Trans Experience: Sophia Banks on Privilege, Cyber-bullying, and Trans Liberation

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Editor’s note: Trigger warning for violence as a first-hand account of violence against Ms. Banks is discussed. 

TransEthics: There are many who would consider you a leader in the trans community. How does that make you feel?

Sophia Banks: Uncomfortable, to be honest. I don’t think of myself as a leader. I am not really into the concept of leaders. I am glad and honoured I inspire some folks and have a platform to educate people. But being seen as leader makes me uncomfortable. Rising to a sort of level where I am seen as an authority has always been weird for me. I started out just speaking my truth as a trans woman pissed off about shit and things kinda blew up. One thing I hate about being seen as a leader is how I am expected to act strong all the time, never feel weak or insecure. It all happened so fast as I was going through my own transition and the struggles that come with that. Continue reading

Trans Reality: Jen Richards on Trans Activism, Community, and Sex Work

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TransEthics: What inspired you to come up with the Trans 100?

Jen Richards: The seed of the original idea began with co-founder Toni D’Orsay. She had wondered aloud on her Facebook who would be in a Forbes style top 100 trans people. She asked for people to suggest names in the comments. I put in a few, then tried to go to sleep. But as is my issue, my brain did not comply, and I began thinking about all the possibilities of a list of 100 trans people. I got back up and called Toni (we had met through We Happy Trans, my earlier project) and we began discussing ideas.  Continue reading

Trans Artisan: Courtney Trouble on Gender, The Effects of Transphobia, and Art

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TransEthics: What did you do before you got into sex work?

Courtney Trouble: I started doing phone sex as a job a few months after my eighteenth birthday because between college, my personal projects, and trying to be a freelance writer, I didn’t have the time or interest to stay at an entry-level retail or food job. I just didn’t have it in me. I was initially attracted to sex work because I wanted to work on my art (which at that time, were photography, zines, websites, and music) instead of work at someone’s store. I’ve been doing some sort of internet-based sex work since 2002. So what did I do before sex work? Be a teen, I guess. A nerdy, super creative, artistic, baby riot grrrrl who didn’t want a corporate job.

TE: When did you decide to move beyond working the phones? Continue reading

Trans Action: Chelsea Poe on Activism, the Trans 100, and Violence Against Trans Women

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TransEthics: What does it mean for you to have been in the Trans 100 this year?

Chelsea Poe: It really meant a lot to me. Being recognized by the trans community for my activism is extremely humbling. I think for myself it validates what I have been doing in the industry thus far and really makes me motivated for the future.

TE: Your activism –especially where it intersects with sex work– has ruffled some feathers of late. Tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced. Continue reading

Trans Dominion: Jane Starr on Coming Out, BDSM, and What’s Missing in TS Porn

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Trans Ethics: How did you first get in to sex work?

Jane Starr: My first intro to sex work was when I moved to Los Angeles. I needed a job so I could do things like eat, pay rent, sleep indoors. I applied at Buffalo Exchange and The Pleasure Chest, which is probably the most versatile well-known sex store in L.A. I had met a girl who had just been fired from there, so I said “let’s go,” and they hired me. I thought it was going to be the most bleak depressing thing I could ever do.

TE: Sex work, or working at that store?

JS: Working at the store. My only experience with sex work had been at seventeen. I was a homeless drug addict in Houston, Texas . I met lots of other punk street kids –boys and girls. They were really cool. They were open about getting picked up, being prostitutes. This was way before my transition, so I started doing it too. In my drug addict mania I started cross-dressing like all the punk girls I had admired my whole life. But my need to transition was still buried way too deep inside of me.

TE: How did you discover that you needed to transition? Continue reading

Trans Legalities: Mia Davina on Media, Discrimination, and Something New

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TransEthics: What do you say to critics who say that sex work isn’t ethical?

Mia Davina: I would have to play Devil’s Advocate a little and ask what is ethical to them? If working a “Normal” job where you are paid tiny amounts for all your free time and have to put up with bosses you hate is ethical, then I wouldn’t want to be ethical! Porn has always had stigma against it although sex is a beautiful thing that creates life. Porn performers are tested constantly and work in a safe environment. It’s much less “dirty” than sex is for people outside the porn world.

I think people can’t live off of the tiny wages they make doing 40 hours a week, let alone being Trans and having to mask your truth to appease your bosses, and unless people are paid better it is silly to look down on sex work and Adult Entertainment.

TE: What were you doing before you got started in the sex industry? Continue reading

Trans Undaunted: Brooke Zanell on Restrooms, Porn, and Being a Trans Teen

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Trans Ethics: How did you get started in the Industry?

Brooke Zanell: I was traveling with TS Lady Godiva escorting, we were in Hollywood, Florida and she asked if I wanted to come with her to her photo shoot with Tonya for Tonyaworld.com. And Tonya asked if I wanted to shoot and I did. I fell in love with the camera.

TE: You do have a flair for it. What awards were you nominated for at the 2015 Transgender Erotica Awards?

BZ: The Transcendence Awards sponsored by Dr. Sinclair
Continue reading

Trans Activism: Honey Foxxx on Unifying the LGBTQI Community and the Importance of Supportive Families

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Trans Ethics: How did you get started in the sex industry?

Honey FoXXX: I was 18 Years old and I was living in South Central (Los Angeles). This is a time pre-transition. I was on the 103rd street train station and this talent producer Robbie said “You look like you have a big dick.” He gave me his card and a week later I was shooting for gay porn.

TE: So you started pre-transition… how long were you doing that before you decided to get on hormones and start being your true self?

HF: I did gay porn for almost two years. I started my transition and taking hormones at 19, but I didn’t start living full time until I was 20, which is when I was discovered by Danielle FoX, which is how I got into TS porn.

TE: When you were growing up, did you ever think that the sex industry would become your career?

HF: Honestly… NO! No way! I was shy and quiet. I was kinda nerdy. Plus my parents were pretty conservative for a gay couple so I was very sheltered for a long time. Continue reading

Trans Oblivion: Felicity Summer on Feminism and the Perils of Being a Homeless Sex Worker

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Trans Ethics: How long have you been camming?

: I have only cammed a few times, my income from sex work has been primarily escorting. I have also done porn. I began escorting two and a half years, webcamming for about one and a half, and started doing porn in August 2014.

TE: What did you do before getting into sex work?

FS: Oh, everything. I had retail jobs, was a server, and got a pretty thorough minimum wage experience. But I’ve also made a living playing in jazz combos, running market research call centers… Wage work just isn’t for me. I was also an undergrad college student, went to two different universities. The year I started sex work I was going to Portland State and was an teacher’s assistant for Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality studies.

TE: Did you consider going into teaching? Continue reading