Ask a Doctor: Gender & Sexual Expansiveness

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Enjoy our interview with certified sex therapist, Casey Tanner, who discusses readers’ questions about gender and sexual expansiveness.

gender and sexual expression

Q: Where can you find queer-positive and LGBTQ+ porn?

It is certainly more difficult to find queer porn that doesn’t feel tokenizing or made for the male gaze. I find that the best, most ethical queer porn—or really any kind of porn—is behind some type of paywall.

Paying for porn can make some people uncomfortable. But, by paying for it, you’re contributing to equal and fair wages for sex-workers and improved working conditions for queer people that work in the sex industry.

Don’t hesitate to pay for porn! You’re much more likely to get material that is high-quality and ethically made. 

Q: How do you deal with others being biphobic towards you, especially in regard to expressions of femininity/masculinity in your bisexuality?

Unfortunately, biphobia remains a very common condition. Bisexual women are frequently accused of being straight, experimenting bisexuals. Bisexual men are also often accused of being closeted homosexual men.

If someone is doubting your bisexuality because of the way you present in terms of gender expression, what they’re doing is making an error in Not Differentiating between gender expression and sexual orientation.

Gender expression and sexual orientation are completely different components of identity and don’t have anything to do with one another. You might express your gender as masculine/feminine but you are attracted to people of all genders.

People who are biphobic toward you regarding your gender expression are mistaking it for your sexual orientation. If this happens, remind yourself or them that gender expression does not have to do with your sexual orientation. 

Q: I feel heteronormative about the ways that I want to express myself sexually. Does that sound wrong?

It makes sense that heteronormativity might be a part of your sexual expressions. This is because it was what you were taught, and what you were modeled.

If you are someone who wants to express themselves in a way that’s more queer, the best way to break open the box of compulsive heteronormative sexuality is to expose yourself to queerer, more expansive ways of expressing sexuality.

You can start by finding media—watching shows like Pose On TV, or even the latest seasons The L Word—that speaks to queer sexuality/romance and queer experience. Follow queer creators talking about expansive sexuality (I do it a lot) and read books by queer authors to help you deconstruct heteronormativity.

Because what you’ve been exposed to up to this point is heterosexuality, by exposing yourself to queerness you can undo and unlearn compulsively heteronormative ways of sexual expression.

Q: I’m a person who hasn’t had same-gender sex. Are you behind me?

The concern about “being behind” in terms of sexual experience is common, particularly for people who are coming out a little later in life. What You should try to remember when these feelings arise is that it’s not you that’s behind: it is the world and our culture that’s behind in in terms of offering you the sex education that you deserved, as well as the knowledge that it’s more than okay to express yourself sexually however you choose.

It is important to remember that the LGBTQIA+ community is often behind in sexual development. Does happen later in life. Research has shown that bisexuals are more likely than others to discover their sexuality later in life.

People in the LGBTQIA+ group are more likely later in life to experience same-gender sexual experiences. These experiences are not uncommon in people’s 20s, 30s and 40s. You are not alone if you feel this way. Your timing is perfect and your timing is just right for you.

Q: I love my partner, who is the opposite sex from me, but I think I might be gay…what do I do?

There are many kinds of love. It sounds like you have many different types of love for your partner, but perhaps sexually and romantically the love and sexual attraction you have is directed in a way that’s more queer.

You have many options to address this. There is no one right way here, and I would start by asking: “What feels like the most authentic path forward for me?” Don’t be confused by thinking that “coming out” is the only way to be authentic. It is for some people! However, some people find it easier to make a marriage work if they open up their relationship or have these conversations with their partner.

If you think that your partner can hold space for this part of you, I might start by sitting down together, maybe with the support of a therapist, to have a conversation about what’s been going on inside of you so that you don’t have to hold this in and deal with it all by yourself.

Q: How can I feel validated in my queerness when having “straight sex?”

Straight sex is when one or more people engage in sexual activity. If you are a queer person engaging in sexual activity, you are not having “straight sex,” you are having queer sex because you are a queer person.

The way that you move your bodies, whether you’re having penetrative sex or not, that has nothing to do with whether or not the sex you’re having is queer or straight.

Your inner sense of identity Everything to do with whether you’re having queer or straight sex. So, even if you’re a cis-woman having sex with a cis-man, if you’re queer, you are having queer sex.

 Q: I don’t know whether I’m asexual or not. How can I find out my sexuality?

People can find it difficult to identify their sexuality. It can be confusing to tell the difference between asexuality or a low level of sex drive. There’s no right or wrong reason to identify as asexual.

In this answer, I’ll include a couple of thoughts that might help you get started. You may have a low libido, or a low sex drive if you sometimes feel the urge to have sex with another person. 

If you’re someone who, across time, doesn’t really experience arousal or an internal desire to pursue sex with partners, or if you find that you are not sexually attracted to other people, you may be more on the asexual spectrum.

It is important to keep in mind that many asexuals choose to have sex outside of their internal arousal. They might choose to have sex because they find that sex is fun, or because it matters to a partner, or because they’re just curious about it! So, choosing to have sex doesn’t disqualify you from being asexual either.

Q: What is the best way to tell the difference between wearing a strap-on and wishing you had one?

The best way to tell the difference is to ask yourself how your feelings about the genitals.

If you’re someone with a vulva, how do you feel about it? Is it something you enjoy? Do you enjoy being able add a strap-on to alter the type of sex you have? You might find yourself in one of these situations.

But, if you’re someone who experiences dysphoria around your vulva, or it causes you distress, or you don’t really want it to be touched or enjoy having sex using it, or wearing a strap-on actually makes you feel more confident all the way around—maybe you even wish you could wear it all day—then you may be somebody who’s experiencing some gender dysphoria or wishing that their body looked differently to match their internal sense of self.

No matter what feels right for you—the fact that you’re asking these questions and doing this self-introspection means you’re on the right path to discovering the answer! 

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