School Bullying

Q: Help! Ever since coming out as genderqueer, I am getting bullied at school.  I know my parents would never support me either.  My brother is also trans, and we are both hurting.  We are allowed to go into the boys bathroom, but are harassed every time we try.  They are threatening us, and ever since coming out I just feel lonely.  Please help.  -ST

 

A: Dear ST,

I am so sorry you are hurting so much.  It is not fair how hard this can be for so many people.  I am constantly shocked how much energy is put into traumatizing people who are seen as “different.” I think the best way to combat the constant negative affects of the people at school and at home, is to aggressively focus on wherever you can find support.

 

It can be really difficult to look beyond the harassment at school and at home and try to find individuals or spaces that do support you.  But I think this is the best, and sometimes only, thing that you can do.  The good news is that there is SO MUCH support out there! We at Out Maine are always here for you, and are only a phone call or email away.  We have a youth group too, if you are in the Rockland area, but we also understand that it can be difficult for young people who do not have supportive parents to get there.  If it is possible, we are always at 63 Park St in Rockland on Wednesdays from 3-5.

 

Not knowing where you live or what school you might go to, the following resources may or may not be helpful.  Oceanside High School has a brand new Gay/Straight/Trans Alliance that meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month.  Hannah Fasey, the freshman advocate as well as the New Hope For Women advocate, is also at Oceanside every day, and is a wonderful person to talk to one-on-one. The guidance counselors at your school can also be good resources.

 

Two important numbers to have on hand are: The Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860, and the LGBTQ Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-PRIDE.  I suggest saving these in your phone under a code name that only you know, in case your parents ever take your phone.

 

Are there specific ways you and your brother could support each other more? Can you go on walks together to just have space to talk more? Have lunch together? Go to the gym together? Do an activity that just the two of you do?  Can the two of you combine forces to strategize ways to stand up to bullies at school, talk to guidance counselors, teachers, or even parents if you wanted to?

 

It is great that the school administration is supporting you in using the bathrooms of your choice.  However, if the school culture is too threatening, the school's support doesn't help much.  Unfortunately, when we are targeted and harassed, it is important to pick our battles.  Too often, we have to balance out our safety and our comfort with what we know to be healthiest for us.  If it is not safe for you to use the boys bathrooms, it might be best to wait until your peers become more understanding until this is a safe option for you.  Only you can make this decision.  Do you have any non-trans male friends who might go into the bathrooms with you? Any teachers who might accompany you?  Could you (maybe with the help of Out Maine or any other supportive adult) talk to the school administration about this issue?  If they have supported you in using the boys bathroom, maybe they would support some school-wide education around trans and queer issues, or a policy of providing an adult to monitor the bathrooms and hallways for bullying.

 

Please know you are not alone.  Countless genderqueer and trans kids are trying to figure out the best way to address these exact issues and this exact moment.  Reach out to us at OutMaine as often as you need, call the hotlines, and seek out and hold tight to the people who do see and support you.

I would like to know if I could decrease the quantity of semen I ejaculate

Q:

Hi. I would like to know if I could decrease the quantity of semen I ejaculate. It turns into an inconvenience at times when me and my girlfriend have sex. She even refuses at times to give me oral sex because the semen gets overwhelming. Any advice would be good. Thank you.

A:

Thanks for your question! First, every body is different and everyone makes different amounts of ejaculate or vaginal fluid.  There is absolutely nothing medical or physically wrong with too much ejaculate! However, it sounds like it is an inconvenience and not a turn on for your partner.

First, do you use a condom when you two have sex? Does the semen spill out of the condom? If so, the condom is no longer effective, and I would encourage your partner to get a pregnancy test if she is not on another form of birth control.  When using condoms, it is important to leave room at the tip for semen.  If the condom is put tightly on the penis, semen will certainly leak out, make a mess, and nullify much of the protection of the condom! Each condom has a little pointy tip that is meant to fit loosely over the tip of the penis, leaving room for semen.  For folks who have more ejaculate, make sure you leave more room at the tip!

In terms of your girlfriend not wanting to have oral sex because of the amount of semen, that's completely understandable.  In that situation, I would encourage you to find a way to enjoy oral sex that doesn't involve ejaculating on her or in her mouth.  Communication is key with this one.  If you feel like you are about to ejaculate, have another place to put it! Could you ejaculate in your hand, in a rag, shirt, or tissue?  You can also use a condom for oral sex – remember to leave space at the tip!  If she likes giving you oral sex, but doesn't like the amount of ejaculate, these might be fair compromises. 

