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Safer sex: Study examines sexual communication in transgender community
Date:6/2/2011

licated.

After interviewing 41 transgender individuals from around the country, Kosenko found, for example, that privacy is a significant issue. Transgender individuals have to make often-difficult decisions about when and how to disclose their biological sex to prospective partners because that revelation carries the risk of rejection, or even violent behavior.

But other findings from the study may be applicable beyond the transgender community. Kosenko found that transgender individuals like people in other groups try to gauge sexual health risks by talking to prospective partners about their sexual history and safer sex practices. But Kosenko also found that these talks can be undermined if a partner is being dishonest about his or her past a problem that is presumably faced by those outside the transgender community as well.

"This study shows that understanding sexual communication goes beyond attempts to discuss sexual history," Kosenko says. "It also entails the difficult process of trying to determine if a sexual partner is being forthcoming."

In addition, the study found that talking about safer sex is about more than using condoms. For example, in the transgender community, some people go through the process of getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases with a partner and then having unprotected sex if both test negative for HIV. The partners also establish rules for sexual activity outside the relationship. For instance, are outside relationships acceptable if condoms are used?

"I think these findings will help us provide safer sex outreach tools for the transgender community that are based in reality," Kosenko says. "And a lot of what we found in this study applies to sexual communication outside of the transgender community as well. Pushing for people to always use condoms may be impractical. Perhaps it would be more effective to promote a broader definition of safer sex practices."


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Contact: Matt Shipman
matt_shipman@ncsu.edu
919-515-6386
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert

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