The Future of Sexual Wellness: Dr. Elesha Vooght on Gender Fluidity
Sexual wellness needs to move beyond gender and into gender fluidity.
Or at least, that’s what Dr. Elesha Vooght thinks.
She is the sexual wellness advisor for Kandid — the sex toymaker for gender fluidity.
And now, she’s BERLINABLE’s wellness guru too.
We spoke to her about gender fluidity, her plans for a sexual wellness clinic fit for the 21st century, and the joys of erotica.
We can’t wait to hear her insight on what sexual wellness really means and we’re sure after reading this you won’t either.
BERLINABLE: What made you leave the NHS, and what was your role there?
Dr. Elesha: Unfortunately the Conservative government has have been putting less and less funding into the training of doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists.
But we have a larger, aging population, so the pressure on us is growing larger while we have less time, less funding, less support.
It’s just us.
They are trying to run it like a business, but it’s about people and making people better, so trying to run the NHS like a business just doesn’t work.
I think the NHS is heading towards an epidemic of burnout because we’re constantly being told that there are not enough doctors for us to even book a holiday.
The NHS is run on martyrdom, you give, and you give, and you give but you can’t expect anything back.
So whilst being a doctor will always be my vocation, you end up sacrificing your own health and your own wellbeing.
Yet that’s the United Kingdom in 2021.
So as much as I love the ideology of the NHS it can be a very toxic place to work.
At the same time, there are people in the world who don’t even have access to that, and I have the skillset and the time to go and make a difference there.
I think everybody should have the right to non-judgemental, accessible healthcare.
So, to be given the opportunity to help people with that is a privilege.
BERLINABLE: So what kind of doctor are you?
Dr. Elesha: There are so many things that I love and that I think are important.
I am very passionate about sexual health, psychiatry, and access to health care.
I get called a social worker sometimes because that’s so important to me.
Also, I really like working with teenagers, young adults between 16–25.
I was thinking about this when you were talking about Donnie.
Donnie was 18 when he was convicted.
The emotional part of your brain doesn’t finish developing until you’re 25.
So how can we say adulthood starts at 18 when your brain is still developing?
We just seem to forget this age group.
They’re too old to be treated like children but too young to be treated like adults.
But they’re condemned, and a 16-year-old is treated in the same way as a 26-year-old or a 56-year-old, and it’s disgusting frankly.
So I don’t really know what kind of doctor I am.
I just try and be a good one!
BERLINABLE: When you say sexual health, what is that? And what do you want to do?
Dr. Elesha: When I was in medical school I wanted to be a sexual health doctor.
Back then sexual health training programs in the UK were very much focused on disease, sexual dysfunction, and prevention of diseases through regular testing.
They’ve also reduced the number of clinics.
Of the 7 I’ve worked in, only 2 are still open, and yet there are areas of the country where ¼ people have chlamydia.
These two things don’t tie together.
With Kandid I found the opportunity to develop my own view on it and my own way to deal with it, which is sexual wellness.
And wellness is a definition from the World Health Organisation that takes into account your mental, physical, emotional, and social health.
So, how is your body working?
How is your brain working?
How are you feeling and how are you fitting into society?
Unless all these things are in balance and looked after, you can’t truly be well as a person.
So, when I talk about sexual wellness, that’s what I mean — with that, with a focus on sex, and that’s what I want to achieve.
BERLINABLE: What’s your message?
Dr. Elesha: I would say my main message would be that we want to create a world where people are safe to explore their sexuality.
Where you can do it without fear and without judgment.
As long as it is with consent and that nobody is getting harmed.
But we need to be able to educate people about ALL things to allow that to happen.
There should be no such thing as shame.
Because you should always feel that you can turn to somebody, whether that’s a healthcare professional, or another trusted person to be able to talk with about it.
Until we can all start having this conversation, some areas of sexuality will remain closeted, which will lead to ill health.
BERLINABLE: Where do you want to go with that?
Dr. Elesha: My dream would be that I could run my own clinic.
Free to access.
Because I think things vaguely similar do exist in places in the world but it’s often private, which means in not accessible to people.
And I want to create a safe space where people can come and talk about their sexual health.
Everything from, “I might have an infection to I’m struggling with orgasm”.
So, combining sexual therapy with physical sexual health, mental and emotional health.
Including things such as recovery post sexual assaults.
I would really love to have a specialist for sex workers in the health clinic because again, people are often pushed to the edges of society.
Another group that there’s very poor understanding about is women who have sex with other women.
There is a lot of misunderstanding, such as they can’t get sexually transmitted infections.
They’re not tested properly.
We have the Trans community, especially female to male trans individuals, who still have cervixes.
They, cannot get smear tested in most clinics in the UK, because they’re male on their records so it’s rejected.
And yet, if you still have a cervix you can still get cervical cancer in the same way if you still have a prostate, you can get prostate cancer.
I would love to be able to create a service for the people that are pushed to the edges of society.
Because of this, which means that their mental, emotional, physical, or social health in relation to their sexuality and gender is pushed to one side.
I want to and give them a space to come.
That would be my dream.
BERLINABLE: Talking about gender fluidity, is it even appropriate to talk about male and female?
Dr. Elesha: No and I think that is one of the great things about Kandid.
Every sex toy that we designed can be used by any person, on any body part.
There is this big misconception that sex and gender are still the same things.
They are obviously not.
Gender sits on what we call a spectrum, who even knows if it’s that!
Because some people don’t even identify with masculine or feminine traits anymore.
So actually, forcing these gender normative roles and allying health to it so much is ridiculous.
Just because you have a certain body part, it doesn’t mean that you are a specific person.
And does that mean that people who don’t have them are less of a person?
BERLINABLE: is gender fluidity the future?
Dr. Elesha: Gender fluidity was a big part of when we designed our toys.
Yes, we have some pink sex toys, but it’s a neutral pink.
A lot of our sex toys are black, or dark navy blue, or grey, because we wanted to take away that gendering of sex toys.
And we’ve taken away a lot of the gendering names.
There are obviously toys that are designed to work on bits of anatomy, but there’s no reason they can’t be used on others.
BERLINABLE: As a doctor, what is your opinion on reading erotic literature?
Can it influence your body or help your sex life or is it just like watching porn?
Dr. Elesha: I think reading erotica is really important because it allows you to explore fantasies and what you may enjoy in a safe space, just involving yourself.
And the thing is that when it’s written, you process it in a more thorough way than when you watch it, watching is quite passive.
Whereas reading is active, and you’re having to take it in as you do it.
I think erotica is a really brilliant way to understand your sexuality, what you enjoy, and what you don’t enjoy.
But I think it also has a key role in recovery for people who have been victims of assault.
It’s allowing them to reconnect back to their own bodies in a non-threatening manner.
I think there are loads of great things about erotica.
You have so much choice, there is no harm coming to anybody when you’re doing that, it’s a completely safe space.
FINDING DR. ELESHA VOOGHT
Originally published on BERLINABLE.com