Disclaimer: I am not a professional! If you want to find a professional sex educator please look at my "Resources" page. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on my ask site: FYsexeducationquestions, though check out my FAQ first!
Submission: Safer Sex and Young FAAB Dykes/Queers
Can lesbians really contract STIs? Do trans guys who only have sex with cis women really have to use barriers? Does anyone actually use dental dams? Do they work?
To be clear: this confusion about how and why to have safer sex is not because of those sexist tropes that “lesbian sex” or vulvas and vaginas are so goddamn confusing. It’s because safer sex between two people with vulvas is so rarely discussed. […]
When I first learned about safer lesbian sex as a teenager, it seemed like this highly esoteric practice. None of my early lovers knew about it and I couldn’t imagine how to bring it up. When I read about women using gloves and dams, they were always a lot older and more sexually experienced than me. Gloves and dental dams felt more like props for sexual roleplay than actual safety devices.
-Laurel Isaac, "Figuring Out How to be a Lesbian Safer Sexpert"
[An exploration of the challenges queer FAAB-people encounter to practicing safer sex, and a run down of the real risks. Read more on Scarleteen.]
Hi there, I’m Charlie Hale. I’m a fairly new blogger on the topic of Feminism, LGBT, Polyamory and Kink (Blog, Tumblr, Twitter). This is a piece on labels for non-monosexuals (bisexual? pansexual? sexual?) that I thought may be appropriate for FYSE.
Some use “bisexual”, some use “pansexual”, others just “sexual” and my personal favourite is “not fussy.” I personally use pansexual in the company of people who are likely to know what that is, and bisexual for those who won’t – but there are almost as many opinions in the topic as there are people.I didn’t always identify as pansexual, though – I originally thought I was straight (also, a man, but that’s a point for another day), followed by bisexual with a leaning towards women… and as I slowly learned that feelings for men weren’t wrong and allowed myself to explore my feelings more, I very much found that I had no real gender preference and eventually came to pansexual.The most important thing to say is that none of those labels arewrong.They have similar meanings, but can have different implications to different people. I use pansexual because it clicks with me – I find that I am attracted to people without concern to their gender (see also “not fussy”) and to me, pansexual works. That’s all that really matters.
I’d like to reply to the Pansexuality post, and I hope you’ll hear me out. I mean absolutely no disrespect, and I completely understand how the words of others can be hurtful and how important gender alignment is to the formation of an individual identity — I do not wish to demean these topics or take away from them in the slightest. I’d just like to offer an alternative point of view.
I am pansexual, and I wouldn’t say that someone’s gender is insignificant: I would never say that and I hope that no one would ever reach that conclusion from my words. But I am saying that if I care about a person or even find myself loving that person, I will love them even if they decide to change their gender or align with another gender or do any number of things concerning their gender. Yes, gender is important — it is an integral part of forming a personal identity.
But I feel like when someone says that gender “doesn’t matter”, what they’re really saying is that the gender identity of an individual could change or have been different from the start and they would still care deeply about that individual.
I don’t think that’s a “bad” thing, and I would hope that no one would find that offensive. I also don’t think that criticizing the way that someone else finds and expresses love is a good way to help yourself, the other person, or anyone in the community.
So perhaps it is a matter of miscommunication or misunderstanding. That’s fine, these things happen. But wouldn’t it have been great if someone had bothered to stop and say, “Hey, maybe this person isn’t trying to attack me. Maybe they’re trying to express their support and opinions and I just don’t understand what they’re saying. I’d like to try to see eye-to-eye with them. Let me talk to them some more.” I think that would be a nice reaction.
I feel like I see a lot of person-to-person hatred and attacks in a lot of different places, including Tumblr, amongst people who profess to have the same values and support the same things.
I just wonder why, then, does it seem like we can never get along?
If we support the same things and the same communities, why can’t we support each other?
I think it would be a nice change if everyone who shares a community could stop jumping down the throats of everyone else in that very same community and demanding that everyone conform to the exact same opinion that one individual has. It would be nice if we could support each other and respect the differences in our ideas and have kind discourse with each other to bring differences to light without demeaning the other person’s point of view? What is with this whole idea of being a “good queer community member” and being a “bad” one? Or a “good”/”bad” member of any community?
I guess what I’m saying, ultimately, is that I don’t think that tearing down other community members and criticizing the way that they support your shared community is a good way to improve support and acceptance in that community. And, seemingly, the queer community has too many other opponents who wish to do legitimate harm to its members and its goals for queers to be bickering amongst themselves. Stand together in solidarity and we will become stronger, both individually and as a community.
I would like to do that. I would like to support anyone and everyone in my communities, and I would like to improve my methods of supporting people. I would like most of all to encourage support throughout the community for all members, regardless of the different ways in which we express our support.
That’s all I’m saying.
Thanks for reading.
FYSE: I saw your original response and the conversation you had with other tumblrs and I think that you now know more about this subject.
