TRANS & TOY SHOPPING
Hello everyone! This will be my first blog for BoldHumans. Thanks to Tabita, the amazing person behind this queer-friendly sex shop, I now have the permission to write a few blog posts on here. So let me introduce myself first. I’m K (he/him) and some of you might know me from my Instagram review account QueerPeen69 (Yeah, I know, that’s a very mature joke there). I’m a transmasculine* person and on this blog, I’d like to share some of my personal experiences with you. Through this queer lens, I’m going to discuss several topics.
In this first blog, I’m going to talk about inclusivity in online sex shops. What does that mean to me and how could online shops implement more inclusivity for queer people?
Let’s start at the beginning and say you’re in search of a new sex toy. You go on the webs to find it. Then you find some online shops. Hmm, you want to buy a vibrator. Neat, let’s go! Time to filter through the categories. Oh, what’s that: For her/For him, Female/Male, Women/Men? For couples (indirectly, it often means cis straight couples) Okay, I guess. In the female section, we find what we need: the vibrators. Where do you have to look if you want to buy a penis masturbator? You have to go into the male section. Before I came out as trans, toy shopping was no biggy. This binary categorization didn’t bother me much. In fact, I never truly gave it any extra thought. I just knew that if I wanted a toy for my sexual pleasure, I’d have to search the female category. Well… Things have become trickier now. Although I don’t experience much bottom dysphoria, I still get social dysphoria. And it really sucks having to shop in the female section when I want to buy a new dildo or vibrator. It’s alienating. I’m not a woman. Yet the toys I want to buy, are in this category. It reduces me to gendered genitals again. It puts me in boxes again. Not all people with vulvas are women, and not all people with penises are men.
How could we solve this binary problem? At BoldHumans they have the answer and I quote them here: “almost every product is suitable for any gender, just use your imagination.”
So how does BoldHumans put those words into practice with their online shop?
First of all, they got rid of the Female/Male category section. Instead, they have all their toys in one place under the simple category TOYS. Once there, you can filter through the toy types (all toys > dildos, vibrators, anal plugs, BDSM gear, etc.) What I like about this, is that it doesn’t put a gender on the toy. These filters only tell you what type of toy it is. It doesn’t assume the toy is for a certain gender, it doesn’t assume it’s for certain genitals or a type of person. Plain and simple, it just doesn’t assume or imply anything. And I absolutely love that.
Another great addition to Bold Humans’ way of presenting their products for all genders is their product description. This could easily be overlooked, but the right description can really help with inclusivity. The descriptions on the site often leave the use of the product open to interpretation and the customer’s own creativity. And if not, it only specifies what specific body parts can be stimulated with the toy without assuming this body part belongs to a certain gender or that it has to be used on this part. After all, toys can be used in the most creative ways and don’t need to follow the designer’s intended usage!
The last thing I appreciate about BoldHumans is that there’s a gender category. What you’ll find there, is gender-affirming gear for trans people. As the word already explains: gear that affirms a person’s gender identity. We’re talking about binders, tucking briefs, harnesses, and packers*.
Since I came out as transmasc, I’ve seen many websites that have trans people as their main target audience.
Besides BoldHumans, there are other inclusive queer sex shops like Early 2 Bed and Other-Nature. However, some more generic sex shops actually do sell basic gender-affirming gear too. For starters, many sell basic packers like the Mister Limpy. Often phallic-shaped prosthetics to give the wearer a realistic bulge in their pants. But too often do I see the packer being categorized in the dildo section. And a basic packer is not a dildo, nor is it used for sex at all. This shows there are still some misconceptions about a packer’s purpose. Sure, there are packers that are made for sex, but they have a different name: 2in1, 3in1, or 4in1* depending on what other functions it has.
If the packer isn’t categorized under dildo, I have to explicitly search for it myself in the shop’s own search engine. It’s frustrating and feels like I’m only an afterthought to the people behind the site. Great would it be if these sites also offer a gender category where they explicitly list all gender-affirming products and gear they offer.
There’s still a lot of work to do for sex shops to be more inclusive to all genders, but here and there I already see good starts. The world is evolving, and so should these shops.
So, what tips can other sex shops take away from this to be more inclusive?
- Get rid of the binary male/female categories. Instead, categorize toys by type: dildos, vibrators, pulsator toys, anal plugs, etc.
- If you offer gender-affirming products, put them in a specific gender category
- If you don’t offer these products, consider them! Besides the nonsexual gear, there are also special toys for trans folks. The first thing that comes to mind: masturbation sleeves for trans guys/people with bottom growth.
- Stay gender-neutral in your product descriptions and if you want to clarify certain body parts, don’t associate one specific gender to that body part
transmasculine: generally AFAB people who identify with a masculine gender identity, they do not always identify as a trans man
AFAB: assigned female at birth, a person whom the doctors looked at and said: “it’s a girl”
basic packer is a prosthetic to create a realistic-looking bulge in your underwear and pants
2in1 can refer to an STP packer: a packer you can use to pack and stand while peeing
2in1 can also refer to a Pack & Play: a packer made to pack and have sex with
3in1 is a prosthetic used to pack, stand to pee and have sex
4in1 is a prosthetic used to pack, stand to pee, have sex, and masturbate/self-pleasure