on language

Why Doesn’t GLAAD Bust Porn Studios For Marketing ‘Trannies’ and ‘She-Males’?

Hey porn lovers! The Adult Video Network just named its nominees for Best Transsexual Performer. And though I prefer gay porn, the AVN Awards are like the porn Oscars and so I had to take a look. Most of the movie titles had words like “tranny” and “she-male” which made me wonder, Why is GLAAD not all over the trans-porn industry?

Oddly the AVNs lump lesbian and trans porn into the “straight” porn awards show, not their gay offshoot (the GAyVNs). That’s interesting because it suggests straight audiences are more comfortable with queer fantasies than one might think (however exploitative those fantasies may be). It’s also possible that gay porn gets its own “ghetto” because of the films’ smaller audience base and social sphere; incestuous studios tend to use a rotating stable of famous stars who travel between LA and NYC to appear in big studio productions.

Looking at the titles for Best Transexual Scene the words “tranny cock” and “she-male” pop up a lot. Titles like I Dream of Queenie, Rogue Adventures and Transsexual Prostitutes merely reinforce negative stereotypes of transgender people as drag queens and deceptive tricksters, and exploit the reality that some trans-people resort to prostitution because of un-accepting families and workplaces. (That phenomenon, of course, isn’t unique to trans porn.)

GLAAD would normally shoot off a press release attacking any other entertainment industry using such slurs, but Jarrett Barrios & Co. keep its hands off porn probably to maintain an aura of respectability — after all, who really wants to be the gay rights organization responsible for shaming the makers of America’s Next Top Tranny 2? (It could offend all their party sponsors, too.) Presumably trans-porn has a much smaller audience than other mainstream media, so going after such studios would be a waste of GLAAD’s resources.

Perhaps porn studios get a free pass for using GLAAD-stamped slurs like “tranny.” They market to a consumer whose primary concern, at least at the time of watching this smut, is getting off, and not getting too preoccupied with equitable media representation. As horrible as “tranny” and “she-male” are, the average horny dullard probably knows what those words mean better than “transgender.” It’s also hard to expect much from an industry that also propagates damaging stereotypes with “ethnic” titles like Black Thug Gangbang 4 and misogynist ones like Cum-Hungry Fuck Sluts, no matter how cum hungry some fuck sluts may be.

But porn remains an (occasionally) counter-cultural industry — one that thrives on novelty, sensationalism, and breaking taboo. The GAyVN award nominees over the past few years include Dominic Ford’s 3-D porn scenes, Bel-Ami’s twincest scene, and Raging Stallion’s To The Last Man, a violent award-winning western feature where most of the cowboys end up dead. (Sorry for the plot spoiler.)

Perhaps porn uses such slurs precisely because they’re offensive. They’re in your face and objectify trans-people as sexual objects in a raw and unavoidable way that has no use for political correctness or social nicety. The shock of the words adds to their appeal as taboo.