- Leeds LGBT+ Literature Festival
Content Warnings: Sexual content, references to tropes and assault and use of swear words.
Now Trans Erotica, written by and about Trans People, says that sex is a many splendid thing, and through its different forms kindly and kinkily suggests some things I might like to try ... that inspired me to ask what I really wanted from sex, not 'the sex', but my sex.
By Harry-Anne Bentley
Let me tell you a Secret*.
A common-sense obvious Secret* that I've been trying to make public for a long time now; in film and TV, when straight men write queer characters, it shows. It can be their commitment to not engaging in any character arc, or relevancy to the plot – or being a loud 'comical' clique to the point of being offensively dull. Generally speaking, people 'outside' of any marginalised group tend to write certain types of characters the same way; archetypally to the point of basically being identical.
Which is why the stories we're starting to get by Queer, Black and Neurodiverse folks feel so new, fresh and different; because they literally are.
Long live Birds of Prey, Special, Janelle Monae and everything Jordan Peele touches.
As a closeted small-town Yorkshire gay, hiding in an even deeper trans closet I'd yet to realise was there - I grew up on Yaoi; Japanese gay erotic comics largely made by and for women, it gave me hope that gay love was a thing that existed, and that gay sex could exist between the people involved and not be spectated on by the people around them.
There is usually a lot of focus on the partners being attracted, then getting to know and trust each other. Before chapter 5-7, depending on the series length, where everyone has a good old fuck and we can wrap up with a cute joke told by post-coital chibis.
And I still love this genre, and gay erotica/porn in general, I just don't see myself in it – there's an obsession with “Anal or Nothing”. Everything not involving inserting Tab A into Slot B is merely foreplay, partners exclusively climax at the same time, and there's an obsession with 'No! Don't come inside me!' without ever stating why... is that an actual gay problem I've not encountered or are straight women writers venting about men not getting that The Pill can make you feel nauseous, tired, and very pissed off with your partner for not listening to you?
… Not to mention the tropes of dubious consent, outright assault, questionable ages and why is the tall one always on top?
And this, is why I love Trans Erotica.
As a Nonbinary Transwoman the mainstream says I should have sex by getting a vagina (Out of stock on Kblamazon, I checked).
The slightly more aware know I don't need labia to be a woman, but suggest I get used to anal (Been and done, it can be nice, but effort to prep for and can be very hit-n-miss). Now Trans Erotica, written by and about Trans People, says that sex is a many splendid thing, and through its different forms kindly and kinkily suggests some things I might like to try.
Trans webcomics opened my mind to a lot of now obvious truths;
What's Normal Anyway by Morgan Boecher said you don't need surgery to be Trans.
Life Outside the Circle from H-P Lehkonen teaches about love and compromise.
Eelis Nilukka's BSandL uses a psychic alien and a human with PTSD to illustrate how a lack of communication can cause fear to destroy us, until we no longer feel worthy of the love on our doorstep.
So, it was rather natural that when I found Trans Erotica to be 'a thing', I'd be smitten (and smutten?) with tales of tail spun from the threads of experience and personal truths. There's a great many pages of Go Get a Roomie (Chloe C), and the Iron Circus anthologies that inspired me to ask what I really wanted from sex, not 'the sex', but my sex.
Piqued your interest in celebrating Trans Erotica, follow @AnthologyNectar for updates on mine and Tab Kimpton's upcoming trans femme and non binary erotic comics anthology, Nectar!
Sequel-Sibling to the trans masc & enby anthology Ambrosia, out now ;)
Harry-Anne is the Co-Curator of indie comics publisher and collective Dragonhide Studios, and co-host of the My Neighbour TransToro podcast.
Harry-Anne believes strongly in the power of representation in fiction; they explore this through promo, discussion, and their own comic GenderQuest on instagram.