What Is Good Sex? Trans And Cis Folks Weigh In

What Is Good Sex? Trans vs. Cis is one episode in a series of queer sex education roundtable discussions. In these videos, sex researcher/educator Eva Bloom and sex writer Gabrielle Alexa Noel bring people of different sexual experiences together to discuss sex education and break down taboos.

This is a transcription from that episode, lightly edited for clarity, featuring guests:

I hesitate to use this word but it is almost like a religious experience in a way that isn't sanctioned and isn't oppressive." –– James

There are two different groups on this call. What is something the other group has to learn from your group?

Clark: I think that something cis people often forget is that no one trans body is the same. Being trans doesn't mean anything about your body or the way that you have sex or the way you want to have sex. What I've experienced with cis partners/cis educators is that they don't realize that there isn't, like, a trans way of having sex or a way to be with a trans body. It's different for every single person.

Eva: Branching off that as a trans woman, when I say that I'm trans, people instantly think that I'm going to top them. Typically that means they're making certain assumptions about what my body looks like and also making a lot of assumptions on what I like to do in bed, and where I may or may not even like being touched. I think this conversation typically revolves around cis men but it also applies to cis women as well and often times even other trans people.

James: The majority of cis people, I think, could stand to learn that there are actually more similarities in the way that all genders experience sex than there are differences. Like intimacy is something that many people crave and that is not gender specific. The way in which we need to be cared for, and honored in intimate and sexual situations, may differ based off of our world experiences as our genders.

When I was understanding myself as a cis person, I didn't experience intimacy that much differently. I still like the same things, I still want to have similar connections, I still want someone to love me for me and I still want to love someone for who they are. And it is just an added layer that requires a little bit more care, in a lot of ways, as a trans non-binary person.

READ MORE: Queer People Talk To Straight People: How Sex Is Different for Straight & Queer Women

What is good sex?

Eva: Good sex is passion. In terms of what we're doing to each other, that can really vary based off of who I'm with. I like there to be a lot of excitement. I also like it to last a while, I don't like quickies. You gotta have some stamina.

Clark: To me, it's like a two-parter. The first is that whoever wants to be giving and/or receiving pleasure gets to do that. And then the other part is: I am like a really goofy person and if you cannot laugh while we are having sex, it is not going to be good for me. Like, I need to be able to have that funny noise when your chests bump happen and for us to like, crack the f*ck up about it. I am not going to ignore a funny noise or a slip. We are going to laugh about it and if we can't do that then it does not feel good or right (to me).

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Tara: When you asked the question, the first word that came to mind for me was comfort. I'm still kind of navigating this for myself but I've realized that my comfort level isn't based on the relationship type. I've had monogamous relationships for like a year where I definitely wasn't comfortable with them and I've had one-night stands where I was completely comfortable with them. I think that's the biggest thing of all for me.

I've also noticed that I try to standardize my sexual performance because I am in the sex education space, and I'm taking all these classes. And it's like, "How To Give An Amazing Blowjob!" where you do this, this, and this, and boom! Best blowjob ever! And I try to come up with these routines for sexual acts but when I get into that moment, the thing that matters most of all is just my comfort and there's no way of getting around that.

Polyamorous Black Girl: That really resonates with me because I like all different kinds of sex –– like, loud sex, rough sex, all of that. But ultimately it's about safety for me and feeling safe enough to say, "I don't want to do this anymore" if I don't want to do it anymore. And that's what determines what good sex is for me.

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Marisa: I agree with what you both just said. For me, the first word that came up as well was comfort and safety. I call myself a service top; I get a lot of joy, or get off of making the other person feel comfortable and making them feel good within their body and doing things that they like. And that is, on my end, how I get something out of what we're doing.

James: I think one of the biggest things is presence. Like, I need you to fully be there. 'cause that can be anything. Like some of my best partners, there are times we go over and it is: fast and furious, sweating, I can't breathe, I love it. And then other times, some of my favorite moments are the ones where we slow down and I feel like I'm being seen for who I am and I just cry because it's such a catharsis. It's like, oh my god, I have waited so long to find this moment. And it doesn't matter that it doesn't last –– that's how I know it's good. It's like, I don't even need this forever. Because what I have, in that instant, with that person, is unforgettable. 

I hesitate to use this word but it is almost like a religious experience in a way that isn't sanctioned and isn't oppressive. It's like, I feel worshipped, and I feel like I'm worshipping you in a way that's like, we are celebrating our humanity; this is part of maybe why we're here, is to experience this exact moment. And I don't need that all the time but when I'm thinking through my rolodex of stupid boys, those are the ones that come up. And I think it has to do with, like: can we be fully present for each other?

Because Marisa, just like you're saying, sometimes I want to be a service top. Other times I wanna be a sub bottom. And it's like, both of those can exist in the same setting if we are committed to each other. Like I want commitment to the other person, not commitment to an act or an end goal or a kink or a destination or a label. I want connection to the humanness of it. That's good sex.

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Eva: Branching off of that, it really takes me a while to really connect with a person that I'm with. It could be someone I've known for years or someone that I just met that day. As someone who has a lot of sexual trauma, I really need to take my time to get in the groove.

When there's those moments where we're really feeling like we're one spirit. Like, that is so powerful. I remember there was this one guy who really wasn't anything special but he was like, "look at me." And I was like, I'm about to fall in love with you. But it was that special moment where I was like, wait a minute, this is intimacy. And I hadn't really had many moments like that. I kind of thank him even though I blocked him on everything.

Michelle: That look at me thing? That kills me every time. Especially if I do have a history and emotional connection with that person. And going back to what James was saying in that beautiful monologue: presence. And if it makes me cry, then that's how I know it really reached inside of me deeper than any physical limb could have.