Penetrating the Mainstream’s Gender Gaps

by Jiz Lee on / Queer Porn

Today I was leafing through AVN Magazine and came across Billy Castro Does the Mission listed on their Top 25 Chart for Transsexual Rentals. (Well, the magazine actually called the category “Tranny/She-Male” however the online site lists “Transsexual” which is my preference.) The list appears to be compiled from “a cross-section of U.S. video stores, adult stores and online studios” and though I’m not sure exactly what that means I do know that it feels pretty awesome to see my friend Billy Castro up on the list, because, as Mandy Mitchell noted via Twitter when I commented about the listing — it’s “pretty rare!”

As someone who currently identifies neither fully cisgender nor transgender, I get excited because this level of visibility corresponds to my dream of this “genre” expanding and bringing the integrity of the pornographers/performers and our identities, politics, and expressions to the world. The more queer porn is out there — in this case featuring trans and gender-variant performers — the more common and familiar our vocabulary and engagement becomes. Already I have been asked many times what “cisgender” means (by cis-presenting fans), or what it means to be genderqueer (which is how I identify) — and I sometimes find that sometimes the person asking identifies with me! I’m blown away by how amazing it feels to receive messages from people saying that porn helped to affirm or explore their sexual and/or gender identity and desires. This means the world to me. (By the way, here’s some interesting links about cisgender as a term (and a video here), cisgender privilege, the awesome, and this cute comic.)

What is interesting as queer porn becomes viewed by people “outside” the community/experience, is that there are many questions that come up. Often there are assumptions — which can feel offensive but I believe can be great points of discussion and growth. When Billy Castro Does the Mission appeared on the list I imagined fans and merchants looking up the title, perhaps they are fans of Buck Angel, perhaps they might be curious about the performer with a name like Billy Castro. When I saw the list I also recalled a great post by America’s Beloved Porn Journalist Gram Ponante in a review about Speakeasy (which features several HOT performers like Billy Castro, Tomcat, Cyd Loverboy, Mustache Malone, Dallas Fivestar, and myself in 40’s lipstick drag by the ever radiant Miss Lorelei Lee). In the review, Gram consulted Speakeasy‘s filmmaker, Courtney Trouble, and she responded by providing a pretty compelling list of resources and “Tips for Reviewing Porn with transsexual, gender-bending, or or gender-queer performers & performances”, I recommend checking it out: Trouble with a Capital T and that stands for Transfolk.

While I’m on the subject of visibility, I have to express how excited I am for the Feminist Porn Awards this week in Toronto, where I hope to check out Doing It Ourselves: The Trans Women Porn Project. Tobi Hill-Meyer, Gina de Vries, and Drew Hawks are some of the women who have appeared on and I remember back a few years when it was just getting underway, so I’m looking forward to checking it out and hope I can help support the film and see our own representation and influence continue to grow.

Jiz Lee

4 Replies to “Penetrating the Mainstream’s Gender Gaps”

Vid Tuesday

I was so excited to see the news about Billy Castro Does the Mission, excited that trans porn made here in San Francisco was so recognized. I’d love to continue to see transgender and genderqueer titles continue to be recognized like this on a regular basis.

My own gender and sexual identity labels are an ongoing struggle, where I feel like I use terms publicly that are different than my own personal perception for ongoing gender politics reasons.

For a long time, I identified as bisexual, a difficult position to defend against general prejudice against and disbelief in the concept of bisexuality, and through public speaking and various organizations, I was a major proponent of bi-visibility. For some time, however, I’ve personally felt that queer is the best term to describe my sexuality, but I’m torn, because I still believe that bisexuality is an under appreciated sexual identity, and want to work towards its further inclusion (to this day I’ve never lived anywhere that’s had a “bisexual community”). So, while I feel queer, I often use the term bisexual, both to increase visibility, and because it’s a term people are familiar with, unlike queer. However, I feel like I should be making the same push for queer visibility.

My gender identity exists in much the same limbo. Cisgendered or cis-male is a term I through around a lot, because I’m a biological male, and feel I am in my correct biological body. The frequency of cis-males appearing in queer porn like I do is… well, I can think of one other biological male who has appeared in queer porn. So, I feel a desire to identity as cisgendered, just to show that yes, even if you were born male and remain so, you can be a queer. However, all the while, genderqueer is an appealing identity to me, because even though I may be comfortable with the body I’m born into, I feel as though my gender doesn’t actually define anything about me. It doesn’t say anything about my personal or sexual interests, my personality, talents or even my hobbies or jobs. My gender won’t tell you anything except that I have a penis, and that doesn’t tell you anything at all. So I often feel genderqueer, though I may not instantly define myself as such.

In short, I’m sort of running myself in circles around labels, all the while celebrating these wonderful films we’re making that break all those labels I’m concerned about, and in the end I’m not sure what finish line I’ve hit.

Lastly, thank you, thank you, for putting Cat and Girl into this blog post. If there’s anybody who can sum up my angst about personal identities, it’s Dorothy Gambrell.


“I’m blown away by how amazing it feels to receive messages from people saying that porn helped to affirm or explore their sexual and/or gender identity and desires. This means the world to me.”

Speaking of which:
(on the wall at the LGBT resource center here at UC Davis…lol).

I don’t know how long it’s been there, but I was like, “WOOHOO!” when I first noticed it awhile ago.


Aww, Jiz, thanks for the shout-out for “Doing It Ourselves”! I really wish I could be in TO with all of you. I look forward to hearing about how it goes!

And these recs aren’t porn-specific, but:

Another bit of reading I’d highly recommend (to you and to your readers) is “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity” by Julia Serano. Julia’s a friend and artistic collaborator, so I’m biased, but the book is super-brilliant. Really, it should be required reading for anyone interesting gender politics:

Also, Rose Sims (aka Little Light) is a super-brilliant trans woman of color blogger, and another friend and co-conspirator:

See you when you return!


[…] This echoes, and certainly builds on, the work that Jiz Lee, Dylan Ryan, Syd Blakovich and many others who have hustled to get their queer sensibilities and esthetics out into the world and have unleashed them onto the sets of mainstream porn. While it’s hard to single out one piece of work, I’d say that Jiz and Syd’s collaboration with Belladonna for Strapped Dykes was a seminal moment in the crossover of queer porn into the mainstream, as Jiz eloquently reflected on in their blog. I also like Jiz’s reflections on ‘penetrating’ mainstream porn as a genderqueer performer here. […]


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