TransEthics: How long have you been in the sex industries?
Wendy Summers: I started camming back in 2010. I kind of started on a lark — I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch and she cancelled at the last-minute. I got bored, so I logged into an account I had on iFriends and was shocked to find guys going gaga over me. I made an insane amount of money that first afternoon, so that night I sat down and put a business plan together. I started shooting pictures and video for my iFriends fan club by myself and realized it would be easier to have someone else behind the camera. I hired a photographer and things just sort of snowballed from there. I launched my self-produced solo website, www.wendysummers.com in February 2012.
It’s all grown out of my fan’s support for the work I do. One thing just lead to another. I must be doing something right, as I’ve been updating weekly for over 3 years and I’ve won the 2013 RISE Award for Best Shemale Performer (their choice of words) and three Transgender Erotica Awards over my career and well as xbiz and AVN nominations. It’s been an awesome journey so far.
TE: So you accidentally fell into sex work?
WS: Pretty much. (laughs) If someone said to me in college that I’d end up a Transsexual Porn Star I’d have never have believed them. I’ve never shied away from the fact I’m a sexual person. It’s integral to who I am. In a lot of ways the porn I shoot is as much about putting who I am out in the world as it is trying to make jerk-off material. I think it’s why so many people dig the type of work I do. My work is offbeat because it celebrates not only life, but also humor. To me, sex is something that should be fun, so I make my porn reflective of that.
TE: What were you doing before you got into the sex industry?
WS: The same thing I do every night Pinkie… try to take over the world!
WS: I actually continue to do what I was doing before…. in addition to producing my porn, I still work in the corporate world. It provides a different sort of intellectual challenge for me. I came close to leaving the corporate world behind a few years ago, but realized I would miss the sorts of challenges it provides me. So I’ve lived this balancing act between the two careers — thankfully the company I work for values me to the point I’ve a lot of flexibility to let me pursue my own goals in addition to theirs. I figure keeping busy keeps me out of trouble.
TE: Have you encountered any bigotry in your corporate job for being trans?
WS: Not at all. I actually came out while working for this company and when I did, they hired a consultant to educate the company as a whole on transsexual issues. They’ve been extraordinarily supportive because they value me for the contributions I make to the company.
TE: Sadly, that’s not the experience most trans women have.
WS: I’m well aware. My journey has been… unique on a lot of levels. I’ve been extraordinarily lucky with the path I’ve gone down. I was blessed to be passable and to have friends and an employer who were understanding. My transition has been a far easier road then most trans people go down. That said, some of it has involved careful maneuvering. When I started to consider transitioning, I made it a point to study the folks who we’d view as successes at it. One thing became clear when looking at folks who successfully transition on a job — you have to be someone the company cannot function without. To get to that kind of place, we’re often held to a higher standard than a cisgender person.
I’d like to believe the folks I work for are the good people who don’t allow irrelevant issues like my gender influence their decisions. But I wanted to make sure that if they weren’t the sort of people I thought they were, that their good business sense would lead them to the same conclusion: that my gender has nothing to do with the job I perform. Even in handling my transition with both my family and friends, I took a measured approach. I gave them time, and space, to adjust to my new appearance. I let them set the pace with which they became used to the me 2.0. It’s worked out well for me. I’ve not really lost anyone along the way. Everyone’s been supportive. That’s not to say it was always easy — there have been bumps in the road with my family. But I gave them time, and space, and they’ve come around. Transition made me happy and actually let me blossom into my life. And anyone who does care about me as a person has seen that. After all isn’t that how we should view all our friends and family? As people we want to support so they can find their happiness and place in the world?
TE: Definitely. What do you think are some of the road blocks which prevent trans people from being accepted in society today?
WS: I recently started doing some freelance writing and one of the pieces I was hired to do touched on this, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. I think there’s a number of issues which contribute to these roadblocks. I think the major thing is fear. Remember until the past ten years or so, trans people were largely seen as punch lines to a joke or viewed through the lens of drag queens. Folks like Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono and Caitlyn Jenner are now raising public awareness about transsexuals. The more people get to know who we are and realize we’re no different than anyone else, the more acceptance we will find in society.
