Sunday, November 30, 2008

Does The Transgender Porn World Celebrate The TDOR?

TransGriot Note: Transgender adult actress Vaniity at an event in Las Vegas.

In the wake of my commentary last week calling for HRC to leave our TDOR alone, one of the comments that was posted to it came for a person calling themselves Eddy.

I agree! Very well-written post, as usual. I wonder if trans porn industry observes this day. Does anyone know?


As the USS Monica went to Defcon 2 alert status and spooled up her rhetorical Tomahawks in preparation for launch, my thoughts ranged from immediately deleting the comment to rhetorically blasting it to smithereens.

My initial anger over the comment was fueled by the fact that once again, the negative perception of transgender peeps had wormed its way into a day that was meant for us to remember our fallen sisters.

But with my finger ready to hit DELETE, I stepped away from my pissivity over Eddy's comments to ponder why he felt comfortable enough to ask it on this blog in the first place.

One of the things that I and other transpeople of color have long complained about is the lack of balance with our images as transwomen. The adult entertainment world has played a major part in that combined with lack of positive role models of transwomen of color due to stealth status and other reasons to counteract it.

And far too often in the adult entertainment industry the images of African-American, Latina, and Asian transwomen are the ones disproportionately pushed and advertised to the point whee it negatively affects even the positive things we try to do.

Since some peeps make tons of money off pre-op transgender images with their adult films, magazines and various websites, and transgender people of color are the ones disproportionately bearing the brunt of the anti-transgender violence, when you ask Eddy's question in that context, somehow it doesn't seem as insulting as it did at first knee-jerk glance.

So did shemalewhatever.com and its like minded cousins black out their website for the day?

Did they stop filming the latest epic adult transgender film for release?

Did they cancel that trip to Thailand or Brazil looking for poor or young transpeople to take pictures of?

Did any of the adult transgender stars or the young transwomen participating in the destruction of our images show up at the TDOR events in West Hollywood, New York or elsewhere?

Did they even stop to care?

Come to think of it, Eddy's question is one that we all deserves an answer to.

10 comments:

Kara said...

Actually, I got a little experience with this planning the TDOR in Second Live last year. Recognizing that "adult entertainment" groups represented the highest risk populations (and the ones least likely to know about the TDOR) we specifically contacted the people that ran those groups. The reactions ranged from enthusiastic (telling their membership) to hostile to the idea (I guess they did not like the fact we wanted to take away their income source for a few hours). I was more in content than PR this year, but we started with the same contact list as last year.

Monica Roberts said...

Kara,
It's an interesting conundrum. The adult transgender peeps have massive audiences, but at the same time the baggage associated with their adult films.

I remember the flame war that erupted a few years ago when Vaniity (my cover girl for this post) was looking to do more positive things for the transgder community and she was hit with a massive tide of negativity.

Mine and the moderator's posts were the voices of reason, and I thought back to that day and what I told Vaniity privately when I was contemplating going off on he comment.

They (the adult girls) are our sisters, too.

Shannon said...

Damn straight! Excellent post Monica. This is one area that many of us that organize TDORs have completely ignored. I think the industry is just fine with being ignored, but the more pertinent question is how to engage them as allies in meaningful dialog. Your method of reaching out to the talent and driving change from there may be the best solution. Though if someone has contacts in the production side of the industry, we shouldn't discount that either. Yes, the porn industry is not what we would call putting our best foot forward as a community, but the idea that they are going away anytime soon is a pipedream. I agree that we should find a way to seek out the commonality and and build allies.

Ok, time for the what if:
What if:
--the porn industry picked this up and communicated to the chasers and those out there who's first and only contact to trans issues is porn?
--they all became allies to spread the word about senseless deaths?
--they were able to communicate not just the sexy, but very real human image of us as people once a year?
--this resulted in a whole lot of folks becoming educated on trans violence?

There could be some very good outcomes here. Even for those that do not approve of porn, it is still better to have smut allies than smut enemies. We have enough enemies already.

wildedandy said...

monica, I am curious as to why you feel so negatively toward sex positive, body positive transwomen... I feel that without those industry faces appearing on day time talk shows I would never encounter the idea of transgender people nor take the time to actually attempt to learn something about the transcommunity. Porn is not the place to push social issues and even if someone did attempt to push a trans agenda in porn they would be speaking to the wrong audience, clearly. Cubbyholes, a f2m adult film is not only progressive in its representations of gender identity, and body image but also in sexuality, illustrating a broader range of sexuality within the transcommunity. Without the sexy faces/antics of sophia lamar, amanda lepore, and Coccinelle I would never become more interested in transpolitics and rights... or be navigated to your blog.
Don't you feel the phrase "...participating in the destruction of our images ... " is just a bit harsh?

