Roche, Juno. “Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships”, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018.
Starting the Conversation
I believe that one of the most difficult topics to talk about with regard to transgender people is sex and I also believe that the power of sex is underestimated. Yet, one of the first questions many have about trans people is how do they have sex and it is either unasked or squelched. In “Queer Sex”, transgender activist Juno Roche discusses sex, desire and dating with leading figures from the trans and non-binary community. She calls out prejudices and inspires readers to explore their own concepts of intimacy and sexuality, gives first-hand accounts that “celebrate the wonder and potential of trans bodies and push at the boundaries of how society views gender, sexuality and relationships.” What we really see is that all trans people deserve to feel brave, beautiful and sexy.
This is the first book I am reviewing from the Jessica Kingsley Press on trans issues and I have another five others waiting their turn. This press has published and will be publishing a great many trans books.
Juno Roche has written about gender non-conformity issues and cisgender privilege and she is not afraid to be deeply personal to make her point. She sees that we are all individuals able to encourage each other towards authenticity. I do think it is wonderful that we have “Queer Sex” and it is certainly “an audacious and inspiring challenge to a system that shames trans bodies and desires.” The interviews are fascinating and captivating. They give us a look at how our thoughts around intimacy and sex are constantly changing and evolving. Roche writes with humor and heart and it is interesting that sex is such a talked about subject everywhere yet it is not talked about openly in trans circles. Roche has conversations about bodies, intimacy and sex that many have wanted to hear. We also learn about elements of transitioning that many are unaware of.
Roche explores her own relationship to her post transition sexuality through interviews with other trans, non-binary, and queer people giving us a groundbreaking exploration of the ways nonconforming people reframe and redefine sex. I do think it important to note that Roche’s main focus is on relationships between trans couples or non-binary couples and there is no information on trans relationships with cisgenders. This is also incorrectly titled in that this is not a guide but rather a collection of details from interviews. Most of the people interviewed were either transwomen or non-binary and there is very little about transmale sexuality. Roche has a lot to say about her vagina which while interesting does not have anything to do with the word “guide”. It is, however, interesting and gives some insight into intimacy. However, there is too much emphasis on Juno herself and on older trans people and I just do not think it will bring much to the younger generation. Hopefully other books from this publishing house will do that.
I understand that Roche wrote this book as a way of working through her own issues around sex after having had bottom surgery in Great Britain. She was struggling with dating and what sex and relationships “should” be for her, so she turned to journaling and interviewing others. It was her hope that her book would serve to help others also struggling with the same issues. There is a great deal of missing information and “poorly integrated personal emotion” yet there is some really fascinating information here— it is just incomplete but it is a start to an important conversation.