Should i write some “trans porn”?
That’s quickly answered: no. Although that wasn’t the question i was asked first time round, as the person asking it – the editor of a fairly respectable and wide circulation collection of, er, literary smut – had inquired ever so politely whether i was prepared to write “trans erotica”.
The answer – at the time – was still “no”. Though maybe, now, i am having to rethink that just a little.
The porn yawn
For starters, let’s park the old chesnut about “porn” vs. “erotica”, which always strikes me as having about it an air of unreality – and to be more about class and gentility than any real distinction. There are peeps out there who “get off” to the mildest of mild erotica and would turn their noses up at porn.
And there are others for whom the porn thing – preferably visual, rough and glistening – is the baseline for things erotic. And then there are, i am told, still folk for whom shoe catalogues are the thing.
Nah. The real dilemma is wwhether to include transness in work that i am doing already, which i have variously described as “lesbian smut in the style of Victoria Wood” – or maybe even Pam Ayers!
The trans question
Over the last year i have got back to creative writing in a variety of forms (not all of it fit, yet, for publishing): but a growing part of my effort has been in the intersection between performance and poetry and – yes – smut! I know, because audience members have told me, that some of what i do has been a turn on: i know there are some poems, some performaces that are more likely to leave an audience hot and wet than others (mainly the ones in crowded pubs in the middle of August).
And the problem – the question – that hovers over a lot of what i write is: should it include a trans dimension?
Let’s start with the trans porn/erotica thing. My first thought was that i wouldn’t know what that was. But of course i do, and i’ve briefly touched the stuff over the years. I’d define it as p/e in which transness in one form or other features as a source of erotic arousal.
A no-no on the part of our esteemed GIC gatekeepers – and stupidly so, in my opinion. I mean, if somewhere lurking in the back of your mind is getting your body fixed – then isn’t it sort of natural to link that thought to the erotic, even occasionally?
That said, trans p/e comes in many variants – and much is probably written more from the outsider/voyeur’s point of view. There’s the forced cross-dressing/feminisation, usually involving that most improbable of characters, the maiden aunt. There’s the she-male/chick-with-a-dick thing. And there’s genuine transformation. More, too, i suspect, but right now can’t think of them.
And maybe the right question for the GIC to be asking is not: do you have sexual fantasies linked to transness – but what sort of fantasy? Because from the outset, my instant reaction to the first two was “yuk!” – while lifelong i’ve sought out stories, often non-erotic, of transformation. Beginning with Ovid’s Metamorphoses…working on through mainstream sci-fi such as the works of Jack Chalker.
In hindsight, that was probably “a sign” – even if no-one spotted it at the time.
A taste of authenticity
But back to NOW and what i should do. My writing and performance is a hopefully humorous amble around the twilight zone between real experience and imagined experience. If i tell you a tale on stage, it might be true, half-true, or utterly false. You decide.
At its core, though, i hope, are essential truths about me and my outlook on life.
And if we kick out the idea that i’m ever going to write anything that fetishises transness, the question remains of whether it should be there, on the stage, inside my work.
Because i know people like to nose. And i think the circumstance of their nosing is rather different from the prurient intrusion that follows when the press turn up on someone’s front doorstep and start filming unannounced and without permission.
I’m laying a lot of me out there for public dissection. Is it wrong to include transness in that dissection? Or is there some unwritten code of community omerta that states: thou shalt not talk about transness in the same space as sex and sexuality.
I must say, for some while, i tended to take the latter point of view. Then i listened to Lazlo Pearlman discussing issues not a million miles disconnected from same in a presentation entitled “grotesque-ing my transbody at ‘The box’”, and i started to think again.
I can’t say i’ve reached any sort of conclusion. Yet. But for me, its a question of authenticity: if i am talking about “experience” there is beyond question a trans dimension to that experience and leaving it out is possibly dishonest – as well as cutting me off from a whole range of issues and insights.
Am i planning to write any trans porn/erotica any time soon? No. But as my on-stage work develops, i think transness will probably have to feature in it.