Remember That Time Suicide Girls Was Really Transphobic?

Suicide Girls

I like porn.  I think that pornography isn’t something that people should be ashamed of, in the same way I don’t think sex or masturbation should be made to be seen as shameful.  Most people enjoy sex and masturbation, and porngraphy is a great way of exploring both of these areas as well as expanding your own views and opinions.

Pornography can be a great way of helping people discover more about themselves, whether it’s someone seeing a certain sex act that piques their interest, or someone realising that they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or pansexual because they’ve never realised certain genders turned them on until they saw them in porn, or maybe even something as simple as finding a certain look or type of person that jumps out at you as attractive.  Porn is amazing at helping you figure out who you are, who you like and how you want to fuck.

It was during my teenage years I stumbled across a certain look that I found very attractive, tattooed, pierced girls with funky hair.  Maybe it was growing up in a small town, mostly surrounded by dull people who saw anything other than ‘normal’ (common) to be bad and would stamp it out quick.  Whatever the reason, I liked this look.  And it turns out a lot of other people do too, and a lot of porn is made to cater to this area.

One of the most popular of these groups is a website called Suicide Girls.  Suicide Girls has been going since 2001, and has featured thousand of models in various states of undress and full nudity in more photo’s than you can count.

I found this site and thought that it was amazing.  I began to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, anywhere where I’d get some random porn on my news feed.

However, today I discovered something about Suicide Girls that has deeply upset and disturbed me, in 2011 the company acted incredibly ignorantly and transphobic when asked about the inclusion of transgender models.

I know, 2011, not exactly a news story but the title does include the word ‘Remember’, so of course this is something older.  And yes, before anyone jumps in with comments, their views may have changed since then, but that does not erase what they did in the past and how insidious transphobia is in the world.  Especially when it comes to pornography.

Suicide Girls were approached by a group of trans women who wanted to model with the company, unfortunately they were all rejected on the grounds that they had not had gender surgery to remove their penises, and Suicide Girls believed that this should exclude them from being models with them.  As you can expect, this caused something of a backlash on the Internet, at which point the company made things worse by continuing to respond with transphobia.

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Whilst this may not be the most openly hostile and hateful kind of transphobia, it is still transphobia.  Despite their insistence that they respect all genders and trans people their determination to define female as having breasts and a vagina are incredibly insulting.

Not only does this send a message to the trans community that despite how they look, present and live their lives they’re only ever going to be considered the gender of what’s between their legs.  I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve said this, but having a penis does not make you a man, having a vagina does not make you a woman.  Having a penis does not make you less of a woman, having a vagina does not make you less of a man.

There are so many variations of gender within the world that defining it simply by penis or vagina is insane, especially as it erases the existence of people whose genitals don’t fall into these categories either.

Pushing trans feminine people away because they may not have a vagina also helps to reinforce the incredibly harmful notion that if someone is attracted to trans women they’re not attracted to women, but something slightly different.  If you have a site that is full of women and female models and they include trans women with no fanfare or othering to set them aside then it tells people that trans women are women.  To separate us from cis women sends the message that we’re somehow not ‘real’ women.

This means that if someone is attracted to trans women they have to go searching elsewhere for trans porn.  One of the problems with this is that there are many companies and websites out there that don’t show trans models and actors the same degree of dignity and respect that Suicide Girls gives to their models.  It ends up being if you want to see trans porn you have to go to sites that use slur words such as tranny or she-male.  As a trans woman who finds trans women attractive having to go to sites that talk about trans women this way can not only be an incredible turn off, but also deeply upsetting.

Instead of being inclusive of all women Suicide Girls has said that trans women can’t be associated with them, they have to be seen as something other.  Imagine how people would feel if they said that the site was only for white women?  Probably not very happy about it to say the least.

Integration of trans and cis women in porn without labelling or separating does work, and has been used successfully on other sites too.  One such site that does this wonderfully is CrashPad, who simply have all of their models together.  When you click on one of their films you don’t know if the actors are cis, trans, non-binary, there’s nothing to indicate who is in the film that ‘others’ certain genders or presentations.

Another thing that this kind of view does is to reinforce the notion that trans women cannot be women unless they have surgery.  This kind of view actually excludes a hell of a lot of trans women.  Despite what film and television would have people believe, not all trans women have ‘the full surgery’.  Whether due to not being able to afford to, or simply not wanting to, it’s not a universal constant amongst trans people, but as varied a choice as the community itself.

There isn’t a scale or hierarchy of how trans someone is based upon if they pass as female, if they chose to have long or short hair, if they have a flat chest, naturally grown breasts or huge implants, or if they have a penis or not.  You’re not more or less trans based on these factors, and you’re not more or less female based on this either.


To claim that your company represents women but then refusing to represent all women is a bit of a mistake.  To say that your company ‘redefines’ beauty but refuses to acknowledge that women are beautiful based on more than breasts and a vagina is simply mind boggling.  What exactly are you redefining?

Maybe this isn’t much of an issue for everyone, maybe some of you think that this whole article is pointless, but I believe that it matters to talk about these things, to address the double standards of saying that you support the trans community, but then say trans women aren’t woman enough to model for you.

Let’s not put people in boxes based on what’s between their legs, our world should be far beyond that point by now.

Amy.
xx

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Amy is a journalist and editor contributing the websites Planet Transgender, Gay News Network, The Bottle Episode, The Retro Box and Claire Channel. Amy is also a published comic book writer and letterer.

In addition to her writing Amy has also worked with the Centre For Hate Crime Studies in Leicester and has worked in the capacity of an advisor to the United Nations Entity For Gender Equality and The Empowerment of Women.

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One Response to Remember That Time Suicide Girls Was Really Transphobic?

  1. Hail Satan... bibles are for morons. July 9, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Interesting article. Nicely expressed views. I wish I didn’t feel shame about watching porn, but unfortunately I do. Religious programming… (Brainwashing)