Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 45, Issue 7, pp 1665–1678 | Cite as

Trans Women Doing Sex in San Francisco

  • Colin J. Williams
  • Martin S. WeinbergEmail author
  • Joshua G. Rosenberger
Original Paper


This research investigates the sexuality of trans women (individuals who were assigned male status at birth who currently identify as women), by focusing on the “bodily techniques” (Crossley, 2006) they use in “doing” sexuality. The “doing sexuality” framework not only is modeled after the “doing gender” approach of West and Zimmerman (1987), but also utilizes the idea of “sexual embodiment” to emphasize the agency of trans women as they conceptualize and organize their sexuality in a socially recognized way. This is often difficult as they confront discrimination from medical and legal professionals as well as intimate partners who may find it difficult to adapt to the trans woman’s atypical body and conception of gender. However, with a study group of 25 trans women from San Francisco, we found the study participants to be adept at overcoming such hurdles and developing techniques to “do” their sexuality. At the same time, we found trans women’s agency constrained by the erotic habitus (Green, 2008) of the wider society. The interplay between innovation and cultural tradition provides an opportunity to fashion a more general model of “doing” sexuality.


Transgender Sexual identity Embodiment 



We thank Brian Powell and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin J. Williams
    • 1
  • Martin S. Weinberg
    • 2
    Email author
  • Joshua G. Rosenberger
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyIndiana University—Purdue University at IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biobehavioral HealthPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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