Sexuality & Gender for Mental Health Professionals: A Practical Guide

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Christina Richards & Meg Barker

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    About the Authors

    Christina Richards is Senior Specialist Psychology Associate at the West London Mental Health NHS Trust (Charing Cross) Gender Identity Clinic. She works in this capacity as an individual and group psychotherapist and psychologist. She lectures and publishes on gender, sexualities and critical mental health, both within academia and to statutory bodies such as police forces and the UK National Health Service.

    Meg Barker is a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University and a sex and relationship therapist. Meg has researched and written extensively on relationships, gender and sexuality – particularly on bisexuality, BDSM and polyamory – and co-edits the journal Psychology & Sexuality and co-organises the Critical Sexology seminar series.

    Acknowledgements

    Christina's Acknowledgements

    For Meg

    And For Phil

    Words can't say enough.

    This being my first book the reader will hopefully indulge me and forgive the length of the following list. In many ways a book is the culmination of a life so far, with thinking and morality being derived from events quite aside from the matter under consideration. Consequently I have a great many people to thank, many of whom space precludes including. Errors throughout the book are, of course, entirely my own.

    Many thanks to: Penny for being such a wonderful friend and mentor; Rob and Simon for more years of friendship than I care to remember; Richard for tea and wisdom; Erich and Karen for caring in different ways; Stef for not letting me give up (I hope I've done you proud); Richard and Mike for those memorable lunches; Helen for family; Andy for friendship in the wild; Alex for wise advice; Darren for expecting nothing but the best; James for giving me my life; my colleagues at the GIC for both friendship and seas of knowledge; my patients for the wisdom and knowledge that books can't hold; all of the activists and academics who move the fields forward – Riki, Kate, Jamison, Stephen and so many more. And to those clinicians who find a way with grace – Maddie, Randall, Nick – a high cost we pay, but one worth paying.

    Meg's Acknowledgements

    I would like to thank all of the community members and activists who have been involved in my work over the past decade as participants, co-researchers, co-authors, readers, critics and supporters. I do hope that this book does you justice. Your courage and creativity continues to inspire, sustain and challenge me, and I am more grateful to you than I could possibly express.

    I am also extremely grateful to Darren Langdridge. I simply wouldn't be where I am now, writing books like this, if it wasn't for your belief in me. Thank you for everything.

  • Glossary

    This main glossary is followed by a ‘shadow glossary’ of less safe terminology (see Introduction).

