As so often, it is a comment on a related issue that has set me off on this one. So while this post is about sex, trans and porngraphic imagery, it should not be taken as direct response to the original.
Merely a train of thought leaving the station tangentially. It starts with an appeal to keep direct pornographic linkage out of a serious treans forum.
That’s fine: i have no probs with that. So long as the linkage in question is “gratuitous”, in the sense of being put up purely for titillation purposes and not to contribute to debate. And so long as that interdiction doesn’t equally become a bar to discussion of sexual content.
Shhh! Don’t mention the s-word
Cause like it or not, around a third of published content online and off is widely assumed to be devoted to porn: and porn, or, equally, sexual(ised) imagery of anyone can quickly become a part of the definition, a large part of the problem.
As, too, can rejection of that trope.
Take feminism and the (now) slightly retro feminist critique of porn. It highlights, rightly, the way in which porn narrative objectifies women and, through a simple reduction of women to body parts, devalues and creates a narrative within which consent is merely a matter of physicality: and withholding of consent is regarded as perverse.
I say retro, because the counterpoint to that is a more modern narrative that focuses on consent and has attempted to create a porn that is, if not feminist, at least woman-friendly. In which efforts i thoroughly applaud the work of feminist film director Anna Span and one-time editor of Filament Mag, Suraya Singh.
As i posted elsewhere more recently, we are well overdue a synthesis of those two views.
But back to trans stuff. There is no doubt that trans folk come in for a lot of harm as a direct result of the way in which they are included in various straight (?) porn narratives. It certainly seems to me that there is direct linkage between a variety of psychiatric theories of trans and what they have supped from the well of t-chaser fantasy…which does raise questions as to the real suxuality, orientation and agenda of some early therapists.
Chicks-with-dicks is a popular porn theme, subject of any number of magazines and websites, and something i find personally quite offensive. As narrative, it has nothing at all to do with me.
Which is not to say i never had any use for porn. In hindsight, i remember picking up cross-dressing stories (you know the sort: maiden aunt forces feminisation, represented by stereotypical and humiliating clothing, on naive young guy…much sex follows): picking them up and quickly putting down. There was something there, but again, it did nothing for me.
And then i found a somewhat narrower vein of true transformation stories, in which bodily change was the focus: usually effected by magic or sci-fi means; possibly with, and possibly without a sexual element in tow. Let’s face it: my very first experience of erotic literature was the Metamorphoses of Latin poet, Ovid.
So was i utterly pure of heart and mind? Of course not: and here’s an important point. There are times when it certainly feels like the trans community as a whole is teetering on the brink of being anti-sex. At least publically, throwing a truly Victorian fit of vapours the moment that sex and trans get mentioned in the same sentence.
And that would be wrong: a cultural cringe, perhaps: buying far too much into the therapic insistence that transition is NOTHING to do with sex.
Which is going to the other (wrong) extreme. Transition is not about sex, sexuality. But that doesn’t make trans men and women into a bunch of vestal virgins either. Sex is there, always. A constant part of the narrative.
Something trans folk do during and after transition – time to stop being ashamed of that! – and a major part of the critique turned against transition by the ignorant cis.
Gratuitous sex? No. But we shouldn’t be afraid, either, to examine sex and sexuality as part of the trans narrative.