Trans Ethics: The Transgender Erotica Awards were this last weekend, and you were nominated. I was trying to keep up, but I was really busy. Did you win?
Ryder Monroe: Nope. I’ve been nominated the last four years multiple times, but I have yet to win anything. I like to think I’m the Susan Lucci of transsexual porn. (laughter)
TE: I spoke with a few of the models over the weekend and I got the sense that the Transgender Erotica Awards (TEAs) is both a positive and negative event. What effect do you feel they have on the Industry?
RM: I think its mostly a positive effect, especially since they changed the name (from “The Tranny Awards”). There’s so much bias against TS performers (and TS women in general). We deserve an award show of our own that understands and appreciates the porn we make… and just the beauty, and all around bad-assery that is trans women.
TE: How do you respond to people who might say that the TEAs can be a negative event by pitting trans women against each other?
RM: I would just tell those people that really the TEAs are about a community. It’s an event that celebrates us all. It’s not really competitive so much as it is a fun way to acknowledge a community of performers who have worked hard in this industry. It’s an event for not only the performers, but the fans as well.
TE: Is it fair to say that trans women often find acceptance in the sex work industry, as opposed to society in general?
RM: Yes. But that is changing, and it’s awesome.
TE: Do you feel respected by the people you work with?
RM: Absolutely. And for the most part even my fans are respectful. I have some lovely fans. (big smile)
TE: How did you get started in the Industry?
RM: I had just started transitioning and I was on Twitter posting pics, and doing the private cam stuff. A photographer from SMC contacted me and asked if I’d like to shoot. I was very flattered and extremely shy and insecure, but I thought that doing a shoot might help me with my confidence. So I did the shoot and it went really well. To my surprise the next day they asked me if I’d like to sign with them and do a site. The rest is history, I suppose.
TE: Why did you start camming?
RM: I needed an income. I had just gotten out of a contract as a songwriter and artist. My life was in disarray. It was both an exhilarating and terrifying time in my life. Exhilarating because I was now living my truth. Terrifying because I was a high school drop-out with no skills but music, and I knew I needed to grow up fast. Not to mention just the newness of like every single aspect of life. I had been extremely immature before I transitioned. I had never had a relationship. I was a virgin. I was probably like half a decade behind socially.
TE: So you just started camming and got noticed?
RM: Yep. I was at the right place at the right time and I wouldn’t change a thing. The last four years have been a blast.
TE: I noticed that you only do cam shows on Skype now. Why not through your website?
RM: I don’t have a website anymore. There are a bunch of fake Ryder Monroe sites out there though.
TE: How has that affected your career?
RM: Well, if anything I think its helped my career since I don’t think they’re pay sites –although the companies that own those pictures and videos would probably care to differ. But if I discovered someone were making money off my work, I would alert the company that owns the content, and they’d send out a cease and desist letter.
TE: What advice would you give to someone either trying to break into the Industry, or trying to get noticed?
RM: Get some sexy, quality photos taken, and then just contact the sites and companies that shoot TS porn. They’re always looking for new performers. Just make sure to be on time. Also being fun to work with doesn’t hurt either… being somewhat gregarious, being nice. Basically just have a good attitude.
TE: What is your favorite kind of content to shoot?
RM: I prefer the modeling aspect of the shoots. Sometimes I’ll be doing a shoot and really getting into modeling and looking pretty and then the director will be like: “Okay… now pull your panties to the side when you bend over”… and I’m like “…oh yeah… we’re making porn...” I forget. (laughter)
TE: It seems like you overcame your self-image issue pretty quickly. What advice do you have for trans women in general who have issues regarding their self-image?
RM: Try and love yourself. Know your worth and only associate with people that uplift and empower you. As trans women we’re often conditioned to think that we deserve less. Self-hate, self-deprecation, internalized transphobia and misogyny… trans women exist in a world where we are constantly bombarded with images of cissexism and transmisogyny so much that it can often turn inwards. Self-love, perseverance, and patience are fundamental ideals to aspire to that can break that cycle of outside hate marring the inside peace. But self-love above all. Love yourself and treat yo’self!
TE: That’s great advice. I have heard of some models who can’t watch their own scenes or view their own pictures unless they had taken them themselves. What do you think causes that, and is that an issue for you as well?
RM: I think a lot of people are just like that in general to be honest. Like when you hear your voice over someone’s voicemail or something and it’s like “What the fuck?! I sound like that?! Bleh…” I personally enjoy watching my own scenes, but if I take a pic with someone, I’m definitely going to make sure it’s a good one before I let them go post it on the web. (laughter)
TE: Do you have any personal rules about dating within the industry?
RM: I can’t date within the industry (laughs). I’m actually in a serious relationship now. When I was single and mingling though, I did find a few of my co-stars really attractive and they’re super cool, but I’m too jealous. I don’t think I could deal with knowing my boyfriend goes to work and fucks other girls (many of whom are probably friends of mine). (giggles)
TE: I assume that your boyfriend isn’t the jealous type. (laughter)
RM: No, he’s a great guy and really understanding of the biz. Also, I won’t be in porn forever.
TE: Do you miss working in music at all?
RM: I’m still working in music. That’s really always been my main thing. I’m just writing for myself mostly now.
TE: What are your biggest musical inspirations, and what instruments do you play?
RM: My inspirations for music change all the time, but my biggest influences are probably Patti Smith, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, and Heart. I produce music electronically, and I sing and write songs. I have some songs up at soundcloud.com/ryder-morrison
TE: The music in porn can be a bit cheesy at times. Would you consider doing the music for a production?
RM: (laughing) I did for a few of my first shoots. It’s not really something I’d be interested in these days unless I made my own DVD or something.
TE: Would that be something you’d consider doing? Maybe make a “Best of Ryder Monroe” DVD as a finale to your career in the Industry when the time comes?
RM: Maybe. I’m open to the idea.
TE: What are your future plans?
RM: I want to start a family in a few years. Release and perform my music and be happy.
TE: Just one more question: How do you respond to people who would say that sex work isn’t ethical?
RM: I think that’s a very self centered perspective for a person to take. When trans women aren’t getting murdered in the U.S. at the rate of one per week, and when trans women are truly liberated from oppression, then I’ll listen to what those people have to say. Until then… like my friends on tumblr would say, “check yo privilege”.
TE: Thank you so much, Ryder, for taking time to chat with us today.
RM: Likewise! I had fun. Thanks so much for having me.
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