About the event
The debut conversation for our new panel series will explore the intersection of trans masculinity and kink, one night only!
The intersection of trans masculinity and kink is notable, but rarely given center stage publicly. The Sexual Health Programme have brought together some amazing panelists to talk about their experiences and to delve into what kink means to them. The panel will explore what inclusion looks like in the community, how trans-ness is celebrated and where there is still work to be done.
Our amazing panelists are:
AH (he/ him) is a Trans, polyamorous, Leatherman and a family bootblack of the UK KRueL Leather Family*, who have been scene educators in the UK since the 1990s. He is serving as European Bootblack 2020/ 21, having won the title at Darklands in Antwerp, March 2020. AH has been a Leather dominant on the UK kink scene for over two decades, and formally earned his leathers from the bottom up through his Leather Family.
SL (he/ him) is a trans masc kinkster living in Australia. He shares his life with two partners and his awesome five year old kid. SL runs a support group for Queer, Autistic Kinky people and has an Instagram account where he posts about Autism, non-monogamy, gender, sexuality and socialism.
OM (he/ they) is a multi-disciplinary artist and facilitator. They primarily work with film and photography and are a member of The House of Noir, a Manchester based vogue house.
Hosting the conversation is ND (he/ him). A gay, trans man in Manchester who has worked in sexual health since 2018, Noah introduced a free condoms & sexual advice programme to the University of Nottingham. Since then he has advocated for sex workers, increased awareness of trans sexual health and has worked as an advisor specialising in trans sexual health at the LGBT Foundation clinic since 2019.From the blurb on Eventbrite, held by the LGBT Foundation
* Lamest name ever, or what?
Because of the sensitive nature of the discussion I have summarised the discussion, despite the LGBT Foundation recording the conversation and promising that it wouldn’t be shared (why record it then?).
Established in 1975, LGBT Foundation exists to support the needs of the diverse range of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans. We believe in a fair and equal society where all LGBT people can achieve their full potential. #EqualityWins underpins much of what we do and we aim to be; ‘here if you need us’.From their website – about us page
This session was held as part of their Sexual Health Programme. Do you remember when Sexual Health Programmes focussed on preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs? Now they’re focussed on people who explicitly don’t want to have sex.
Having said that, very few gory detail were given (thank heavens) and none will be shared here. The blurb above actually covers already quite a bit of what the women shared about themselves in the webinar and all were happy to share their photo for the publicity for the event.
Because of the sex-less nature of gender ideologists, it was not at all clear whether these women were into women or men or both. I suspect most of the audience had logged in because they had an interest in entering into the world of kink.
Journeys into kink/ a trans identity
Unsurprisingly it appears that people arrive into kink from a place of unhappiness and inability to form normal relationships – there was a general feeling of, if normal relationships are a nightmare, why not have one which is a controlled nightmare? It was felt that the kink scene made it easier to ‘transition’ to male-presenting, since boundaries were being explored anyway, and indeed there were some crossover between the two scenes. All had transitioned as adults, a couple quite late.
In the same way societal messages about being trans have changed, the phenomenon of 50 Shades of Grey had opened up the world of BDSM to a much wider audience. Latterly BDSM had been classed as a mental disorder by the DSM, but no longer.
The kink community, like gender identity ideology, has a multitude of different identities that people can ascribe to, for example, being a ‘daddy’, a ‘sub’ or a ‘switch’. The idea of ‘family’ is also central, with one (likely older) person apparently taking responsibility for what sounds like essentially grooming the rest of the group, making it uncomfortably adjacent to incest, as does the practice of ‘age play’ for child sex abuse. Similar to offence at misgendering, people can take badly at not being perceived as congruent to their self-chosen status, for example, being labelled as ‘sub’, when you are really ‘dom’ – despite sometimes having to be in ‘sub’ relationship with the head honcho. (Notably loaded language is a feature of cults.)
It was felt that gender identity was more likely to be accepted in the kink scene (later contradicted by reports that people still viewed them as women and wanting to have penis in vagina sex with them).
