Roibí is a 25-year-old trans woman based in Ireland who also identifies as transfemme. Newly single after five years, she is one of many people exploring her relationship with toys, her sexuality and her body, investigating what pleasure and intimacy means to her and what could trigger euphoria for her in her gender.
“I feel a certain pressure, as a trans woman, whenever I’m with a person to perform my gender in a certain way, but on my own, I can just play,” she says. While she has used sex toys on her own to explore her body, she has yet to make the jump to incorporating them into partnered sex since she first socially transitioned.
“Exploring toys privately gives me the space of experimentation without the pressures of is this going against my own perception of my gender?” she explains. “I feel like such a space for play, and toys can assist in that, in a way that not having toys or experiments with a partner don’t.”
Adding, Roibí says: “Now I feel a certain level of comfort in my body and my identity as a woman, I feel a motivation to explore what my body enjoys, regardless of what my dysphoria says, through toys and sexual pleasure and masturbation on my own.”
UK-based online sexual wellness retailer, Lovehoney, suggests starting with versatile, non-gendered toys in both solo and partnered exploration for people of all identities. Shaped like a mini-massager, the We-Vibe Touch X Vibrator feels fantastic on any erogenous zone. Experiment with the vibrations during solo play or share the vibes with a partner by nestling the Touch X between you for elevated intimacy. The We-Vibe Touch X is available for £89.99.
Research and statistics on trans and non-binary people’s bedroom habits are, unfortunately, limited. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: gender dysphoria during sex is more common amongst trans women than trans men.
Chantal Gautier, a chartered psychologist, sexologist and senior lecturer at the University of Westminster, points out that using sex toys to masturbate can be a great gateway for trans and non-binary people like Roibí who are looking to explore their gender and their relationships with their bodies.
“A positive starting point is to consider the use of sex toys as an expansion of your sex life and that this pleasure does not need to be gendered. Take your time to figure out likes and dislikes when exploring various toys,” she suggests. “One way to do this is through masturbation if you feel uncomfortable at first.”
Roibí says that she has already considered which toys would make her feel most comfortable in partnered sex. “One thing I have thought of that would make me feel euphoric is a penis sheath. It’s essentially a strap-on, but one that you can insert a penis into. Anything like that could be quite euphoric, in the sense that I would feel like I would be performing penetrative sex in a more feminine or ‘womanly’ way.”
Chantal points out that when it comes to sex toys, there is no universal approach. “It is important to note that everyone will experience sex toys and sensations differently,” she highlights. “Strap-ons can offer a transmasculine person (who hasn’t had bottom surgery), a way to penetrate their partner.”
“Strap-ons can be matched to skin tone which can help reduce gender dysphoria during sex, making the strap-on an extension of the body. Vice-versa, strap-ons might also be used whilst being penetrated reducing dysphoria. In both instances, strap-ons serve well, as there is no need to touch any genital area.”
For transfeminine people who, like Roibí, are looking to explore different types of penetration, Lovehoney offers a range of penis extenders and sleeves, from lifelike to clear, and with different textures. For beginners, why not try the Lovehoney Twin Teasers Textured Penis Sleeves? Available for £16.99.
It’s important to remember that everybody’s experience of their body can vary wildly, whether cis or trans. In any sexual setting, appreciate that your partner’s experience of their body is different to your own, and may vary from those of your previous partners. In order to ensure that everybody is comfortable and enjoying themselves, let go of these cisnormative assumptions to get yourself into the right headspace.
For those with trans and non-binary partners, Chantal offers advice on how to approach sex and make sure that everybody is comfortable and enjoying themselves safely. “When faced with a partner who experiences gender dysphoria in the bedroom, imagine the feeling that your physical body-assigned sex at birth does not align with your identity,” she explains. “Understand there is no one way to be trans or non-binary and that we are all different in the way we experience pleasure and sex. Finding new ways to have sex with each other involves open communication.”
Much like any sexual encounter, she emphasises that communication is key. “It is helpful as a partner to be patient and show kindness and openness, discuss boundaries and exercise good consent prior to and during sex,” she adds. “For the person who experiences gender dysphoria, dismissing any feelings of dysphoria can sometimes intensify the situation and lead to ‘spectatoring’.”
