Choosing sex toys can be fraught for trans and gender diverse people, but genderless products are making life easier.
Lauren Clair of Melbourne-based sexual health and pleasure store Nikki Darling said that all toys are ultimately genderless once the packaging is stripped away.
“There are design choices that can still be considered gendered, such as making toys available only in certain colours, but when it comes to the function of a toy and how it is practically used, gender need not come into it,” Clair said.
“When I started Nikki Darling, it was after years of working for other adult stores that gendered their product range, both in the store layout and online.
“I was trained with gendered language.
“But the training and the marketing did not stack up with the people I encountered through my work.”
Clair said that everyone suffers when the decisions about which toys are ‘for us’ are dictated by outdated, transphobic, and capitalist ideals.
Trans and intersex people may face barriers in buying sex toys because the products do not match their anatomy, but the store’s range includes a variety of flexible products.
The Volta from Fun Factory is one versatile toy that can be used on all kinds of genitals as well as nipples.
It comes in various colours, unlike many vibrators that are available only in feminine tones that can be unsuitable for trans men and others.
Sleeves such as the Tenga Egg series – available in a cute Pride edition – can be used for penises of assorted sizes, making them suitable for people with smaller anatomy who may struggle to find toys to fit.
The Satisfyer series of suction toys, designed for clitorises, can also be used for some smaller penises.
Clair has made a mission of advocating for the industry to de-gender its thinking, marketing, and design.
“It’s frustrating, because there are some great toys on the market suitable for all sorts of people that still have gendered imagery or language on their packaging,” said Clair.
“But if you shop with Nikki Darling and you find this can be difficult to engage with or even triggering for you, please know you can request that I remove the packaging before I send you your toy!”
An increasing number of toys are available that are suitable for people with diverse anatomies and genders.
“I’m delighted that we are seeing an increase in toys that think a little further outside the box,” said Clair.
“Lots of external stimulation toys are creeping into the market that are just designed to be rubbed or grinded against, because texture can feel really nice, no matter what your genital configuration is.
“There is also an increase in wand vibrators, and there are some really wild attachments available too, whether for internal or external use.
“Of course, sometimes we want to fuck with gender (literally), and this is where toys that represent body parts are still really important!
“I find it exciting that brands like New York Toy Collective are leading the way, growing their range of ‘pack and play’ style toys, and that the language used by progressive brands like this affirms people’s gender journey and play.”
Nikki Darling has a large range of packers, including for everyday wear, stand-to-pee, and pack and play products that double as dildos.
Toys that consider accessibility are also increasingly available.
“Accessibility means that all people can find toys that meet their needs – whether it be disability, gender, or financial,” said Clair.
“Sexual pleasure is a human right, and this industry needs to keep stepping up and making sure everyone is catered for because our bodies do not work in a one-size-fits-all model.”
For people who may have trouble holding sex toys, Fun Factory has a range of items with sturdy handles.
The We-Vibe Touch X is a wide vibrator that can be held in the palm or even placed under the body – also available in gender-neutral colours and suitable for genitals of different sizes and shapes.
Clair said that everyone should be able to find something to meet their sex toy needs and wants.
“That, to me, is the gold standard,” Clair said.
“An industry that has decoupled from antiquated cissexist gender norms, that affirms people’s relationships to their gender and their sexuality, and makes accessible and safe products for every body.”
Pink Advocate received product samples for this story, which includes affiliate links.