Month: February 2014

Trans*, Transgender, Transsexual, Transvestite, and when to check yourself.

I’ve had an amazing week, hosting an amazing person at my house and taking part in some seriously wonderful events that centre around concepts in feminist porn. It’s been basically a wonderland of adult goodness that I’ve been lacking a bit in my life in the last little while.

A really neat thing about all this is also that my worlds are colliding more than before. Friends who aren’t in the adult industry or my queer circles have come out to the events, learned, listened, and asked questions. While it’s been pretty great overall, it’s also made me realize that I haven’t been doing a good enough job in my non-queer friends’ lives of educating them

Framing your questions and observations about people who are not the same as you is incredibly important. Checking your privilege is important. Why? Because we’re talking about fucking *human beings*. It’s common decency. Racism, sexism, homophobia – we think about these in a non-queer society to a reasonable level, and I’d say that the friends I maintain do a fine job of respecting others with regards to those three – but what else is there?

The trans spectrum is really often misunderstood. Incredibly often. So much so, that a dear friend whose art I enjoy and whose conversations I treasure, shocked me when talking about seeing “trannies” in some porn, and how freakish their bodies were.

So let’s take a step back and analyze that shit, ok?

What people who are uneducated often think when they see a person who has male genitals but presents as a woman is that that person is a tranny, shemale, or transvestite. People who think they’re being PC often try to pull out the word transvestite because they know tranny and shemale sound offensive – but here’s the thing. That’s often not right either.

Let’s break it down into some very general explanations. These are by no means definitions, but they’re a good way to get started thinking about the many ways that gender exists. Cole’s notes, and hopefully a good place for some folks to start learning what these terms mean and what you’re saying when you use them.

1. Transvestite – Break this word down and you have trans and vestite (based in the root for “I clothe” or “to clothe”). The term is used to describe people who occasionally like to dress in a way that is typical of the opposite sex in a gender binary (male, female). People who cross-dress often only do it some of the time, and rarely do these folks desire to cross dress all of the time, nor do many desire to carry out a sex change. Many people use the term transvestite to describe all people with presentations that don’t match their genitals. That’s why sometimes, the word transvestite can be heard as jarring or offensive – because people commonly misuse it and attach a negative connotation to it. Typically, referring to someone as a cross-dresser can be preferred. Or just greet the person and ask them how their day is going without trying to assume you know what they’d like to be referred to as.

Both transvestite and cross dresser are NOT terms to use to describe someone who has made the choice to live permanently as the gender/sex that they identify with. It is a term used for someone who occasionally cross dresses. See the following definitions for more on this.

Bonus fact: Drag queens are transvestites, but not all transvestites are drag queens. The term drag queen is generally only used when performance is involved. Go to a drag show, you’ll be glad you did and you might learn a thing or two.

2. Transsexual – A person who is a transsexual tends to operate in a gender binary mindset and its relation to sex anatomy. I say tends, because there are exceptions to every rule. In general, a transsexual person is born not identifying with the sex they were born into. There’s actually research that shows that the brain structure of transsexual people actually more closely resembles the prevalent brain structure of the sex that person identifies with. As in, trans men’s brains look like men’s brains even though they were born with a vagina. It’s science. It’s a thing.

It's science.

It’s science.

Many transsexual folks undergo sexual reassignment surgery in order to live in the body they feel they should. Often, men and women who transition wish only to be referred to as a man or a woman, rather than as trans. Some prefer to acknowledge their journey through sex by saying they’re a “transitioned man/woman”, or a trans man/woman. This is all pretty personal, and if you don’t know, you can ask. POLITELY. Frame your question in a way that shows that you want to learn and respect their identity, not in a way that makes them feel like an other or like they don’t belong.

When you call someone who is transsexual a tranny, cross dresser, or shemale, you’re denying their right to be addressed as themselves. You’re basically writing off their transition as a phase and a freak show. Don’t be a piece of shit.

3. Transgender: Being transgender can mean a lot of things, and gets used as a kind of umbrella label sometimes. I’m guilty myself of often using the term transgender in places where transsexual is actually accurate. My explanation, then, is mostly going to be copied definitions. Because I don’t trust myself to do justice to the intricacies.

“An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgendertranssexualcross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.” — GLAAD

4. Trans* – Oh the many many shades of transitioning, gender, sex, clothing, and all. If you’re not sure, use this term. Some people also adopt this as a label because they themselves don’t feel represented by the definitions of other terms. If anyone else has anything to add to this blurb, please feel free to do so in the comments, or email me.

So why is the term tranny offensive? Because it’s mostly used to refer derogatorily to any of the above-defined groups. Can it be reclaimed? Maybe. Just like gay, homo, queer, etc, some people do identify with it positively. But that number is small comparatively, and checking yourself on your use of it is a big deal.

