On Safer Sex

6 02 2011

Inspired by the also foundation’s take care {out} there safer sex education program, and the piles of free condoms we have hoarded by our beds from it, opinicus rampant is collating our own risk-reduction safer sex guide.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be updating each section as listed below. If you have any great links or ideas, let us know by submitting a comment to this page.

Safe sex guides generally suck, and just say things like ‘always use barriers’. The fact is, the risks are different with different sex acts and different STIs. We don’t know anyone who practises barrier sex all the time (even those with a latex fetish).

Safer sex guides tend to be written with the broadest possible definition of ‘unsafe’. We’re trying to do the opposite, by thinking about how things are safe or could be safer, and detailing the actual risks involved in each sex act so that consenting adults can decide for themselves which risks to take.

Get tested regularly so you know the status of your sexual health (at least once per year if you’ve had sex, at least once every 6 months if you’ve had sex with multiple people). Most STIs are treatable, and if you get one which isn’t – knowing about it and how it affects your body and the possibility of passing it on is the only responsible way to have sex. If you do test positive to an STI it is important to tell your recent sex partners, which you can do anonymously via e-card or sms from here.

Most contact with other people doesn’t lead to infection. In order for an infection to be transmitted from one person to another all of the following must occur:

  • the organism (virus, bacteria, fungi or parasite) must be in or on a person’s body and still be able to be transmitted;
  • the organism must leave the body of the person who has the virus;
  • the organism must be able to survive in the environment;
  • the organism must find its way onto or into another person; and
  • the organism must be in sufficient quantity to infect that person.

There are 4 types of STIs:

  • Viral: HPV; herpes; hepatitis A, B and C; HIV;
  • Bacterial: syphilis; gonorrhoea; chlamydia
  • Fungal: thrush; BV;
  • Parasitic: public lice (crabs); scabies

Hepatitis B is the most highly infectious (easily transmitted) and most durable of STDs. Most STDs are fragile and do not live long outside the body, Hep B is the exception. There are vaccines for Hep B, Hep A and some (but not all) strains of HPV. The 4 strains of HPV that the vaccine Gardasil prevents account for 90% of genital warts cases and 70% of cervical cancer cases.

With Hepatitis C there is a low risk of infection in sexual activity that does not involve blood. This is because the virus needs to be in sufficient quantities and enter the blood stream in order to be infected. While the virus is still carried in body fluids other than blood, they are in lower quantities.

Cuts on the body (especially hands and including mouth) greatly increase the risk of infection-transmission. You are not always aware of cuts on your body, especially under and around fingernails or inside the mouth and back of the throat. Cuts inside the vagina or anus (of which you will be unaware) makes transmission easier, however the mucous membranes of these areas allow transmission into the bloodstream (without cuts).

Crabs  (public lice) are the most infectious STI, if you share a bed or are naked with someone who has them, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get them.

While we hope to eventually have collated a complete safer sex guide for all genders and sexualities, our priority is to detail that which is most relevant to women and transguys who have sex with women/transguys.

Almost all safer sex guides are cock-centred, if you can’t find one on your own – here you go: the drama downunder.

For transguys who have sex with guys, there is one online guide available Back Pocket Guide for Transmen and the Men Who Dig Them and 2 works in progress: tm4m and DUDE!

Our complete safer sex guide is here. Where appropriate, further advice should be sought from a medical practitioner.





Trans Flagging

24 01 2011

Allanah Starr, Buck Angel & Gia Darling. By Tristan Taormino, 2005.

GENDER, JUNK & BODY FETISH

We have endeavoured to make opinicus rampant completely pan gender, so that every flag can be read on any body. In this vein, we removed specific references to biological junkcocksucker became gives head. We also cut out flags which reference ontological* fetishes (fetishes for categories of being), such as apricot for fat fetish and the various “race”-related flags, as they serve to further fetishize** already marginalised bodies. It also seemed somewhat redundant to be flagging fetish flags on the left for visible qualities (which is what they all are).

We want flagging to represent actions rather than identities. But it’s more complicated than that; flagging is always symbolic of at least various aspects of our identity – how we see ourselves and want others to see us (eg, [uptight] tops who only flag on the left). Trans flagging presents an occasion in which identity flagging makes even more sense, because one’s transness can be unwantedly invisible, as well as highly stigmatised and marginalised, even within queer communities.

