Sex Educator Profiles: Tina Mahle
What led you to become a Sex Educator?
I interned for an amazing organization, Health Initiatives for Youth and had a chance to really see the power of sex education and the impacts it has on developing into a healthy adult. It was amazing to finally connect health education to community activism and youth development. The reason I’ve stayed is because the job is interesting. There’s so much science and psychology involved that it always keeps you on your toes.
Where did you get your education?
I was trained by Health Initiatives For Youth (their provider trainings) and Good Vibrations.
What is your most common question?
What is intersex? The acronym we use at work to describe the queer community is LGBTQIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Intersex, and Questioning). Everyone is pretty familiar with the rest of the letters but always ask about intersex. I also bring it up when discussing physiology. I introduce anatomy discussions as “male” and “female” in terms of what we consider to be “traditional” genitalia. But as we all know we all lie somewhere on a spectrum of genders. It’s important to normalize intersex discussions because statistically we probably have folks in our audiences that identify with this. It’s important to educate and model respect to this community.
What is your favorite sex toy and why?
A cheesy one (that I’ve taken from my partner, another sex educator) is condoms and lube. Why, because they’re simple, they’re versatile, and safe sex is fun sex!
How has what you’ve done or found at Good Vibrations helped you?
I feel more nosey when I talk to my friends and family. I just want to make sure they’re all taking care of themselves. For the most part, everyone isn’t quite as sex positive as I am, but I like to challenge them take care of themselves even if it’s lightening up about sex a little bit or taking my “care packages” no questions asked about whether they ever use the toys or not.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned or best advice you’ve received?
Communication is always the most important part of any relationship or sexual experience. If you leave it up to chance you’re probably not going to get what you want. Talking with your partner helps to clarify and connect and it helps you to keep yourself safe. Talking can also be part of the foreplay- it doesn’t have to be stressful. It just takes practice.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about sex?
That anal sex is just for gay men. I’m always so disturbed that this homophobic misconception continues to prevent straight men from exploring anal sex in a safe and consensual way. I love to address anal sex when it comes up in a workshop (usually as a shock question) with calm and non-judgment and to explain about the prostate and why it’s actually recommended to prevent prostate cancer in older men . . . It makes me feel like I’m making a stand for positive sexuality every time.
Which is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
I had the amazing opportunity to train a group of psychiatrists that were working to get their licenses. I felt like that was probably the most important thing I could’ve ever done. To have a hand in the training of folks who are going to be taking care of people’s mental health.
What is your best piece of sex advice for women?
Try everything and figure out what you like. Find out what toys, what types of sex, with whom and find a way to enjoy sex by yourself as well as with others. Your sex life is your own- taking care of it is taking care of yourself.
Where can people find out more about you?
www.hify.org and find me on facebook!