    • 24/7 Being in a submissive/dominant relationship all of the time. Usually rather prosaic and thoroughly negotiated.
    • AB/DL (adult baby/diaper lover) A person who likes to spend part of their time in a much younger role than their chronological age – often as a baby. This may involve apparel and include a nappy/diaper. See also infantilism and ageplay.
    • Aftercare The period after a BDSM scene when the top looks after the bottom, bringing them up from any submissive headspace, often praising them in general and in relation to the scene they have endured. For some this is as/more important than the scene itself.
    • Agender Having no gender in terms of presentation, identity, etc.
    • Ageplay Spending part of one's time in a much younger role than one's chronological age. May be as a baby or a child. See also AB/DL and infantilism.
    • Anal sex Having sexual intercourse using the anus – through penetration with a penis, finger, tongue or other body part, a sex toy, etc.
    • Androgynous Having a gender identity and/or presentation including both masculinity and femininity.
    • Androphile Being attracted to men.
    • Anilingus Sexually stimulating a person's anal region using the mouth.
    • Armchairing Having some form of sexual contact over an armchair (or less commonly a sofa).
    • Aromantic Not wishing to have romantic relationships with others.
    • Arranged marriage A marriage in which others, commonly parents, have taken part in suggesting partners. Very different from forced marriage (in which the person getting married is not given any choice as to whether to agree). See also marriage.
    • Asexual (Ace) A person who does not experience sexual attraction (or occasionally those who do but do not act upon it). Sometimes shortened to ace.
    • Ask etiquette Simply asking people their preferred mode of address if one is unsure.
    • Assigned gender The gender assigned at, or before, birth. May or may not match the child or adult's gender identity.
    • Babyfur A person who has an identity of a young animal who may wear apparel appropriate to that identity.
    • Ball gag A ball on a strap. The ball is placed in a person's mouth as a gag and the strap secures it in place.
    • BDSM/kink (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism) Some use the umbrella term kink to refer to sexual practices and identities which involve the exchange of power, restriction of movement, or intense sensation. Particularly common practices include spanking and being tied up during sex.
    • Bear An identity term for a heavy set, often hairy, gay man. Younger/smaller men may identify as cubs.
    • Bigender Identifying as both male and female. Possibly moving between these.
    • Binary In the context of sex/gender, the idea that there are two, and only two, separate genders – male or female. See also dichotomy.
    • Binding Using bandages or a proprietary binder to flatten breasts and effect the contour of a breast-free chest.
    • Biphobia Negative attitudes, emotions, behaviours and structures relating to bisexual people and others who are attracted to more than one gender.
    • Biromantic People who are romantically attracted to more than one gender. When coupled with asexual (biromantic asexual) the term refers to people who seek romantic relationships for various reasons, including companionship, affection and intimacy, but are not sexually attracted to their romantic partners.
    • Bisexual (bi) Being attracted to more than one gender.
    • Blow job See fellatio.
    • BME Black and minority ethnic (see also queer people of colour).
    • Boi A combined sexuality/gender term that can be embraced, for example, by younger butch lesbian people, by younger trans men, by submissive butch BDSMers and by more genderqueer people.
    • Bondage Restraining/restricting someone, e.g. with ropes, chains, cuffs.
    • Bottom General term for a submissive, a masochist or a gay man who is the recipient of penetration. In a more specific BDSM context, this can mean a person who enjoys being given various physical sensations as opposed to a submissive who enjoys being controlled psychologically.
    • Bromance A close, usually non-sexual, relationship between men.
    • Butch Being traditionally masculine in presentation. Sometimes used by lesbian women to refer to themselves. Sometimes used to refer to a more butch partner. Not always a safe term.
    • Camp Being somewhat theatrically effeminate in presentation. Not always a safe term.
    • CBT Cock and ball torture – strong sensations to the male genitals. Also an acronym for cognitive behavioural therapy. The two should not be confused.
    • Chaps A form of leather over-trouser commonly worn by cowboys and cowgirls.
    • Cheating See non-monogamy.
    • Cisgender (Cis) Being content to remain the gender assigned at birth.
    • Cisgenderism Assuming that there are two, and only two, genders, and that people remain in the gender that they were assigned at birth, and that those who don't are somehow inferior or abnormal.
    • Closet Being closeted or in the closet refers to not being open about one's gender or sexuality.
    • Cock ring A ring placed around the penis and sometimes also the testicles to retain an erection.
    • Collar Usually made of metal or leather, BDSM collars often denote that a person wearing one is submissive to another.
    • Coming out The process of becoming open about your sexuality or gender with yourself, other people close to you and/or publicly.
    • Compersion The feeling of warm regard or contentment that a person feels when they see their partner being happy with their other partner. Also called frubble.