I’m coming from writing this piece as a cisgendered (born identifying with the typical gender presentation of my sex) white woman, and welcome all criticism that may exist. I haven’t been perfect throughout my life either, so hopefully having this list of definitions will help people who just haven’t *had to* think about trans identities before. It’s a privilege not to have to think about these things. The absolute least we can do as cisfolk is to educate ourselves in order to make life a little less difficult for people that aren’t sitting on our high horses. Yet.

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A weekend of Trouble

It’s Monday! Oh no! But that means that Courtney leaves tomorrow. Alas, all good things must come to an end – but it’s been really great talking to another person who runs a little porno empire. We talked about things I should do with Cherrystems, about BitCoin, and about the industry in general. I’m seriously forever grateful for their guidance.

The screening on Friday was a huge success. Courtney showed over an hour of clips from their repertoire, much to the enjoyment of the crowd. But before we get to that, I have to talk about the opening act, ChubRub Burlesque. Oh my God.

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Heather’s comedy stylings as Ms Dirty Snowflake.

If you ever ever see these ladies on a bill, go. Don’t wait. Go. Experience it, you will not regret it. From Ray’s straight-to-the-heart talk about sizing to watching Mel’s intimate relationship with cake, this show was amazing.

ChubRub Burleque's Rae.
Ray’s monologue on sizing was powerful.

The final act was definitely the most amazing, which involved all of the ladies doing a full on traditional choreographed burlesque routine. Their work was super super appreciated, and we can’t wait for them to have more and more gigs around town. Seriously, they’re that amazing.

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HOW FREAKING CUTE IS THIS?!

I got to speak a little too! Mostly praises for ChubRub and Courtney Trouble, but it’s always interesting to get up in front of a group of people and speak when you don’t do it super often. Also, I really like my dress.

Kate Sinclaire
Hey, it’s me!

Next up was the main event – Courtney Trouble’s presentation, titled Feminist Porn: Representing Pleasure. We were treated to tons of clips, to which I could sometimes hear the audience breathing deeply to from backstage. The talk included focus on representation of queer groups in the porn that Courtney produces.

Having this kind of presentation in Winnipeg was so important. I spoke to some people the next day about the screening, and they admitted that they weren’t too sure about what to expect before arriving at the venue. It turns out, they realized, that feminist porn looks just like any porn – but with more emphasis on inclusion and representation of bodies, ethical treatment of performers, and more.

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Courtney, nailing it.

The talk then bled out into night, and we headed to bed tuckered out and super glad with how it went. So many people to reach in this prairie town!

The next day was an early start, as Courtney and I were joining model Arachnia for Cockroach zine‘s Let’s Talk About Porn panel. There’ll be a full audio recording available soon, so I won’t spoil too much of it for you – you’ll soon be able to hear it all for yourself. Suffice it to say, we addressed some good topics, and reached out as human beings who make porn.

I also started to become more comfortable with the idea of calling myself a sex worker. Maybe you’re wondering what I mean by that, and why I’d be uncomfortable or maybe even why I’d want to call myself that.

Cherrystems is a soft porn site. We don’t engage in sex acts, we simply appear naked on the internet. While I’m starting to make harder porn, I had previously felt that my sex work just wasn’t *sex*y enough for me to be considered a sex worker. I have a huge amount of respect for all sex workers, but have mostly seen the term claimed by escorts, in call workers, phone sex folks, and people who are having sex on film. I assumed that I simply wasn’t good enough yet, to be quite honest, but I feel much more confident in claiming the title after this weekend. I’m really happy about that.

And now we’re at today. Today I get naked for Courtney, which makes me super excited. It’s really just a matter of selecting a location and going for it. Later today, however, Courtney will join me on set with our CS models Caroline and Keelie as they work on one of those amazing harder sets for the new site.

It’s going to be a good day.

Genderfest! Courtney Trouble!

It’s less than a week away! Courtney Trouble, renowned queer porn icon, is coming through Winnipeg (and Calgary), and I’m pretty freaking excited. You can read about her mini Canadian tour on her blog.

She’s coming to town as part of Genderfest Winnipeg. You might be asking “Well, Kate, what is Genderfest?” and that’s really a great question.

Genderfest is exactly as it sounds. Break it down, and we’ve got “gender” and “fest”. The thing that we are festing is gender. What is gender? It’s oh so many things to oh so many people, which is why celebrating it is such a good idea. If you’re unclear on any of it, you should probably check out their Facebook page, and maybe head out to some events this week. There have already been events for the last several days, but there’s still plenty of time to check out some other great events.

I’m hosting the Feminist Porn: Representing Pleasure talk/screening on Valentine’s day (February 14th for those unaware). For more information, click this lil’ banner image here (which Courtney graciously created for us):

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In other news, I’m presently editing a video blog of mine to share with you all. It’ll be good. We’ll have a cup of tea together and talk about the new Fuze Velvet.

Hope you’re having an awesome day.