02/08/2012 11:11 am ET Updated Apr 09, 2012

Help in a HandBasket

Lately, whenever I read about a transgender person, it is in regards to something pretty awful. Trans people have it rougher than most when it comes to medical care, bigotry, and hate crimes. I hear more and more stories about terrible things that happen to transgender people, from how they are treated by doctors, EMTs, and people as a whole. Society has a really hard time with trans people. While we are making gains towards tolerance, it is still very slow in coming. Today, I want to talk about sex and transgender folks.

The more I write and learn about sex, the more I find that I don't know. Something that is not talked about often, or at all, is transgender people having sex. It may seem unexpected to ponder this as a subject, but it is an important issue. I have never dated or had sex with someone who is transgender, so in all honesty I don't know what the difference is.

For me, sexual attraction is about the person, not their bits. I used to think that I preferred sex with men. In reality, the more complete response would be to say I enjoy sex that has vaginal penetration, but there are a lot of ways that can happen without a man being present at all. What we enjoy sexually has nothing to do with our parts -- it has to do more with what gets our parts going. The more I learn about sex, the more I understand just how different it is for each person.

So, beyond sex being different for trans people, what about safe sex? Safe sex is something that has been programmed into all of us for quite some time. We all have access to the tools needed for safer sex, but it's not necessarily that simple. When I was in Vegas, I met a trans woman who was talking about safer sex for transgender folks.

Tobi Hill-Meyer has a website called "We are a radical, oppression-aware media collective focusing on queer culture, trans experience, and sex positivity." When I heard her speak on this panel, I realized how little I understand about sex in terms of trans people in general. I forget that they are often in transition, so I overlook how different things must be for them in some respects. Ms. Hill-Meyer wrote a pamphlet entitled "Trans Sexuality: A Safe Sex Guide For Trans People and Their Partners."

The pamphlet describes how most safe sex information is designed for cis (non-trans) people and is given to us to figure out when, if, and how it is applicable to trans people's bodies. The best example is condoms. The instructions they often come with are simple: Step One, get an erection. Step Two, roll it on, and so on. But it's much too large for most trans men's cocks, and many trans women have difficulty getting or don't want to get erections. Of course, there's a great diversity of trans people and how they relate to their bodies and how they choose to have sex. Some trans people use condoms just fine. Some folks use toys which can use condoms. And some folks have types of sex that don't involve fluid sharing. Yet, there is a lot of trans specific sex-ed information that even the most progressive sex-ed programs don't think to include. That's what I'm working to correct.

I am happy to see important topics like these be brought to light. Transgender people are a part of our society, and they deserve to be included in everything. With the overturning of Proposition 8, perhaps it means we are closer to equality for all. Gay, lesbian, and trans-people deserve the same rights that we all enjoy. Who we have sex with and who we love should have nothing to do with the rights we receive in this country. So, let us hope that the tides they are a turning. I am glad to see Miss Hill-Meyer trying to make a difference in her community. Please visit her website if you wish to know more about transgender issues. Stay with me folks.