This week, get to know Southern Sexologist, Tanya M. Bass. Tanya is the lead instructor for Human Sexuality at NCCU’s Department of Public Health Education. Additionally, she’s a conference organizer, an expert who’s heavily involved in community-based organizations, and there’s no doubt she’s a sexual health influencer extraordinaire. Tanya is spreading the sex-positive knowledge far and wide, so check out her feature below.
How did you find yourself working in the field of sexuality?
You could say it was “phone sex”! I started as a Public Health Educator and my first job related to sex was as a communication specialist at the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA). I helped get information to people over the phone at the National STD hotline. I answered questions from all over the nation and I think that is when I truly became interested in sexuality. Later, I started working in various areas of sexual health for the state and local health departments, as well as three universities in NC. All the jobs were sexuality related and it just became a part of me. Once I started teaching Human Sexuality at my alma mater NC Central University, it felt like a dream come true. I started calling myself the Southern Sexologist officially in 2015 and founded the NC Sexual Health Conference in 2016.
So many things, but seeing students or community members have a “light bulb moment” when new information resonates with them is a definite winner. The next best thing is wearing sexuality related swag (t-shirts, vulva jewelry, pop sockets and tote bags) and having strangers begin conversations about my work. It feels good to have conversations freely and openly without feeling ashamed. Which brings up the next best thing, CONFERENCES! Traveling to attend conferences and meeting other human sexuality professionals is the absolute best.
What is the most challenging part of the job?
The most challenging is that many people think sex education is for teens and should only be taught from a prevention-based approach. It is a challenge to help other understand that sexuality continues through the lifespan. These are the challenges that hinder effective, age appropriate, medically accurate, relevant, queer inclusive, LGBT affirming, culturally competent and pleasure inclusive sexuality education.
What is your most important piece of advice that has the potential to revolutionize relationships?
Communication is LUBRICATION! Lubrication minimizes friction between two things, just like communication. Communication in any relationship is critical, the lack of communication can cause the most thriving relationship to dry up and die. I think what most people do not discuss is intimacy and attachment. We all have been socialized differently, and the ability to trust, disclose, be vulnerable and take risks will vary tremendously. When expectations, needs and wants are not expressed and then left unmet, that can ruin any relationship.
What do you do to decompress and take care of yourself given that you spend so much time helping and caring for others?
I used to make beaded jewelry, now that I am pursing my PhD in Human Sexuality Studies, I have little time to do that as much as I like. Whenever I find a free moment, I will make a bracelet or pair of earrings. Other than that, I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I believe in squad care as much as self-care!
What do you want people to know about your work as a sexologist?
I want people to know that the work I do is important, that being a sexologist/sexuality educator requires studying, being well prepared, planning skills and flexibility. I want people to know that I am committed to discussing sexuality from the perspective of understanding intimacy and sensuality. I also want people to know that as a sexologist, I am committed to professional development and lifelong learning for myself and providing it to others when I can.
Where can we learn more about your work?