Date of Award

Summer 7-24-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Eric R Wright

Second Advisor

Don Reitzes

Third Advisor

Maura Ryan

Fourth Advisor

Kristie Seelman


Though scholars have determined that there are apparent gender differences in who is more likely to experience sexual pleasure and thus who is likely to perform it, we have not determined why. Previous research has entirely focused on cis individuals and the category of gender identity alone. Therefore, I seek to understand how the performed pleasure experiences of trans and gender non-conforming folx compares to that of cis men and cis women. I also examine occurrences of sexual pleasure performance for folx gender-make up, addressing the influence of masculinities and femininities in the performance of sexual pleasure. In doing this, I not only uncover the gendered mechanisms behind the pleasure gap but also disrupt the fallacy that people who use the same gender label or assigned category experience gender in the same way. Entwined in the conclusions of previous work is the influence of power. Therefore, I investigated the relationship of power to gender and the performance of sexual pleasure. To do this, I used online surveys that asked about gender identity, as well as asking respondents to reflect on their gender make-up and sexual empowerment. I sampled from Millennials to limit generational differences, and account for differences in sex education access, terminology, and computer literacy. The implications of this study allow scholars to better address and educate people about the gendered effects on sexual pleasure. This study’s unique contribution is the utilisation of a more sophisticated measurement of gender, as well as deepening and expanding current knowledge on performed sexual pleasures and the pleasure gap.


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