TransEthics: What is it that attracted you to the Adult Industry?
Kailee Keller: Well as like anyone and everyone, I love porn (laughs). I actually didn’t really seek it out though, the industry kinda found me. I always had it in the back of my head that I know I could do porn, and I would probably be good at it. I started camming a long time ago to make a little side money in college when things were rough, and I really enjoyed it, so I knew I would enjoy doing professional shoots with websites!
Everyone paints the Industry as a super dirty pervert world, I want to change that because that’s not what I see. I see gorgeous people, doing what they love and sharing themselves with the world, which is one of the most intimate things that i think someone can do.
TE: Does exposing that degree of intimacy to the public demean sexuality in your eyes? Does it affect your own personal relations?
KK: I don’t personally believe it demeans sexuality. To me being in front of a camera is empowering. When I’m in front of the camera I don’t have anything to hide because I can’t. I honestly believe that every single person would do porn, people are just too ashamed to have their face related to that image. I don’t allow myself to feel shame. I felt sadness and depression and shame my entire life before I transitioned. So now that I’m living my life, I don’t have anything to hide and I’m willing to put it all out on the table, because 9 times out of 10 the people who judge you for living your life aren’t willing to do the same, and scared of putting all of their lives and intimacies out on the table. But I’m sure it will certainly affect personal relationships in the future.
I’m a loner and an outgoing introvert, so I struggle making new friends who are cis. I also haven’t dated anyone since 2005, which was high school. So I don’t know having a dating relationship without being in porn (laughter). They’re scared of putting all of their lives and intimacies out on the table like I do.
TE: When you were in high school, did you think you’d be doing porn for a living?
KK: (Laughs) Not at all. I had plans to be an elementary school teacher and take over my dad’s business… but I had to change things when I finally accepted the fact that I would have to transition. In high school I was still trying to date girls, fight my urges to sleep with guys, and not get my ass kicked for being me. I grew up in a super rural area, and being the smallest kid in my grade, I got picked on quite a bit. But I never really thought about doing porn for a living until I started transitioning last year.
I grew up in a super-rural area, and being the smallest kid in my grade got picked on quite a bit. High school I was pretty much doing everything I could not to get outed as gay or trans. [That] took up every minute of my time awake. But I never really thought about doing porn for a living until I started transitioning last year.
TE: So being trans effectively cancelled your dreams?
KK: They weren’t my dreams, they were my dad’s. He wanted me to take over the business, and I was about to, but said no because I didn’t want to be stuck in my hometown the rest of my life with that business. So I told him I didn’t want to take it over and moved out to start transitioning about a month later.
I never really had dreams or aspirations, because I didn’t know who I was and wasn’t being true to myself. But being trans has made my life infinitely more difficult. Right now I could be in Pennsylvania running my own business and teaching elementary school, making a shitload of money. But I wouldn’t have been happy, so I chose happiness over money.
TE: How did your family react to your transition?
KK: I’ve gotten a lot of support from my parents and cousins, and some extended family. No one has seen me yet since I came out, so I don’t think they fully quite understand what is going on. I’m not going to be seeing any of my family until I’m comfortable, which may take a while. So for the most part I’ve gotten great support from family, minus one person…
TE: Your father….?
KK: No, my sister… I was terrified of telling my father and mother because I didn’t know how they would react. I wasn’t worried about what my sister would think because I thought for sure she would be accepting… But we haven’t spoken since I came out, which really hurts because besides my parents she’s the only family I have. I had one grandparent who passed away when I was in jr high school. Other than that it’s just been me, my parents, and my sister for my entire life. So it hurts knowing she doesn’t want to talk to me.
TE: Do you think your sister may be jealous a bit? That you may be a better woman than she is?
KK: I honestly don’t know. I can’t tell you what she’s thinking. I really wish she would just talk to me and tell me how she feels. I’ve always felt a sort of shame of me coming from her. She’s the golden child. She’s extremely smart, funny, played sports in school, graduated college and now works all over Alaska as a radiology technician in hospitals. And then there’s me: an alcoholic college dropout who is transgender and can’t keep a steady job. So I have a hard time thinking it’s jealousy.
TE: What do you think it is that makes a trans woman unemployable aside from short-term work?
