In the introduction to the Transgender Studies Reader, Susan Stryker recognizes the “overwhelming (and generally unmarked) whiteness” in the field of transgender studies and in transgender sources (“(De)Subjugated Knowledges” 15). Stryker recognizes that in order to fully conceive of an intersectional approach to transgender studies, we must recognize how such Whiteness plays a role in representing and articulating the trans body.
Through my research experience, I was struck that there are such few voices of color. My experiences and conversations about allyship and activism around identity politics have informed me that a fully liberated conception of the trans body must be one that comprehends race, ability status, immigration status, various ages, multiple sexualities, religions, socio-economic status, and (obviously) all genders.
When I went to research, I found that published activists in trans studies are primarily white.
I was frustrated because I knew that people of color, and people of all types of intersectional identities, were part of this type of pornography; yet, I couldn’t find much scholarship on their experiences. Similar to Stryker, I felt challenged by the reality that the majority of sources available to me unmarked, but unmistakably white.
That’s when I found out about Christopher Lee and Alley of The Tranny Boys….
COLORFUL FROM THE FIRST CREATION
In The Queer Encyclopedia of Film & Television, Claude J. Summers addressed the prominent work done to make sure trans films are being created for any by trans people.
In a reference to Christopher Lee’s film Alley of the Tranny Boys, which was noted by Ditmore as the first full-length FTM film, Summers explains how Lee creates an all trans, and colorful cast.
Rather than portray images of tranny passivity and submissiveness in the presence of biological, heterosexual men, Lee asks queer audiences to see transsexuals as sexual subjects with their own desires and the power to pursue them. (240).
This full-length pornographic film was made in 1990. Lee is an Asian American two-spirit (often referred to as a trans man) whose work testifies that the identity of the person is salient in their work. Lee’s work embraces and affirms all types of sexualities and races.
Lee went on to make other films during his career. He also helped to found “Tranny Fest,” which was the very first cultural festival for trans people in the entire world. It is now known as the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival. Through his films and the festival, Lee’s legacy remains important to both trans, two-spirit, and Asian American communities according to APIQWTC (the Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women & Transgender Community).
When I started my blog, I began with the influence of Buck Angel , who has exploded in the porn scene, but perhaps it would have been more appropriate if I had started here– where the industry started: with FTMs of color, for trans people of color.
So, yeah, there are issues in this industry. But when we return to the roots of FTM porn, we find that the truth is, this type of pornography was conceived of a as a movement to liberate the body, for pleasure and not for consumption.
“Christopher Lee.” Healing & Release Ceremony (15 Jan. 2013): News Archive. Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women & Transgender Community, 22 Dec. 2012. Web.
“Man-i-fest: FTM Mentorship in San Francisco from 1976 – 2009.” Cur. Megan Rohrer. N.d. Online exhibit.
Stryker, Susan. “(De)Subjugated Knowledges: An Introduction to Transgender Studies.” The Transgender Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 2006. 1-17.
Summers, Claude J. The Queer Encyclopedia of Film & Television. San Francisco, CA: Cleis, 2005. Print.