Monica Roberts said...

Wildedandy,
You wouldn't be so cavalier about it if it were YOUR people's images as transwomen that had been shot through the crapper or the first thing that people think about when they see you is the adult industry.

So no, I don't think it was harsh to categorize it that way.

Nor should you ASSume I despise the adult entertainment industry. I hate the lack of balance in POC transgender images.

wildedandy said...

Monica, I do not even know where to begin with a response... Do you not think that the fact that on the cover of every gay focused publication is a young, white, hairless, fit teen? The culture most closely associated with me is constantly screaming at me to change and most public figures are literally clowns for the straight audience, one only needs to look at Christian from project runway to see how he has impacted the public's awareness of homosexuals (if another girl snaps at me and calls me fierce...). My point is not only visibility at all costs but also acceptance. I hope that all who fall under the ever growing umbrella of "queer" can find an equal place in society. It is hard for me to think that it is possible to take the sexualization out of a subject that is based in sexual identity. Could it not be argued that a transwoman taking advantage of a patriarchal system by using their body, a form of feminism?
Furthermore, I was asking a question because it seems that your posts are generally quite liberal and progressive and it surprised me that you would be using such harsh statements in relation to a community that is constant need of representation and recognition, just because one appears in a porn does not mean they are attempting or even aware of "destroying an image". Life takes people on strange roads, I am sure you know that.
Clearly I didn't understand your statement or your view point and I was attempting to open a dialogue, you calling me an ass really disappoints me as I've been reading your blog for quite some time now just waiting for the time I felt was right to ask you a question as I was expecting a kind, well thought out, intelligent response.

Monica Roberts said...

Wildedandy,
Point out where I allegedly called you an ass.

If you ever watched The Benny Hill Show, he makes a humorous but important point using the word assume.

When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME.

You assumed that I hated the porn industry in your initial response to my TDOR post, I pointed out your assumption was a false one.

I dislike and abhor the negative images from the porn industry that transgender people of color are disproportionately saddled with, which I explained in further detail in the 'Destruction of the Black Transwoman Image' post that I provided a link to.

I stand by my comment that transwomen of color who participate in the porn industry are participating in the destruction of our images, and that's not just an opinion I espouse.

It's an opinion also shared by some former participants in the adult entertainment world as well.

Bion said...

I didn't get the impression from the article that anyone was "anti-porn" at all. I think the question, and a valid one, is ... the the people who make the most off of trans* bodies support the community that provides them with those bodies.

The answer this year is - not that I saw. I am a frequent poster on a couple forums attached to porn sites and there was no mention of TODR until I mentioned it. I gave the site admins time to make a comment and they didn't, so I did. My threads are usually quite popular, with the exception of that one (hmm). Even topics I start where I'm calling out the guys who "admire" gals like me or educate people about Trans* issues and reality get lots of comments and good conversation. My simple links to the TODR page garnered a couple "wow that's sad" comments for a couple guys. Nothing from the industry who is active on that forum promoting their latest T-Star.

eddy said...

Monica, I'm so sorry for alarming you with my question! I am new to this area and managed to stick my foot in my mouth right away. I should have been more sensitive in how I approached this issue, but I'm glad you did see my comment for how I intended it, which was not to insult you at all!

I was just wondering about the economic clout of the adult industry and how much they benefit from exploitation of the transsexual community. It seems deeply wrong to profit on a day of observance of such tragic violence. At the same time, if we could convince those industry leaders to observe the day, it might help jar the industry's consumers into realizing that transsexual and transgender people are, in fact, REAL PEOPLE. Just some humble thoughts.

thanks
Eddy

Monica Roberts said...

Eddy,
One of the things I've learned over the years is to avoid participating in the transgender community's fave event, the conclusion jump. :)

It was a valid question, and it's one we as transgender leaders need to consider.

If we consider the transwomen who are in the adult entertainment world our sisters, how do we approach them in a spirit of loving cooperation to work on the issues we do have in common?

HIV/AIDS prevention is one I can think of right off the top we can work together on along with the TDOR and anti-transgender violence and agree to disagree on the others we don't.