Love Triangle (Main Image)
Sorcha O’Higgins @sorchaoh_collage
This piece celebrates sex. Be it the intimacy between two people, the hedonism of group sex or the freedom of masturbation. The potency and desire of nakedness, skin on skin, agency over your own body and the appreciation of and respect for the body of your partner is all embodied in this piece.
Sex should be fun but safe. It should make you feel confident yet vulnerable. It can be an act of love or just a good time. It should always be positive and always consensual. It should be free from judgement and an opportunity to lose yourself in one of life's most liberating experiences. The chaos of the figures set against the colourful background of condoms and vibrators is ordered by the structural strength of the triangle, a nod to the pink triangle and the re-appropriation of a symbol of oppression into one of pride and activism. The colours of the rainbow flag are represented in the spectrum of contraceptives and sex toys.
The overall effect is dynamic, energetic and powerful. Yay sex!
We live in a world weirdly obsessed with trans people, our bits, and what we do with them. The possibility of experiencing transphobia and violence is a daily reality for us. We experience intense discomfort with parts of our bodies or people’s perception of them. Throw in the fetishisation of our bodies, a complete lack of inclusive sexual education in schools, and the anxiety around telling that cute person that you’re trans, and honestly you’d be exhausted before you even get into the foreplay. It’s all just additional barriers to getting the ride. And we deserve to get the ride just like anyone else.
Before we even get to the riding, we have to disclose that we’re trans. For everyone, hook-ups come with risks, then you throw being trans into the mix. Owning those 3 am decisions and enjoying one night stands like everyone else can feel empowering, but safety in those decisions isn’t a privilege we always have.
Dating is just as tricky. We want to date as us. We meet someone and want to get to know them better, but we have to decide when and how to tell them and also be ready for any negative reactions or rejections that may come our way. It shouldn’t come as a shock that it can make those early dates quite an anxious experience. It’s a Catch-22; we can’t get comfortable and show our best selves until we tell someone but we also can’t tell someone until we’re comfortable they won’t react badly, reject us, or even get violent. We don’t want to ruin the mood with an educational lecture, and let’s be fair, trans 101 on the second date isn’t exactly pillow talk. Talking about boundaries, comfort, consent, and language is key to having great sex. Not just for trans people, for everyone.
Someone once asked me what words I used for parts of my body. I’m glad they asked. Normalising those conversations benefits everyone and doesn’t feel so othering for trans people when we have to bring them up. I once had someone tell me: ‘Oh it’s much better when your pants are on, it doesn’t really work for me when they’re off’. I knew the person well, knew them to be educated on trans issues but they simply were not thinking about the effect that would have on me. I felt gross about being with anyone for a long time after that.
We should be able to feel just as good about wanting and enjoying sex as any cisgender person would. Unfortunately society has made that extremely difficult. We’re hyper sexualised in the media, but shamed for expressing our sexuality. It’s a state of constant extremes. Why society is so focused on who has what bits and what they do with them is frankly beyond me. Whatever bits you have and what you do with them is your own business. If you’re not hurting anyone and you’re enjoying yourself and feeling comfortable- go for it. It’s not always easy but choosing to enjoy what my body can do as opposed to feeling shame about what anyone else thinks it should be able to do, is a much better way to live.
People need to be open to the idea that people can have different body parts or differences in their anatomy that you might not expect. If cisgender people can work on that, we trans people can work to unlearn the shame we have been made to feel around our bodies and our sexuality.
We deserve to feel pleasure.
We deserve to feel comfortable.
We deserve good sex.
We come out to be able to feel comfortable as who we are.
It is okay to want to feel good about your body as a trans person. It can be so empowering to express your sexuality. Whoever you are.