Trans folks and porn and legislating identity

This post contains frank discussion of pornography, erotica, and trans* sexuality.  Also there’s some less than “Safe For Work” language, though I’m going to * it so it doesn’t get caught by filters.

You have been warned.

The definition of trans* I’ll be working with here is anybody on the trans spectrum, including genderqueer, transgender, transexual, cross dressing, etc.  People who do not necessarily or at all times identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.

A few years ago I became kind of obsessed with porn.  There was nothing sexual about this, really.  I was obsessed with the trans* representation in porn or, more precisely, the lack of trans* representation in porn.  Porn acts almost as a distillation of society at its most basic; there’s no for nuance or dialogue or story.  You have to be able to pick up everything visually, in an instant, without needing back story or to think too hard.  And in mainstream porn there is very little trans* representation – and the trans representation that does exist only serves, really, to reinforce the gender binary.

Tonight a friend linked me to a tumblr that says it’s about FTM (Female to Male trans*) Porn; both actual porn and writing about porn.  I clicked over and scrolled down a few posts to find this post an FTM-person had written in response to a comment that has been deleted:

I don’t want support from the community. I don’t even belong to the community. I walked out when I realized how fucking stupid it was 2 months into my transition. I don’t want or need support from people who glamorize a medical condition and run around with your t*ts flopping around, being comfortable in your body when the only symptom of transsexualism is dysphoria. When you don’t show dysphoria, it’s hard for me to believe you’re not using testosterone as a beauty product. If you like your body, why alter it?

I don’t want to see t*ts and v*ginas in the ftm tag, sorry that’s a crime.

You can all spread your legs and rub your p*ssies all you want, but if you’re showing it publicly, I will not treat you like a man.

And that, my friends, is what we call a problem.

I know that there are a lot of transexual folks who do not consider themselves part of the trans community.  Once they’ve transitioned they’re done; they’re happy to finally feel whole or right or whatever term you’d like to use and they’re happy to identify as whichever gender they’ve transitioned to.  That’s fine!

When people try to push that off as the only way to be a trans person?  That becomes way not fine at all.  The only identity you can legislate is your own identity.  When you try to tell other people how to live their gender identity we end up with this gross oversimplification of gender and we end up with a lot of people who don’t or can’t fit into that binary getting shoved to the sidelines.

4 Comments to “Trans folks and porn and legislating identity”

  1. One of my spiritual teachers gave me a very powerful and useful way of seeing those with whom I may disagree or even those by whom I feel attacked or wounded. She told me to “ignore the story and see the soul.” That lesson has served me well, especially in navigating spaces where there is a high degree of trauma, woundedness and/ or effects of cultural oppression. I would never excuse the language or even the underlying sentiment, however I do wonder what kind of hurt lies just under the surface. As someone who did need to transition to feel whole and right (I prefer those words not in quotes), I fee a debt of gratitude to the trans men who came before me. Those men experienced horrific abuse by the medical and psychological providers supposedly offering help. As someone deeply in love with a genderqueer boi, I am forever grateful that the world is changing so he can be his authentic amazing self. Offering compassion and understanding where none has been offered and may likely never come is a possible path out of the divisions and hurt that travels in all directions I have witnessed in the trans world. Namaste ~Teo

    • I’m sorry for using quotes around those words and have edited my original post. My intention was not to trivialize but rather to imply that I don’t feel people who haven’t transitioned are less whole or less right. Rereading I realize that absolutely did not come across that way.

      Sometimes I sit back and think of my queer ancestors. When I see older LGBTQ couples I want to go up to them and hug them and say, “Thank you!” or maybe “I love you!” But when I see people in the trans community shoving that idea that there’s only one way to be trans, or one way to be ANYTHING, all over the place (somewhat recently a book titled “Transgender 101″ was published that has a really awful, limiting view of trans identity) I just want to scream.

      • Thank you for hearing me with an open heart. I genuinely understood where your frustration was coming from and your reasons for being angry are completely valid. If you are referring to the same “Transgender 101″ book that comes to my mind, I wanted to do more than scream. Invalidating another’s authentic existence to meet the needs of my own or others just like me isn’t acceptable. I do think there is a palpable difference between the example of lashing out in pain in your blog and serving as a voice of authority as the other of that book professes to do.

        For me, breathing, sitting and finding compassion for the human being in front of me is at the heart of spiritual practice. When I can get there with people who trigger me in deep ways I know I am walking what’s most important to my soul. I don’t always get there and it takes effort most days. I believe with everything in me that a more sustainable approach to activism is through compassion.

  2. Andrew,
    I had an interesting revelation about some of the genesis of the issue not too long ago. Will share it at some point in person.

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