Trouble with a capital T (and that stands for transfolk)

Trouble with a capital T

seswf9I am a newly-minted fan of the work of San Francisco’s Courtney Trouble, who is a director of zippy, sexy, peaceful pornography featuring not many of the usual suspects (although Trouble ensemble players Lorelei Lee, Syd Blakovich, and Jiz Lee have shown up on this site before).

Only trouble problem is, mine is primarily a straight porn website, and Trouble’s work often deals with a more gender-and-orientation-fluid cast.

So, after I reviewed Trouble’s excellent “Seven Days in Heaven,” I thought it would be fun to give a copy of her “Speakeasy” to my friend Ivy Riveter, a woman who has switched teams.

“You are my Brett Favre,” I told Riveter. “Now explain San Francisco to me.”

So Riveter delivered a heartfelt and, I felt, complimentary review of “Speakeasy,” particularly gushing in its admiration of a scene between Lorelei Lee and Billy Castro. But she also said that there were certain things she just didn’t get.

Ivy Riveter’s review of “Speakeasy”

I recently watched “Speakeasy”. This is my first experience with authentic “lesbian porn”. I did not know what to expect.

I am bi-sexual, but I think on the spectrum of sexuality I’m more straight than gay. I’m in a long-term relationship with a man. I often watch straight porn.  This was a nice introduction to the genre.

This porn features transgender men getting it on with lesbians and other trans men. “Transgender man” meaning: a biologically born woman who identifies as a man and is transitioning or has transitioned in some way (psychologically and/or physically) to living as a man.

Initially, I was distracted from the hot sex on screen by my preoccupation with the trans anatomy. The transgender men in this film do not have penises or breasts. Some have the scars from having their breasts removed, but they all still have vaginas. I was fascinated by the choice to go half the way with the surgery.

I also found myself clicking forward to see if the film would show a reconstructed dick. Spoiler alert: not included.  Once I moved through my initial “huh?” reaction, this porn does what porn is supposed to do. It is hot. And it is fuel for my domination fantasies…but better because the domination comes in the form of a man with some female characteristics. The idea of being dominated by a trans man or lesbian is less threatening, but still hot, which helped me get into the sex.

First scene was my favorite. “Tomcat” does a very hot blonde, Lorelei Lee, in the bathroom of the speakeasy bar. It is a small space and Lorelei is thrust up against the wall and penetrated by Tomcat’s fingers and tongue in all different positions. There was something attractive about Tomcat. He was aloof and mean. He also could do her like a man. Unlike actresses I have seen in other porn, Lorelei seemed authentically turned on. Something about her moans seemed real. No bullshit high-pitched squeaky moans like straight porn actresses. (Do men really find that hot?)

Tomcat never used a strap-on during this scene, as if to prove to the audience that lesbian sex can be really hot without it. Being a mostly straight girl, I thought that sex would be boring without cock or a cock substitute. Not true. He went at Lorelei with the gusto of a man. She hardly stimulated him. The cock-less scene may be an intentional feminist political statement. I’ve decided that I enjoy a dash of politics with my porn.

Other exotic sex acts included in this film: a girl strung up with rope in crazy positions by a hot butch dyke and two trans men bare backing with a strap-on.

The down side to watching a trans man with a strap-on is that I felt sad that these boys were not born boys. I could almost see the grief in their eyes at not matching the inside with the outside. This was a bit of a downer. Regardless, I would definitely watch more lesbian porn. Straight porn is made for men. Lesbian porn is all about the woman (obviously) and that is hot.

Because I’d been having a discussion with Trouble I let her read this review. Parts of it concerned her, particularly that the trans community or otherwise trans-aware people might see some judgment lurking in Riveter’s questions.

I didn’t think this was true, but it did remind me of a story from my Past.

Once upon a time, I was working the night shift with an older Jamaican guy named Frank. Frank’s wife had made him a special goat dish. I had never seen goat on a plate. I said, “That looks delicious,” and he offered me some.

Well, I made the mistake of smelling it first, and Frank got angry.

“It’s rude to smell food that someone gives you,” he said.

“Really? Where?” I said.

“It’s rude.”

It was not my intention to be rude, but now I smoke anything a Jamaican gives me without smelling it.

When I arrived in Los Angeles I called a literary agent about a book proposal. I asked her what the best way would be to send a few chapters of my brilliant manuscript.

“You need to send a query letter first,” she said, sounding like she was on the verge of spitting.

“Oh, thank you,” I said. “What is a query letter?”

“YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS ALREADY,” she said, and hung up.

“Well, I never,” I thought.

