Dating During the Pandemic: Tips for Young People Who Are Living at Home

Ellen FriedrichsIf you are a teen or young adult who lives at home during COVID-19, and are dating or sexually active with a partner, navigating this part of your life — with your partner, with parents or guardians — is complicated. A lot of househol…

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A Manifesto on Pleasure and Self-Love for We With an STI

Emily DepasseDespite the initial shame, guilt, name-calling, jokes, and fear related to disclosure, my STI presented me with a chance to love myself more deeply. It gave me a chance to sit with myself, who I thought myself to be, who I thought I was go…

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This Isn’t Going to Be Your Forever

Ellen Friedrichs
Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, in many households, the strains of closed schools, lost jobs, health issues, and close quarters mean that tensions are high, tempers are short, and privacy has become a luxury. If you’re a young queer person who is now isolated with trans- or homophobic family members, you probably know that better than anyone. Here are a few ideas to help you stay as physically and emotionally safe as possible during these difficult days.

Tips for Queer Youth Stuck at Home With Trans- and Homophobic Parents

The global COVID-19 pandemic has put a huge amount of pressure on a huge number of people. In many households, the strains of closed schools, lost jobs, health issues, and close quarters mean that tensions are high, tempers are short, and privacy has become a luxury.

If you’re a young queer person who is now isolated with trans- or homophobic family members, you probably know that better than anyone.

Maybe things are normally okay at home, but now it feels like everything you do is under a microscope. Maybe an environment that usually just felt tense, now feels unsafe. Maybe you’ve been holding everything in for so long that you feel like you are about to burst and have nowhere to go let off steam. Whatever your situation looks like, the fact is, you could probably use a little support.

So here are a few ideas to help you stay as physically and emotionally safe as possible during these difficult days.

Stuck at Home

During high school and college, there were plenty of times my parents and I butted heads, or got under each other’s skin, or found ourselves in epic screaming matches. One of the things that helped the most was getting some space.

These days, many of the self-care strategies that you probably use to manage everything from dealing with microaggressions to flat-out dangerous situations just aren’t going to be possible. Those might have been things like escaping to a friend’s place, being at school, participating in your GSA, going to a movie or a coffee shop, staying at your grandma’s, or even just taking a walk.

So what can you do?

For Darid, a high school senior who’s a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council, what has helped most has been staying connected to the outside world. They say, “I am fortunate to have my own space and my own room in the house to get away from everything, and just focus on myself. I’ve been keeping in contact with friends. We FaceTime almost every day. We even developed a routine; every Saturday, we get together virtually and have movie nights through Netflix Party. Finding a group of friends and starting a mini routine or picking out an activity to do together virtually has been helping me hold on to some type of normality.”

That will resonate for a lot of young people. But for others, connecting virtually is going to be a bigger challenge since it is estimated that almost half of all Americans don’t have reliable Internet. That can be tough under normal circumstances. But as everything from school to socializing has moved online, it can make you feel even more isolated.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to borrow a device or get online via your school. WiFi may also be available through a public place, like outside a library or a McDonalds. Some young people have also been given the okay to safely connect in real life by doing things like taking a physically distanced walk or bike ride, or having a distanced picnic with friends.

Being Yourself

If you are like a lot of people, your home self isn’t identical to the self you share with friends, teachers, or at your job.

For some of you, being at home might actually be a relief and a nice break from the stresses of your regular life. I teach middle and high school health and I was surprised to hear from one of my students who said they were actually happier at home than at school because they weren’t dealing with daily drama.

But for a lot of young people, especially LGBTQIA+ youth who have trans- or homophobic parents, home is anything but relaxing, especially if you need to constantly think about how you are acting, talking, or presenting yourself in front of your family. That is often called code switching and it is a crucial survival tactic for a lot of queer youth. But it can also be an exhausting and stressful one, especially if you have to do it 24/7.

As Darid says, “I am a senior in high school, so I currently live with my parents. At first, it was difficult to adjust. For me, I code-switch a lot. The way I act and express myself with my family is completely different from the way I express myself with my friends. So it was hard, not having supportive and queer spaces that I often occupy.”

If you are modifying how you present yourself to avoid triggering hostility from your family, it is also a good idea to try to find ways to express yourself authentically. That can be with friends over a video chat, dressing up alone in your room, writing in a journal, or even watching a movie or listening to music that speaks to you.

