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Gender Affirmed & Euphoric! - a SHAG Mini-Workshop

Gender Affirmed & Euphoric! - a SHAG Mini-Workshop

October 13, 2022

three white person's fingers with happy faces drawn on them in sharpie to look like one person hugging to friends


Hosted by Artemis
Watch on IG @weloveshag
YouTube @weloveshag

Hello, hello, friends of SHAG! My name is Artemis, and I'm going to be teaching this little workshop today about having sex that is gender affirming.

a white trans femme person with medium long hair, wearing lipstick, a choker necklace, a tshirt, an unbottoned collared shirt with a print, and a black cardigan, standing against a white brick wall (artemis)

Let’s start with some fundamentals: we're going to be talking a lot about gender today. That's something that's distinct from sex – not the act, but the category – which is assigned at birth.

blackboard sign that says "baby coming in july he or she"

Sex is something where maybe what a doctor would look at your little naked baby body and think, “This is a boy,” or “This is a girl,” but society is much more complicated than that. Humanity is much more complicated than that. We don't need to put a lot of stock into something some doctor we have never met, except for the one time as a baby, decided about us.

 a white woman in a white lab coat with a stethiscope, looking like a doctor, with her hands together at her waist, with her face cropped out of the photo

I would also like to point out that I do not speak for all trans people. I am trans. I'm trans, feminine, and non-binary. Today I am going to speak from my experience and the experiences of my peers and colleagues, as well as those of people who have written about this, who are much smarter than me. Basically, I’m going to do my best, but our goal at SHAG is always to create a space for discussion and idea sharing. Please feel free to come to the boutique in Brooklyn or DM us on social media to keep this conversation going and exchange ideas.

What is gender euphoria? People talk a lot about gender dysphoria, which is like this feeling of disconnection or discomfort when thinking about your gender, performing your gender, or being understood or perceived as a certain gender. But the counterpoint that's been proposed to that is gender euphoria, which are the feelings of joy, comfort, or correctness when you are feeling represented and understood authentically. We live in a world where people place a lot of importance on gendered roles, especially here in America. Gendered categories are presented as very rigid for most of our upbringing, or at least they were for me.

a typewriter with a paper in it with the words "gender roles" in all caps

My hope today is to introduce the bedroom, largely speaking, as a space that you can feel free to play, explore, and feel a little relief from some of the structures dictating gender behavior and presentation. I want to make a comparison of adding and subtracting gender to your sex life to the way you might add or subtract power exchanges, which is to say power dynamics or dominant and submissive roles. Just like you can have sex while playing with power dynamics, or you can have sex without playing much with those dynamics, you can also have more genderful sex or more de-gendered sex. Let’s talk a little bit about some tools and theories for how you can do that!

Besides the sex binary and gender binary that are both present in society (and therefore present in our brains and thus also in the bedroom sometimes), there are other binaries that may also appear in the bedroom. There are binaries like top and bottom, or dominant and submissive. Because of the way we've been socialized, often these are synonymous with gender archetypes. For example, maleness and masculinity are often associated with dominance, action, topping, and being penetrative, whereas femaleness and femininity are often associated with submission, passivity, bottoming, and being penetrated. These binary ideas and structures infiltrate everything in our culture and lives. So, for some people, it might be a huge relief to feel liberated from the weight of gender roles in the bedroom, just because that's not something that's easily achievable walking down the street. You can also achieve some of this liberation via queer community and other ways, most certainly. The bedroom, however, is a very closed container, which means you can live out whatever utopic ideal you want. If we're talking about de-gendering or intentionally re-gendering our sex lives, then, as with all good sex, it is all about communication. I feel like emphasizing communication in sex education is almost a cliche these days, but it’s really true, and it’s tripley true when it comes to playing with gender during sexual play.

cover of salt-n-pepa album "let's talk about sex"

In the immortal words of Salt N Pepa: Let's Talk About Sex

Whether you're starting to think about all of this stuff because it's going to be implemented with a partner, or you’re having conversations with a partner already, or even just journaling and thinking about it on your own, to explore solo, putting your ideas into words is key.

Next up: part two of this workshop gets into the language we use to talk about ourselves, our lovers, and our bodies!
**This text was transcribed from SHAG’s live Mini-Workshop on October 13, 2022 and edited for clarity. This opinion piece is not intended to constitute licensed expert advice; all content is for general informational purposes only.**


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