KK: The stigma against trans people, men being so obsessed with their masculinity and ego that they see any trans woman as a serious threat to them. It’s hard to say though, but I believe that every company doesn’t see transgender people as a potential employee, all they see are liabilities and potential problems within the company that could happen. Which gives trans woman not much of a chance before they even interview.
TE: So, you believe it’s an inherency in the system that prevents trans women from finding employment?
KK: I do believe that the majority of businesses, whether they admit it or not, don’t want a transgender individual working for them because it may somehow make things difficult for them. I feel like their mindset is “why do we need to hire a trans person, who may cause problems, who people may not like. when we can just hire a regular male or female and not get in trouble for firing them.”
I don’t know. It’s difficult to describe. Long story short, being trans is complicated, and businesses don’t want to bother taking the time to deal with complicated issues so they just avoid them.
TE: If you had the ability to bridge that gap… to make being transgender a non-factor in employment, how would you do it?
KK: Oh gosh, the only way would be to wave my magic wand and erase all the negative stigmas that people have about trans people. Because no matter how many laws you write, people will find a way around it. As long as society has a stigma against trans people so will employment.
TE: So essentially, girls like us — unless we can live stealth — have no choice but to accept employment from the Adult Industry?
KK: Not at all! Girls like us deserve a good job where ever we want! There are companies who are amazing trans advocates, I’m just speaking in the general that businesses (in my opinion) see trans as difficult. But it’s completely subjective, from the interviewer, to the manager, to the business. It’s just much harder for girls like us to find a comfortable well-paying job than cis girls.
TE: How can we change attitudes that may be biased against us where employment is concerned?
KK: We need to just be the awesome bitches that we all are!! I’m proud of who I am, and I’m proud to be transgender. My philosophy in life concerning being transgender is to educate. Majority of people have never met an openly transgender individual in their life. When someone tells me I’m the first trans person that they’ve met I want to give them the old “See, that wasn’t so bad was it?” line. I’m trans, I’m a person, and there’s nothing wrong with me. So when someone asks me a question out of curiosity I have no problem answering it.
I treat every person I meet with respect and love until they give me a reason not too. Because if I’m rude, or a cunt, or bitchy to someone who has never met a trans person before, they’re going to remember that. We have to remember that we are all part of this community, the trans community, we ARE the community, and every single action we take in public has an impact on someone’s image of the community who isn’t a part of it. We need to continue the positive impact this community has in our neighborhoods, our cities, and our world.
TE: It’s difficult to remain positive when there are communities which continually try to pass anti-trans restroom laws. What do you feel is behind the recent push for such legislation across America?
KK: Fear and ignorance. The politicians passing these laws more than likely have never met a trans person, and a lot of them don’t want to. So they do anything they can to make THEIR lives more comfortable and don’t care about the people it will affect, because they don’t care about those people. I think it’s because the transgender community is getting so much media coverage, that the transphobic politicians are like — “Aww shit… these trans people are for real and are gonna start seriously fighting for their rights, so we better start legislating now while we can still get away with it, and keep them down as long as we can.”
TE: How do you respond to those who say that the legislation is being pushed to protect cis people against sexual assault by trans people?
KK: I respond by telling them that they are very uneducated. There is no evidence of a single case of that anywhere, except for the assholes that aren’t actually transgender trying to further the bathroom bill agenda by [entering the restroom of the opposite sex]. I think trans people are ten times more likely to be the victim of sexual assault by a cis person than vice versa. The politicians have latched onto the bathroom bill law because that’s the easiest place for them to create fear amongst the public in order to push their laws through.
TE: Have you ever been scared to use the ladies room because of what a cis woman may do to you if they discovered you were trans?
KK: Yes, when I would be at the bar or club, I would never go to the bathroom alone, ever. I wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone, and would go as fast as I could. No one ever bothered me about it which I’m extremely grateful for, but I still get extremely nervous in situations where I have to go alone, because you never know.
TE: One last question: If you could speak to everyone in the world for 15 seconds, what would you say?
KK: Oh gosh, I would tell everyone that it’s okay to be transgender. There’s so many of us in the world and this isn’t a “fad” and it’s not a mental disorder. It’s who we are. We need to break this binary system and start realizing that the world is a spectrum, just like colors, there’s more than just black and white out there.
TE: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Kailee…
KK: Thank you so much for interviewing me! I hope we get to do it again in the future!
I absolutely love this interview!!