So there’s been a fair amount of press about a little petition going around the internet. Perhaps you’ve seen it.
Maybe you agree with it fully, or maybe like me, you agree with about 90% of it and like me, that last 10% of it really, really makes your blood boil.
Look, I get it, there’s some really shitty terminology out there to describe and identify pornography that includes transsexual actors and actresses. Tranny porn is not everyone’s cup of tea and sadly, you kind of have to allude to the fact that it’s TS porn if you want it to reach it’s target audience.
I applaud Chelsea Poe’s ambition to change things, and also her desire to make porn the sort of thing that is free of all identifying teminology. I can even say I am way ahead of the curve when in 2003 I marketed my first video “Delucious” and I didn’t want any of those silly words on there. Don’t believe me? here’s the prototypes for the cover art, which includes a oversized VHS box (that tells you just how long ago this was).
I was told that I could not market it at all without “Tranny” or “shemale” in the title. I did not change the name but made a compromise by putting “Tara Emory -Shemale goddess” in smaller type on the eventual cover, and after a while it didn’t bother me all that much. Which either means I found that words hold no real threat, or maybe it means I just sold out. Do I care what you think? Not really. In some ways I did this as an attempt to take back the term “shemale”, as at least on paper, it makes us seem like a mythical, hybrid creature, kinda like a centaur or a unicorn. Which, if you make fantasy based porn, might not be such a bad thing.
Many of us in the trans adult industry are banking on the fact that we are unique, rare and elusive. For me, I would think that just having us blend in with normal women would take away from our uniqeness, rather than highlight it. So that’s why most trans porn will make reference to what’s in the box.
However (and this goes with the things I applaud Poe for) I think it’s great to make erotica that breaks boundries and is free of labels. You want to see the porn industry change, then make that porn of the future and you will find its audience! I’m all for eradication of some of the sillier terminolgy (all the he-shes, shims and whatevers), but some of what Chelsea Poe advocates strikes me as little more than censorship.
In one part of the xojane article, she even says that the term “TS” is a hurtful term.
“our first exposure to trans women’s bodies are terms like “Shemale,” “Tranny” or “TS,” terms to pointedly shame those who have these bodies and those who are attracted to these bodies”
What? Whoa. Really? Okay, when a transsexual says that TS (which is short for transsexual) is a hurtful term, then alas, trans activism has jumped the shark! She is also coming up with a list of words should be banned, and leaving pretty much only one rathr dry and clinical word to be on the approved list, that word being “transwomen”. And at the rate we are moving, in 5 years, a group of people will think it’s offensive to contain the suffix “men”, and we’ll all be forced to say “transwomyn” instead. If we go down this road, there will always be someone who isn’t satisfied.
What she suggest sounds like someone in straight good ol fashioned Church approved babymaking sex saying that we can’t use “slut” or “whore” anymore in porn titles. Well, I hope you enjoy watching “Loose Women of Ill Repute Having Pre-marital Intercourse #17” because that’s what we will get. Seriously there are also reasons why porn uses them dirty, filthy words, and it’s a reason that makes a LOT of sense.
Limiting what dirty words you can use for porn titles/sites will stifle creativity, which there is a distinct lack of anyway in the porn biz. Hey, I yearn for the good old days of clever porn titles, and banning them and replacing them with only scientifically descriptive terms is a bad idea on so many levels. Leave the dirty words IN the porn biz, and leave the clinical words for the transition resources, the Klienfelters’ Syndrome and the Gender Studies majors in college. Cis and hetero porn do not use cis and hetero terms in their titles. Imagine the uproar if you googled “heterosexuality” and all that came up was porn?
I also do wonder about Chelsea Poe’s own motovations, if it’s not to further her own career and visibility, which to be honest, I don’t have that much issue with. Heck, I’m trying to stay relevant by offering up this rebuttal and saying it’s not quite so black and white.
I also kind of wonder about the idea that a petition somehow is the purest form of democracy. Have you ever noticed how some horrible law gets passed somewhere and you’re like “how the fuck did that get by me?” Well, it probably started as a petition and got enough signatures to have moved on to the next step. I could start a petition to ban whaling in the United States and I betcha I could get a lot of signatures even though its already been banned for more than 30 years. I’m sure transfolk who are tired of being seen as freaks and sex objects will lap it all up and sign it, saying “Hey, even this porn star is appalled by the porn industry!” Those of us in the porn industry may feel differently, that we are being forced to change by a small and vocal minority.
