Dealing with Gender Dysphoria in the Bedroom | Advice

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Introducing our new advice columnist - Kelly Ghweinem. Queerly Beloved is an expertly curated column dedicated to the world of LGBTQ sex, intimacy and relationships that provides education, insights and actionable tips for the reader to enhance their pleasure journey. This column will answer questions and provide advice to readers to deepen intimate connections, elevate pleasurable experiences, and empower people.


I notice that I feel disconnected during sex and that certain acts or words can trigger intense gender dysphoria. How can I enjoy sex without experiencing the dysphoria? 


Dysphoria is an all-too-common experience for trans and non-binary individuals and unfortunately it is something that can quickly put a stop to a pleasurable sexual experience. Gender dysphoria, as defined by Folx Health is “emotional and physical distress experienced by some transgender and non-binary people whose perceived genders dont match their sex assigned at birth.” We all have sexual response systems that include brakes and accelerators. Think of breaks as things that slow down or stop our arousal and accelerators as things that speed up or ignite our arousal. For trans or non-binary individuals gender dysphoria can be like stepping hard on the break, stopping or slowing the sexual excitement.

Here are some tips to help if this happens.

First, dont try to repress the feeling of dysphoria. I know this may sound counterintuitive but imagine someone tells you to not think about a red car, what do you immediately think of? A red car. Same logic applies. If you experience dysphoria and tell yourself, stop and just get on with it! You will continue to think about the dysphoria and it will probably build and build, putting a halt to your pleasure. Instead, try noticing the feeling and then intentionally bringing your attention back to sensations. For example, say to yourself Im feeling dysphoric, thats okay, I will let it exist in me and then turn your attention to the way your partner sounds or smells. This intentional redirection doesnt suppress the feelings but moves your attention to your erotic triggers instead.

Another tip is to be clear with your sexual partner about what boundaries you have around sex before things get hot and heavy. This could be something like I dont like my chest touched so please focus on other areas.Or I want to keep my binder on during this.Setting these boundaries will help decrease the risk of triggers.

Some clients have found it helpful to use affirming language before, during and after sex. Deciding how you want to refer to parts of your body and then enacting that language helps your brain and body, embody pleasure through an affirming lens. We dont need to call a penis a penis, it can be a big clit or we can call a clitoris a cock.

Getting to know your body through a gender affirmed lens can be helpful in decreasing dysphoria. This could look like experimenting with different touches or techniques during solo play so that you have a map of your body. Maybe pumping an engorged clitoris like you would a shaft. During partnered sex this could look like an experimental session where each of you experiments with different touches or techniques where a partner pumps a clitoris to jerk off the other partner. There are many ways to have sex that are gender-affirming that do not need to fit into the heteronormative way we engage with genitals.

Everyone deserves pleasurable sexual experiences and dysphoria can act as a significant barrier to pleasure. Try incorporating these tips in your next sexual encounter if you experience dysphoria during sex.

Kelly Ghweinem, LCSW is an established queer- affirming therapist and business owner who champions the LGBTQ+ community through activism and advocacy utilizing a queer, feminist, anti-racist lens. A University at Buffalo graduate, Kelly came to Fort Lauderdale from Manhattan in 2022. For more information on their practice visit



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