Coming Out and Being Outed

Coming out should always be your own choice, done on your own terms and timeline. But being isolated with your family, especially if you don’t have any privacy, can increase the chance of being outed before you are ready. Your sibling could pick up your phone and see a revealing text. You could get overheard on the phone. Your parents could be watching your every move looking for “signs.”

For one college student, being home from school right now meant being pushed to come out by religious parents. As she wrote on Reddit, “A couple of months ago my mom asked me if I was gay and I said I wasn’t because I did not want to be forced out of the closet.” However, being at home has changed the dynamic and after being asked and confronted repeatedly about her sexual orientation, she came out. The result? “My parents are not really taking it well,” she wrote.

While some of you are probably terrified that your families will find out about your identity, others of you might be desperate to come out to them. That can be the case if you feel overwhelmed by the difficulty of keeping everything inside.

Coming out can definitely be an amazing experience. But it can also be a risky one. So if you are leaning in that direction, you really need to think about whether or not now is the best time.

Here are a few things to ask yourself:

  • How do I think my family will react?
  • How will coming out impact my situation at home?
  • Is it safe, physically and emotionally, for me to come out to my parents?
  • Do I have resources available (both emotional and financial) if coming out changes my situation at home?
  • Do I have people whom I can talk to before I come out to my parents?
  • What will waiting to come out until after the pandemic ends do to me? What are the upsides of waiting? What are the downsides?

If you go through this list and decide that coming out at home it isn’t the best choice right now, you should know you still have options.

For example, there might be a friend or family member whom you could call and talk to. If your school or college has a GSA, or something similar, you could also reach out to the person who runs that. Many communities have LGBTQIA+ community centers that have programs for youth. You can find your closest one at Centerlink. If you have privacy online privately, there are also a lot of places you can find support. For example, you can ask for advice on the Scarleteen message boards, live chat or via text. There are also groups like the Trevor Project or the LGBT National Youth Talkline which are geared towards queer and questioning youth in crisis, and sites like Q Chat Space, that can help you connect with LGBTQIA+ peers.

If you hadn’t been involved with the queer community before the lockdown, getting involved now could actually be a good way to ease in since there are more virtual spaces around than ever.

When Life at Home is Unbearable

Sometimes a person’s family of origin is just so toxic or abusive that being at home is unbearable or unsafe. Some young people suffer verbal or physical abuse. Others are forced into conversion therapy. This practice, which falsely claims to be able to change sexual orientation and gender identity, had been banned in almost half the states. However, minors are still being put into these dangerous programs by parents.

Getting help from a supportive community, an affirming school guidance counsellor, an understanding family therapist, or an LGBTQIA+ – friendly religious congregation can help families work through many of their issues.

But there are plenty of situations where needed help isn’t available, or it just isn’t safe for a young person to live at home. As a result, some choose to leave. Others are removed by the state. Far too many get kicked out by their parents. That generally isn’t legal if a person is under 18. But, sadly, that doesn’t stop it from happening.

Whatever the reason, if you can’t live at home, the first thing to do is to see if you can stay with a friend or family member. That option is really going to be impacted by the state of the pandemic and by the rules about physical distancing where you live.

If finding someone to live with doesn’t pan out and you are facing homelessness, or if you are already unhoused, try to locate LGBTQIA+-friendly services. When dealing with a crisis like losing your home due to trans- and homophobia, the last thing you need is to hit up against the same prejudices in the outside world.

These days, you can find LGBTQIA+ focused services for youth in cities around the US and Canada as well as in many countries around the globe. Lambda Legal has a good list of resources for LGBTQ youth by state. In some areas, there are even LGBTQIA+ shelters and residences. One of those is the Ali Forney Center in New York City, which is committed to staying open throughout the pandemic. They also have a list of resources specifically for youth facing homelessness around the country.

In extreme cases, teens can seek legal emancipation from parents. This gives minors the legal rights and responsibilities of adults. But with courts closed, jobs hard to come by, and schools shut down, this probably isn’t the best bet for most people.

What it All Comes Down to

Being a young person queer with trans- and homophobic family can present challenges during the best of times. But right now, living with parents who are hostile to your identity is probably just about one of the hardest things around.

So it is crucial that you find ways to stay safe, honor yourself, and get support. Sometimes talking to a friend you know in real life, finding your people online, or reaching out to an organization that supports queer youth is a good option. Other times, just being able to step outside your front door by yourself can give you the headspace you need to get through the day.