    • Condom A latex or other material sheath that covers a penis or sex toy. Usually used to prevent the transmission of STIs or to prevent pregnancy.
    • Cosmesis A method of constructing exterior female genitalia without the creation of a vagina.
    • Cottaging Looking for sex in public buildings, commonly toilets.
    • Coupledom The common social practice of providing for and expecting people to group in romantic dyads.
    • Cross-dressing Wearing the clothing not normally worn by people of that birth-assigned gender. Also sometimes problematically know as transvestism.
    • Cruising Looking for sex in public areas, commonly parks or nightclubs.
    • Cunilingus Sexually stimulating a person's vulva using the mouth.
    • Cybersex Having sexual contact with another person via the internet through text, sound and/or images, possibly via an avatar.
    • D/s Dominance and submission. Note the uppercase D and lowercase s.
    • Daddy's little girl (DLG) A form of relationship within the BDSM community in which an older male top treats a younger female bottom as a nurtured child.
    • Demisexual People who only feel sexual when there is a very strong emotional attraction. See also Grey-A.
    • Dental dam A sheet of pliable material used to prevent STIs in cunnilingus and anilingus.
    • Dichotomy In the context of sex/gender, the idea that there are only two separate genders – men and women.
    • Dildo A term for a phallic sex toy.
    • Discipline Training someone to behave in a certain way through punishment.
    • Dogging A practice in which people drive to certain known, usually out of the way, car parks to have sex with their partners while in view of others who have congregated there for that purpose.
    • Dominant (dom/domme/dominatrix/master/mistress) A person who takes control over others, e.g. giving orders, inflicting pain/sensation.
    • Drag king A person who usually identifies as a woman presenting a somewhat theatrical masculine role, sometimes for purposes of entertainment.
    • Drag queen A person who usually identifies as a man presenting a somewhat theatrical feminine role, sometimes for purposes of entertainment.
    • Dressing A term sometimes used by trans people who have not transitioned fully into a role they were not assigned at birth to refer to wearing clothing not normally worn by people of their birth assigned sex. Never used by those who have transitioned.
    • DSD (diversity of sexual development) Having some physiology which is not strictly taxonomically male or female and would more commonly be so. People with a DSD often identify as simply male or female. See also intersex and disorder of sex development (shadow glossary).
    • DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) The American Psychiatric Association's taxonomy of psychiatric disorders. Much used and much debated.
    • Ecosexual Refers to people who link their relationships and/or sexuality directly to ecological concerns.
    • Electrolysis The removal of hair through inserting a needle into the hair follicle and passing an electric current through the root. The only universally agreed method of permanent hair removal.
    • Exhibitionism Excitement at being watched by others while in a sexual context. This is usually a safe word, but is derived from a medical context and so is worth being cautious with.
    • Fellatio A person sucking another person's penis or phallus.
    • Femininity Presentation and behaviours stereotypically attributed to women such as gentleness, caring and being submissive. Culturally constructed.
    • Femme Sometimes used to mean simply feminine, also used to denote a feminine partner and a genderqueer deliberate parody of femininity.
    • Fetish A reclaimed term used to refer to having a, sometimes sexual, liking for certain materials such as rubber, leather, etc.
    • Fisting Inserting a fist (very carefully) into a person's vagina, manhole, anus, etc. Skill and lubrication are required.
    • Fluid bonding Engaging in penetration without using condoms (see also barebacking in the shadow glossary).
    • Friends-with-benefits Two, or more, people in a friendship, but not a romantic relationship, who also have sex. See also fuckbuddies.
    • Frubble See compersion.
    • Fuckbuddies People who have a friendship and who have sex (fuck) together, but who are not romantically attached. See also friends-with-benefits.
    • Furry A person who has an animal identity and may wear apparel suitable to that identity.
    • Gaffe A strap used by people to hide their penis in order to effect the outline of a genital region without a penis.
    • Gay Being attracted exclusively to the ‘same gender’. Often used with reference to men who are attracted to other men.
    • Geek A person with a high degree of technical skill who may be a part of online and/or face-to-face communities.
    • Gender A sense of being a woman, a man, another gender, or some combination of these.
    • Gender confirmation surgery(ies) The surgical construction of primary and secondary sexual characteristics (see also genital reconstruction surgery).
    • Gender dysphoria A deep sense of unhappiness with one's birth-assigned gender.
    • Gender identity One's internal sense of one's self as a man, a woman or some other gender.
    • Gender neutral Feeling that one is neither male nor female. Sometimes confused with androgynous, bi-gender, etc.
    • Gender performativity Gendered expression for purposes of communication, both to others and oneself. This is undertaken by trans and cisgender people as well as many who have different genders.