While there is no way that I know of to reliably reduce the amount of semen one ejaculates, for some people, extended sexual stimulation with no release can build up the amount of semen.  Are you only having orgasms with your girlfriend? Are you regularly masturbating?  If you are feeling sexually stimulated and waiting to have sex in order to release, that wait could build up a higher amount of semen.  The remedy for this is more frequent masturbation!

Lastly, sex is messy.  It is not supposed to be clean, dry, and simple.  If using condoms, increasing the amount of space at the tip of the condom, finding alternative locations for ejaculate, or more frequent masturbation does not help – all I can say is embrace the mess! Good luck!

How can I support my friend who just came out as trans?

Q:My boyfriend just came out as trans! While I am super excited for him, I don't think his family or school will be very accepting.  How can I support him though this?

 

A:I love this question.  It is so uplifting and sweet that you are both supportive and excited for your boyfriend!  To me, this shows that you have seen how important this transition is for him, and are willing to dive into the complexities of this transition.

 

The first thing you can do is educate yourself on trans issues, even if you feel like you already know a lot.  Read blogs, articles written by trans people or partners of trans people, connect with PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians, Gays, and Transgender People), and find resources to help you understand the big wide world of gender identity.  Yet remember, no matter how much research you do, your boyfriend's experience and identity is his own, and might not match anything you read! He is still the expert on his own identity, and all your research is to help YOU understand the bigger picture of gender, language around gender, ways you can support him if he wants, and ways to educate others.

 

The biggest thing you can do is ask your boyfriend how you can support him! This will change over time and in different situations, so it should be an ongoing conversation. Always take his lead, and never assume anything without his consent.  The process of coming out as trans evolves over time, so be patient, be compassionate, and be ready to follow his lead - even if what he wants changes.  Talk to him on a regular basis about the role he wants you to play, and be in touch with yourself about what feels right for you to be doing.  Does he want you to correct people if they mis-pronoun him?  How does he want you to do that? Is that something you are comfortable with?  Does he want you to call him by different pronouns around different people?  For example, if he is not out to his parents yet, maybe he still might want to use his previous pronouns around them?  Are you able to switch pronouns in different situations like that?  It is important to never “out” him without his permission, so be in communication with him about how you can help find the balance between his safety, his identity, and your ability to be a support.

 

Another thing you can do is think about how you can help make the environments he is in safer for him and other trans people.  You probably do not have much control over his home life, but you might be able to have some positive influence over school, work, social environments, and even the streets he walks on.  Call out transphobic language or jokes when you hear them.  Explain to people why that language is hurtful, but do not talk about your boyfriend without his permission.  Educate yourself on the rights of trans students at your school, and see if your school is abiding by those policies.  Can you help find bathrooms in school or around town that are gender-neutral or single-stalled?  Ask your boyfriend if he feels safe walking outside by himself, if he would like a buddy more often, or to call you when he gets places.  However, if at any point your extra visibility is making him feel unsafe, be prepared to step back.

 

Make sure you have the support you need in this process! Does your school have a Gay Straight Alliance or Questioning Straight Alliance? Do you know anyone else who is dating a trans person you could talk with?  Come talk with us at OUT, allies are always welcome, and we have lots of experience supporting trans people!  

 

Here are some more articles that may be helpful!

http://www.scarleteen.com/article/relationships/dating_and_gender_roles_when_one_partner_is_trans

http://www.scarleteen.com/article/gender/welcome_to_trans_summer_school

https://cisisnotadirtyword.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/being-bisexual-and-dating-a-trans-person/

http://gayteens.about.com/od/transgenderteenissues/f/Sex-With-A-Ftm-Partner.htm

Are dental dams a necessary part of oral sex?

Are dental dams a necessary part of oral sex?

 

Great question! Dental dams are a great tool to help protect yourself and your partner from common infections, especially herpes and hpv.  Dental dams also help protect against urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis.  Herpes and HPV are both infections that can often be managed, but can also stay with you for the rest of your life and cause more dangerous complications.  Some rare strands of HPV can lead to throat cancer, for example. 