This isn’t going to end overnight. But try to remember that what you are experiencing right now, and whatever you are doing to survive it, also isn’t going to be your forever.

Photo of clouds and text that says "this isn't going to be your forever"
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Protest in the Age of COVID-19

Tasha Fierce
We’ve got a million reasons to be in the streets. But not everyone is okay with — or even able to engage in — active protest right now. But because of COVID-19, many people, especially sick and disabled folks, may be hesitant to bring their bodies together as a show of force. Here’s how to make in-person protest safer and how to pitch in from your living room or bed instead.

We’ve got a million reasons to be in the streets in the United States. White supremacist fascists are preparing for a civil war, Black folks continue to be targeted by law enforcement and vigilantes, ten million adults are unemployed while millions more are otherwise struggling to survive.

But not everyone is okay with — or even able to engage in — active protest right now. There’s one big reason why many people here, especially sick and disabled folks, may be hesitant to bring their bodies together as a show of force: COVID-19.

Our leadership has handled this pandemic predictably, and we’re now heading into another crest of the same unbroken hellwave we’ve been riding since February. The myth of young people’s low infection risk has been used as a pawn in the debate over schools and universities opening, while teens and emerging adults are actually dying and becoming disabled from this disease. The CDC has recently confirmed that the novel coronavirus is airborne, that it can spread beyond six feet and linger in the air, shifting the terrain of the pandemic.

It’s all exhausting and terrifying, but not less so than a fascist dictatorship with the current president at the helm. So, we continue on.

In the age of COVID-19, how can we make our voices heard without spreading the virus? If we are organizers, how do we organize actions that are as safe and accessible as they can be for as many people as possible?

Safe(r) Protest During the Pandemic

There’s some good news on both counts: Black Lives Matter protests from May-June did not cause significant spikes in infection rates. We also already know transmission outside is less likely than transmission in an indoor space with poor ventilation, so outdoor rallies and marches are at an advantage. Wearing masks, maintaining a distance of six feet or further from other people, hand sanitizing and washing hands when running water is available–these are basics that I hope everyone has internalized into our everyday routines by now, and these practices go double for active protest If you are engaging in active protest, take extra face coverings in case you are teargassed and need to change.

This is important because COVID-19 can be transmitted by surface contact — like the inner surface of your asymptomatic buddy’s mask. It just needs to touch your nose, eyes, or mouth, or close to them. You can also get it by touching something that has virions on it, like a shared water bottle, and then touching your face. Bring your own stuff to protests, don’t share stuff, and if you do, clean it with 70%-95% isopropyl alcohol before you use it again. You might also want to get some gloves, disposable or washable, that you can wear if you need to handle communal items. Just don’t touch your face or adjust your mask with your gloved hands, because that defeats the purpose.

COVID-19 has a 2-14 day incubation period. It’s possible to transmit the virus even if you don’t have any symptoms. Best practice is to quarantine for two weeks in between actions.

Even if everyone’s social distancing is perfect, it is still possible to get infected if someone is actively shedding the virus. Get tested if you can, but regardless, wait 14 days after you last protested to make sure you aren’t still in the incubation period.

For organizers, make sure you are very clear on your mask policy and your social distancing policy when publicizing your event. Consider using something like stomping, clapping, noisemakers, anything other than chanting, yelling, and singing when you’re trying to build energy. If someone is infected, those activities are the most likely to spread the virus to others.

Accessible Protest During the Pandemic

There are lots of ways we can protest that don’t involve any risk at all, and we’ll get to those in a bit. But before we do, let’s talk a bit about how in-person protest can be made more accessible specifically in the context of COVID-19.

Accessibility needs to be foundational to any action, as Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha teaches us in Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, it can’t be an afterthought. You must include disabled and chronically ill people in the process of planning any protest. In lieu of that direct input, here are some perennial basics on accessibility, tailored for the outdoors:

  • Make sure any outdoor venue has ramps and pathways wide enough for wheelchairs
  • Provide ASL translation and CART transcription for speakers
  • Create audio and image descriptions for outreach materials
  • Provide written materials in large type and Braille
  • Make sure there are accessible and gender-neutral bathrooms nearby
  • Provide seating (folding chairs work–check weight limits on these)
  • Ban fragrances from the space
  • Designate an accessibility point person for disabled protestors to seek guidance from
  • Allow disabled protestors to set the pace if you are marching
  • If marching, describe the route verbally and with ASL translation before you begin
  • Use megaphones or other speech-amplifying devices to communicate instructions
  • Allow disabled folks and elders to drive cars along the route with marchers

Car caravans and other mobile protests are probably the safest form of in-person protest, and one of the more accessible ones. I attended one over the summer; it was necessary catharsis for me as a queer disabled Black person heartbroken over the death of their kin. But when I was a teenager and emerging adult, caravans wouldn’t have been accessible to me if I had to be a driver — I couldn’t drive due to the heavy medication I was on.

