On sex positivity and sexual freedom

CN Internalised transphobia

This post is going to take a slight diversion from the usual theme to explore a bit about sex positivity and sex positive spaces in a more general sense.

Triggers take on many forms, and come from many different places. By the nature of the lives of trans and queer people, and our place in society, there tends to be a wealth of trauma and experience that create these triggers affecting our mental wellbeing. I will not be talking about trauma today (though I hope to get a guest writer to contribute something focusing on that soon).

I was recently at a weekend long event that was a space for people to feel free to explore any and all aspects of themselves. Although I didn’t see it expressed in these terms, I think many thought of it as a sex positive space. This was an amazing event in many ways, but it was also highly problematic.

I find it unfortunate that “sex positivity” is so commonly misunderstood — many assume that it is just about being really positive about sex and intimacy. I do not see it this way. Sex positivity for me is about having the freedom to express your sexual self in whatever way you want to, even if that way is not wanting to have (or even think about) sex and physical intimacy.

Sex positive spaces should be safe spaces. They should be spaces where people are sensitive of other people’s triggers. They should have a heavy emphasis on consent (well, every space should, but I think every space should be a sex positive space so whatevs).

Sex, intimacy and relationships can be very difficult for trans people. For many of us, we are fighting an eternal internal battle with that voice in our heads for ownership of our bodies. We are constantly assessing the people we meet to try to work out if they truly accept us, or if they’re secretly as transphobic as society at large. For me, personally, I have a voice in my head telling me that “I’m not a real woman”. Forming a relationship (and, in particular, a physical relationship) with anyone who is not very queer fills me with a deep sense of anxiety.

Yes, cis people have their own internal battles with body image, but this reaches new levels of intensity in many trans people. The worst part is, I really like intimacy and I really like sex. In places where people are free to express themselves sexually, a lot of what I feel is (unwanted) jealousy. I wish I could approach my sexual reawakening with the same attitude as a cis person does.

And, of course, it doesn’t just stop there. I want to feel able to take off my clothes and embrace nudity. I want to feel able to roll around in a sea of writhing bodies and olive oil. But I’m not in that place yet. I am also lucky enough to not have suffered any serious trauma that might be triggered by witnessing intimacy.

So “sexual freedom”, please get in a bin. What we need is sex positivity. What we need is consent, and not just between the people involved in an act, but between anybody and everybody witnessing the act. We need to care for each other and remember that a part of creating a sex positive space is giving people the freedom to separate themselves entirely from sex and physical intimacy.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.