But most of all, I see the article as just another way that transfolk have their own transphobia about the ones they don’t feel are as trans-ish as they are. I can’t help as I read the ruminations of a early 20-something trans activist who had the advantage of getting hormones at 18, and I see that she has a level of comfort and privilidge living to most of the world as fully female.
A lot of these transfolk are horrified at those who they don’t consider to be at the same level of trans that they are at. Sadly there is a pecking order in the trans community where those who transition at 16 don’t want to be mentioned in the same sentence as those who transitioned at 60. Those who have natural breasts look down upon the ones who can’t grow them and have to get huge silicone tits. Those who have tits look down on those who have no tits. Everyone looks down on those who have to struggle with facial hair, lack of hair in their head, need tons of surgery to pass, or can’t be full time. If you’re not full time, you are not trans-ish enough to sit at our table in the cafeteria.
And at the bottom of the food chain is the guy who looks like Fred Flinstone and puts on a pink wig, proclaims “Lookeee! I’m a transsexual!” and then wonders why people flip out when he goes into the ladies room and the media jumps on this as being representative of our community. Yeah, nobody likes that guy.
I’ve been a transwoman, tranny, porn star with a larger than life libido and trans activist in my own way probably since Chelsea Poe was in preschool. I have endured insults in my life far worse than someone calling me a “tranny”. It’s nice of her to mention that every 36 hours a trans person is killed, though its something of a leap to think that those commiting these crimes are using the words “shemale” and “tranny”. Terms which, if anything, are far more likely used by our admirers than anything else. I wonder how many of these victims don’t meet her qualifications of what a transwoman really is.
The people who are murdering us are more likely calling us “men”, “dudes” and attemtpting to shame us by bringing up our old names and old lives and saying “this is who this person REALLY is”. They are the assholes of the “Facebook Real Name Police” (ironically operating from the comfort of anonymity!). They are not the ones consuming tranny porn. These are not the enlightened ones who realize that being trans is a wide and varied spectrum of people who exist in the large middle ground in between the most binary of genders.
And even if you were intersexed and reassigned gender at birth, there’s always going to be those assholes who will call you a man, and I don’t think those people can ever be persuaded to think otherwise. Those people are the “Return of Kings” assholes (look it up)
Plus who knows how many of these TS murders are because the victims were not upfront about being transsexual, and were “discovered”. Going stealth poses a real and present danger, and for me, I’d rather be seen as a transsexual than someone hiding something. Making correlations between statitics and your opinions is deceptive at worst, and at best the mark of an amateur. Things are far more varied and complex than that. And to mention the word “trap”, I know many young transwomen who embrace that term and maybe they derive sexual excitement from hiding their trans-ness from guys they date. To each, their own, I say.
But in the end, it just comes down to words, and words people consider hurtful only because society has a lack of acceptence that a middle gender actually exists. There has been and always had existed something in the middle. Various constructs such as religion do more to reinforce the binary and those are the insitutions that should crumble in the face of simple reality, but that’s just my opinion. It’s not a war cry for me.
You might just think I’m a bitter old porn star who is shouting at them darn kids to get off my lawn!, but I speak from a position of temperence, wisdom, authority and experience. Coming out at trans in the 90’s and growing up in the 80’s when trans was virtually unheard of, we faced an uphill stuggle that todays trans youth probably can’t even conceive. I will fully admit that I am envious of the resources that today’ trans youth have over what my generation had. But I also love the fact that I am still paid attention to, even at my age, because the thing that makes me unique is what is my selling point, still even today.
Or maybe its simply that I’m just a bitch saying that some of these transfolk need to grow some balls (apologies to those who got an orchiectomy). You can draw your own conclusions. You may even hate me because I’m one of those trans pornstars who likes her penis, and likes overtly displaying her exhibitionism. That’s part of who I am, but it’s no means all of what I am. I’ll say what I want, but please, don’t make me your leader. I don’t want the job!
And I don’t expect everyone to have had the same experience as I have had. Or not to be hurt by words. But in my experiemce, once you reach a point in your life when you are happy with who you are, who you were and who you are becoming, no words or labels or gender terminology can possibly hurt you.