What can I do to fight back if the only things that are accessible to me are my bed and a phone or laptop? 

For registered voters, city council meetings for many municipalities have moved online, so it’s a lot easier to let our local representatives know how we feel. Find out when your city’s next meeting is and what the procedure is for making a public comment. Prepare a short statement, for example, demanding that your local police department be defunded or supporting a rent moratorium during the pandemic, and read it when the time comes.

Everyone can follow abolitionist organizations on Twitter like Survived and Punished. They and other organizations amplify phone banking actions and phone protests against correctional facilities and police precincts. While you’re on Twitter, you can follow hashtags like #FreeThemAll, #BlackLivesMatter, and #CareForBlackWomen. And if you’re following that last hashtag and you have some extra cash, you can engage in some mutual aid.


What’s Mutual Aid? Mutual aid is what anarchists and other radicals call it when we claim responsibility for the material, spiritual, and political well-being of our community and its members. The system isn’t built for us, so we have to figure out how to take care of ourselves while we organize to bring it down. When we engage in mutual aid, we pool our time, money, knowledge, living space, skills, energy, or other resources, so that everyone can get their needs met.


We need cultural workers, too. Writers and artists, performers, singers, all are called to create work that uplifts and inspires the movement. If you’re a healer, an astrologer, if you have knowledge of first aid or herbalism or some drawings that you want to collect into a zine and distribute among your community, we need you. We do ourselves a disservice when we limit the spectrum of political activism to direct action and agitation. Building the new world first requires us to create a clear vision of it, a blueprint. That’s where cultural work comes in.

Education is also cultural work. For example, my political home, the Los Angeles Spoonie Collective, holds workshops and panels on disability justice and intersectionality in the hopes of educating our community into being a more hospitable place for its disabled and chronically ill members. Get out there and share your knowledge, what you’ve learned so far on this Earth, your lived experience. Don’t pay any mind to folks who tell you that you aren’t old enough to know what you’re talking about.

For more ways to engage with movement from home, read this excellent resource by Ejeris Dixon, Kay Ulanday Barrett, and others: 26 Ways To Be in The Struggle When We’re Not in the Streets. If you’d like more information on how to protest in general, check out Scarleteen’s guide Rebel Well: A Starter Survival Guide To A Trumped America.

Rebellion, always a risky proposition, is made even more so by this respiratory pandemic. But there are as many ways to be of service to the movement that don’t involve breathing the same air as there are different people breathing. And with care and consideration, actions where we do come together to breathe the same air can be made safer, more accessible, and more reflective of the world we want to live in — within and without this pandemic.

image of Black woman wearing mask and title text
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Learning How to Love Through Friendships

Alice DraperFor as long as I can remember, I have worked on cultivating strong and meaningful friendships. It’s through these friendships that I have discovered what I hope to get out of romantic relationships. My friendships teach me the importance of…

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Machismo: How Toxic Masculinity Harms Latinx People – an interview with Laura Carlsen

Gabriel LeãoMachismo is an expression of exacerbated masculinity that has caused lingering pain and trauma to generations of Latinx people. Many young people are still struggling with it today. “Machismo” has dreadful roots in Latin based cultures, and…

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Libido and Lockdown

Sara Brezinski
Are people experiencing the “quarantine hornies,” or is sex entirely off the menu? The answer is yes; both; all the above. Here’s some help for dealing with changes in libido and sexuality, how you express them, and sexual safety for right now.

A lot has changed in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing, quarantine, school closures, working from home, not working at all (not to mention fear about the health of you and/or your loved ones), as well as… libido.

Are people experiencing the “quarantine hornies,” or is sex entirely off the menu? The answer is yes; both; all the above.

Shifts in stress and anxiety, as well as big life changes, can have an effect on a person’s libido in either direction. From a biological perspective, eating, sleeping, and exercising habits all affect sexual appetite. Getting more sleep now? Sexual desire might increase. Can’t go to the gym anymore and don’t work out as much? Sexual urges might decrease. Eating lots of food, but not the healthiest kinds? You guessed it, potential passionate-feelings buzzkill.

