Why I will not be signing the Chelsea Poe petition to censor “shemale” from transsexual porn.

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.

-Tara Emory

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11 Responses to Why I will not be signing the Chelsea Poe petition to censor “shemale” from transsexual porn.

  1. tara says:

    I’ve just been told that CP has been in the porn biz for less than a year.

    I look at her petition and it just strikes me as someone trying to initiate a miliant recycling program, where they want you to seperate all the different numbers of plastic and take that bottle cap off that bottle and fine you if you throw something in the trash that you’re supposed to recycle, and they’re trying to initiate this program in New Orleans in 2006….


  2. Leelee says:

    Well said.I enjoy being unique,being Trans.It’s who I am.Who I’ve always been.We are talking about porn here!Keep my porn dirty.Were not talking every day usage.It’s not the words that hurt,it’s violence.Tara,keep up the good work.Maybe start writing your book!

  3. Cand86 says:

    I was under the impression that avoidance of “TS” (or even “transsexual”) is that they somewhat “third gender” trans women- suddenly you have three categories (male, female, TS) that reinforces the idea that trans women aren’t a subset or type of woman, but something else entirely.

    (Not to mention that with the growing number of trans men in porn, simply trying to use “transsexual” or “TS” when specifically referring to trans women is going to cause problems eventually).

    • tara says:

      when you get down to it, we’re really arguing teensy variations on the same word or the same prefix of the word. I think a lot of people arent happy with tranny because it could also mean that dreaded term “transvestite”, which aint nobody likes that one!

      So the trans of trans-woman can mean transsexual or transgender, “transgender” really being more of a term that is a bit more assexual than “transsexual” if you say you’re a “transwoman”, you are basically shortening “transsexual woman” or “transgendered woman”, into a shorter word. Chelsea and I argued a bit on the twitter, and she vehementely denied that she was “ts”, which is just a super short abreviation for “transsexual”, and then said she’s a “transwoman”, which I think i just uses the shortening of “transsexual” as the trans part!!!

      It’s like itty bitty minutia of ever so slight variations of the word and when youre a bit older you can’t get hung up on all that. Trans isues are far more complex and varied.

      Though maybe by saying youre a transwoman you are saying that in essence, you are a MtF transeexual/transgender. I guess having the woman part in there at least is an important identifier, and that it says what you are now, not just that your in transition from one to the other.

      But regardless, as transwomen, we should be able to take back whatever silly terms we want to use, for the purposes of coming up with clever names for our porn titles and websites. Once you distill it down to clinical terms, things get sorta boring. Which is why I am also very much in favor of coming up with non gender identifying names for porn projects, and then in the fine print (or by seeing the pictures), the fact that my videos went by the titles of “Delucious”, “Rubberlicious” and “Dreamy Creamy Christmas” all titles free of anything other than hey, these are “Tara Emory” videos first, and you should like her for her erotic presentation first, and for the fact that she has a penis comes second.

      Her and I are really on the same page about that though. The twitter debate showed me she is coming from a good place. The place we disagree is that I think in a few cases she is advocating censorship and maybe it’s totally fine for ts’s to take back certain slutty terms that we want to use.

      Now then again, the word “gurl”, might be my least favorite term of all.

  4. Great read Tara and some very good points.

  5. October says:

    Amazing statement, Tara.

    I urge you to start writing a book. You have things to say.

    • tara says:

      ufortunately, I want to write my memoirs as a graphic novel, and that takes a lot lot lot more time to do than just writing words. I’m slowly getting to doing it though.. The idea was that the job stripping would give me enough income where I could have free time to work on the book

  6. Ada Black says:

    Thank you for being the one to open your mouth. These “porno revolutionaries” are going to seriously screw shit up if given the chance. Thank god they don’t have a major position of power in the industry. I support you all the way.

  7. Pingback: What I LIKE about the Chelsea Poe petition and her viewpoints. | Smarter than the Average Tranny Pornstar (only just..)

  8. Pingback: Why I Will Not Endorse Chelsea Poe's Petition To Remove The Term Shemale From Porn | Free Cams to Cams

  9. Dominick says:

    Great post Tara!!! Having known you since 1999, met you on numerous occasions and been photograph with you at events, I support you 110%, and agree with your view point. That is truly what I admirer about you. I like the way you roll!!! 😉

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