Issues of safer sex practices are important regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and kinds of relationships. Therefore, when I came across a comprehensive guide to safer sex, relationships, and reproductive health for trans and non-binary people and their partners, I was delighted, impressed and enthusiastically wanting to share.
This guide, created by Beth Thompson and Anna Benbrook and published by Florida State University in 2016 is a must have for anybody looking for a guide for trans, gender nonconforming, non-binary, intersex folks and their partners who want and need this information. Anyone can really apply this guide to their life; but, one reason they created this guide was to fill the gap “since most people have not received adequate comprehensive sex education, especially education that is inclusive of non-hetero or trans identities.” And since information is power, once we have comprehensive, inclusive and reliable information we can better take care of our bodies and stay safer.
I recommend you share this information, not only if you identify as the target audience, but if you are in any position to support safer sex, relationship and reproductive health. I have talked to many professionals who come in contact with youth and adults seeking support and guidance. Most of the time, the professionals are at a loss at how to support their needs. This guide is also for them. If you are a guidance counselor, therapist, doctor, or educator, please consider printing the guide healthy-bodies-safer-sex and sharing it anywhere and in any format you feel would help other people learn how to better protect themselves. Just remember to give Thompson and Benbrook credit for the awesome job they did!
I truly believe this guide can help in multiples of ways.
It provides Common Language. When talking to anybody about sex, relationship or their bodies, we need common language that will support respectful and empathetic communication, thus empowering towards healthy choices. This guide does that. With a whole sections on Terms to Know and many other crucial discussions, the guide can provide the words and attitudes you might be missing to talk about yourself or your partner.
It is full of reliable information. There is a lot of misguided and lacking information out there. This guide include reliable data regarding preventing STI and unwanted pregnancies, as well as scheduling exams to screen for cancer. Calling bodies “sperm producers” and “people with ovaries” is just one great way in which the authors respect various gender identities while providing basic needed information about our bodies. Especially if someone is going through any transition, knowing what is needed, how things might be different, and how things work is super important!
It will help you answers some tough questions. How do you talk to a FTM person about his first visit to the gynecologist and about preventing pregnancy? How do you talk to a MTF partner about wearing a condom? Which kind of barrier is right for my body? These topics might be hard to discuss when the person does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth; heck, there are tough topics at any which time! But especially tough when we don’t want to say the wrong thing and hurt someone, and sometimes that means we don’t talk at all. With the huge gap in inclusive sex education, this guide truly discusses some hard topics not found anywhere else. It covers dating, disclosure, consent, and the variety of barriers and birth control available for different bodies to be healthy.
It’s also really upbeat. So don’t be timid, just start reading!
Note: If you missed it, here is the link to the published booklet, and you can download it right here. At the authors request, if you do use the booklet, let them know! They would love to get an idea of how far it has traveled or receive any suggestions you may have to make it even better (e-mail Anna Benbrook at annabenbrook@ and Beth Thompson at met14f@).