A psychological concept called Terror Management Theory provides another explanation for why this libido change can occur in either direction. This theory says that when we are reminded of our mortality, we alter our behaviors. Though the creators of this theory didn’t specifically relate it to libido, the connection makes sense. Basically, “Life is short! I need to have lots of sex!” or “Life is short! There’s no time for lots of sex when I have so many other things to worry about!”

Anxiety can also affect libido in a bi-directional manner. Think of it like Goldilocks and the Libido-Bears of Anxiety. Too much or too extreme anxiety can decrease sexual desire drastically, whereas just a little bit,  juuuuust the right amount, can increase it (no anxiety at all, of course, has no effect). It’s also possible to alternate between both ends of the libido spectrum!

While anxiety, Terror Management Theory, and lifestyle changes are some broad explanations for libido changes during the pandemic, you may be wondering if there are any other, more specific reasons. There are.

“Where on earth did my libido go?”

  • Survival Stress: There are so many causes of stress right now. There’s relationship stress (of the familial, platonic, sexual, and romantic kinds), for one. There’s also school stress. Adapting to digital learning or making the decision to take some time off from school are both really difficult. Motivation and focus might suffer right now, further increasing stress. Plus, there’s work stress. The loss of a job—part-time or full time, for either you or your parents— is always stressful, let alone piling everything else happening right now on top. Pair this up with a pandemic and health concerns, and “survival stress” occurs. When this happens, the body essentially goes into fight-or-flight, and the only thing that matters is getting through the stressor—sex be damned.
  • Mental health struggles: Many people are experiencing mental health changes during this time. Previously controlled depression might now be spiking. Panic could be appearing for the first time. Generalized anxiety might be rearing its head. If you’ve lost a loved one during this time, there’s processing, grief, and mourning. All these things can drop a sky-high libido down to the sub-basement.
  • Pregnancy, contraception, and other sexual health concerns: if you do have access to a sexual partner*, fears about pregnancy or STIs could stunt libido. Expired IUDs or Depo-Provera shots might not be easy to renew right now. Perhaps you’re out of PrEP and don’t want to risk going to a doctor’s office or pharmacist for more. Maybe there are access issues for reproductive health care. Either way, worrying about getting pregnant or contracting an STI isn’t exactly a turn on.

“Why am I in the mood all the time?”

  • Physical contact changes: Even if you weren’t sexually active with partners before lockdown, you likely experienced other forms of physical touch from romantic partners, friends, and family. Now, without access to partners and friends, that physical contact is lacking, and quarantining with family might have you cringing at the thought of giving them a hug. This prolonged lack of physical contact can cause an increased desire for physical intimacy, which may include sexual intimacy.
  • Sex or masturbation as coping mechanism, distraction tactic, or stress reliever: Whether it’s a solo session with a hand or toy, or a sexy video chat or phone call with a partner, sex and orgasms release feel-good hormones which can be helpful in periods of high-anxiety. If you’re experiencing pandemic-induced anxiety (think back to the Libido Bears), the body might know it needs something to relax, and you might be getting turned on more as a result!
  • Schedule changes: Before the pandemic you may have had classes, a job, sports, clubs, religious obligations, and a social life. If you were really busy, you could have simply lacked the time to always be in the mood back then. Now, with many things cancelled or put on hold, there’s more opportunity for you and your body to feel aroused. Similarly, with the removal of many obligations from your plate, your stress levels might have decreased, which can increase libido.

“What do I do about it?”

  • Whether you don’t currently have a partner or a safe way to be with one, or don’t want to masturbate all the time, you can channel your libido energy elsewhere. Finding something that fully occupies your mind can be a great distraction from unwanted arousal. Play a game, paint a picture, work on a puzzle, read a (non-sexy) book.
  • Meditation can also be useful. Meditation can improve willpower, self-awareness, patience, tolerance, and the ability to refocus attention. Becoming more in tune with the senses through mediation can be helpful in redirecting them. This practice can also help you become better at experiencing sexual feelings and subsequently letting them go.
  • Though certain kinds of exercise increase libido, exercise can also be used to tone down your arousal or release those feelings. High intensity exercise can be a great option, because it can decrease or answer libido, distract you from arousal, and make you way too tired to even think about wanting to have sex.

