Let’s Talk About Pornhub's Massive Uptick In Searches For Trans Porn

Pornhub's Year in Review revealed the site’s searches are getting a lot more queer — but is it about liberation or fetishization?
We can probably bet on the fact that porn searches are only going to keep getting queerer from here.
We can probably bet on the fact that porn searches are only going to keep getting queerer from here.
Illustration: HuffPost; Photos: Getty

Pornhub’s holiday gift to us is here and yes, it’s the site’s Year in Review report that reveals exactly what all of us have been pleasuring ourselves to. It turns out that porn searches in 2022 got a lot more queer and a lot more diverse; notably, trans porn became the third most popular category in the country and the seventh worldwide.

But the slay doesn’t end there.“Non-binary,” “gender x” and “androgynous” were also the most-searched gender categories, per the report. Searches for group sex also increased by 34% and searches for “scissoring” skyrocketed by 96%, especially among Gen Z. The term “pegging,” which is when someone with a vagina wears a strap-on to penetrate someone, also got a shoutout in the report and was deemed a top trend of the year. Pegging has had its fair share of cultural moments in the past few years, which might contribute to it becoming less taboo.

Whether or not an uptick in porn searches for trans and gender nonconforming sex means that more people are exploring their queerness in real life is to be determined. What is interesting, as the outlet Them astutely points out, is that this explosion in people’s interest in queer porn is happening at a time when conservative lawmakers are targeting trans and non-binary people and making their lives a living hell. From book bans to policies that made access to gender affirmation surgery more difficult to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the queer community has seen better years.

Perhaps the increase in searches for trans people on a platform like Pornhub is more a testament to the fact that the trans community is more visible now than it ever has been. But as we’ve learned this year, visibility and equality are two very different things, and just because you’re seen doesn’t mean you’re also respected. That’s where things can get tricky, especially when it comes to porn.

A cynical take on these stats is to see the increased searches for trans- and queer-centered porn as a sign of fetishization. Racial and gender fetishes can be an extension of prejudice because it’s hard to be attracted to an entire racial demographic without making sweeping generalizations about the people in it. Healthy fetishes are less often identity-based than they are based on a specific kink. For example, having an Asian fetish — “Japanese” was the second-most searched Pornhub term — probably comes with a set of stereotypes about Japanese women (i.e. that they’re submissive and freaky). On the other hand, having a bondage fetish is based on a specific act and does not project assumptions on an entire group of people.

More likely, the uptick in queer porn searches is a combination of the two: People who fetishize trans folx but also people who are genuinely curious about exploring their gender identities and sexualities. It all makes sense when you consider that Gen Z is the queerest generation yet; one in five of us identifies as LGBTQ, according to a Gallup Poll released earlier this year. Whatever the case, we can probably bet on the fact that porn searches are only going to keep getting queerer from here.

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