It may at first seem odd, coming from the blatant and almost clinical, politics-free world of straight porn with its fake tits and businesslike blowjobs, rental homes, and high heels, that such a thing as sensitivity exists, but the casts of Trouble’s movies are not your average bears, so Trouble went through the Trouble of composing a tiny manifesto, complete with links for further reading.

Courtney Trouble’s response

I am incredibly happy that my films, and my community, are making their way into the public’s eye, because many of them – “Speakeasy” in this case – can be just as thought-provoking as they are arousing. For the past eight years I have been making a kind of porn that has only been seen, largely, by my peers – the artists, the dykes, the fags, the transfolk – at my porn site To have this work reach so many different kinds of people is exciting, not only for my artistic ego of course, but for the hope that the people I present in my work will gain more visibility, acceptance, and safety through the enrichment of mainstream understanding, via pornography. (Who said porn doesn’t have any educational or societal significance? This is proof!)

The process of making porn with trans people and gender-fluid sex seems very normal to me, though I realize it is largely uncharted territory in our usual porno palates. While I don’t feel responsible for defining, explaining, generalising, or teaching my audience or porn reviewers about transsexuality, I realize at this point, that some resources are needed. I’ve asked my trans folk friends and allies on Twitter to give me their favorite and “most accessible” links on the subject, and here’s what they responded with:

Hudson’s trans man Resource Guide
What Is Female to Male (F.T.M.)
F.T.M. 101: The Invisible Transsexuals
Transmen 4 Men Primer

I encourage anybody to read these links, especially if what you are seeing in “Speakeasy” turns you on, but the confusion of all those strap-ons and top surgery scars are getting in your way.

“In order to understand the difference between someone who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and someone who is transgender, you need to know the difference between sex and gender. Simply put, sex is polarity of anatomy, gender is polarity of appearance and behavior. As one gains familiarity with transgenderism, these definitions quickly break down, but they serve as a good starting point.” -UC Riverside LGBT Resource Center, Transgender 101 Fact Sheet

So how does this all factor into making porn, talking about porn, and watching porn with transmen in it? I can’t make reading a “Trans 101” paper a required step in watching or reviewing my films, and can only hope that as more pornography (and hell, media of any kind) gives transfolks more visibility, perhaps there will be more conversations and understanding of who these people are, why they do what they do, and how to give these communities the equal rights, opportunities, and safety that non-trans folks have.

Tips for Reviewing Porn
with transsexual, gender-bending, or or gender-queer performers & performances

– Don’t call it lesbian porn, unless it’s actually two women fucking. Lesbian porn is footage or photographs of two women (either cisgendered or transwomen) representing as women and fucking like women. Genres that trans men usually perform in include straight, gay (boy/boy), or queer – but a scene with a man in it is not a lesbian scene. Try to make sure that who you’re watching is actually a “butch dyke” before calling them one.

– Don’t assume somebody’s gender or pronoun. Use non-gendered words like “they” or “that really hot person with the heart tattoo” – or call them by their name. Avoid mistakes by saying something like “Billy Castro really made Lorelei Lee squirt all over that table!” instead of “She really made her come…” or “He (I think!) really made her come” – use the pronouns provided to you through watching the scene, or don’t use them at all.

– Don’t use phrases like “kind of butch” or “boyish” or “boi” et cetera. Trying to define a stranger’s gender or gender presentation based on what you see in the porn scene is time consuming and often incorrect. There are thousands of adjectives you can use to describe a performer’s sexiness without referring to their gender or sex.

– Avoid gendered nicknames for anatomical parts. Some words that have been used to describe genitalia that aren’t gendered: bits, down there, privates, junk. Also, if you hear the performer calling their genitalia something (like perhaps dicklit, cock, pussy, front hole…) repeat the word THEY used to describe themselves instead of trying to find new ones. If they are talking about their cock, you should too!

– Try to avoid talking about the performer’s transitional status. Transsexuals choose to take hormones, get top or bottom surgery, at their own pace, and sometimes not at all – all for their own reasons. Respect a trans person’s identity regardless of where they are in their transition. Whether they look like “real men” or “real women” shouldn’t factor into your review – focus on the sex in your review and you should be just fine.

– Include a few resources in your review for your readers who may be confused or uneducated about transsexuality, so they they can be better informed before they watch the movie you’re reviewing. It will make for a more enjoyable and arousing porn-watching experience.

