Queer and Trans History Month continues with sex education talk

The Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Services continued their programming for Queer and Trans History Month on Tuesday with Clued In: Queer and Trans Sex Ed. Cosponsored by the Center for Health and Counseling Services, Health Educator Megan Johnston and Student Trans Outreach Coordinator Cecil Borgono led the event.

They started the event with a Kahoot game to test the attendees’ knowledge of general terms and facts regarding LGBTQ+ sex education. Topics ranged from definitions of terms and acronyms like AFAB — which means assigned female at birth — to statistics about sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk and prevention. 

Johnston highlighted the need to maintain nuance about all the topics discussed, such as the higher risk for STIs in transgender people. “It’s important to note that not every stat we’re going to be talking about here indicates actual status, right?” she said. “We talk about risk to raise awareness of community impact, but it doesn’t mean that a trans woman will have gonorrhea or chlamydia just because they’re a trans woman.”

After the game, the pair dove into their presentation, sharing a vocabulary glossary as well as information about STIs and the testing available at Health Services. Johnston explained that visits to Health Services are free, but STI testing does cost a fee because they do not run it through insurance for privacy reasons. To further ensure privacy, none of the prices for the STI tests are advertised on Health Services’ website.

“That goes on your term bill, so if we put it on our website, anyone who has access to your term bill, like a parent or guardian, could say, ‘Oh, Health Services visit…’ [then] go to the website, and then that could be potential for a breach of privacy for students,” she said.

Borgono then moved on to discuss gender-affirming hormone therapy. He first highlighted the 2017 New Jersey Senate Bill 3017, which protects insurance coverage for gender-affirming healthcare. Then, they took the time to break down the various changes that hormone replacement therapy can bring. 

The most significant change for those taking estrogen can be breast growth — which Borgono also warned can come with higher breast cancer risk and necessitates regular screenings — but other changes include softening skin, decreased muscle mass and slower hair growth.

For those taking testosterone, bottom growth is usually the largest change, but people may also experience decreasing menstruation, vaginal atrophy or dryness, vocal changes and increased hair growth. Either hormone typically leads to changes in libido, sexual function and sensations and fertility. 

Johnston also shared that the dosage level can vary from individual to individual. “Different people will take different amounts of estrogen or testosterone to reach their goals and their happiness with their bodies,” she said.

Johnston and Borgono also shared specific facts about bottom surgery with the main point being that individuals should allow themselves to fully heal before engaging in any sexual activities and should keep in mind that sensations might feel different than before. They provided a list of local places that offer access to gender-affirming care and hormone therapy, including EdgeNJ and Planned Parenthood

“It’s important to give yourself time in recovery,” Borgono said. Johnston added, “And exploring on your own or with a partner once ready for that.”

The event concluded with two activities to engage the attendees in their learning. The first was a matching game that got participants interacting with each other while they paired contraception methods with the correct description.

The other activity asked attendees to become sex advice columnists for a few minutes, testing their knowledge about consent, STI prevention and communication in the context of queer and trans relationships.

Johnston and Borgono concluded by recommending additional resources, such as informational pamphlets and the Dutch website Sense, to anyone who would like to learn more. They also reminded attendees that the Women’s Center always offers free condoms, dental dams, personal lubricants and pregnancy tests to students.




Featured photo by Rebecca Gathercole