It’s important for everyone to be safe when having sex. It doesn’t matter what genitalia you were born with or if you get surgery to make you feel more, well, you. Safe sex should always be the priority, so we have assembled a guide for those who conventional sex ed seems to forget about.
For the sake of this article, we will refer to a pre-op transwoman’s genitalia as a strapless, a post-op transwoman’s genitalia as a vulva, a transman’s pre-op genitalia as a front hole, and a transman’s post-op genitalia as a t-penis. This terminology comes from this guide from Gender Dynamix and is used in an attempt to feel comfortable to those who would prefer not to have their genitals be referred to using language of a gender which does not suit them.
An important note:
All over the world, trans* people face violence when revealing themselves to potential partners. It’s awful, and it isn’t right. But because of this, it’s very important to let your potential partner know before you hit the sheets together. Try picking somewhere that’s both a little public and a little private– such as standing outside at a bar, or in a quiet corner. The presence of others can keep them from reacting in an inappropriate manner and help you stay safe. Also, just as with any first date, never go anywhere private and always make sure a friend knows where you are and who you’re with.
Finally, no matter how long you’ve been with someone or what your situation is, always make sure they know that safe sex is the bottom line. There’s no compromising on your health, and they shouldn’t be compromising on theirs. Get tested frequently, even if you are monogamous. Many cities have trans*-safe clinics with free STD testing days. Planned Parenthood is one of those places. Or you can contact the National Center for Transgender Equality or your local LGBTQ center to find out where.
If one partner has a vulva or front hole and the other has a strapless or penis…
If you intend on penetrating your partner, you’ll certainly need a condom. It doesn’t matter which orifice you’re going into, although not all condoms are created equal in terms of anal sex. Look for condoms that are extra-strength and add some silicone lube to help out. The anus absorbs water, so water-based lube is a crappy idea.
No condom is currently approved for anal sex by the FDA, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to stay safe.
For many women with straplesses who are doing hormonal therapy, it can be difficult to get off via stimulation on their strapless. Even if you can’t ejaculate, it’s still important to use barrier methods for safety. Even if you’re getting/giving manual sex (handjobs) or oral, wear a condom. Remember, it’s about potentially protecting your partner just as much as it’s about protecting you too– and if your partner is a ciswoman or a transman, there’s a possibility of pregnancy.
Also from what my research seems to indicate, it’s perfectly alright to use a female condom on a post-op vulva. Remember, these can also be used for anal sex, even though they are not yet FDA approved. Just make sure you use lots of lube!
That lube will go a long way. Many post-op transwomen have trouble staying lubricated down there. Depending on the surgery you have, you may even have the issue of being too lubricated. Regardless, it’s always a great idea to find a lube that works just right for you. Silicone lubes stay wet longer than water-based lubes, and they don’t get as tacky– one of my personal favorites is WET’s Ecstasy Silicone.
If both partners have vulvas or front holes…
Much of your safe sex with other women or with transmen will revolve around dental dams.These are latex sheets that can be flavored, and are spread over an orifice to prevent skin-on-skin contact. They have found a calling in oral sex, but can actually be used for tribadism (also called scissoring) as well, and petting without penetration. Our suggestion is to use a garter belt to keep one on even if you’re just going to use it for oral– hands-free is always best. You can also use them on the anus. If you intend on penetrating your partner with your hands, use latex or nitrile gloves or finger cots.
Another option is to use plastic wrap. Yes, that plastic wrap. As long as it’s not the microwave safe kind (which has small holes to let steam escape), it will protect you from sharing fluids. This is an even more favored option than the dental dam among many because you can wrap it around yourself without having to bother with a belt.
If one partner has a t-penis…
After having surgery, it can be difficult to find a condom that fits. If you are intended on penetrating your partner, many sites suggest using either a finger cot or the thumb of a latex glove as a condom. The other option is to have your partner wear a female condom. As we mentioned above, female condoms may bear an unfortunate name, but they are considered to be a great alternative for the person being penetrated to wear in the vagina or anus. For those with a t-penis, they prove to be even more valuable than a regular, male condom because part of the female condom sits on the outside of the orifice, potentially offering greater protection to both partner from contact STDs like genital warts or herpes.
If your partner has a penis or a strapless and so do you…
Condoms, all the way, baby. Even if it’s for oral or anal. Our brother site, Condom Depot, has developed a great list on the best condoms for anal. Remember, even if you can’t ejaculate due to hormone therapy, you should still wear one if you’re going to be penetrating your partner in any way, and you should have them wear one as well. Remember, using lots of silicone lube will keep that condom from breaking if it’s being used for anal.