    • Gender presentation One's presentation of gender through clothing, mannerism, etc.
    • Gender role The gendered presentation, including clothing, tasks, speech, etc. that one performs (see also gender performativity).
    • Genderfuck Troubling the gender dichotomy of male or female through presentation, etc. See also genderqueer.
    • Genderless Having no gender in terms of presentation, identity, etc.
    • Genderqueer Identifying and/or presenting in a way which is outside the gender dichotomy of man/woman.
    • Genital reconstruction surgery (GRS) The surgical construction of genitalia.
    • Going down See cunilingus.
    • Goth A person who enjoys certain types of gothic music and styles of dress. Often relating to the night and the late seventeenth century.
    • Grey-A Being asexual to some extent. See also demisexual.
    • Grrrl From ‘riot grrrl’, referring to an alternative, often punk and feminist, form of femininity that rejects aspects of stereotypical femininity.
    • Gynephile Being attracted to women.
    • Headspace The state of mind somebody goes into during BDSM play (e.g. submissive/dominant headspace).
    • Heteronormativity The assumption that heterosexuality is normal and that anything other than heterosexuality is abnormal. Often used to refer to the omnipresence of heterosexual images and representations and the assumption that people will desire the ‘other gender’ (e.g. in advertising, women's and men's magazines, movies, etc.)
    • Heterosexism Discriminating against non-heterosexual people. For example, regarding them as inferior, assuming that they are heterosexual unless told otherwise, or expressing ‘tolerance’ towards them.
    • Heterosexual Being attracted exclusively to ‘other gender’ people.
    • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) The virus which can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). May be passed through sexual contact.
    • Homonormativity A mode of living in which gay, lesbian and some bisexual people adhere to predominant cultural mores. In contemporary Western society these may include consumerism, monogamy, having children, etc.
    • Homophobia Negative attitudes, emotions, behaviours and structures relating to people on the basis of their attraction to the ‘same gender’ and/or identifying as gay or lesbian.
    • Hook-up culture An arrangement common in many Western colleges and universities in which younger, often heterosexual, people have casual sexual encounters without the intention to form committed relationships.
    • Hypervigiliance People being particularly concerned about what others may be thinking or doing. Sometimes found in trans people concerned about being ‘found out’ as being trans.
    • ICD (International Classification of Diseases) The World Health Organization's taxonomy of diseases. The psychiatric element of this is much used and much debated.
    • In role Often used by trans people who have not transitioned fully into a role they were not assigned at birth to refer to presenting in a role other than that of their birth-assigned gender. Never used by those who have transitioned.
    • Infantilism Used to refer to people who enjoy being very childlike, but not preverbal. See also AB/DL and ageplay.
    • Infidelity See non-monogamy.
    • Institutionalised homophobia Recognises that homophobia does not reside in individuals alone, but within homophobic structures, organisations and societies. However, this notion should not be used to excuse individuals from homophobic acts.
    • Internalised transphobia See transphobia.
    • Intercrural sex Stimulating somebody between lubricated thighs.
    • Intersections The fact that people's sexuality does not impact on their experience alone, but rather it intersects with other aspects of identity such as gender, race, religion, culture, class, age, disability and geography.
    • Intersex Having some physiology which is not strictly taxonomically male or female and would more commonly be so. Intersex people may identify as male or female or as some other gender. See also diversity of sexual development.
    • Jelly moment See wibble.
    • Kinky General term for BDSM, fetish or non-‘vanilla’ sexual behaviour or people engaging in this.
    • Leather Refers to people who enjoy wearing leather and may attend community events, clubs parties, etc.
    • Leatherdyke A dyke who is part of the leather community.
    • Leatherdaddy A male identified person who takes a dominant role to a younger adult who is generally also within the leather community.
    • Lesbian Refers to women being attracted exclusively to other women.
    • LGBT Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans. Sometimes just LG or LGB, sometimes LGBTQ to include queer. Other additional initials can include a second Q for questioning, I for intersex, and A for asexual.
    • Line family A group of three or more people in a consensually non-monogamous relationship who all have two sexual and/or romantic relationships with each other, except for two people who have one (at either end of the line). With only three people involved this is the same as a V.
    • Lower surgery Term used primarily by trans men to refer to a variety of genital surgeries.
    • Man with a trans history A man who was assigned female at birth (see trans man).
    • Manhole A term used by trans men to refer to what in medical-anatomical terminology would be called their vagina. As the people who have them are men, and vaginas are generally perceived as something that women have, the term manhole is sometimes used.