– Watch as much porn with transpeople as you possibly can, to expose yourself to all kinds of genders and find your own voice in reviewing scenes with trans performers. Some good places to start: my films “Speakeasy,” “Roulette,” “Roulette Dirty South,” “Roulette Berlin,” “Seven Minutes in Heaven 2: Tender Hearted,” and the upcoming “Bordello,” also – films by Trannywood Pictures and Morty Diamond specialize in porn with trans mans. Shine Louise Houston also casts transmen, check out “Champion” or her porn site CrashPadSeries.Com. NoFauxxx.Com, my porn site, has tons of transfok (both trans woman and trans man) although I don’t use any disclaimers so have fun finding them! And of course, Buck Angel’s films are a must-see, as he’s the “world’s first trans man porn star” and markets his transsexuality to the masses in a way no other queer porn does – an interesting mainstream example of trans mans in porn. Hopefully Tobi Hill Meyer’s “DIY: Trans Women Porn Project” will come out soon so we can see transwomen making their own porn, because I can’t think of any good examples of trans womans in porn where they aren’t being totally fetishized except for that film, and No Fauxxx and Crash Pad Series a little.

The Libertarian part of me says that all porn should be accessible by everyone, and it sounds a little like a Poll Tax to do outside reading before one jacks or jills off. But then, I am a member of the Biological Dominant Paradigm (at least until I am subverted) and I realize that not everything is as cut and dried as what occurs to me south of my own equator when Kagney Linn Karter walks by; perhaps I should check my local Bookmobile for its trans man section.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: “Champion“; “Seven Minutes in Heaven“; “Crash Pad 5“; Lorelei Lee’s shocking departure
See also: No Fauxxx Productions

About Gram the Man 4399 Articles
Gram Ponante is America's Beloved Porn Journalist


  1. I have a good friend from college who went FTM, I work in the arts and live in San Francisco where I know and meet and have good relationships with many transfolk and queerfolk and others with perspective other than my own, “some of my best friends are [yaddda yadda yadda],” and have had more than a wank or two in my time to the likes of nofauxxx and kink and the Lusty Lady ladies and, yeah, Syd Blakovich and Lorelei Lee, so I’d like to think that even though I’m standard issue straight white (born/anatomically/representing/whatever) male I’m not really the most close-minded of your readers, and this isn’t my first encounter of the trans kind, but I gotta say, it is absolutely dick-shriveling to be given a lengthy lecture on how to consume and process porn. Is it OK if I just jerk off to it? Yeah, I know there are a lot of misconceptions that could use some clearing up, but we’re talking about something here that is presumably primarily intended to cause the viewer to masturbate and subsequently orgasm, not be the source of a round-table discussion over coffee and donuts down at the Eureka Valley community center. If so, you’re doing it wrong, like most “intellectual porn” (yawn) does. People who talk about sex conceptually for a living are such a fucking turn-off.

  2. Also, I should add that I fully understand that Trouble’s porn may just simply not be intended for someone of my attitude (and, to a lesser extent, demographic); I just get frustrated and disappointed that most of the porn that falls outside the sizable realm of plastic misogynistic crap that comes out of LA and Miami and that features the kinda people I lust after at, well, the Lusty Lady and Folsom Street Fair or even the beer garden at Zeitgeist, tends to act (and want to act) mainly as think-piece, not stroke material.

  3. I just want to point out how fucking hot those pictures are. The dude with Lorelei Lee is delicious and gorgeous.

  4. Interesting how porn viewing/gender expectations and experience intersect and diverge in so many areas.

    One friend who saw Speakeasy realized it wasn’t his cup of tea since it seemed so heterosexual to him. Male/Female sex can look awfully heteronormative. Still, so many of the scenes in this film are pure fag and dyke porn, it makes up for the straightish sex.

    We haven’t run into this discourse at Trannywood Pictures too much since we include educational material in DVD packaging and our website, but also target our audience for a queer eye, and not a straight gaze.

    I can add much to what Courtney has said so well but just reiterate that transitioning isn’t about hormones or surgeries, it’s about representing the gender which one has come to terms with between their ears. Many parts of the US, hormones are not an option of young trans guys, and for most guys, they can’t afford lower surgery. It’s simply not an option. So, there are no “going half way” as your friend was intrigued by, you are either transitioning/transitioned or not.

    Great to see this discourse occurring, but it obviously means a lot more work and patience from us in the queer (not just gay or girl/girl) porn community.

  5. Hey Gram, thanks for this article! I had a lot of fun making this film – and I think it can be enjoyed regardless of a viewer’s political perspective. I just thought I’d point out that the scene your friend Ivy admired in her review was the first scene between Tomcat and I, rather than the later scene with Billy Castro. xo-LL

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