Sex

A Huge Porn Site Is Getting Rid of Transphobic Labels

"Since many people turn to porn as a way to explore their kinks, fantasies, and questions about sexuality, we have an opportunity to educate while we entertain."

by Diana Tourjée
01 April 2020, 10:24pm

People often find porn featuring trans women with outdated, transphobic language, which only stands to perpetuate a cycle of discrimination and mistreatment against those women in real life. On Tuesday, premium porn site Adult Time announced that it would attempt to break this cycle by removing “transphobic terminologies,” across its entire portfolio of 50,000 videos.

The site, which describes itself as the “Netflix of porn,” streams premium adult content, and was created by porn pioneer Bree Mills. “Since many people turn to porn as a way to explore their kinks, fantasies, and questions about sexuality, we have an opportunity to educate while we entertain,” Mills said. “This is something that Adult Time sees as a responsibility. We want to do porn differently.”

Adult Time is a property of Gamma Entertainment, which will “remove all outdated and derogatory language across its entire portfolio,” according to a press release. The undertaking will require “revising and renaming archived titles, movie posters, and scene descriptions,” while training all staff, and creating a new standard to exclude transphobic language on new videos moving forward. Mills said porn producers and distributors can advocate “for a larger social shift towards greater sexual expression and acceptance,” through their content.

Trans porn has long been categorized by and marketed with terms that are otherwise understood to be slurs. Mills said the move was the company’s way to mark International Day of Trans Visibility, though she said she hopes Gamma’s move will lead other adult companies to do the same in the future. “We aren’t the first to do this,” she said. “Grooby, long considered the pioneer of trans content, made a similar shift several years ago. They are the true pioneers, we are simply the largest mainstream group of brands to follow suit.” Grooby was formerly known as “Shemale Yum,” and started the Tranny Awards for trans porn. Both the awards show and Shemale Yum were rebranded. The site still includes its former name on its main page.

“Our collective companies [at Gamma] account for a large percentage of trans production right now,” she said. “So far, everyone has been extremely receptive to the shift.”

Mills said that the porn industry, at large, has a fear that, “fans won’t recognize or understand more positive language,” but, “our main objective is to help educate fans who may not understand that some of the slang they use is no longer socially acceptable.” The change is a commitment to stop, “passively supporting outdated language just for the sake of ranking highly for certain search terms,” because many consumers only know about the genre based on words like “tranny,” or “shemale.”

Reporting by Vice has repeatedly found that cisgender men who are interested in transgender women typically uncover this aspect of their sexual identity in pornography. “As a teenager, trans porn became my sexual routine,” said Mike, a 21-year-old Brooklyn native, Mike. He found, and returned to, trans porn for years before meeting a trans woman for sex. Another man said that, as, “a teenager I encountered transgender women by chance through pornographic movies,” explaining that, “at the beginning, trans women were slightly shocking to me.” It took years for these men to reckon with the humanity of the people they found themselves attracted to in pornography.

Trans porn is, for many men, an introduction to a population that they didn’t previously know exists. This places trans porn in an exceptionally powerful position to shape perspectives on who and what trans people are.

“Many porn consumers who have great love and respect for trans women use outdated terms like ‘tranny’ and ‘shemale’ simply because they don’t know better,” Mills explained. “They have always searched these terms and have been influenced to do so by the way the niche is categorized and presented on adult sites and DVDs.”

While Mills says the trans productions within Gamma have supported this initiative, other trans porn performers are more critical.

Trans porn star Morgan Bailey told Vice that, while this is a positive change, she doesn’t believe it should be celebrated, “because it’s necessary, and frankly long overdue.” She echoed the idea that what people see in pornography is reproduced in the real world. “Porn is media, a huge portion of what we read and watch, we regurgitate later. Let’s all do our part to promote a healthier and safe world to live and fuck in.”

Mia Isabella, an icon of trans porn, is critical of Gamma’s decision to announce this on the Trans Day of Visibility. “I find it to be a highly suspicious and tacky marketing strategy,” Isabella said. This annual recognition of trans lives, “reaches further than the adult industry into every aspect of the trans experience and those brave enough to live their lives in the open. We are and have always been much more than our sexuality that has been used for decades to make companies rich and oftentimes enforcing stereotypes and stigma. The leading performers in our industry over the past decade to 15 years have often stepped forward to represent ourselves.”

Isabella, a seasoned pornographer, explained that trans women have had to fight for everything they have in this industry, including recognition within mainstream porn awards shows.

Finally deciding it benefits a company enough to change transphobic titles and web domains doesn’t make [Adult Time or Gamma] revolutionary. It makes them late,” Isabella said. “You want to have the respect and admiration that comes with creative change? Empower your performers and your companies to work within our community. Instead of paying thousands for an award show table and for PR, invest in trans people so we can help change the lives for the next generation of us.”

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Tagged:
porn
transgender
trans women
Adult Time