    • Marriage A legal and sometimes religious ceremony which bonds two people (historically a man and a woman, but in an increasing number of countries any two people) together for life, and often involves a celebration and the exchange of some physical token such as a ring in the sight of friends, family, etc. Globally the law is unequal in this regard as only in some countries can two ‘same-gender’ people marry, and relationships of other kinds are almost never recognised legally.
    • Mary Sue A form of slash fiction in which the author places themselves within the plot.
    • Masculinity Presentation and behaviours stereotypically attributed to men such as aggression, autonomy and dominance. Culturally constructed.
    • Metamour A (consensual) partner of your partner who is not also your partner.
    • Metoidioplasty A surgical procedure to create a phallus through the release of the clitoris.
    • Metrosexual Usually applied to men being open to different sexual experiences and general modes of expression of sexuality and gender; perhaps while remaining predominately heterosexual. Often used to refer to people in urban areas.
    • Minority stress Psychological distress as a result of being in a minority and suffering discrimination and/or abuse. Sometimes confused with the identity or practice itself being psychopathological. A term to be somewhat cautious of as some groups who suffer this are marginalised but are not minorities in the sense of their being a low proportion of them (e.g. kinky people or people who are attracted to more than one gender).
    • Missionary position The sexual practice where a woman lies facing up underneath a man who faces down with their heads at the same end.
    • Mixed gender Having mixed aspects of both male and female presentation and/or identity.
    • Monogamy The practice of having one single, often sexual, highly intimate relationship at a time (includes lifelong monogamy, serial monogamy, secret non-monogamy, and other forms).
    • Mononormativity The common social practice of expecting people to have, or want, only one partner.
    • Monosexual Being attracted to only one gender (includes heterosexual, lesbian and gay identified people).
    • MSM Men who have sex with men. A health research term for this group (who may or may not identify as gay).
    • MSMW Men who have sex with men and women. A health research term for this group (who may or may not identify as bisexual).
    • Multiple relationships Having many different relationships of different kinds including sexual, friendship, colleagues, kin, etc.
    • Neo- (vagina, phallus, etc.) Prefix for a surgically constructed or adapted body part.
    • Neuter Having no gender in terms of presentation, identity, etc.
    • Neutrois Having no gender in terms of presentation, identity, etc.
    • New monogamy Also called monogamish, a form of monogamy that is somewhat open to other sexual/emotional connections.
    • New relationship energy (NRE) The feeling of excitement and happiness that comes with finding a new partner before you have to pick up their pants and put the cap back on the toothpaste.
    • Non-gender Having no gender in terms of presentation, identity, etc.
    • Non-monogamy A term for all relationship styles where people have more than one sexual and/or romantic relationship at a time. This includes secret non-monogamy (often called ‘cheating’ or ‘infidelity’) as well as open forms of non-monogamy such as sexually open relationships and polyamory.
    • Normativity The act of being in line, or constrained by, what is socially expected in a given culture.
    • Omnisexual Being attracted towards people of all genders (see also pansexual).
    • One-night stands Having sexual intercourse with a person for one night only. May or may not become/remain friends afterwards.
    • Open relationship Having a relationship in which the partners are welcome to find additional partners.
    • Orgy A party involving a great deal of sex and usually food.
    • ‘Other gender’ Refers in this book to relationships with, or attraction to, people of a different gender to the one you have yourself.
    • Outing Revealing somebody else's sexuality or gender without their consent.
    • Pack Using socks, packing or a proprietary device to effect the contour of a male genital region.
    • Pangender Having mixed aspects of both male and female in presentation and/or identity. Possibly moving between male and female. Possibly identifying outside of male and female.
    • Pansexual Being attracted towards people of all genders (see also omnisexual).
    • Pearl necklace A person ejaculating semen on a person's upper body.
    • Pegging A person without a penis anally penetrating a person who has a penis with a phallus (usually a strap-on dildo).
    • Phalloplasty A surgical procedure to create a penis.
    • Piggy pile A group of people having simultaneous sex.
    • Play Engaging in sex or BDSM e.g. “I played with her,” “Want to play?,” or a specific activity e.g. arse play, sensory deprivation play.
    • Play party An event in which people have a party, perhaps with food, drink, etc. and engage in BDSM.
    • Polyamory (poly) Having simultaneous multiple love/romantic relationships with the knowledge and consent of all concerned.
    • Polyfidelity Having more than one partner, but not having an open relationship meaning that no new partners are allowed.
    • Polygamy Marriage involving more than two partners.
    • Polyphobia Being phobic of people (and the notion of people) who have more than one partner.
    • Polysaturation Having so many partners that one is unable to maintain commitments and adequate self-care.
