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“It’s a combination of this intimacy and safety you get with somebody that you really trust, and it’s also being seen genuinely for who you are.” – Research Participant

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The Queer Sexual Joy Project, led by Dr. JJ Wright in collaboration with Egale Canada, set out to explore how queer and trans sexual joy disrupts colonial, racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and ableist cultural norms that lead to gender-based violence. The study took place from March 2022 to June 2023 and included 100 2SLGBTQ+ participants, aged 18–25, from across Canada and the US. It involved a survey, cellphilming (creating short videos on phones) workshops, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews. The study asks:

  • How does queer sexual joy challenge rape culture?
  • What does it look and feel like to experience queer sexual joy, particularly as a departure from the confines of compulsory cisheteronormativity?
  • What can be learned from experiences of queer and trans sexual joy for gender-based violence prevention?
Photo of two short haired queer people about to kiss, from the Gender Spectrum Collection

I think queerness and transness both allow us to dissolve the “scripts” society dictates for what consent is supposed to look like, and especially after traumatic events, queerness is what enables us to make consent look however it needs to, as many times as it needs to happen in one encounter. I think queerness is what gets us through trauma and allows us to rebuild pleasure and consent however we can, often in unexpected ways. – Research Participant

Full Research Report

The full report offers evidence of why queer and trans sexual joy is important, what the barriers to accessing it are, and how participants nevertheless found their way to it. The report also serves as an archival document, recording the narratives around 2SLGBTQ+ communities and liberatory sex. 

The findings support that queer and trans sexual joy creates liberating sexual experiences by prioritizing safety, care, embodied knowledge, communication, and resistance to compulsory cisheteronormativity. This further creates space and the foundation for other ways to imagine how sex can be and thus offers opportunities to break dominant scripts that gender-based violence relies on. There is a lot to learn from queer and trans sexual joy, read more in the full report.

Youth-Led Recommendations

The Youth-Led Recommendations report offers six recommendations for gender-based violence prevention practices:

  1. Teach nuanced communication skills; communication is essential to creating safety, and safety is critical for sexual joy.
  2. Teach youth about bodily autonomy so that they know that it is their choice what happens to their body and what others do to it. Understanding bodily autonomy provides knowledge of boundaries, which is critical to both consent practices and tuning into needs and desires.
  3. Sexuality education must be more critical, expansive, and anti-oppressive in both content and pedagogy.
  4. Promote embodied sexual pleasure; this is also about knowing what feels good emotionally and physically. Pleasure must be taught as a critical concept in sexuality education.
  5. Community-based programming should include discussions about the importance of building and maintaining containers for safety.
  6. Include grounding and embodiment practices to navigate compulsory cisheteronormativity which teaches us to dissociate from our bodies.

For more context alongside related practical examples, read the full report titled Developing Queer Joy-Centered Gender-Based Violence Prevention Education: 2SLGBTQ+ Youth-Led Recommendations.

Join us for a webinar discussion on the report findings

Hear from principal researcher and author of the report Dr. JJ Wright discuss the report findings and how the key takeaways can contribute to gender-based violence prevention education.

December 14, 2023 | 1pm – 2pm ET

Queer and Trans Sexual Joy Zine


Thank you to all of the participants who shared their perspectives and experiences with us. Though this was a project on queer sexual joy, it was also about gender-based violence prevention, and some of the discussions were necessarily about romantic, sexual, or other situations that did not bring joy and instead brought harm and suffering. We thank participants for their candidness, their vulnerability, and their bravery. Shame cannot exist in the light.

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This research was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

For further questions on this project, please email research@egale.ca.