The Radical Potential Of Trans Kink Porn

We need more films that contain honest depictions of the various forms that trans women’s sexuality can take.
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This piece by Jes Grobman originally appeared on The Establishment, an independent multimedia site founded and run by women.

This may come as a surprise to people who are used to seeing sanitized images of us in the media, but trans women are sexual beings too. Sure, we may grapple with dysphoria that affects how we relate to our bodies physically, but by and large we still like to get off. And when we can’t find a partner (or partners!) to have sex with, we do what practically everyone else does — we turn to pornography.

The only problem? Porn — which caters predominantly to the desires of straight cisgender men — usually isn’t made with trans women in mind. As such, we often struggle to find porn that appeals to us; I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve gotten frustrated and given up while searching for something — anything — that I can relate to.

Even as trans women gain representation in pornography, in mainstream porn this is usually the result of the fetishization of trans women’s bodies by cisgender men who want to experience “chicks with dicks.” These films usually involve a trans woman topping a cis man, which means that the trans women portrayed must be able to get hard enough to penetrate — which many trans women either cannot do or do not do because penetration increases dysphoria. Moreover, these films depict trans women as nearly universally straight and dominant, depicting a very narrow — and often unrealistic — range of trans women’s sexuality.

Not surprisingly, these movies are practically never created and made by the trans women who star in them.

“Pornography usually isn’t made with trans women in mind.”

Fortunately, in recent years, there have been efforts to subvert this restrictive paradigm. Companies like Foxhouse Films and Gal Pal Films — which produce films actually made by trans women — depict trans women who are queer, often desiring other trans women. Other movies portray trans women with different relationships to their body ; a recent film in The Crash Pad series, made by a production company focused on exposing “the complexities of queer sexual desire,” doesn’t involve any nudity at all. Crucially, newer films have also begun portraying trans women as submissive in the context of BDSM.

But there’s one recent film in particular that’s revealed to me what trans porn can — and should — be.

I’ve long been inspired by the films of Chelsea Poe. When I first came out, she was a model for me in learning to embrace a powerful and unapologetic sexuality as a trans woman. So when I heard about The Training of Poe, a lesbian BDSM film that follows Poe as she undergoes a multi-day slave training at the hands of Bella Vendetta, I knew I had to see this film.

When I watched a review copy of The Training of Poe, alongside two of the people I’m dating, I discovered a film that’s conversational, authentic, and has a surprisingly caring feel to it.

Importantly, the film focuses on communication, with Poe explicitly sharing her thoughts, desires, and expectations for her BDSM training, and Vendetta making sure to discuss at length what Poe isn’t and isn’t okay with having done to her. It also depicts kink ranging from the more traditional — such as rope bondage, clothespins and flogging — to the types of submission that are less frequently depicted in porn, such as cleaning the kitchen, eating out of a pet bowl, and being assigned homework.

The film even gets incredibly artistic during an outside scene in which Poe undergoes underwater breath play and is whipped against a mossy rock in the middle of the river. The contrast between Poe’s soaked white dress and Vendetta’s clean black dress in the context of dominance and submission during this scene is one of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen in pornography.

But perhaps the most powerful part of the film is something that is never explicitly stated at all: The Training of Poe is a lesbian porn film that features a trans woman as the submissive, yet no mention of Poe’s transness is ever made. Sure, you can physically see that Poe is transgender, but she isn’t treated any differently than a cisgender woman would be treated in the same position. The result is a film that normalizes and destigmatizes trans women’s bodies and sexualities.

It is a film that I as a trans woman could truly find a reflection of myself in.

This is the kind of porn that we need more of — a lot more of. We need more films that contain honest depictions of the various forms that trans women’s sexuality can take. We need more films made by trans women for trans women. We need more films that highlight the way that queer porn can create sites and models of desirability for trans women; films in which we can see ourselves reflected in the performers and wherein we can learn to see ourselves as attractive and deserving of affection.

In a society that doesn’t value the lives of trans women, where we face so much discrimination and hostility from our peers and from the current presidential administration, where we are told that we are ugly and unlovable, being able to see trans women enjoying their bodies and experiencing pleasure is revolutionary. Allowing us to control the ways in which our narratives are told, and how we wish to experience pleasure, works to directly subvert the ways in which our lives and our bodies are taken out of our hands by a transmisogynistic world that strips us of our agency.

“We need more films that contain honest depictions of the various forms that trans women’s sexuality can take.”

Personally, as a queer trans woman with submissive tendencies, being able to watch films like The Training of Poe allows me to see myself as attractive and desirable. It allows me to erase the shame around having culturally taboo forms of desire.

Queer porn allows us to envision a world wherein trans women are celebrated for all of the ways we relate to our bodies and to pleasure.

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