I think beyond fear, I think a lack of tolerance for us also comes from folks who are heavily invested in the fallacy of the gender binary. When someone’s world view is grounded in the idea of there are men and there are women, then the idea of a trans person threatens that world view. I think it’s why more mainstream feminists view us as allies but at the same time more radical feminists fight against us.
I think it’s why conservative Christians who preach with a closed heart find us threatening as well; they are so invested in the idea of the divide between men and women. I find it fascinating they insist they follow the bible to the letter, yet they ignore a primary message in Genesis. Until Adam & Eve ate of the fruit, they had no concept they were different from one another. The Garden of Eden, meant as a Utopia, was a place where the concept of transsexuality wouldn’t even exist. We would just be the people we are with no further thought about something as silly as gender. I want to be clear, this isn’t all Christians. I’ve met many folks who identify as Christians who truly do take the messages of their faith to heart and do act out of love and acceptance towards transsexuals.
TE: How do you respond to people who say that sex work is unethical?
WS: Unethical… or immoral? The reality is the two are very different things.
TE: Both, actually.
WS:Well that’s kind of the point though. Most religions would view themselves as moral… yet it is very possible for that same practice to be unethical. By the same token, I think sex work can be both ethical and non-ethical; and moral and non-moral… sometimes both options on those points at the same time. How you do who you do is kind of important to understand whether the particular action is moral or ethical. For example, I do have multiple sex partners. But I follow a very strict ethical code when it comes to my sexual relations. Everyone I’m with knows everyone else who I am with. Everyone I’m involved with stays tested as often as I do. I’d define those relationships as ethical.
TE: What do you look for in your partners?
WS: Compassion, sexual ethics, intellectual discussion, humor. Geekiness is a plus! Also badassdom. And by that I mean the kind of person that’s chill to hang with.
TE: Do you have a preference as to gender where your lovers are concerned?
WS: I’m bi-sexual, so I’ve always been more attracted to people than genders. I’ve dated cis males, cis females, trans males, trans females… I’m an equal opportunity fuck bunny!
TE: Do you think that polyamory is more accepted in the trans community than society in general?
WS: I don’t know. It’s certainly more visible, but I know lots of polyamorous cis people who keep it on the down-low. My experience with polyamory in the trans community tends to play out along the lines of partners with the awareness that they can scratch certain sexual and emotional itches of one another but not all of them. I can’t speak for all cases since I really only know a small fraction of the trans community.
TE: What are your plans for the future?
WS: Well, when we’re done chatting here I’m going to go do a draft on Magic the Gathering On-Line… (laughter)
In all seriousness, I’m going to keep on truckin’… I’ve been on this journey and it keeps leading me new places. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and explore new opportunities as I find them. Like I said before, my website’s been ongoing for over 3 years and somehow I keep coming up with fun new shoots to do. Being creative with the sets we do helps keep me engaged and enjoying it. For example, this week’s set, “My Lohan Moment” looks like it’s entirely about shooting porn on a sugar high, but it was actually meant as a sort of meta-commentary of the “good girl of TS porn” reputation I’ve had over the years. Basically, I plan to continue to find new excuses to jerk off (laughs). Being involved in Adult Entertainment has given me so many opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise –my freelance writing for example. I’m just going to keep looking for what more I can learn and what new things I can experience. Oh… and I’ll probably cum a few more times on film.(Laughter)
TE: Just one last question: What advice would you give to a trans woman who would like to get into the Adult Entertainment industry?
WS: First, don’t get into Adult Entertainment unless you are sure of who you are as a person. When you find yourself flooded with daily messages from people who value you only for your appearance it is very easy to lose yourself in that process.
TE: Thank you for chatting with us today, Wendy.
WS: No worries – it’s been fun!