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Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012

'Doing It Again': Positive Images of Trans Women in Porn

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It's a truism that women are objectified in mainstream pornography. Women who are marginalized in our society, such as women of color and transgender women, are even more fetishized in porn. Even with the rise of feminist porn and its attempts to portray women's and queer sexuality authentically, positive representations of trans women are hard to find. Tobi Hill-Meyer, her company Handbasket Productions and new distributor Trouble Films have set out to challenge these representations and create authentic images of trans women's sexuality. Following the success of her first film, Doing It Ourselves, Tobi is now in the middle of fundraising and casting for her second film, Doing It Again. Tobi took a few moments to talk to me about what she hopes to achieve.

LAS: You won a Feminist Porn Award for 2010's Doing It Ourselves. What other reactions have you had to that film since it was released?


THM: I was also listed No. 3 in Velvet Park Media's Top 25 Most Significant Queer Women of 2010, but most important is the outpouring of appreciation I've gotten from people who've said how much the film meant to them personally, to see people they identified with expressing their sexuality without shame.

LAS: What inspired you to do a follow-up film? What new territory do you hope to cover with Doing It Again?


THM: Doing it Ourselves had interviews, but they were unfocused, unedited, on the extras disc, and many people never saw them. I wanted to make something that would focus on discussion and dialogue. Doing it Again will weave together both interview footage and explicit sex scenes to paint a full portrait of each person and give them the chance to speak to the role of relationships and sexuality in their life and the significant aspects of what they are sharing with us.

LAS: One of the stars of Doing It Ourselves, Drew Deveaux, has talked about what she terms the "Cotton Ceiling", referring to the attitude of some cisgender queer women that they will not consider trans women as sexual partners. Do you think that your movies interface with this issue in any way?


THM: Trans women are encouraged to hold shame around our bodies, and there are often direct consequences discouraging us from participating in community when sexuality is involved. Similarly, those who date and hook up with trans women are expected to feel shame as well—being told they aren't really lesbians or aren't really straight men.

Because of this shame, many people feel the need to declare that they would never consider a trans woman as a potential partner, regardless of whether or not that is the case and, in some instances, before they have ever had the chance to get to know any trans women on any meaningful level. Doing It Again will give trans women and our partners the chance to speak to all these issues and more. If that gives people the chance to question assumptions they've made about themselves or the courage to speak out about their own experiences, then all the better.

[It's important to note that the "Cotton Ceiling"] concept has unfortunately been misunderstood—and sometimes purposefully misrepresented—to give the impression that trans women are coercing other people to have sex with them. No one believes that the solution to these problems is for anyone to have sex with someone they do not wish to have sex with.

Want to support this project?

If you'd like to help support Doing It Again, you can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign for the project, which can get you free copies of the film when it is released and other goodies. The Kickstarter campaign runs through Aug. 8.

If you are a trans woman (or if your partner is a trans woman), you can also apply to be a part of the film. The casting call is open through Aug. 10.

Laura Anne Stuart owns the
Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side. She has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.