“I don’t like that my libido has changed. I want it to go back to the way it was. What do I do?”

  • Don’t guilt or shame yourself. If you normally enjoy a high libido, but now don’t want to be touched with a ten-foot pole, it’s okay. You’re still you, and you haven’t done anything wrong to bring this upon yourself. Your libido will return as the world settles into new normalcy and life becomes less scary and unknown. Likewise, if you never felt like you needed much sexual contact, but now are always itching for a release, know that you didn’t all of a sudden become sex crazed, and you’re not doomed to a life of constant horniness. Things will even out.
  • Pandemic or not, fluctuations in libido throughout life are extremely common. Age, diet, life changes, and many other things factor into sexual desire, and this will remain true during periods of life other than this one. Lockdown may have intensified libido changes for many people, but that doesn’t mean there will be need to worry if desire fluctuations happen again down the road when the pandemic is over. This also means that libido changes right now for some people might not have anything to do with the pandemic at all! It could just be one of the many perfectly normal libido shifts that occur throughout life.
  • Talk to someone you can trust. That person can be a romantic or sexual partner, friend, relative… really, anyone you’re comfortable with. Just talking about what you’re experiencing can minimize distress. If that doesn’t work and you have the access to mental health care, counselors—especially those certified in sex therapy—can be a great resource to help you work though these changes. Many counselors are offering teletherapy right now, so you can keep yourself and your family safe while still taking care of your mental and sexual health. Scarleteen’s direct services are also available to you.
  • Masturbate! Solo-sex can be helpful whether your libido is unusually low or unusually high. Masturbation can help release some sexual tension if your libido is higher than normal; likewise, if your libido seems to have flown off to a distant country, taking some time to really get yourself aroused, and doing so on a somewhat regular basis, can help bring your sex drive back up naturally. It’s kind of like a positive and negative feedback loop in one. This practice can be valuable whether you’re single or in a relationship with someone you no longer have physical access to.
  • If you have a partner*, finding other ways to be intimate (sexual and not) are super important and useful right now. Besides phone calls and video chatting, try writing each other a poem, or making each other a picture. Work out together in your own separate homes. Pick out a movie to watch at the same time. Make playlists for each other and listen to them simultaneously. Cook a dinner together on video chat, or order from the same restaurant. Intimacy building is an important part of all relationships, and adaptations in how we do so may lead your relationship to become even stronger!

*You are your safest sex partner. This is true always, but especially right now.

If you are having sex with a partner you don’t live with, there are risks associated with participating in in-person partnered sexual activity. We know that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets found in saliva and breath, making kissing a particularly high risk for transmission, and heavy breathing during sex can exacerbate spread. Though scientists currently think it’s unlikely for the virus to spread through semen or vaginal fluid, there may be a possibility for transmission through contact with fecal matter, making oral-anal contact a potential mode infection. Remember that trauma can lead to risk taking, and many people are experiencing trauma right now due to the pandemic, so intentionally prioritizing proper sexual precautions is of utmost importance. If you do have sex with someone outside your household, be safe.

  • Avoid kissing and unprotected oral-body contact, especially oral-anal contact.
  • Try mutual masturbation. Self-pleasuring together from a distance is significantly safer than up-close body-to-body activity.
  • Use barrier protection always, and contraception if needed. Focusing on COVID safety doesn’t mean standard sexual health practices should take a back-seat.
  • Talk about COVID the same way you would any sexual health topic. Does either partner have any symptoms? Has either been tested recently? What was the diagnosis? Safe-sex conversation skills can be truly beneficial for this situation.
  • Minimize the amount of partners you have during this time. If you are going to have sex, limiting your number of partners can be truly helpful with preventing spread of the virus.
  • Make informed decisions about your partners. Have they been social distancing or quarantining? How many people live in their household? Though risk is still high regardless, risk significantly increases if one or both people have not been following social distancing guidelines.
  • Wear a mask. Though masks don’t work perfectly in close contact, they can still help minimize spread by containing droplets. If you’re going to be having sex, taking every precaution you can is important. Though it may seem strange at first, incorporating masks into sex can be a fun and adventurous new thing!
  • Shower before meeting up and after parting ways, and wash your hands for twenty seconds immediately prior to and immediately post sexual activity. Cleaning your body and hands can remove any droplets that may have landed on your skin during un-masked alone time or from contact with your partner.