    • Poster child A person who feels pressure to be free from all human failings because they are aware that others are evaluating a whole group of people (to whom they belong) on the basis of their actions alone.
    • Primary relationship A relationship between two people that is prioritised in some fashion over the consensual relationships either or both of those people may have with other partners.
    • Purge When a person who cross-dresses becomes overcome by shame and destroys their collection of ‘cross-sex’ clothing.
    • Quad A group of four people in a consensually non-monogamous relationship. Usually all have sexual and/or romantic relationships with each other.
    • Queer A reclaimed term of abuse used by some (e.g. queer activists and queer theorists) to refer to LGBT people in general, or more specifically to those who challenge the binaries of sexuality (that people are either gay or straight) and gender (that people are either men or women).
    • Queer people of colour (QPOC) A term for LGBTQ people who are not white. Some prefer the term BME LGBTQ people.
    • Queer politics A political movement aimed at deconstructing strict hierarchies of power and/or winning rights for a wide diversity of people.
    • Queer theory A diverse theoretical movement which questions identity labels, particularly in relation to sexuality and gender, and the implicit power hierarchies attendant in these.
    • Questioning People who are unsure of their sexuality.
    • Relationship anarchy A deliberately non-possessive style of relationship, a more explicitly political version of polyamory.
    • Relationshipqueer See relationship anarchy.
    • Rimming Licking the anus.
    • Risk aware consensual kink (RACK) A term used to differentiate consensual BDSM from coercive practices. Preferred over safe, sane and consensual (SSC).
    • Rubber ball An evening gathering of people who enjoy rubber. Often involving food, drink and dancing. Sometimes also involving sexual activities.
    • Sadomasochism The consensual exchange of power and/or sensation, pain and/or humiliation. (See also BDSM/kink).
    • Safer sex Sexual practices which take precautions against harm, most commonly sexually transmitted infections (such as condom use). Note it is safer rather than ‘safe’ as no precaution is entirely safe.
    • Safeword An (often unusual) word that BDSM players can use to end the scene. If speech is not possible some other means of communication is used instead.
    • ‘Same gender’ Refers in this book to relationships with, or attraction to, people of the same gender as the one you have yourself. Terms like same-gender attraction and same-gender relationships are inclusive of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in such relationships.
    • Scat play Sexual activity employing faecal matter.
    • Scene As in gay scene, trans scene, etc. Social events and places devoted to a group of people. Also a BDSM encounter/session, sometimes divided into heavier/lighter scenes depending on physical and/or psychological intensity, although what constitutes this differs between people/occasions.
    • Scritch The sensation of being lightly consensually scratched by someone.
    • Secondary relationship A relationship between two people where one or both has a consensual relationship with another (primary) which generally takes precedence.
    • Sensate focus Sensual exploration of one's partner's body often suggested in sex therapy, and beginning away from the genitals.
    • Sensation play A term often used to describe play that involves physical stimulation, which may be pleasurable, painful or both.
    • Serial monogamy A common form of relating in which people have multiple partners one after the other. Sometimes referred to as dating if short term.
    • Sex A term which refers to the physiological make-up of a person as male, female, etc., or to making love/fucking.
    • Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) The surgical construction of genitals and/or secondary sexual characteristics (see also genital reconstruction surgery).
    • Sexual fluidity Seeing sexual identity and desire as something that fluctuates over a lifetime, thus people might be more or less attracted to different genders at different times, or prioritise other aspects of sexuality such as how much sexual desire they have, or the sexual activities and roles they enjoy taking.
    • Sexual identity Identity terms which some people use to label their sexuality. In the UK these will most commonly be: lesbian, heterosexual, bisexual and gay. It is important to remember that not all people who are attracted to, or form sexual relationships with, particular genders actually identify in these ways. For example (in another field) while one may have played a computer game one does not necessarily identify as a gamer. Also, there are sexual identities which are not about gender of attraction such as asexual or BDSM/kink.
    • Sexual scripts People's usual understanding about how having sexual intercourse will go.
    • Sexualisation (of culture) Refers to the idea that (Western) culture has become more sexualised, with images similar to pornographic images used in advertising and music videos, people encouraged to be sexual at younger ages, and a pressure to be sexual in certain ways.
    • Sexuality Refers to a complex set of thoughts and emotions as well as physiological responses. May involve seeking pleasure or reproduction.
    • Singledom Refers to the state of being single, as coupledom refers to the state, or culture, of being in a couple. Some refer to being a singleton as a group identity based on the book Bridget Jones's Diary.
