Petition Calls for Porn to Drop ‘Shemale’ Characterization

Dec 4, 2014 9:00 AM PST

LOS ANGELES — A petition asking the porn industry to drop use of the term “shemale” in its marketing of trans women reached 650 supporters on Thanksgiving weekend.

Started by performer Chelsea Poe, the action was taken to demonstrate to mainstream companies employing trans women that there was support to discard the use of terms considered derogatory by other media industries.

“The majority of trans women and trans performers don’t ID as a ‘shemale’ nor ever have,” Poe states on Change.org. “This is a term that we have been subjected to, whether we are in porn or not. I believe changing this term could bring positive change to trans representation, potentially bringing more trans women to these sites as customers as well.”

With the petition gathering more than 500 signatures in a little over a week, it would seem that others agree.

One cam girl in the U.S. commented, “I am a trans cam girl and I do not want a pejorative term defining me or my work,” while a supporter from the U.K. added, “Using terms like this in porn makes it seem acceptable to use these terms to refer to trans women who don’t do porn.”

Laura, who runs a feminist sex toy shop, concurred, noting that “We carry as much trans-positive porn as we can find, but we won't carry porn that uses the term ‘shemale’ on its packaging because it’s derogatory towards our customers.”

Burning Angel performer Bella Vendetta also signed the petition, saying, “Performers should always have a say in how they are represented, and not have to feel pressured to work with companies that market using slurs and offensive language.”

“The GLAAD media resources for how to speak about trans people in marketing and journalism has deemed the term ‘shemale’ as degrading and politically incorrect for over a decade,” Courtney Trouble says. “It’s time our industry matures to respect all of our workers in the same way that the rest of the entertainment and media industries do.”

“It is offensive to refer to a trans woman as a shemale, and enough trans-positive porn companies are proving already that you don't need to use derogatory terms to sell trans porn,” Trouble added from a director’s perspective.

Chelsea Poe started the petition after becoming the first trans woman to be featured on alternative adult site God’s Girls.

Poe is seeking at least 1,000 signatures on the petition, which can be found here.

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