As I’ve mentioned once or twice already, I love sex. I do. It takes a lot to get me to walk away from someone with whom I have chemistry though it does happen occasionally. One thing that will make me and a lot of the other trans folks I know walk away from someone that I or they would otherwise be fucking is language. Simply put, trans people are complicated to talk about.

For starters, different trans people have different ways of talking about their equipment. I may call my anatomy a trans cock and front hole, while others may call the same body parts a dicklet and bonus hole. I once sat in a session at the Trans Health Conference where we generated dozens of ways to refer to our bits. To make things even harder, as my or another trans person’s body changes, or as new dysphoria comes to weigh on us, we may come to think of our bodies with new language.

Unfortunately, the trouble with language doesn’t end there. If I’m packing a cock (common speak: using a strap on), I want you to talk about it as “my” cock. Once that tool is attached to me, you’d better believe that I’m imagining it as connected, and I’d appreciate your cooperation in that particular belief . That cooperation starts with your language. In contrast, other trans guys see their cocks as toys, no more part of their body than the vibrator their girlfriend or boyfriend is using.

For every trans person, there seem to be tons of ways to get language wrong and only some ways of getting it right. To me, that means that it’s the shared responsibility of the trans person and their partner to make explicit what language each person prefers for their own anatomy. One method that I’m very fond of for plugging up the cracks in the language boat is by modeling it. This week, for instance, I’ve been writing back and forth with a guy I met on Craigslist. His ad stated that he had been with a few trans guys before and loved to suck trans guy’s clits. Now, I read this and think “Hey. I love getting my cock sucked. Sounds like a match made in Craigslist heaven.” But then I pause. He loves sucking trans guys’ clits? Sometimes I use that word for my anatomy. Other times, I don’t. Most of the time, I like cock, or, if I’m distinguishing it from my dildos, trans cock. So as we emailed, I started making a point of talking about my cock and my front hole, another term that I use to describe my anatomy which wouldn’t necessarily be the first one he’d think of. Slowly but surely, he started to use those terms too, as he describes in later emails what he wants to do to me. Mission: Success, though I won’t declare final victory until we actually hook up and he gets the language right, or at least seems to be trying.

It’d be nice if I had the opportunity to model language that way for every sexual encounter because the truth is, everyone has their preferences for language and I can’t guess my partner’s preferences any better than she or he can guess mine. Does she like the word cunt? Pussy? Vajayjay? Does the word cock turn him on? How about fuckstick? Like a million other pieces of advice I give about trans people, the golden rule here is to assume nothing and ask about everything. We just have too many words to get it right by guessing, and getting it wrong can be such a bummer.

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