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Getting Clear on Gender vs Sex by AJ Silver of The Queer Birth Club

A common misconception for trans folk is that we hate our bodies. That we wouldn’t dare buy a product that mentions Vulvas, Penetrative sex or alike.

Trans folk who were assigned female at birth (AFAB), need these products and services just as cisgender (non trans) folks do. Whether that is period products, lubricants etc.

Making sure that your product or service is inclusive to all folks who might need it, isn’t just good business sense; why would you cut off some of your market? It is also joyful as a trans person to have companies acknowledge that you exist. 

For most Trans folks it goes deeper for sexual health as well. Products like lubricants, contraceptives, smear tests etc are essential health care. Trans folk often miss out of sex-based health care due to the lack of knowledge, training, experience, and computer systems. 

The Stonewall report of Trans in Britain 2017 and LGBT in Britain 2018 tells us that Trans folk are already at a disparity for accessing healthcare compared to Cishet (cis + heterosexual) folk.

2 in 5 trans people said that healthcare staff lacked understanding of specific trans health needs.

7% of trans people said they have been refused care because they are trans.

1/7 LGBT people avoid healthcare for fear of discrimination. 

1/3 Trans folk have experienced some form of unequal treatment from healthcare staff.

You add all this up and you can see how quickly risk can rise for Trans folk. How quickly our health concerns and needs are dismissed, lessened, or avoided.

One way to ensure that your product or service is open to all manner of folks is to ensure that you use language that reflects everyone who may want or need to use it.

Talking about women and people with vaginas? Cool, let’s say that.

I am personally not a fan of reductive language. Such as Vagina havers or alike. Cishet women also deserve to see themselves reflected in your language. By adding to language, we ensure that no one rights, or visibility is diluted or erased. 

If you are ever unsure of what language people use, you can ask! I promise it isn’t as scary as it sounds. Much like with asking folks for their pronouns, you can offer yours first.

“My name is AJ, I use they / them pronouns. How about you?”

“How would you like me to refer to your anatomy? Are there any words you are uncomfortable with so I can make this experience as easy as it can be?”

“Is there anything else you want to tell me about yourself, the language that would help you feel most cared for before we start?

Remember that asking for guidance isn’t about being embarrassed or clueless. You are putting the comfort of the person in front of you ahead of your discomfort of having to ask. As a Trans person I can tell you how far this goes in building relationships and trust with anyone, especially in intimate settings.

AJ Silver is the founder of the Queer Birth Club. They are a doula, Breastfeeding counsellor, Babywearing Consultant, soon to be published author and educator. They live in Essex with their spouse, two children and dog: Princess Leia.

You can reach them on Hello@thequeerbirthclub.co.uk and follow them on socials @queerbirthclu


2 https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/lgbt_in_britain_health.pdf