The quick answer is yes: FTM porn and FTM porn activists aren’t the ideal and perfect solution to the issues plaguing the trans community at large, or even the FTM community. Yet, this shouldn’t end the discussion.
Yes, when we focus on FTM activists who operate only in the sexual sphere, we can ignore some to the real violence inflicted upon these bodies.
Instead, I’ll choose to recognize the real barriers and critiques the FTM porn industry faces, not to ignore them. I hope you do too.
WHY DO FEMALE (“SHE-MALE”) STARS SHINE BRIGHTER?
The majority of research that exists on transgender pornography centers on MTF experiences. The disparity in representation between binary genders can be exemplified in a simple Wikipedia search. If you search “Category: Transsexual pornographic film actors” in Wikipedia, it splits the available actors into two categories: trans male and trans female. However, there are 22 female actors listed, but only one male: Buck Angel.
Now, this disparity can add to a commonly adopted feminist or anti-porn critique that female bodies are used by male audiences for consumption. And that the trans female body is often hyper-sexualized or positioned into a constant place of spectacle.
Again, to quote Melissa Ditmore: “Most “she-male” porn is directed by non-trans men and produced for the enjoyment of straight-identified men with a particular “fetish” interest” (503). Yet, Ditmore and others recognize the booming industry that capitalizes off of trans male bodies participating in sex films. Which could mean hope…. but it does leave me to question:
Do these few FTM porn activists do enough to break through this type of gender disparity? Or, is society bound to be driven by hegemonic, heterosexual male desires at the expense of anything else?
FROM FETISH TO FREEDOM… or not?
For both trans male and female porn stars, the reality is that their pornographic films could be viewed simply as a fetish. Tragically, cisgender viewers could look to these films and not internalize any affirming or accepting views of a transgender body without bottom surgery. They could view it as a means to assert their own pleasure, and thus, their power, at the expense of these trans bodies.
Another potential concern, as Kat Blaque shows in her “tragic tropes” video, is that outside of the medium of pornography, the transgender body could still be consumed by its viewer and always only existing for their sexual pleasure, which is also problematic.
However, when the porn is created by trans people, for trans people things are a little more liberating…
THE GAZE…THE GAYS
Buck Angel notes in Mr. Angel that his largest audience to be gay men, which seems to be a theme for the industry.
What are the implications of having a media created for the benefit of a hegemonic audience? (yes, here that audience would be gay men). But also, what does it mean that all the performers we have referenced thus far are only white males?
Actually, one of the questions I kept asking during my research was: where is all the porn featuring trans people of color?
Ditmore, Melissa Hope. Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2006. Print.
Hunt, Dan, and Kanopy. Mr. Angel. 2016.
“Unfunny Transmisogynistic Tropes + Trans Comedy.” Kat Blaque. YouTube. 28 July 2015. Web.