Toward a broader conceptualization of trans women’s sexual health

Research on the sexual health of trans women (male-to-female spectrum transgender people), has focused primarily on sexual response and satisfaction after initiating hormone treatment or undergoing genital surgery, or on HIV-related sexual risk among trans women sexually active with cisgender (cis, i.e., non-trans) men. Given that these situations are not representative of the majority of trans women at most points in the lifecourse, a broader discussion is needed to provide sex educators, therapists, clinicians, and researchers, as well as trans women and their partners, with information needed to promote sexual health. Drawing on the theoretical constructs of cisnormativity and cissexism, as well as previously published and new data from Trans PULSE, a community-based study of trans health in Ontario, we discuss the social context and sexual realities of trans women’s lives.