In the end, it’s important to remember that these times are difficult for everyone. You’re allowed to have feelings about what’s going on, and you’re allowed to be nervous about libido changes. But know that it’s all normal, and it’s okay that these changes are happening. People all over the world are experiencing the same things you are. And it will get better.

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How Do I Tell If Someone Is Into Me?

Douglas LamanYou can read a book. You can read a map. But reading people, that’s difficult in any situation. Reading people to figure out if they’re actually into you romantically or sexually is even more difficult. Douglas Laman is here to give fellow…

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A Sexual Miseducation

Hannah MalinaSex positivity should have given me the courage to ask for what I wanted. Instead, I thought it meant accepting what I got.

The summer I turned 16, I sat in an exam room in my local Planned Parenthood, explaining to the nurse practitione…

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The Lowdown on Low-Dose Testosterone

Thinking about trying low-dose testosterone therapy? Lane Lewis gives you the scoop on what that means, some options, making the decision, and working through your feelings throughout.

As hormone therapy (HT) becomes a more commonly offered medical service, and more research is done about HT, specifically in relation to gender nonconforming and trans folks, more avenues and options for engaging with HT have presented themselves. One of these avenues that I’ve seen a lot of discussion about lately is low-dose , or microdose, testosterone.

This is exactly what it sounds like: engaging with testosterone HT, but in a lower than “average” dosage. Due to a lack of extensive and sound research about trans- and/or gender-related care, there is not exactly a universally agreed upon “average” dosage for testosterone HT. Furthermore, because testosterone HT comes in multiple forms—injectable, implant, topical cream, topical gel, transdermal patches, etc.—defining “average” dosage is even more complicated. Therefore, it won’t be that helpful to define an “average” dosage here. However, if you are interested in determining what an average dosage might be for you and your preferred form of testosterone, your doctor or care physician should be able to outline that for you.

Reasons to Opt for Low-Dose Testosterone

There are many reasons why someone might be interested in low-dose testosterone. A big one is pacing. If you’re interested in starting testosterone but feeling  nervous of a big wave of change hitting you all at once, low-dose testosterone might be something to consider. Changes happen more slowly and are far more subtle on a low dose.

Another reason someone might opt for a low dose is that perhaps they don’t want all of the change that comes with an average dose. This could be for many of reasons including not identifying as a transgender man, considering pregnancy soon or at some point in the future, needing to maintain a certain appearance for safety and/or survival, and simply not liking some aspect(s) of change known to come with taking a high(er) dosage of testosterone.

A third reason someone might want a lower dosage is if they are interested in experimenting with testosterone HT, but are unsure that it will be something they want to continue. Making small moves toward testosterone, like starting on a low dosage, allows you to test the waters, without committing to major and possibly irreversible changes. It is always possible to increase the dosage, or stop altogether, and, of course, it is always advisable to work with a care provider if at all possible.

Something Else to Consider: Method

As mentioned earlier, testosterone HT comes in various forms. If a low(er) dosage interests you, perhaps you might also be interested in learning more about the efficiency — that is, the body’s ability to absorb and respond to the testosterone — of various forms.

Injectable testosterone is the most common form of testosterone HT and also a highly efficient form: the body is typically able to absorb and respond to injected testosterone quickly and easily. Testosterone implants are similarly efficient to injectable testosterone. Topically applied methods, like gels and creams, are  less efficient and the transdermal patch’s efficiency falls somewhere between injection and the topicals, because it is protected by the backing and less likely to rub off on clothing or other surfaces.

Of course, and unfortunately, efficiency is not all you will need to consider when deciding upon your preferred method of taking testosterone. The injectable form tends to be the most affordable and widely available. The topical forms are less researched, more expensive, and depending upon where you live, you may be the first person your care provider prescribes them to, if you successfully seek them out. This means that getting access to the less efficient forms is definitely more difficult. However, if you find a helpful care provider who is willing to work with your insurance, these forms do exist and they can help in the process of engaging with testosterone HT in subtler and slower ways. If you are going to seek a topical form of testosterone HT, my advice is to do independent research as well as speaking with your physician and to remember that it is your body and well being on the line, and you are allowed to ask for what you want.

Navigating Fluctuating Feelings around HT

Let’s begin with the foundational reminder that it is absolutely valid for your feelings about HT to change and shift. That may be a long term shift or it may be day by day, hour by hour. All of these iterations are understandable and okay.

