed into anything you feel uncomfortable with.
Transgender women are one of the most highly impacted groups in the HIV epidemic to date, yet they are disproportionately under-researched and under-served by current treatment efforts. Transgender women have 49 times higher odds of HIV infection compared to men, a disparity that exists across race, culture, and socio-economic boundaries. Disparate prevalence rates of HIV are particularly pronounced for African American transgender women when compared with transgender women of other races and ethnicities. Furthermore, HIV positive transgender women have an almost three-fold higher community viral load than non-transgender HIV positive adults in San Francisco, and likely elsewhere.
Whether or not you’ve had lower surgery, the best way to protect yourself and your partner against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are to:
Use a condom or a Femidom for vaginal or anal sex.
Use a water-based lube with your condom or Femidom.
Think about using a condom or dental dam for oral sex.
If you’re sharing sex toys with someone, use a new condom each time the sex toy is used by a new person or if it’s moved between a vagina and an anus (as this can transfer bacteria).
Similarly, always change condoms between partners or if a penis is moved between an anus and vagina during sex. Condoms, Femidoms, and dental dams are available for free at sexual health clinics. However, not all trans women can use Femidoms – it will depend upon the depth of your vagina. Just like anyone else, it’s probably worth going to a sexual health clinic for regular check-ups – and there are things to consider as a trans woman. Traditional safer sex approaches frequently don’t work for trans people. Barriers for having oral sex with trans men include cutting the fingers off of a latex glove and cutting the glove along the pinky-side. Folding open the glove will make for a trans penis sized condom with the extended barrier for the surrounding area. Barriers to having oral sex with trans women include using plastic wrap, which has been recommended by activists, though no studies have shown how effective it is. Be sure not to use the microwave-safe plastic wrap as it has tiny holes to let steam out and this is not good for safe sex.
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