Sexpertise conference addresses transgender sexual health

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 9:02pm

Members of the 2018 Sexpertise Conference distribute condoms to the audience in the Michigan League

Members of the 2018 Sexpertise Conference distribute condoms to the audience in the Michigan League Buy this photo
Michael Barsky/Daily


As part of the 10th annual Sexpertise conference sponsored by the University of Michigan Health Service, Brendon Holloway, Spectrum Center education and training graduate coordinator, discussed the sexual health experiences of transgender people at the Michigan League on Wednesday.

Sexpertise is an annual three-day conference, which began on Tuesday and will run until Thursday night, aiming to educate students, faculty and practitioners about sexual health and experiences. Nine topics, ranging from sexual health to safety and pleasure in sexual activities, were presented throughout the conference.

Holloway began by presenting basic terminology used in the transgender community. He described his idea of a “trans-umbrella” regarding the different identities those in the transgender community hold. He also explained how the transition process varies in terms of experiences.

“This looks very different person to person,” Holloway said. “Every transition is definitely different.”

Holloway then went on to present the anatomy changes associated with hormone replacement therapy. He noted that when taking testosterone, some of the physical changes which occur include a deepened voice, fat redistribution and change of odor. Those who take estrogen tend to experience breast growth, fat redistribution and facial feminization.

Holloway also discssed sexual intercourse for those that identify as transgender, and emphasized that, like the transition process, sexual experiences vary from person to person.

“There is no right way to have sex regardless of your identity,” Holloway said. “This is totally variable per person and needs are always changing.”

In an interview, Holloway explained his desire to present on this topic, saying as a trans man, he feels his experience regarding the topic he presented on catered to a more inclusive discussion.

“It’s very personal for me because I am a trans person,” Holloway said. “I want to spread information that I feel is from a very trans-perspective. I would rather a trans person present on trans topics than a cisgender person.”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, cisgender is defined as someone who identifies with the gender with which they were born.

Later in the presentation, Holloway explained the three C’s of communication: consent, communication and creativity. He emphasized that communication between sexual partners is important in order to have a worthwhile experience.

“Communication is key,” Holloway said. “Sex looks different for every single person that you are going to come across. Your definition of sex may differ from my definition of sex ... consent is mandatory.”

The presentation also included statistics gathered from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. According to the survey, 33 percent of trans people who saw a health care provider stated they had negative experiences regarding their health, 24 percent had to teach their medical provider about their health as a trans individual and 23 percent did not consult a doctor at all for fear of mistreatment because of their identity.

UHS Mental Health Care Manager Diana Parrish announced UHS is also working to provide more services catered toward transgender-related health care, such as prescribing hormone treatments. Currently, those who wish to receive treatments have to go to outside providers.

“We are working on having in-house providers who can initiate hormones which would be a major way of access for healthcare,” Parrish said.

LSA junior Kymberley Leggett said she found the event worthwhile because she specifically learned about issues regarding the transition process.

“One of the biggest things I learned about was the different things that happen in transition for trans folks,” Leggett said. “I had a trans friend in high school and didn’t realize all that he was going through.”