Spectatoring is when somebody loses focus on the sensations and their partner in a sexual experience, instead focusing on themselves, as if from a third-person perspective. This can lead to fears around their sexual performance and simply not enjoying themself.
For Ash, sex toys have formed the foundation of his relationship with his partner. As a queer trans man in a relationship with a man, using toys that he perceived as being geared towards cis gay men allowed him to experience euphoria when he first started bottoming. For example, despite first using his vibrating buttplug before starting on testosterone, it is one that has stayed with him through his journey with his gender. Starting with using it penetratively, as hormone replacement therapy made him more sensitive, he was able to expand its use, also beginning to use it on his bottom growth.
“When I started on T (testosterone), and my bottom growth grew a lot more, I realised that I could use [the buttplug] as a more powerful vibrator as well, and it was like a two-in-one, and that is my go-to.”
For toys like this, which can be used for multiple purposes, it’s important to make sure that they are cleaned, especially between uses on these different areas, to prevent cross-contamination and potential infections. For most toys, soap and water will be sufficient, but it’s important to always follow the guidance provided by manufacturers.
While toys helped to enrich both his and his partner’s sex lives, Ash also found sex toys to be a great help during solo play. “I was finally allowing myself to learn what pleasure looked like for me outside of dysphoria,” Ash continues. “I spent a very long time thinking that dysphoria meant that I could never achieve sexual pleasure and orgasms because it was so all-consuming for so much of my life, [and] because I was fighting for even just basic rights, day in, day out.”
In the midst of all this, sex toys helped Ash to decompress, physically relax and reassociate his body with pleasure, rather than simply dysphoria and the responsibilities that were being placed on him.
“When I had time where I was alone, I still didn’t feel fully safe because I was so ‘on’ all the time. By the time I had finally crafted that space and allowed myself the freedom to experiment with that, it was… it was brilliant.”
In a long-distance relationship, with 3000 miles apart, Ash and his partner turned to remotely-controlled vibrating toys to bridge the gap. Learning what pleasure looks like with a partner was further complicated by this distance, but they learned to talk through their boundaries and what each of them enjoyed, both before, during and after their sessions. Much of this, says Ash, involved trial and error, going away and working out what they liked on their own before reporting back to one another and using their findings for future play.
Sex technology has helped increase intimacy in long-distance relationships and can also be used for exciting, discreet public play. The remote and app-controlled anal toy We-Vibe Ditto+ is designed specifically for beginners, opening up a world of enhanced foreplay and delightful sensations. The vibrating buttplug can connect to your phone via Bluetooth, and be controlled via the We-Vibe app by a partner anywhere in the world. The We-Vibe Ditto+ is available for £109.99 on Lovehoney.
When talking, both Roibí and Ash make one thing clear: it’s important that the sex toys they are purchasing not be explicitly gendered. With sex often being a delicate area for many trans and non-binary people, unnecessary gendering can act as yet another hurdle, making it feel as if the toy was not truly made for them.
Unlearning such gendering was key to Rambo’s journey with experiencing and exploring pleasure in the bedroom as a non-binary person. Navigating their sex life whilst single, they have found that their experiences with different partners can vary wildly. “Being non-binary, I had to come to terms with and understand that parts of my body that society would have gendered weren’t necessarily gendered, like having breasts or having a vulva,” they explain.
They found that on their own, orgasm could be achieved regardless of dysphoria or euphoria. However, when with a partner, this drastically changed. “When it comes to being with partners, sometimes it is upsetting that I only have a vulva, and sometimes something like a strap-on, or being able to use sex toys on my partner can [ease] that.”
For a simpler, potentially less intimidating start, Lovehoney stocks an array of both realistic and non-realistic dildos for exploring penetrative sex, as well as harnesses to be used alongside them. The Lovehoney Slimline Suction Cup Dildo is suitable for both beginners and for those who are experienced in using toys in the bedroom. Available for £14.99.
“I love being able to ‘choose’ between different genitalia [through my choice of sex toy], and how it’s [physically] received. So I’ve got vibrators, and I’ve also got suction toys, so what gets used completely depends.”
Rambo still has difficulty with breast stimulation during sex as a result of both dysphoria and past trauma, but sex toys, particularly those using suction, help them venture into it when they are feeling comfortable enough. With everything, from these boundaries to discussing their experiences of gender and overcoming dysphoria, they emphasise how much open, honest discussion can make a difference.