Think about the other decisions you make about your life: it is probably rare that you’re able to make a decision clearly and decisively and never look back even once to reconsider or reevaluate. Add in the complication of HT being something you will continuously engage with (should you choose to sustain an engagement with it). It is like having to repeatedly make that decision again and again. Of course your feelings may change, and it’s okay f they do, including if you feel differently enough that you decide to go off testosterone or move up to a higher dose. Let me also say that it is also justifiable to feel firm and unwavering. Each of us is our own unique collection of stardust and germs. We will each have our own unique relationship to HT. There is no right way to feel and no wrong way to feel. Your feelings are your feelings and they are information that can help you make decisions about how to move forward.

So, now that we’ve established that whatever your feelings are about HT and however they do or don’t change over time is legitimate, we come up against the tricky precipice that is decision-making.

How do you make decisions about something that your feelings may or may not be constantly in flux about? Well, if your feelings are not constantly in flux, you’re in a slightly easier position, at least as long as your feelings remain constant. You can take the information of your constant feelings and act in accordance with them, like, if you constantly feel a desire to engage with testosterone, then making the decision to do so might feel simple. And vice versa, if you constantly feel a lack of desire to engage with testosterone, then making the decision not to do so, or to stop using it, might feel clear.

How do you begin making the decision if your feelings fluctuate? There’s no sure fire answer here. One important piece to remember is that if you start HT, you are not locked in for life. You can stop HT after starting. Opting for a lower dose and/or less efficient form of HT might help alleviate some anxiety about fluctuating feelings as well. Because there are some irreversible changes that testosterone can manifest in a body (to varying degrees these include bottom growth, facial hair growth, vocal changes, and hair loss), taking a lower dose and/or a less efficient form can slow the onset of these irreversible changes, at least buying you some more time than you would have if you were on an average or high dose and/or the very efficient, injectable form of testosterone. In this lengthened period of time you can sort of “try on” the early and subtler effects of testosterone to see how those make you feel and continue to process your potentially fluctuating feelings about long term and/or irreversible changes that testosterone may eventually manifest.

Micha Cárdenas sums it up well when she writes, in I Am Transreal: a reflection on/of Becoming Dragon, that transition is “willfully stepping into the unknown.” While we can imagine, project, hope and dream about what testosterone will bring us or make us feel, we cannot know until we are living that embodied reality of engaging with testosterone. And while that could be thought of as a beautiful leap of faith, it can also be scary to choose to engage with something without the promise of our desires coming true. And I’m here to tell you that worrying, having anxiety, or doubting yourself about your desire or decision to engage with (or not engage with) testosterone means that you are grappling with that factor of the unknown. And grappling with that factor means that you are taking this decision seriously. Which is great. And also hard. But still great.

The Question of Regret

Regret is a slippery thing. For one thing, it’s often unstable—sometimes we feel regret very strongly and after some time goes by, that regret fades; other times we don’t feel very much regret for a long time and then we are caught off guard by it. We have a fairly negative cultural connotation of regret, that tells us experiencing regret is a sign we made a mistake. And in some cases that may be true.

Let me pause here to remind you that making mistakes is how we learn and grow. It is okay to make mistakes. But, it also may be true that regret exists along a spectrum, and that it could indicate a variety of things from longing to sadness to rage, and those feelings may have nothing to do with anything you can control.

Beyond not being a fixed thing itself, regret can play many roles in relation to the question of HT. After starting HT, one may experience regret that they did not start it sooner, something like feeling a loss of the time they spent wondering or waiting, and thinking that that time would have felt more meaningful had they already been engaging with HT. One may experience regret over starting HT at all, perhaps feeling like it wasn’t actually something they wanted to do and it was a mistake. One might experience regret over engaging with certain forms of HT because of undesirable effects that specific form had on their body, that another form might not have had. Ultimately, there’s lots of potential for regret here and there’s no sure fire way to avoid experiencing regret. That is uncomfortable but it can also be motivating and informative. I’m going to encourage you to take in a fear of regret right alongside your other feelings about testosterone HT, treat it as information that can help you make your decision, but don’t let it be the guiding factor, if you can help it.

I will leave you with another helpful point of Cárdenas’:

a choice not to transform is of course still a choice to transform into a different state, as our bodies are all in permanent transition…”

The choice not to engage with testosterone HT does not equate to the choice not to transition. We are all always, already transitioning. Testosterone HT is but one tool we have in our transition repertoire. There are many others.

teapot and steam: the lowdown on low-dose testosterone
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