This July, I was at International Puppy Weekend in St Louis, Missouri. I was there as a vendor and interacted with a many spectacular people while I was there. However, there was one individual who clearly did not respect my boundaries, and who violated my consent more than once, even after being warned. This article is inspired by that person in hopes of helping folx like them.

I’m not the first person to have been touched without giving consent when at a large kink event, and this isn’t solely a kink community issue. I have had men try to plunge their hands down my pants on the dance floor or at a bar. Each time, I stopped their hands before they got too far. As a transgender man, I’m very particular as to who can go reaching into my pants or up my kilt, as it takes away my agency to disclose that I am Trans, on my own terms.

How do we help prevent sexual assaults in our community?

ASK FIRST!

No really, it’s that simple. Just communicate what you want before you do it.

“Okay, but what if I want to send someone nudes?” 

Ask First.

I do this often; I will message a friend, “If I have your consent, I’ll send you a picture while I’m at the nude beach.” I then wait for a reply and that is a way I show respect for them.

So many of us are sick of unsolicited dick pics and demands for nudes. Most people have received at least one unwanted sexual advance via text or online, if not in person, and these advances can seem aggressive and overwhelming.

“But I’m shy and talking about sexual things makes me feel awkward.”

If you are not able to ask for what you want, you can’t have it yet. Practice saying it in a mirror, or learn how to gesture for what you want.

Three years ago, my Sir, my mentor, made me repeat to them an accounting of receiving a blow job confidently, without feeling embarrassed. I learned to ask without shame. I overcame my internal monologue by literally talking over it, asking clearly for what I desired and then getting it.

There is nothing to be ashamed of unless you act without consent. If you feel shame you may be violating your boundaries or another’s consent.

Don’t ignore the cringe. Humans instinctually cringe when they feel shame or remorse. While verbally asking is generally the best way to gain and give consent, it can also be initiated by body language. Often it’s loud in a bar or event, so I will gesture that I’d like to embrace another person. Once they’ve consented and are in close proximity, I will ask for permission to escalate my touch to a more sexual manner and await their response. Take interactions in steps to avoid overstepping.

Other times, people are in animal space or some level of submissive head space. When this happens, relying on body language cues is instrumental. If someone’s body stiffens up when you touch them before asking, immediately stop what you’re doing, check in, and give them an opportunity to determine if what is happening is alright.

“Well what if they say ‘No’ and I feel rejected?”

Becoming acclimated to rejection will make you stronger and more confident, so look at it as practice. Consent is evolutionary and can be withdrawn at any time regardless of how it makes you feel.

In turn, you always have a right to withdraw from or reject an advance without guilt about how they might feel.

Sure, you’ve may have been rejected, but you’ve maintained the respect between you and the person who has just given you this boundary. It feels good to be respected.

Body boundaries aren’t just for trans and non-binary folx. Whether it’s in a chat app or walking into the bedroom, it’s important to ask your partner if they have any “no-fly zones.” Some folx can be instantly turned off by someone playing with their nipples or grabbing the back of their neck. Use interaction as an opportunity to voice what really cranks your gears and improve the likelihood of having a more ideal sexual experience between all parties.

Consent is ongoing and can be revoked at anytime, whether it is with established play partners, married couples, or casual sex partners. Having a relationship with someone does not give blanket consent.

Performers, kink shop workers, bar employees, and event staffers still require mutual consent. Their service does not freely give consent to verbally objectify, grope, or otherwise assault a person nor to be treated in such manner.

One final note: Treat everyone like art at the museum, until they give you permission to enter the amusement park.

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