 

Do you, or anyone you know, get cold sores around your mouth? Those are a form of herpes, and if that cold sore touches another person's mouth or genitalia, herpes can easily be transmitted.  Herpes is most contagious during and right before an outbreak, although it can be passed even if there is no sign of the blisters! Dental dams are the absolute best way to prevent the spread of herpes! 

 

The bottom line is that dental dams protect you from many common infections and sex is so much more fun if you don't have to worry about those things!  Incorporating consent into all aspects of your sex life is important, and how you engage in safer sex is no exception.  Therefore if you choose not to use a dental dam, make sure this is an informed consentual decision for all parties involved.  And of course, if you don't use dental dams, make sure you get regularly tested by your doctor!

 

For more information:

http://www.scarleteen.com/article/bodies/all_the_barriers_all_the_time  (scroll down to read about dental dams)

Worried About Going to a Doctor? Q&A

Q: I just started having sex, and I'm already hooking up with two people. I know I should go to a doctor, but I'm worried they will judge me.  I'm genderqueer, do they need to know that? Does getting tested hurt? What are they going to ask me?  Thanks! L.C.

 

A: Welcome to the world of sex with others! First off, it's wonderful that you are already thinking about your health and safety as part of your sexuality.  Taking care of your body by getting tested, using protection, and getting on birth control if needed, shows a high standard of respect – for yourself and your partners - which is crucial for physical and relationship well-being. 

 

To answer your first question, because many providers sorely lack knowledge on queer health, it might take a few tries to find the provider that is best for you.  Just like we usually date a few people before we find someone we really like, we might have to try to a few doctors before we find the right one.  It IS possible to find a doctor that uses the same vocabulary for your body parts as you do, and does not ask unnecessary questions about your gender identity or sexual activities!  However, if you find yourself in a situation that is less than ideal, it is ok to leave and find another provider.  It is also ok to stay with that provider, state what you want out of your appointment, and ask enough questions that you know you are getting the testing you need.  Judgment and shame are the last things we need to feel when trying to stay healthy and be in control of our sex lives.  Personally, I have heard great things from genderqueer people who have used the Family Planning clinics in Rockland, Lewiston, Damariscotta and Waterville, although I'm sure great providers are not limited to these locations.   

 

While you do not have to explain the details of your gender identity, it is important that you feel comfortable talking to your doctor about what you call your own body parts, what kind of sex you are having, how many people you are having it with, and what your needs for testing and birth control are.  Basically, if you are putting any part of your body into someone else's body, or if someone else is putting body parts into your body, your provider needs to know.  It is important for your doctor to know if you are able to get pregnant and having sex that could lead to pregnancy.  If you are interacting with someone else's body fluids – besides saliva – let the provider know. (Body fluids are things like semen, blood, and vaginal fluid.  Basically, if it warm, wet, and someone else's, let your doctor know.) If these conversations feel awkward or embarrassing for you, feel free to bring a friend or write your questions down before you get into the clinic.  Many places have questionnaires for a new patient to answer before seeing the doctor, and that is a good place to write your gender identity, your sexual identity, number of partners and any questions you have.  

  

Some questions to ask of yourself before setting up an appointment: Does the gender of the provider you are seeing matter to you? Do you want to see a new person or a provider you have seen before? Do you want to see someone in the town you live in or go where no one knows you? If you are worried about money, all Family Planning clinics in the state of Maine offer a sliding-fee scale, which means they base payment on your income.  If you don't have an income, and you do not want your parents to know you are going to a clinic, your visit can be free! All medical providers are legally sworn to confidentiality, unless someone is physically in danger or under the age of 13.   

 

Most of the common sexually transmitted infections (S.T.I.'s) only require a urine test – meaning you just pee in a cup.  Pregnancy testing is also a urine test.  Some tests such as H.I.V. and Hepatitis are done by a finger prick and a very few rare ones are done by blood draw.  Some of these have alternatives to taking blood as well, so talk to your provider about other options if you are uncomfortable around needles.  Unless you having pain, unusual discharge, bumps, cuts, or blisters, the provider does not even need to do an exam. 

 

Remember that sex should be fun, and the less you have to worry about infections and pregnancy, the more fun you can have!  While queer sex can be more complicated, keeping ourselves safe by using protection and getting tested shows maturity, self-respect and care for your partners - no matter gender or sexual identity! Have fun and stay safe!

 

Do you have experiences talking about sex and gender with your medical provider?  Any further questions about this topic? Let's keep talking about in the comment section below!