Prishita MA x Ann Summers

Prishita is a writer, editor, human rights campaigner, and LGBTQ+ community organiser. Previously Politics Editor at BRICKS Magazine, they are committed to sharing community stories and amplifying the voices of marginalised individuals – with by-lines in Gay Times, gal-dem, Dazed, Metal, and Cosmopolitan, among others.

Last year, they worked with Durex to produce an LGBTQ-centric sex-ed resource called All In: #MySexMyWay, and they sit on the Advisory Board for RSHE enterprise, Split Banana. Prishita speaks regularly on podcasts and panels, most recently speaking at Bi Pride on 'Dating Beyond Gender'. Prishita was selected as a finalist in the category of 'Publicist of the Year' at the 27th Sexual Freedom Awards in 2023.

With a degree in Biological Anthropology, Prishita approaches all their work through an expansive and historical lens. Their relationship with their body, themselves, and with others are rooted in, and informed by, their multi-cultural and migrant identity.

What are your top tips and recommendations for someone in the trans+ community who is considering exploring sex and intimacy for the first time?

Get to know your own body and needs! I’d say this to anyone, but it perhaps applies even more to the trans+ community. Many of us may have experienced bullying and isolation growing up, due to existing within a society that often responds to gender-questioning and variance with rejection and fear. For some of us, this could have led to a lower self-esteem, and a desire to seek external validation. While this often feels really good in the moment, it can lead to dissatisfaction, unhealthy behaviours, and even harm, in the long-term if we’re not taking care of our needs and safety first!

Moreover, many trans+ people who are accessing gender-affirming medical care, such as hormone replacement therapy, could be experiencing changes to their bodies. It’s OK to slow down and experiment with yourself in your own time, and to figure out what feels good before sharing yourself with partners. Or this could simply be the start of a beautiful journey of self-exploration!

Make sure you’re getting tested for STIs regularly if you’re engaging in sex with other people. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about accessing tests at a walk-in clinic, you can easily order and complete a free home test. For example, SH:24 and SHL are both online sexual health clinics. You can simply fill in a form and the tests are sent to you with instructions. Once you post your samples back, your results can be delivered to you by text!

Remember to complete your pre-test assessment, and be honest about who you are having sex with, and whether you are having vaginal or anal sex. The services are discrete and confidential, but this helps them to understand which STIs you may be most vulnerable.

Sex isn’t the only form of intimacy! There are many ways to connect with loved ones, and to share intimacy with them aside from sex. Non-sexual intimacy can include, but is not limited to, kissing, massages, admiring, appreciating, touching, bathing together, caressing, and hugging. All of these can help us to connect on a higher level and to feel safe. Intimacy isn’t just about reaching orgasm; it’s also about sharing time together where you feel prioritised and special.

Prioritise your pleasure and have fun! The world can make it seem like being trans+ is all struggle and fighting for our rights, but we have endless capacity for joy! And our connections and explorations with intimacy can play an important role in helping us to access that joy. Traditional RSHE, and the cis hetero-patriarchal society in which we live, does not teach those of marginalised genders to validate or prioritise our pleasure. But your enjoyment and satisfaction are also important. Follow your joy, and know that you deserve to ask for what you need!

Is there anything you think is really important to consider when it comes to having sex with a trans+ person, that perhaps isn’t considered enough?

Language is an important tool in relation to sex and intimacy, and the words we use can make a big difference to the sense of comfort and safety of our partners. For trans+ people, language has the power to uplift and affirm, or to trigger gender dysphoria.

When having sex with a trans+ person, check in with them around the words they’d like you to use to describe different body parts. If you’re engaging in BDSM or other kinky play, ask them what names they would like you to call them, without assuming based on their gender presentation or identity. You could also choose both a verbal safe word and a non-verbal signal before you have sex - this can help your partner feel more able to speak up if they are triggered and unable to continue.

What are the benefits to sex, intimacy and pleasure for trans+ people that we perhaps wouldn’t have considered? Especially in comparison to heterosexual sex?

There is endless wonder in exploring our bodies, and other’s bodies, freed from the expectations and restrictions of heteronormativity and the gender binary. I would never claim that someone’s sex is better than anyone else’s! But, for me, viewing sex and intimacy through a trans+ lens has opened up the world, as well as pathways for my own pleasure.

From playing with power dynamics and pegging, to accessing gender euphoria through intimacy, every exploration holds the potential for discovery. The possibilities are endless and expansive!

What would be your top tips for someone struggling to navigate a trans+ way of life, especially in such a heteronormative society?

My top tip would really be to try to connect with your community. In big cities, there are countless community groups, classes, and clubs that you can join - whether they are trans+ specific, queer, or just LGBTQ-inclusive. And, in my experience, they’re usually very welcoming and offer loving spaces where you can feel seen!

However, I know that not everybody has access to in-person events, or is able to attend them due to access needs. But the networks that are blossoming on social media are vast - they range from the very broad to the very specific. Whether your preference is Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, or Fetlife, there’s really something for everyone.

It can be exhausting to move through a cis-heteronormative, constantly having to explain yourself. And these spaces, whether offline or online, can offer a respite. As social animals, humans need connection - and we need connection that is not solely romantic or sexual. For me, platonic intimacy is just as (if not more) important!

We all have such different bodies and needs, how can we ensure that these get met?

Communication is key! We can’t expect our partners to read our minds; and we can’t expect to read theirs. However our bodies may look, each individual is different and we all have differing needs. Start a conversation before you have sex with someone where you talk about what you like and don’t like - this can be a fun way to set the tone for what’s to come. A little bit of anticipation and tension never hurts!

It’s also important to keep the communication lines open during sex, as our preferences and boundaries may change. You could ask permission before touching a new place in a new way - sexy! It’s also completely okay to change your mind about something you previously expressed as enjoying or wanting. And try to be receptive to any sexual partners experiencing the same. It can help to engage with sensitivity and be responsive to non-verbal cues - such as moaning or grimacing - as well as verbal ones.

How can we start to have more conversations around the different types of intimacy and pleasure? Do you feel that we still have a long way to go?

I think that we’ve come a long way in many ways, with mainstream conversations and education around sex, intimacy, and pleasure having shifted to be more inclusive of people with marginalised genders. But there’s still a significant orgasm gap, LGBTQ+ people often don’t see themselves represented in schools or in the media, and transphobic rhetoric has impacted social attitudes - and these are just a few examples. It’s so important that we keep having these conversations in the public eye, and not be ashamed to share our lived experiences. Projects such as this one are such an important part of this journey, and I’m so grateful that it exists!

However, it’s just as important to have these conversations in private. Significant cultural change often builds from the grassroots, and the personal is political. Ultimately, we can all make a difference by simply speaking to our friends and family about our experiences. Challenge your friends if they speak about STIs with stigma; question your family members if they make assumptions about someone’s sexuality.

I’ve always been the kind of person that speaks very openly with my friends about my sex life, and many have opened up over time and shared that I’ve helped them become more exploratory and adventurous. Just talking about it really can make all the difference in helping us overcome shame and feel less alone in our desires!