    • Slash fiction Type of fan fiction established on the internet in which two characters from popular media (for example Sherlock Holmes/John Watson) are put into a sexual situation together. The slash refers to the typographical mark separating them.
    • Sleaze Things associated with sexuality that have a cheap, tawdry, exploitative or unsavoury nature, and may be enjoyed specifically for this reason.
    • SoffAs Significant Others, Friends, Families and Allies.
    • Soft swinging Swinging where no genital sex takes place outside the primary relationship.
    • Squick Having a strong negative emotional reaction to a practice while acknowledging that it is not wrong or bad in and of itself – as in “I'm sorry I don't want to have sex with the lights off, I have a squick about it”.
    • Stash A hidden cache of, often feminine, clothing for the purposes of cross-dressing.
    • Stealth Presenting in one's preferred gender in such a manner that others are unaware that one is trans. Not always a safe term.
    • STI Acronym for sexually transmitted infections.
    • Straight Being sexually attracted to people of a different gender than oneself.
    • Strap-on A (usually erect) phallus which can be strapped to the groin.
    • Submissive (sub) (sub/slave) A person who gives control over to others, e.g. obeying orders, being bound and/or receiving pain/sensations.
    • Subspace A place of calm detachment which can be achieved by the bottom or sub during BDSM.
    • Swinging The act of a primary couple who engages in sex with other primary couples.
    • Switch/switching A person who can enjoy both sub/dom or top/bottom roles.
    • Teabagging Taking a person's testicles in one's mouth.
    • Tit-wank The act of masturbating a penis between the breasts.
    • Top General term for a dominant or consensual sadist, or a gay man who is the giver of penetration. In a more specific BDSM context this can mean a person who inflicts various physical sensations as opposed to a dominant who enjoys being in control psychologically.
    • Top surgery Term used primarily by trans men to refer to a variety of chest reconstruction surgeries – usually refers to some form of bilateral mastectomy and associated recontouring.
    • Toys Devices designed for BDSM or sex (e.g. riding crops, paddles, nipple clamps, dildos) or used for this purpose (e.g. hairbrush, candle, clothes pegs).
    • Trans (or trans*) An umbrella term including people who define as transsexual, transvestite or genderqueer. Changing in some way from the gender that was assigned at birth.
    • Transfeminine Being feminine identified but not necessarily being a trans woman.
    • Transgender An umbrella term for people who do not present and/or identify as the gender they were assigned at birth either some or all of the time.
    • Transition Often used to refer to transition from female to male, or male to female. However people may transition in ways other than across the gender binary and many trans people report that they were never ‘male’ or ‘female’ to begin with – see ‘MtF’ and ‘FtM’ in the shadow glossary.
    • Transmasculine Being masculine identified but not necessarily being a trans man.
    • Transphobia Negative attitudes, emotions, behaviours and structures relating to people on the basis of their being trans in some way or otherwise not conforming to conventional gender roles. May also be internalised transphobia wherein a trans person has these attitudes, emotions and/or behaviours.
    • Transsexual Term for a person who lives in a gender not assigned at birth. Usually simply man or woman according to the gender of presentation.
    • Trans man A person who identifies as a man and lives in a male role but who was assigned female at birth (only used when pertinent – otherwise a man).
    • Trans woman A person who identifies as a woman and lives in a female role but who was assigned male at birth (only used when pertinent – otherwise a woman).
    • Triad A group of three people in a consensually non-monogamous relationship who all have sexual and/or romantic relationships with each other.
    • Trigender Moving between multiple genders.
    • V A group of three people in a consensually non-monogamous relationship where one person has sexual and/or romantic relationships with the other two, but they do not have such a relationship with each other.
    • Vaginoplasty The surgical creation of a vagina.
    • Voyeurism Enjoying watching others engaged in sexual activity when one is not directly engaged oneself. This is usually a safe word, but is derived from a medical context and so is worth being cautious with.
    • Watersports Sexual activity involving urine. Also sometimes known as golden showers.
    • Wibble Used within consensually non-monogamous relationships to refer to a feeling of discomfort, fear or jealousy at some aspect of a partner's relationship with another person. Implicitly recognises that the feeling is not necessarily the other person's ‘fault’.
    • Wobble See wibble.
    • Woman with a trans history Someone who identifies as a woman but was assigned male at birth.
    • WSW Women who have sex with women. A health research term for this group (who may or may not identify as lesbian).
    • WSWM Women who have sex with women and men. A health research term for this group (who may or may not identify as bisexual).
    • Yes, no, maybe lists A list of sexual practices which people fill out for a partner to say which they find acceptable.
    • Yiff The noise made by Arctic foxes mating and coined by some furry communities to refer to sexual contact while in an animal role. May be on- or offline.

