It’s 1991. I’m at my first high school dance. The public school kid at the private school dance, I’m already nervous. My bestie tells me that Bradley Jones is going to ask me to pash (translation for non-Australians: make-out). WTF, Bradley Jones likes ME?! It’ll be my first teenage pash. Finally! Shit, he’s walking towards me. My attempt to casually brush my hand through my long blonde hair is stalled as my pineapple ring gets caught in my plastic lollipop earring, causing me to hyper-ventilate thereby popping a button in my corduroy pants which are luckily held up just under my armpits with suspenders which have animal finger puppets sown onto them. (Shockingly, this outfit was not fashionable back then). The KLF’s 3am Eternal is shaking the dance floor, as he grabs me and pulls me into a slow dance to this fast song. The disco lights are ricocheting off a bead of sweat on his eyebrow, as I lean in for the kiss, earnestly pressing my eyelids closed…
Then he pretty much swallows my entire head. I’m not even exaggerating (very much). I know I have a small mouth and so I guess our mouths were mis-sized, but did he really need to open his so wide that I’m pretty sure my nose was deeply involved in the pash? And I remember this sinking feeling “oh shit, is this what all the fuss is about? This is awful!” I spent the entire 5 minute pash wondering how I was going to put up with this for my entire life, because I knew that pashing was an important part of THE STORY. You know the “trans-boy-who’s-forgotten-he’s-a-boy-meets-nontrans-boy-who-thinks-he’s-pashing-a-girl” story.
The next boy I pashed was thankfully a VAST improvement. Not before I spent a harrowing month convinced that my lack of pash enthusiasm was a sure sign I’d become a nun in a silent convent and have to renounce my earthly desires and possessions (I nearly burned those animal-hand-puppet-suspenders).
It makes me wonder, what the fuck were we learning at school? Unfortunately there was no Pash 101 class. I mean crikey moses, as if adolescence isn’t difficult enough already, teach us how to at least not humiliate ourselves with slobbery messes! 1991 was also the year my high school banned the Divinyls song “I touch myself” from our own school dance from fear of encouraging “anti-social behavior”. I would have thought they’d prefer us anti-socially “touching ourselves” to Madonna and Johnny Depp posters (mmm Johnny Depp) rather than socially grinding against each other. Now-a-days some schools teach how to roll condoms onto broomsticks and bananas, but what about teaching us how to actually ENJOY ourselves? I found myself consistently in dating situations doing things that I didn’t really want to be doing, or at least doing them in a less-than-entirely-enjoyable way. I consider I was mostly socialized male because of how I subconsciously chose to socialise myself, yet a notable exception is my socialisation around sexy stuff. In the complete void of trans* possibilities and other trans* stories in my childhood, I’d pretty successfully buried my trans-ness by the time I was a teenager. So the messages I was internalizing about pashing and bumping uglies were predominantly those dished out to girls. It took me years to learn how to say words like “no” or “slower”, or “it’s up here”. Why shouldn’t we be teaching these things in school, our families and communities?
Another mistake that many parenting and schooling systems make, is an assumption that sexual feelings and experimentation begin only after pubescent pimples erupt. This is a really weird hetero-normative view of sexual expression, based on the idea that you don’t get those warm feelings in your undies until there’s the capacity to make babies. Well I sure as hell got boners (like almost every day) from as young as I can remember. I had my first boyfriend in kindergarten – Hamish Kiddle. He spat a peach pit in my mouth when we first pashed (#kidromancerules). I was attracted to boys. Girls. Girlish-boys, boyish-boys, girlish-girls, boyish-girls and otherly-others. And they weren’t just the “I want to hold your hand” sort of attractions popularly depicted on greeting cards.
Yes, we seem to have a place for childhood romance but not childhood sexuality. After all, a society hell bent on making good little monogamous nuclear family units to propel the status quo needs to start grooming kids early for THE STORY. We like to believe monogamous romantic connections between nontrans boys and nontrans girls are so natural, that of course they inherently want to dress up and play out the middle class script: groom in dad’s oversized shoes, bride with the lacy table cloth draped over her head, wedding ring made from grass. But like many kids, I didn’t want to just play marriages. I wanted to play real “adult games”. And I know a lot of other kids around me had sexual feelings too, including many who acted on them with each other regularly. Yet childhood sexuality is such an incredibly taboo topic, that it seems we’d prefer to protect our own comfort (under the guise of morals) rather than protect our kids. Many of us don’t really even teach abstinence, we just sort of teach…. nothing, by saying… nothing much. But unlike the sharp knives drawer or chemical cleaning products cupboard, you can’t lock kids own bodies away from them. In our denial, we fail to teach kids about consent and boundaries and therefore expose kids to the risks of causing each other harm including sexual assault, violence & abuse. Even more taboo, we fail to teach them how to safely explore and enjoy their own bodies.
