Health

More than half of trans and non-binary people don’t feel in control of their sex life, worrying report suggests

Emma Powys Maurice December 17, 2020
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A transmasculine gender-nonconforming person and transfeminine non-binary person waking up together in bed

The sexual health needs of trans and non-binary people aren't being met. (The Gender Spectrum Collection)

More than half of trans and non-binary people don’t feel fully in control of their sex life, according to new research by the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity.

Of the 200 trans, non-binary and gender diverse people surveyed by the Terrence Higgins Trust, 52 per cent said they struggled with their sex life, with more than 70 per cent attributing this to feelings of negativity, low mood and depression.

Forty-five per cent had never tested for HIV, despite almost half having reported having condomless sex in the previous year. Many feel uncomfortable attending sexual health clinics due to misgendering, prejudice and being given incorrect information for their bodies.

It means the sexual health needs of trans and non-binary people simply aren’t being met, the worrying report found. Nearly all respondents identified a need for targeted sexual health information that includes navigating sex, consent and empowerment.

“Whenever I’ve tried to look up sexual health information for myself, the resources I find online are never detailed enough and don’t include bodies like mine,” said Rory,  a trans man who spoke to the charity.

“I have often had to resort to reading women’s health articles online, just to get some sort of understanding of how my body works. But even then, there’s a lot of guess work. I do not have a female body anymore.”

The Terrence Higgins Trust has stepped up to fill the gap in services that aren’t being met, publishing new trans-specific sexual health information. The campaign is led by and trans, non-binary and gender diverse people and celebrates their unique experiences.

The resource is peer reviewed by sexual health clinician Dr Kate Nambiar and Dr Michael Brady, medical director at Terrence Higgins Trust.

“I’m proud to be involved in such an important project to ensure the sexual health needs of trans and non-binary people are properly met,” Dr Nambiar said.

“I have no doubt that what we’ve produced is so impactful because it’s based on the feedback of trans and non-binary people and our communities have been involved every step of the way.

“Good sexual health is vital for everyone but too often trans, non-binary and gender diverse people are left out of mainstream information relating to sexual health and feel uncomfortable accessing mainstream services.

“As trans people, we need to see ourselves in sexual health campaigns and know that the information is written with us in mind.”

The new webpages and leaflets are available at the Terrence Higgins Trust website.

Related topics: sexual health, Terrence Higgins Trust

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