“A lot of things can make me feel dysphoria, like being misgendered or having to use a very specific bathroom, whereas when it’s in the bedroom, it’s much more intimate and it’s a conversation that I can not only have with myself, but with partners,” they explain.
“I enjoy being able to explore my identity even further through something that is so taboo in society. Especially growing up South Asian and Muslim, there’s so much taboo in even discussing masturbating or sex as a whole. So it’s nice to be able to open up that conversation with somebody else.”
With our sex lives forming such an integral part of the day-to-day for many of us, as Rambo says, these discussions around sex toys, gender and sexual boundaries can help facilitate a deeper understanding of one another.
Wand massagers look and act like a standard vanilla ‘full body’ massager, making them accessible to beginners and seasoned explorers alike. The Lovehoney Magic Wand Vibrator is designed to offer incredible sensations all over, so you can start with areas on your body you feel more comfortable with and then explore from there. Experiment with the vibrations during solo play or share the vibes with your partner by trying different wand attachments. Available for £54.99. Looking to go cordless? Check out the Lovehoney Deluxe Magic Wand on-site.
They note that for partners of people who experience dysphoria, it’s important not to take their boundaries personally. Remaining level-headed, open, and accepting what makes them comfortable is important.
“When somebody has a boundary, we see it as ‘h. they don’t love me’, or ‘they don’t like me’. Whereas it’s more of the case that somebody simply has a boundary that you might not have, and it’s okay to be able to navigate that with each other.”
These conversations around boundaries might seem difficult at first. However, Rambo believes they can actually facilitate in bringing people together. “When it comes to intimacy, it’s not just about being intimate sexually but also being there in silence, being able to talk them through it, being emotionally intimate, psychologically intimate, and just enjoying somebody’s space. There is that element of vulnerability — allow yourself to be vulnerable.”
“Don’t just assume that your partner would enjoy something or not enjoy something because of your assumptions of what their identity is. Just allow them to come to you on their own terms. And if that means you’ve got to break the flow during sex, that’s okay.”
For anybody interested in incorporating sex toys into their transition journey and exploring their relationships with their gender and bodies, Chantal has some final words of advice.
“Taking the first step shopping for sex toys can for some be daunting. When you are trans, it can be even more challenging to know what to pick that works for your body, especially when HRT is involved. We know, for example, that oestrogen therapy can affect erections. This is why sex toys can aid in helping re-explore bodily sensations and hot spots in other ways,” she says.
“What once worked before [accessing gender-affirming care] might not work now. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have a satisfying sex life. In fact, you might discover new types of sensations, for example, nipple play, that you never responded to before.”
“Lastly, for those undergoing transition, remember to consider lube. When HRT (hormone replacement therapy) involves testosterone therapy, this can cause vagina dryness, so lube will come in handy. This is also important for people whose post-op vaginas are perhaps not as lubricated as they anticipated. Remember, to only use water-based lube when using silicone sex toys to ensure sex toys stay in good condition.”
It’s advised to use condoms to cover sex toys when sharing with multiple partners. As such, when incorporating sex toys into partnered sex, it’s important to ensure that the lube being used is compatible with both. Whilst anything oil-based will break down condoms, and silicon-based lube breaks down silicon sex toys, water-based lube is safe for use with both.
As well as serving an important functional purpose, lube can act as a sex toy and add to the fun! Alongside pleasure products and lingerie, Lovehoney offers a wide selection of lubricants to suit your needs in the bedroom.
Above all, when it comes to sex and playing with toys, it’s key to ensure that fun, safety and comfort always come first.
“I’m lucky being somebody who is visibly and openly queer, I’m navigating primarily queer circles,” says Roibí. “I know it’s a privilege that I have…And so sex for me has always been something that I think is fun, and funny. I would want my partner to be open to having fun…I want to try it all!”
Sexual happiness is an ongoing act of discovery and exploration. As the largest online retailer for sex toys and all things pleasure, let Lovehoney be your guide. Whether you’re at the beginning of your sex toy journey, or an experienced user looking for their next thrill, Lovehoney has it all. With a 100-day money-back guarantee and discreet shipping, try out toys and accessories at your pleasure – without the commitment. Explore Lovehoney here.