Being in kink spaces
It was felt that meeting a wide number of people was essential to ensure that you had the best knowledge base to work from and manage the risks better that way. Following a heavy session it is normal to experience what is known as ‘the drop’ (i.e. a hormonally induced depression, though – dare I say it – likely a spiritual one too). The euphemism of ‘after care’ was used to describe the post-trauma experience and it was suggested it presented an opportunity for couples to be ‘loving’ with each other. Tellingly though another said such ‘after care’ might be sought from peers instead.
The idea that the group network would protect and support you was heavily promoted (bearing in mind the audience had quite some interest in exploring the kink scene) though it occurred to me that any break with your ‘family’ would likely result in an instant break of all contact from other members, much like it is in all cults.
There also appears to be an esoteric idea that going through certain acts will help you gain special knowledge and that you must go through the act in a submissive role before being allowed to practice it in a dominant role (though to be fair if you’ve ever stood on a piece of Lego you know all there is to know about pain – nothing particularly insightful there).
A really interesting observation was that many kink spaces don’t actually allow sex to take place and that many kinksters regard themselves as asexual.
Of course, the inevitable discussion about intersectionality reared its head and there was a moment of real antagonism amongst the panel over racial identity politics and another over the meaning of the word ‘man’; two felt strongly that they were not men, but presenting as masculine, another believes herself to actually be a man (with a vagina).
With regards to disability, many people involved in kink apparently regard themselves as ‘neuro divergent’ or autistic. Events are quite often held in basements which they felt made it difficult for wheelchair users to access (the community is so amazing they will actually carry the wheelchair and its occupant up the stairs! So unlike us normies!).
It was stated that visiting lesbian spaces resulted in experiences of ‘transphobia’ and that they didn’t feel comfortable in them, but of course it wasn’t explained why, if they did not identify as women, that they would want to be in them in the first place. Apparently being rejected by lesbians had caused lasting upset (you’d think sadomasochists would have much thicker skins).
Of course, there was also difficulty in male-only spaces too, and understandable fear about going into dark rooms and being found out. One preferred male-only spaces over mixed spaces. Accessing male spaces was made easier by using political leverage in the kink community and one gave an example where she had used her contacts to put pressure on a men-only event to accept women who self-identify as men. (So, we have women who started off as identifying themselves as lesbian now wanting to be in dark rooms with potentially men only, a concept I can’t quite get my head around.)
Trans/kink allies could help by ensuring that organisers make it explicitly clear whether trans people were welcome at their events.
Events had lower ticket prices for women, which they felt was unfair (rather than inevitable) and felt it made assumptions about the earning power of the men (interestingly no one clarified which fee they selected). The decor at parties could also tend towards ‘girly’ which was triggering. The words ‘non-binary exclusion’ were uttered.
The effect of porn/ sex role stereotypes
It was agreed that stereotypes about trans-identified females were rather lead by porn narratives, particularly the idea of the ‘bonus hole’.
Women are mainly focussed on as the subjects to be dominated and presenting as male meant there was less scrutiny with the general assumption that ‘trans men’ would want to be submissive and have vaginal sex.
It was claimed that Only Fans was enabling trans-identified females to make money out of porn (I bet the pickings are very slim indeed) but again it was admitted that the main thing men were interested in paying to see was a vagina.
People were encouraged to get to know people in the community in real life and to attend social events as a way in. Finding a friend to go with would help.
Build time into your life to recover from engaging with BDSM practices (why not just go on a yoga retreat and put your feet up with a good book in the first place?).
A website called FetLife was recommended (I did look at the front page and decided against having their cookies on my computer). There are also currently quite a few online events taking place.
Just do it! was the message.
My take away
Needless to say that the whole thing was utterly humourless. However, it’s quite crazy that no one, including the host from the LGBT’s Foundation Sexual Health Programme, could be bothered to explain that BDSM could go wrong (though one did allude to this). Surely there is more than a small risk in coming across a very disturbed, possibly psychopathic, person or sustaining a life changing injury. Not even one clear warning that it was a possibility, or that they had seen or heard of it happening. Really really strange.
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