Basically, the community was made exclusive. There are a lot of gay men who hate lesbians and think all women are gross (and as this is usually based around vaginas this is incredibly cissexist), gay men and women who think bisexuals and other multisexuals are greedy or confused, pansexuals who think bisexuals are binarist and cissexist by nature, all of the above thinking asexual people aren’t real or just have hormonal problems, people thinking demisexuality is just “special snowflake syndrome”, bisexuals who think pansexuals and other identities are “special snowflake syndrome”, and all of the above who think that transgender people aren’t real, that their identities aren’t relevant, and all of the above thinking that non binary people aren’t real or just “special snowflake syndromes”. There’s a LOT of inequality in the community and that’s something I talk about. It’s important for multisexuals who say things like “I’m gender blind” or “gender isn’t important” or similar to know that regardless of their intent those statements are cissexist and oppressive towards trans* people. You can say that gender isn’t a determining factor for you, you can say that you love people regardless of what their gender is but you have to acknowledge that gender is important, that it’s a real thing, and it needs to be respected because otherwise you are contributing to the oppression of trans* people.
Gender Expression, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
Q: How do I know what my gender or orientation is?
A: I get a lot of “how do I know if I’m (insert gender or orientation here)” questions. What it comes down to is a lot of people have difficulty knowing for sure. We always hear these stories of, “Oh well I knew since I was 7 and I never doubted myself ever.” which it’s great if you have such certainty but both orientations and genders are fluid. They change and that’s okay. We get so set in people telling us “oh it’s just a phase.” “You don’t really know who you are.” that we feel the need to prove ourselves. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Labels don’t matter if they make you miserable or confused. The purpose of labels is to let you know you’re not alone and there are people out there like you and to be able to find those people and have a safe community. If you feel a certain way explore it. Present yourself the way you’re comfortable, love who you’re going to love, have sex with who you want to, and forget all of the little messages society tells you. How you feel is all that matters. If you find a label that makes you feel safe and happy explore that community. If you want to tell someone about yourself chances are they’re not going to understand a one word answer so you might have to explain anyway. It’s great to learn about different genders and orientations and explore those communities because you learn from it and you learn more about yourself and you might find something special there. No one fully knows themselves, that’s what life is about. A journey to find out who you are. You don’t have to learn everything at once.
Q: What is the difference between transsexual and transgender?
A: Transsexual usually refers to anyone who plans to or is going through hormone replacement therapy or sex realignment surgery. Transgender people don’t have to be transitioning. However, the word “Transsexual” is kind of going out of favour so more and more people are using transgender.
Q: What’s the safe way to bind your chest?
A: The safest way is to get a really good sports bra that is the right size to be comfortable but still make your breasts appear smaller. You can get two really good sports bras and put the top one on backwards but this can get uncomfortable (for me at least). Also, layering is your best friend. You can wear a good sports bra, tight tank top, and t-shirt and maybe even put a vest, over shirt, sweater, or jacket over it. You could try a looser binder, but that’s kind of difficult to do since most binders have to be ordered online and you can’t really try those online. You could get a larger binder and if you’re any good at sewing try to alter it to be the right size. This can be tricky though depending on the type of binder. If you’re not worried about being uncomfortable or if you plan on having surgery you can find a good binder that fits perfectly, although finding the right size can be tricky. If you’re planning on having surgery is really the only time it’s a good idea to bind every day and you should never bind with ace bandages or tape.
Q: What does the * after Trans mean?
A: Basically this makes it more inclusive. Trans* can be anyone who is not cis gender, anyone whose gender identity doesn’t match up with their designated sex. This includes non binary identities. Trans without the asterisk just refers the trans men and women.
Done editing the Gender and Orientations section of my FAQ. Are there any other frequently asked questions that need to be put in this category? Do you have any questions about gender or orientation that aren’t answered here?
In honor of Coming Out day, feel free to tell your coming out or being outed stories over at my other blog FuckYeahPersonalStories.
To get the ball rolling here are my stories.
Coming out to my sister was pretty much her asking, “You like girls don’t you?” and me replying “NO GOD NO…maybe… okay yes.” and then an ongoing conversation of the evolution of my sexuality. Also, both of us talking about gender and how we viewed our gender although I haven’t brought up any exact labels or gender identities yet on the gender front. I brought up my polyamory when she brought up her questioning if she was polyamorous.
Coming out to my friends was basically me subtly slipping into our conversation that I thought some girl was hot, although some friends would introduce me as a lesbian or almost lesbian or something really not cool like that or would out me to others. As far as gender identity goes I came out online through facebook and tumblr mostly. Some people ignore it, others don’t respect my chosen pronouns, and other people do. I’ve also mentioned being polyamorous before although most people ignore it because they don’t know what to say.
My sister accidentally outed me to my mother. My mother asked why I was going to school early and my sister said “probably to see her girlfriend” and then the shit hit the fan. My family does not keep secrets at all. My mom called my dad because she thought that all gay people had been sexually abused and she thought my father was the best candidate for that (I then had to explain that wasn’t true). My dad, mother, and sister then went on to talk to the rest of my family about my orientation which was mostly met either with ignoring it or being confused and asking if I was a lesbian or continued asking if I was still a lesbian. I haven’t talked about my gender identity with my family and the only thing hinting at polyamory was that I didn’t believe monogamy worked for me and I didn’t want to get married, which I’ve only really talked about with my parents. But of course they don’t believe me.
Being queer or outside of the “norm” is a mixed bag of people being awesome and people being crap. It’s different for every person you come out to and it’s different for every person coming out.
Berkeley, CA is having the a Bisexual Pride Day
This is a step in the right direction. Pride Days are notoriously white cis gay centric, so anything that somewhat breaks that mold is a good thing.