Transcending Flesh: Sexuality and Gender

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.

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This essay is one in a series which focuses on writing gender in science fiction and fantasy settings that provide body modification options beyond our current level of technology. Note that you can download this collection of essays from my website here.


Transcending Flesh:
Gender and Body Diversity in Futuristic and Fantastical Settings

Essay #12: Sexuality and Gender

I am now going to say something which I feel ought to be obvious: every sexual and romantic orientation you can imagine has trans people in there alongside the cis people. There are gay trans men. There are lesbian trans women. There are bisexual nonbinary people. There are straight trans people and pansexual trans people and asexual trans people and aromantic trans people. If you can name a label, there's a trans person out there with that label.

Gender and sexuality can intertwine for some of us in complicated ways, but body modification is almost always about the individual's identity as a person, and not about attracting sexual partners. In a magitech setting where I can custom-build any body I want, I'm going to build what I want, not what prospective sex partners want! Trans women (whether they be lesbian or straight or bisexual or anything else!) are not "gay men" who thought body modification would be the best way to meet men. Trans men (whether they be gay or straight or bisexual or anything else!) are not "lesbian women" who thought body modification would be the best way to land a girlfriend. Trans people don't change their bodies in order to get laid!

Other useful facts to note:

- A character who enjoys sex with men will not automatically run out to get breasts and a vagina, either to appeal to men or to facilitate sex with them. There are plenty of men who find other body types appealing, and there are plenty of ways to have sex besides penis-in-vagina intercourse.

- If your only on-page examples of trans people are straight couples, your reader is going to wonder where you've stashed the gay trans men and the lesbian trans women. Straight trans people absolutely exist, but they are not the only kind of trans person in the world.

- While we're talking transness and sexuality, trans people date each other quite often. It stands to reason that two people who have experiences in common may be drawn to each other. If all your trans characters only date cis people, that seems to suggest that they (or their author) don't consider trans people desirable. Avoid creating that impression.

- A setting with BodyMod magitech ought to have at least some people who are excited to explore with their partner(s) every possible combination of bodies to mash together sexually. I have read magitech settings where everyone paired off into "male/female" marriages and then never experimented! There should be at least someone in your magitech setting who wants to see what sex is like with different equipment in play.

~My Trans Body is for Me, not You~

Let's talk about Felicity.

Felicity has written a BodyMod magitech setting where anyone can have a penis or a vagina. She imagines that all the gay and lesbian people in the world immediately line up to switch body configurations as soon as this magitech is made available. In her setting, all the lesbian women grow penises and go marry straight women to be good husbands to them, while all the gay men grow vaginas and settle down as happy wives to straight men.

It's unclear whether Felicity knows that bisexual and pansexual people exist, but if they do exist in her world, they too all settle down into "male/female" pairings as well on the stated grounds that penis-in-vagina sex just works better than all the other possible types of sex.

If this sounds ludicrous, that's because it is--and yet this is a story I have encountered. This is not how transness works, nor how sexuality works, nor how people work. Lesbian women are not all universally longing for the day when they can transition to a "male" body in order to have penis-in-vagina sex with a straight woman! Gay men are not all waiting on tenterhooks for magitech to come along and allow them to transition to a "female" body so they can have penis-in-vagina sex with straight men!

Gay people are not all transgender and seeking transition, and trans people are not transitioning in order to attract partners from a specific gender. Transness is about one's self-identity, not about attracting a mate.


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