Finding Validation in Queer Porn

Additional TW: Reference to trans slur, abuse

Additional TW: Reference to trans slur, abuse

Society wants me to die, preferably at the hands of someone else (although suicide is acceptable) and if I have a miserable life before dying that’s just expected.

Do I sound dramatic? Not to me, particularly not to adolescent me. Trans people exist to die, at least that’s what the society told me. I grew up with very few out trans people in my life so I was almost entirely reliant on the media I consumed. And what did my media have tell me?  Fictional trans characters show up to be stabbed or beaten to death. Real trans people show up in the news for the same reasons. Those few who don’t end up on the chopping block? Drug abuse, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, emotional abuse. At this point the message I received was, The trans people who are killed? Those are the lucky ones.

Thankfully I ran into good people in my adolescence. A camp counselor who saw in 14 year old me a struggle that I didn’t even know was coming and who gave me a collection of personal essays by various trans authors. Friends and family who spoke kindly about trans people and felt genuine pain when another trans person’s body was found. Fellow teens at arts camps who were publicly identifying as trans, genderqueer, nonbinary, gender variant, etc. when I was still unable to admit what I suspected about myself. These good people helped show me that one could actually live as trans.

None of these good people made me feel ready for sex.

I’m sorry if this seems like a non sequitur but cast your minds back to your adolescence. Were you not worried, excited, apprehensive, at least thinking about sex? Even if sex really isn’t your thing we live in a society where cishet sex is expected and pushed at us constantly, how you avoid thinking about it?

According to society I wasn’t supposed to be sexual. I could receive sexual abuse but actually being sexual? Desirable? Having sexual agency? Nope, that didn’t fit society’s narrative. If I was going to be attractive, to have another person want me, then I was going to need to get some very expensive surgery that would still leave me with hair on the back of my hands. Complicating this was the fact that I didn’t see myself wanting surgeries. I liked, and still like, my genitalia, even if I don’t think of it as being inherently male or female, and sometimes I think my stubble is hot. This complication meant that my odds of being sexually happy were nonexistent.

Then I found Jiz Lee.

Specifically I found this video of them (Explicit talk about sex but not in a “porn” way but in a “let’s talk about sex” way. Does include language like “female body” so that’s not great.):

Sure this wasn’t someone with the same anatomy as me but finally this was someone who I could relate to. While this was empowering by itself the great gift was the introduction to the independent/feminist/queer/call-it-what-you-will porn world.

Here I found people who looked like me. Not only did they look like but they were people who looked like me fucking and sucking and being sexy. They weren’t going to be murdered to advance some plot. There was no tragic backstory about  about why they were having sex. In fact they were having sex because fuck it they wanted to have sex. They had sexual agency.

Of course there are trans performers in mainstream porn. Almost every tube site has a “Tr***y” section but somehow that just doesn’t have quite the same empowerment for me. Personally slurs and fetishization take away my enjoyment just a smidge (HINT THIS IS SARCASM, THEY TAKE AWAY QUITE A LOT.) I know other trans people who find their own empowerment in this type of porn but for me it reinforces the idea that if I must insist on having a sexual identity it needs to be for the benefit and enjoyment of cis guys (And I do mean “guys” pretty literally here, cis men I’m really looking at you right now.) Queer porn removed that cis-based lens. No more tr***y and no more “traps” and no more “Chicks with DICKS!!!!!”, unless of course people are self-identifying with these labels/descriptions in which case that’s very different.

Yes, part of the takeaway from this is that queer porn has played a very important role in my sexual development. In fact I’ll say that it’s ultimately played a very important role in my development full stop, end of story. It helped to open up access to communities I never knew existed. It’s even part of why I’ve been able to come out. Fuck, I wish I’d come across it sooner in my life. Maybe I could’ve started this whole coming out (to others but more importantly to myself) process earlier and saved myself some very confusing and highly painful years.

The other takeaway is the fact that I had to go to a tiny part of  a “darker” (I’d prefer to think of it as “less accessible to teens” but that’s a bit wordy.) corner of the internet to find this validation. Just think on that one. Where did my cishet male friends find validation? Basically everywhere. As for my other friends things might not have been quite so easy but it’s there. I had to go to a place where I legally wasn’t supposed to be and which I could only access covertly (which when you live in a house that doesn’t have wi-fi is even more challenging than some might think.) I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact I bet many of my similarly-identified peers have similarly difficult stories. Perhaps they didn’t find their validation in queer porn but the hurdles we can face in finding this validation are real and they’re huge.

As we talk about ending stigma and shame around sex lets not forget trans people, particularly not trans teens coming into their sexual life. We all deserve to have people we can look to, people who look or talk or think like us. This is damn important, particularly for marginalized people who struggle to find relatable figures that can provide validation in a society that constantly reminds us that not only do we not get to have sexual agency, we don’t get to live.

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