In the complete absence of teaching either children or teenagers about sexual fulfilment with themselves or age-appropriately with others, we propagate the myth that a good sexual connection is this mysterious thing that should just kind of happen when the right man meets the right woman and they love each other very much. What bedroom misery this has wreaked! Like pretty much everything else: piano playing, carpentry, cooking, mathematics – good sexy times, including negotiation, communication skills, technique, the myriad forms of sexual expression (beyond that which requires a condom and a banana), getting real consent, are all skills that take cultivation.
Make no mistake: kids and teenagers are gonna experiment sexually with each other, whether or not we say anything to them. So isn’t it time to go beyond the “when a man and woman love each other very much” story book and the condom on the banana?
SEXY TIMES TIPS FOR TEENAGERS:
If there are any sexually active teenagers reading this, here’s my top 5 tips for less slobber and more fun:
– Figure out your own body first. I made the mistake of thinking that nontrans boys were going to show me how to experience deliciousness in my own body. I didn’t orgasm until I was 23 – after many years of having sex. I thought there was something wrong with me, that I’d been broken when I’d been sexually assaulted as a teenager. It turns out, other than healing from the assault, I just needed to experiment and figure out what my body likes. Now it’s way easy for me to orgasm. Oh and orgasm isn’t necessarily even the best thing about sex – it’s but one of the many delights. So don’t stress out if you’re not coming. If you’re playing with others, take the pressure off by saying you wanna mess around without coming. And it’s perfectly ok to stick with just playing with yourself until you’re ready to play with others.
– Always ask the other person/ people if it’s ok to do something with/to them – which is called getting their consent. Never assume you have the right to touch someone or they have the right to do anything to you, even if you’re in a relationship, even if you’ve done it before with each other. You can ALWAYS saying “no” or “not yet” or “not like that”. There is no such thing as “leading someone on”. It doesn’t matter if you’re already naked or if you already told them today was gonna be the day. They shouldn’t assume that getting naked means you’re going to do anything. Or that you can’t change your mind at any moment. You can play with ways of asking for consent or setting boundaries in ways that sound hot too. Practice your consent talk with your pillow or your friends. “You’re so yummy. Can I kiss you now?” “Can I touch you here now?” And remember that there are lots of reasons why someone might not feel comfortable to say “no” or “not yet”, so pay attention to their body language, ask them in several different ways, reassure them that it’s ok to say “no”, and consider taking things really slow.
– Don’t get fixated on sticking the hot dog in the bun. There is a smorgasbord of fun things to do. Talk with your friends or adults who you trust to not freak out or be creepy about it. Or make secret missions if you have to, to find information about your body and different sexy ideas.
– Experiment with what words feel good to describe your body. Don’t worry about what others think your body parts should be called -it’s YOUR body. You get to decide. For example, what some would mistake for my clitoris, I call my penis, dick or cock. Beneathe that is my inny bit or boy hole. Just tell others upfront, “Hey, I like to call this my ____. What about you?” Don’t assume it’s only trans* people who have preferences for particular words- ask all those you’re intimate with-everyone has words that feel hotter to them. These things are good to talk about BEFORE you get it on, but you can always mention it midway through too. Like if someone forgets I just gently say, “it’s really hot when you call this my ____.”
– Just because you do or don’t like something with one person, doesn’t mean you will or won’t like it with others.
– If the first time making out or being sexual with a new person doesn’t go so well (too much slobber, too fast, too slow, not enough kissing, they’re not touching you in the right spot, you can’t figure out what they like etc), it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed! If you like them a bunch and want to keep giving it a go, you can transform almost any situation with honest communication, intentional experimenting, or showing them how you like it (seriously, it can be really hot to guide someone’s hand or touch yourself in front of them, with their consent).
 name changed to keep his pashing pride in tact
 When I came out as trans* I I had to go back and update all my stories about what my earliest queer experiences were. Like the time I had to revise who I’d “done it” with once I got acquainted with queer women’s and trans* definitions of sex.
 As many trans* people know, socialization is a complex beast – the world can’t just force you to be a certain way, people have a say in how they internalize messages about gender and other stuff. Like I always remember listening to what the teachers were saying the boys should be doing.
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