    Shadow Glossary

    Terms not to use or only to use with extreme caution.

    • Abnormal/atypical See normal.
    • Barebacking A term for deliberately unprotected intercourse, often used particularly to refer to unprotected anal intercourse within gay communities. Bugchasing is a related slang term for an alleged practice of seeking sex with HIV positive men, but should be used with extreme caution as it is very unclear how common this practice is.
    • Bent Derogatory term for people with partners of the same gender as themselves. Should never be used.
    • Bi-curious A term sometimes used by people who think they might be bisexual but are not sure. It is also often used in a pejorative sense to describe such people, therefore a safer term is questioning (see main glossary). Should never be used.
    • Bi-sexual Bisexual is never hyphenated. Doing so causes offence. Should never be used.
    • Bio-girl or Bio-boy A term used to differentiate cisgender people from trans people. Derogatory of trans people and incorrectly suggestive that trans does not have a biological base. Should never be used. ‘Biological man/woman’ is similarly problematic.
    • Boston marriage A term said to be used in New England in the late 1900s to describe two women living together financially independent from men. In the present time, as with ‘companion’, this should be avoided as a euphemistic term for women in a ‘same-gender’ relationship.
    • Companion Term sometimes used by people who are uncomfortable with gay, bisexual and lesbian people to refer to same-gender partners. See also ‘friend’. Should never be used.
    • Couple counselling Problematic as it excludes people with more than two partners. Sex and relationship counselling is preferred.
    • Disorder of sex development (DSD) Some people are happy with this term, others are not. See Chapter 3 for a full discussion of the complexities.
    • Dyke A reclaimed term used by and for some lesbian women – not safe for use by professionals without client consent.
    • Friend See ‘companion’. Should not be used in the context of sexual/romantic relationships.
    • FtM Female to Male trans person – sometimes necessarily used for medical reports, but trans man, man with a trans history, or simply man is preferred. Many trans men were never ‘women’ in the traditional sense, thus obviating the meaning.
    • HeShe Derogatory term for trans or intersex/DSD people. Should never be used.
    • Homosexual Being attracted to people of the same gender as oneself. Has been used pejoratively historically. Gay or lesbian are preferred.
    • Hermaphrodite/pseudo-hermaphrodite Having some physical characteristics commonly attributed to males and females. These are outdated terms which, while still sometimes used, have been replaced with intersex/DSD.
    • Illegitimacy Having a child outside of marriage. A dated term which ignores the wide range of relationships children may be successfully raised within.
    • Lesbian bed death The cessation of sexual, but not romantic relations in some lesbian couples. The term is used in some parts of lesbian communities, but is problematic as it explicitly links lessening sexual desire with lesbian identities where, of course, sexual desire may wax and wane in all sexualities.
    • Marriage counselling Problematic as it excludes people who are unmarried. Sex and relationship counselling is preferred.
    • MtF Male to Female trans person – sometimes necessarily used for medical reports, but trans woman, woman with a trans history, or simply woman is preferred. Many trans women were never ‘men’ in the traditional sense, thus obviating the meaning.
    • Natural A problematic means of legitimising an identity or practice as most things humans do (wearing clothes, driving cars, etc.) are not natural, and many things that are commonly found in the natural world (fighting for territory and resources, etc.) are problematic.
    • Normal Often an extremely problematic word which should be used with utmost caution if separating out a group of people. Varies widely across time and place. Has connotations of morality, frequency, permanence, etc. often in contradiction to one another. ‘Abnormal’ is similarly problematic.
    • Opposite sex/gender A woman if one is a man, or a man if one is a woman. Should never be used because these terms suggest there are only two genders, where many cultures and groups of people see more than two. Other gender is preferred.
    • Passing A negative term for allowing people to assume that you are part of the normative group when you are not (e.g. a gay or bisexual person could ‘pass’ as heterosexual). Also used as a problematic term for trans people to suggest that a person ‘passes’ as a cisgendered person of their stated gender. Should never be used.
    • Paraphilia A medical term used to refer to sexual practices and identities which may be transgressive and/or coercive. Problematic because it includes practices and identities which are consensual and sometimes quite common (such as consensual BDSM). Implicitly makes a moral judgement. (See also ‘perversion’.)
    • Perversion An older term used to refer to sexual practices and identities which may be transgressive and/or coercive. Problematic because it includes practices and identities which are consensual and sometimes quite common (such as consensual BDSM). Implicitly makes a moral judgement. (See also ‘paraphilia’.) Should never be used.
    • Polymorphous perversity A theory that all people are born non-heterosexual and sexually attracted to many things.
    • Queen A reclaimed term used by and for some gay men – not safe for use by professionals without client consent. Some gay men also use racist terminology to refer to people who are particularly attracted to someone from a certain culture (e.g. rice queen – East Asian, chocolate queen – black). This should never be used and should be challenged.
    • Queer A reclaimed term of abuse used by some (e.g. queer activists and queer theorists) to refer to LGBT people in general, or more specifically to those who challenge the binaries of sexuality (that people are either gay or straight) and gender (that people are either men or women).
    • Real woman or real man A term used to differentiate cisgender people from trans people and others. Derogatory of trans people and others, and incorrectly suggestive that trans and other people cannot really be female or male. Should never be used.
    • Safe, sane and consensual (SSC) An older term used to differentiate consensual BDSM from coercive practices. Problematic as it contains the terms ‘safe’, when few things in life are totally safe, and ‘sane’ which suggests a difficult dichotomy between ‘sane’ and ‘mad’. Risk aware consensual kink (RACK) is preferred.
    • Sexual orientation Problematic term because it tends to imply ‘orientation’ to a particular gender (or genders) as the defining feature of a person's sexuality, which it isn't necessarily (e.g. it may be more about roles taken, practices engaged in, or specific fantasies or desires). Use sexuality or sexual identity.
    • She-male Offensive term derived from pornography often used to refer to people who have a penis and breasts. Should never be used.
    • Sissification This is where an adult male is consensually ‘forced’ to don the clothes of, and behave as, a girl as part of a BDSM scene. The humiliation the adult male feels at being dressed as a female, indeed a young female, is the source of the eroticisation. Sissification is frowned upon in some circles due to the necessarily derogative stance towards femininity that it adopts and so should be used with caution.
    • Them There may be some in the town in which you live.
    • Those people There may even be some in the room.
    • Tranny Short for transvestite. Sometimes a reclaimed term – more often derogatory.
    • Transvestite This is a medical term, partially reclaimed for some people who wear clothing not normally worn by people of their birth-assigned sex, whether for reasons of sexuality, comfort or for some other reason.
    • Twink Slang term, mostly in gay communities, for a much younger partner.
    • Vanilla A term sometimes used to describe non-BDSM, non-kinky sex. Should not be used.

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