[gauche]: Generally I’m not into flagging gender or genitals – but on the other hand I also want to put getting people laid ahead of abstract values, and it’s disingenuous to pretend that being trans is irrelevant here. I’ve said elsewhere, “it doesn’t matter how politically astute or logically consistent your sexual orientation is, if you feel like you can’t change it” — but I also don’t want to support either transphobic or body-fetishising flags.

I guess I’m torn between hoping that all flags are automatically trans-inclusive and acknowledging that there is a practical and political need to explicitly show trans pride, support and desire.

I think this is the same dilemma we argued over regarding female ejaculation — whether we want to promote specific uses or assume an inclusive base. And I do think the latter is more radical, more transformative, than inventing new flags for affirmation and consciousness-raising — but of course when you’re looking at a single hanky hanging out of someone’s pocket rather than reading this whole blog, you don’t see how we’ve reimagined the whole system, so in that case affirmation is actually more meaningful and political.

[max]: Absolutely. I think all the flags — as we have re-written them — are trans-inclusive, but that doesn’t make them trans specific. And sex can be. Opinicus rampant is about extending and improving conversations about sex and bodies. In the case of transness, I think it’s more important to have trans visibility than avoid identity flags. There are many (especially sexual) contexts in which one’s transness can be unwantedly invisible or come into question in ways we’d rather it didn’t. You know, trans people have such a rough time in being received, it can be awkward — knowing which pronouns to use or how someone thinks about their body — and something incredibly exhausting (and constant) for trans people to bring up verbally. And while you can’t assume someone’s junk from a trans flag (trans people can have all kinds of junk [as can anyone else] and want to fuck in all kinds of ways), trans flagging can allow for the assumption of transfemininity/ transmasculinity/genderqueerness***.

So, what is it?

[max]: Purple tends to be used as a trans colour and can be found in genderqueer circles as well (probably for the unfortunate equation of blue + pink = purple, but nevertheless). It makes sense to build on the lavender flag, which originally signified (L) likes drags queen * (R)  drag queen — clearly sexist in its non-compliance with all other is flags in which (L) is * (R) seeks, such as silver lame, kelly green, argyle, or tie-dye. The only time is flags on the right are in (bottom) animalplay, such as horse or pony. We thus updated lavender to:

LAVENDER x dresser / dragster likes x dressers / drag

Whereas x dressing or drag are specifically about dress, transness is about identity if not body-type.

[gauche]: I support it as a trans pride flag and perhaps also confirmation of chosen gender — but then when worn on the right, do you want it to mean support or desire? Because I think it will sort of bleed into a body fetish flag. Are you cool with that happening?

[max]: Yeah no. In order to have a trans flag without fetishizing trans bodies, we just need to have straight trans man and trans woman flags that can take on the associations of any desired position: (L) top  * (R) bottom — like HIV positivity — the point of all these flags is to bring attention to certain sex/body related issues that may otherwise be invisible/misread.

PURPLE GINGHAM trans grrrl trans grrrl
PURPLE FLANNEL trans dude trans dude

Flagging any combination of lavender, gingham, flannel could signal genderqueer, androgynous, and/or, neither, both – as you wish. Or purple sequins can be a specific genderqueer flag:

PURPLE SEQUINS genderqueer genderqueer

Keep in mind that the flannel needs to be plaid, to be distinct from plain purple, which indicates piercing.

Footnotes:

* [max] Ontologies: from the Greek meaning “of being”; the study of the nature of being, existence or reality; the basic categories of being and their relations; in analytic philosophy, concerns the determining of whether some categories of being are fundamental and asks in what sense the items in those categories can be said to “be”.

** [gauche] Why are we against fetishising? I think even when you have (L) consents to being fetishised rather than the (redundant as already visible) is, (R) still flags fetishising without regard to consent. I don’t think it’s possible to ensure a body fetish flag is not objectifying and exoticising against someone’s will. I also don’t think it’s possible, for marginalised groups, to differentiate inclusive desire and fetish desire.

*** [gauche] Why did we end up with trans woman and trans dude rather than transfeminine and transmasculine? We thought the specificity was rather the point: at a minimum, you can infer that a wearer of purple gingham goes by female pronouns, and a wearer of purple flannel goes by male pronouns. Opening it up to a broad spectrum such as transmasculine which can include butches and drag kings seems to dilute this purpose.

What are your favourite trans(-friendly) flags?








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