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Is There a Place in Porn for Trans Guys With Penises?

There’s a complicated mix of capitalism, barriers to health care, stigma, fetishization and a general lack of diversity holding back FTM performers. For many, it’s worth the fight.

When Buck Angel burst onto the porn scene in the early 2000s, he quickly rose to fame as the self-proclaimed “Man With a Pussy.” At the time, it wasn’t rare to find trans women in porn — although representation was often fetishistic and categorized by slurs — but trans men were few and far between. Things have improved gradually over the years; specifically, independent studio Pink & White has revolutionized sexy, trans-inclusive porn, and other independent productions like Bonus Hole Boys and Jockpussy have made it their mission to improve the representation of trans men. 

But the men we’ve been increasingly seeing on-screen have rarely undergone bottom surgery, which begs the question: Where are all the trans guys with penises in porn?

The first, most obvious reason is that porn is tied to consumer demand. Representation is driven by what sells, and if viewers aren’t beating down the doors of studios demanding to see post-op trans male cock, they’re probably not going to break a sweat trying to cast that type of performer. Jiz Lee, Pink & White’s marketing director, points to a lack of demographic stats when it comes to identifying porn consumers, but explains that studies still show straight, cis guys as the main market. “Therefore,” Lee says, “any content that doesn’t suit their interest remains ‘niche.’”

Pornhub’s 2019 Year in Review confirmed that men (presumably cisgender, but the stats are derived from Google Analytics and therefore don’t take trans and genderqueer people into account) were 32 percent more likely to search for trans porn than women, but interestingly, stats also showed a 121 percent surge in search term popularity among gay men. This indicates that the growing desire for trans male performers like Luke Hudson and Olly Jackson, who became the first trans guy to star in a European gay porn film in 2018, is challenging perceptions of desirability in the gay community, which can still be rife with transphobia. Yet none of these popular stars have undergone bottom surgery — and finding a well-known performer who has is pretty much out of the question, too.

Nevertheless, the increasing representation of trans men without bottom surgery has created a knock-on effect for many people in the trans community: Subreddits like r/ftm and r/ftmporn are filled with stories of trans men learning to accept their bodies by watching these scenes. Jackson confirms this, explaining that he’s received plenty of messages from guys who “say that seeing me has helped them have more confidence and take control of their body image.” 

Lee tells me the earliest example of porn featuring a trans guy with bottom surgery they know of is Linda/Les + Annie: A Transsexual Love Story, released back in 1989. More recently, James Darling’s FTM Fucker has made strides in terms of trans male representation — but it’s not been easy.

Darling’s career began a decade ago, when he stumbled upon a few trans-inclusive studios in the Bay Area. “I tried to branch out to bigger porn studios and more mainstream productions, but I was often met with a lot of resistance,” he recalls. “Most people had never worked with trans men before. They were hesitant to risk booking a performer their target audiences might not be used to watching. I decided to go for it anyway.”

As a performer himself, he has a unique insight into what sells and what doesn’t. This goes some way toward explaining why trans guys are usually cast as bottoms to cis gay guys (“That’s what generated the most sales, but trans men make excellent tops — most of my favorite scenes I made had trans guys topping”), but the reasons are more complicated when surgery comes into the mix.

“Most people outside the trans community have less of an understanding of what post-bottom surgery results and sex look like for trans men,” says Darling, whose FTM Fucker series promises to ensure “respectful and affirming” representation. The myths here are too endless to list, but articles like this one, which touches on the effects that dysphoria and testosterone can have on sex lives, are at least a starting point. “Also, most trans men I’ve met who have had bottom surgery are often in a place where their privacy is very important, so the irreversible permanence of posting videos that can identify them online is less appealing,” Darling continues. 

He doesn’t expand on this, but it’s a known fact that some trans people prefer to live “stealth” after surgery in particular — which is understandable, given the unprecedented rate of hate crimes in the U.S.

This all ties into media transphobia more generally, which has led to members of the trans community being doxxed or harassed simply because of their identity — a case in point being YouTube make-up artist NikkieTutorials, who came out on YouTube after being blackmailed. The stories we do see about trans issues in the media are often biased, straight-up inaccurate or based on a weird, intrusive fascination with what trans people have between their legs, stemming from the transphobic belief that surgery and hormones are needed to validate trans identities. 

The effect is that trans guys who do desire surgeries and hormones are left with little to no information to go on, at least outside of medical sites. This sucks, because it’s complicated: Phalloplasty and metoidioplasty are the two main types of bottom surgery, and both produce hugely different results; then there’s bottom growth, which is when testosterone enlarges the clit. This is why forums like r/ftm are often filled with dick pics — for trans guys in particular, these community-led online spaces can be their only frame of reference. Even the likes of Pornhub only really feature solo scenes of trans guys with phallo, and despite the occasional cumshot, they feel more educational in tone than anything else.

“Trans people are often put in a position of having to figure out for ourselves what sexual possibilities exist for us,” explains Darling, who describes the feeling of isolation that comes with a lack of representation. And for better or worse, porn can be a vital form of self-education in a society that either erases or stigmatizes your identity.

Which is where user-generated porn comes in. Viktor Belmont uses OnlyFans to create his own scenes, uploading content on his own terms to an audience of pay-per-month subscribers. “There are more trans male performers than ever,” he says, describing 2020 as “the year of the self-employed content creator.”

His inbox is often full of requests for customized videos, which range from kink and BDSM to “kind and gentle” scenes. “I get a lot of people who have never been with a trans man before, so part of my personal experience is that I’m everyone’s first time, all the time. I get requests to bring a lot of sweetness to the table, and I get a lot of requests to top, which I love! The only thing I can do better than take it, is give it.” 

Belmont also has trans guys reaching out to praise his porn, again pointing to it as a key source of representation. “Where else do we exist in media?” he asks. “Where else are you going to see someone who looks a little like you, who has what you have, who moves in the way you move? Even though we’re not a huge part of the market, porn is one of the only channels of media that features trans men feeling sexy and empowered. Mainstream media wants us to perform our traumas for a story, but porn? When we’re making it on our own words and stories? It’s where we can feel sexy — and seen.”

In his eyes, the lack of guys with bottom surgery links to potential complications. “SRS [sex reassignment surgery] can be high-risk, with multiple revisions for the patient. This can be a super-affirming surgery, but also a complete nightmare. In the past year, I’ve had an acquaintance pass due to complications of his SRS, but I’ve also had friends who tell me that it saved their life.” 

There’s also a lack of access to trans health care, which often forces trans people to crowdfund their surgeries or try to save up through sex work, which is often framed — and not always accurately — as a way to make more money in less time. Laws like FOSTA/SESTA, which ban the online advertisement of sex work and therefore push its most precarious workers onto the street, make this even more difficult.

Ultimately, though, there’s no one reason that trans guys with dicks get less screen time. Instead, it’s a complicated mixture of capitalism, barriers to health care, stigma, fetishization and a more general lack of diversity across the board. 

The rise of independent porn studios — like Pink & White, which also has a streaming platform, PinkLabel.TV — and user-generated platforms like OnlyFans have changed things slightly, but they can only continue to do so if we start paying for our porn. This also gives trans guys a shot at creative control, and isn’t that the sexiest thought of all? 

As Belmont says, “Ain’t nothing between me and the camera. This is all me, like it or leave it — and if you want it, you gotta eat it!”

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