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Callie_I am a transgender woman, and I LOVE sex. That should not be a thing I need to proudly declare, but here we are. There are a ton of problematic narratives surrounding transgender people in our society, not the least of which is the validity and sometimes even the very existence of our sexuality. We are told that in order to be real, we have to hate ourselves and our body and buy into the narrative that we need to be “fixed.”

This is my manifesto. This is my proud declaration that as a transgender person I and I alone get to define my relationship with my body and how I experience sex and intimacy with my partners – free of dogmas, religious or otherwise.

Discussing sex and sexuality in our culture is tough enough when we’re talking about the heterosexual, cisgender, vanilla kind. The prudish and repressive things we are taught about our bodies by religion and by broader culture are highly toxic.

But even in more progressive spaces where sexuality is sometimes celebrated, we often see the sexuality of transgender people more comfortably discussed as the punchline of a joke as opposed to anything valid or worthy of open and honest conversation. When questions are asked, often they’re asked in the context of the questioner wanting to be shocked by the answer (so they can cringe when I freely offer the description of exactly how a penis gets turned into a vagina) moreso than an honest effort to know and understand how this affects our lives.

It’s certainly true that many trans people have severe difficulty surrounding our bodies, and by extension, severe difficulty with sex and sexuality. The narratives we see most often in society range from the idea of pitiable people trapped in the wrong bodies at best, to that of sexual deviants, pedophiles and predators at worst. The former may even have a ring of truth to it. Surely many of us are desperately unhappy with the arrangement of our bodies. Many of us do exist on the fringes of society because we’ve been pushed out. Many trans women are forced unwillingly into sex work.

Better Than You’ve Heard

However, the most common stories you see paint a highly inaccurate picture. Not all trans people are wholly or even partially uncomfortable with our bodies. Even some of us who do have difficulty can and do lead satisfying sex lives despite our struggles. Many of us are vibrant sexual beings with our own quirks, kinks, wants, needs, and desires.

I crave intimacy, as most people do. I crave my partner’s touch, I crave the physical release of orgasm, and I crave the satisfaction of pleasing my partner. I am indeed sometimes reminded of my unhappiness and insecurity with my body during any kind of sexual activity. When my girlfriend undresses me, I can’t help but notice my breasts don’t quite fill out my bra just yet. When she touches me below, I can’t help but wish what I was feeling was inside of me instead of outside. Despite this, the sexual experience I have is not simply a consolation prize for giving my best effort despite tough circumstances. Let me say that one more time for those paying attention:

The sexual experience I have is not simply a consolation prize for giving my best effort despite tough circumstances.

Yes, being transgender does often bring a dimension to sexuality that most folks don’t have to deal with. Yes, there are times when I don’t want to be touched in certain places or in certain ways. Yes, I am seeking to change the arrangement of my body via surgery. Yes, sometimes I have to dissociate a bit during sexual activity and imagine that the feelings I’m feeling are inside of me where they belong, instead of outside of me as dictated by the current arrangement of my body. None of that means I can’t do well with what I have while I don’t have any other choice.

It can be tough to imagine someone who’s uncomfortable with the arrangement of their sex organs having a satisfying sexual experience, but the reality is many of us can and do. My best orgasms have come post hormone replacement therapy. It finally feels as good as I pretended it did when I was still struggling with who I was.

We are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, monogamous, polyamorous, kinky, and every other variation on the human sexual experience you can think of. On a practical level, my sexuality probably looks a little different than yours, but I assert firmly and without apology that my sexuality is as valid and important as any other.

I am a transgender woman, and I LOVE sex. I will not be shamed because of the circumstances in which I exist, and I will not stay silent to avoid making others uncomfortable. For most people, sexuality and intimacy are a basic human need, and I will not be denied that by anyone because of who I am.

Callie Wright is an activist, speaker, and host of the Gaytheist Manifesto podcast, which explores the intersection of atheist and LGBT activism.

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