Every body is different, which means pleasure is always complex. And that’s the case even for acts as common as oral sex.
For this installment of How to Sex, I interviewed non-op/pre-op trans women—that is, trans women who have not had bottom surgery and may never get it—about how they like to be orally pleasured. For extra context, I also spoke to and gathered tips from some professional trans sex experts. And I let them do the talking because, as trans writer Kennedy Nadler has put it: "It’s rare for a public conversation about what trans women do in bed to have a vocabulary and grammar that we decide upon.”
Still, don’t treat the following as gospel, but merely as suggestions and inspiration. Remember, too, that being aware and receptive and communicative with your partner is more important than any sex guide you’ll read on the internet.
What's in a name?
Trans women refer to their genitals in myriad ways: Some say “clit,” “vagina,” “vulva;” some say “dick,” “girl-dick,” or “cock;” some say “junk,” some say “genitals,” some say “lady parts,” and one hilarious woman described her nether bits to me as “Brenda.” (For illustrative reasons, I’ve used anatomical terms like “glans” and “penis” at times in this piece, but have otherwise let the women interviewed describe their bodies however they prefer.)
Names for oral sex also run the gamut, and include “cunnilingus,” “going down on,” “getting eaten out,” “face fucking,” and some women even enjoy the term “blow job.” It depends on the recipient and how they feel about the act and their genitals.
“'Going down' and 'getting eaten out' are great terms,” says Matty Lynn Barnes, a photographer and trans woman living in Oakland, “though I'm typically not the one to offer them. I definitely dislike any terms that have historically been used to denote oral sex with a cis male.”
Mara, a trans woman in Chicago (whose last name has been omitted for privacy), says her descriptions for the act depend on the situation. “I'm pretty flexible in what I use. Sometimes I like it rougher and will say things like, ‘I want you to suck my dick now,’ and other times it's very sweet and I'm all, ‘I want to go down on you and eat you out until I can't breathe.’"
Oral givers: If you’re not sure what to call it—or unsure if your partner even wants to receive oral at all—just ask. Making wrong assumptions can be a real turn off.
The moves associated with oral sex for trans women are similar to other kinds of cunnilingus—using one’s tongue to lick or gently nibble the genitals, and/or using the pressure of one’s face and nose to stimulate the area.
It’s important to remember that the clit and glans (the head of the penis) are homologous, meaning they are structurally similar and made up of the same embryonic cells. There are lots of nerve endings in both and it might feel good to her to focus on those sensitive areas, the glans and frenulum (the connective tissue on the underside of the head). So, when giving head, pay attention to the head.
“Knowing that [the clit and glans] share the same origin and aren't entirely dissimilar from each other was quite freeing to me,” says Matty Lynn. “Also, for trans women who opt to get vaginoplasty, this is the portion that is relocated/reshaped to become the clitoral glans. This knowledge helped me to begin to embrace that specific portion of my genitals, or at least harbor less disdain. When someone is going down on me, I direct them to focus on this area. I'm sure the specific spots and movements that feel good are a bit different for everyone (as with those who have a clitoris) but I've found it to be a really great experience to have a partner spend a good amount of time on that specific area.”
Yet, as Allison Moon writes in Girl Sex 101, “For some girls, too much glans stimulation can feel annoying. This can be especially true if she gets erections.” In this case, Moon recommends “small licks about an inch down from the frenulum, on the ventral [under] side of her clit.”
And Mey Valdivia Rude recommends alternating between the tip and the base. For the latter, she says: “Try pressing your tongue down against it.”
You should also be paying attention to nerves. “The nerves that you're going to be stimulating will be different depending on what kind of oral sex you'll be performing,” says Mira Bellwether, author of Fucking Trans Women, which covers specific pleasure-rich nerves. She also adds: “I'm not sure I adequately expressed [in the zine] my love for the Vagus nerve, a very long, winding nerve that you can stimulate with masturbation, receiving oral sex on your clit, or stimulating your anus.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that if someone is on hormones, their erogenous zones can shift over time. That’s been the case for Mara: “I still love it when people suck on my clit/dick and that's super hot!” she says. “But things don't really stay hard like they used to, so sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure to perform when I don't have a ton of control.” Once again, that’s where communication comes in.
Accoutrements and alternate points of entry
Oral sex can and does include toys, the testicles/scrotum, and stimulating the perineum/taint (the nerve-ending-packed area between one’s genitals and asshole) and the asshole itself (aka rimming, tossing salad, or, in Spanish, “beso negro,” literally "black kiss.")
“It's 2018 and everyone is eating ass, and it's for a reason: Analingus is super pleasurable,” says Bellwether.
Mara says her interest in rimming has increased since taking hormones. “My penis doesn't work like it used to, and having an orgasm that is penis-only is pretty rare,” she says. “So, getting rimmed has become kind of a lot for me. … This also goes a long way into accessing my prostate, which I've started to basically just call my G-spot.”
Mara also recommends a rimming technique she’s not sure has a name. She called it a “blow out,” which I loved. To be “blown out,” she says, means that while being rimmed, the person “fills [the rectum] with air, then uses both hands and/or mouth to finish.”
And if your partner is into scrotum play, in Girl Sex 101, Moon suggests a technique she calls the “Flying Squirrel,” which involves gently gripping the scrotum skin, making sure not to grab the testes or tubes, and pulling the skin over the top of her glans. “The skin will stretch out and look glossy. You can then put your mouth right in the middle, pressing down against her clit through her scrotum. Then you can lick, nibble, and eat her out like whoa.” She adds, “Depending on what she likes done with her testes, you can either leave them alongside her clit, or tickle or stroke them. If she likes prostate stimulation, a finger inside her anus while you’re eating her out can be delightful. And if she’s a fan of muffing, fingering her this way while you’re going to town is also a great choice.”
Matty Lynn’s advice for trans women and/or their partners wanting to try oral is to experiment. “Do research, learn about your body, and figure out what feels good to you personally. There are many different ways for us to feel amazing even if our genital situation isn't ideal. Once you've figured out what feels good to you specifically, let your partners know. Be specific!”
In addition to experimenting and finding someone “you genuinely trust to have sex with,” Bellwether recommends writing things down in a notebook. “Keep track of what works for you. Not just what you like or don't like (those are important), but what really works best for your body.”
And finally, try not to be afraid. “I was very, very worried about how sex would be when I transitioned,” Mara says. “I spent a TON of time worrying over this and that about if I'd lose sensation, couldn't keep an erection, could I still please others?” One thing Mara wished to impart was that “everything will end up fine and your body will still be an amazing sexual thing, but you really need to just be there for yourself and the experience. Throw all expectations and fears out the window.”
“I'm basically always re-learning my body these days,” she says. Which is something all of us should do, frankly.