I recently got wind through the internet’s reporter/writer gossip-sphere that MotherJones.com was working on a piece about adult content featuring trans performers. Their thesis – or at least, one of their working hypotheses (I don’t know what the larger purpose of the piece was, if anything) — was that an increase in content featuring trans performers on PornHub was indicative of an increase in acceptance of trans people overall.
As far as I can tell, a story exploring this idea never appeared on the site. It’s still interesting to consider the question though, so I decided to ask people who know more about this topic than me what they thought. Casey Kisses, TsBlondieNYC and Wendy Williams were kind enough to share their insights.
YNOT Cam: Do you think an increase in the amount of content created featuring trans women performers and models on PornHub indicates greater acceptance of trans people in society?
Wendy Williams: I’m not sure acceptance and visibility are one in the same. I think seeing more trans women in content helps with more opportunities with mainstream companies hiring trans women in features, etc. I think, however, when it comes to society, it’s a double-edged sword. Visibility means we can say loudly “WE EXIST,” but others then can use our existence for political issues that actually hurt our existence. In the long run, we will need those bumps in the road if we want to further a positive agenda.
When it comes to sites like Pornhub, it’s great seeing them change categories from “shemale” to “transgender.” Many men are first introduced to trans women from porn, so positive terms help them learn to use appropriate language. It also hopefully helps men not feel embarrassed or the need to hide their feelings if they see it as just everyday sex between people and not a fetish.
Casey Kisses: In my opinion, as a model who works various platforms in the adult industry, I do see an increase in acceptance for trans models in general. I don’t believe it’s connected to a greater acceptance of transgender people in society at all though. I think the two are completely different… I don’t think it’s gotten easier for trans people to live with equal rights in society though, especially with the current president we have in office.
TsBlondieNYC: The only thing that porn does for transgender women and men is open up curiosity, which is always a good thing for us.
This is why I’m having a hard time moving off the couch. pic.twitter.com/ihIu82WS0o
— Wendy Williams (@TsWendyWilliams) September 26, 2019
Forget the mainstream and consumers, what about the community? Do you see greater acceptance of trans performers and models happening within the community?
Williams: When you have companies like Wicked Pictures and Burning Angel hiring trans women in features, it one hundred percent helps for men and women to accept our presence in the adult industry. So, it helps companies and those who do work with them understand trans women are more than, again, a fetish. We need to see more trans women as producers, saleswomen, toy moldings, etc though. Why not use our knowledge to benefit behind the scenes work too?
It’s still hard for male performers to openly work with us, and that’s sad — the “gay” stigma even though 99 percent of men who work with trans women identify as straight. We need more proud and high-profile performers, both genetic females and males, stepping up.
TsBlondieNYC: There is a lot of diversity within the community, which opens a lot of opportunities to all different types of models. When supporting one another, we all work our way to the top, which is the main goal for most of us.
Kisses: It’s still a very real stigma to work with transwomen on either cis side, gay or straight. If you are gay and you promote working with trans women, you will get a backlash of fans saying you are “gay for pay,” and most cis women will get “blacklisted” for working with trans women even though it is definitely something a lot of them are interested in. We are still thriving and doing so well without the same type of exposure that mainstream straight and gay models get. To me, that proves we have a huge audience that is afraid to speak up about their love for trans content.
— casey kisses ♡ (@Caseykissesxoxo) August 28, 2019
Do you see any changes occurring with how platforms and companies market and present content featuring trans women models to the public/consumers?
Williams: I started in the early 2000s, so I see it has changed a lot since then. Platforms see the need to use appropriate terms thus many have chosen to get away from a term like “shemale.” You also see sites like ManyVids using trans women in marketing material, and that’s amazing for visibility. I would say though that stars like Natalie Mars are earning more than some of the biggest genetic female performers, so it’s also just good business.
I have been working with JustFor.Fans, and they have a huge gay base with a fast growing straight and trans influencer list. Seeing them support trans events and promoting trans performers is a big win for all involved.
TsBlondieNYC: Honestly, porn is not a way that I want to be associated with as a transgender woman. I feel like porn makes us look a certain kind of way. Not only just with gay or transgender porn, even straight porn.
Being part of different platforms, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to showcase my craft and passion for makeup, and executing my ideas and having my fans enjoy them is the best feeling in the world… I believe more web traffic would be nice to our transgender community and having promotions for new member signups, sales in token buying or credits and rotating top performers to be featured on our category page. I think this would help the transgender community with more revenue for both models and web platforms.
Kisses: I think it’s our job as models to show that there is no specific label pertaining to sexuality, and that is what helps the industry grow. Since I’ve started dating cis women, I’ve been genuinely wanting to put out content featuring cis women and I’ve noticed an increase in cis women viewing my content. It breaks down barriers to set examples. It’s just been a difficult “tug of war” with being marketed by companies that feature adult work.
— TsBlondieNYC 🍰 🌸 𝐵𝒹𝒶𝓎 𝒥𝓊𝓃𝑒 𝟤𝟩 ☮️ (@TsBlondieNYC) October 7, 2019
Any final thoughts?
Williams: I have always preached, over my almost two decades, that visibility comes in small strides, and I urge companies and platforms to include trans women of color, mature performers and performers of size. The market should include a wide variety and not just what “straight” producers imagine men want or like.
Erika is a sex positive people watcher (and writer). Email her at email@example.com.
Image by Jopwell via Pexels.