'Tranny Awards' Changes Its Name, Not Its Nature

By Parker Marie Molloy

Originally published on Advocate.com March 12 2014 4:32 PM ET

Steven Grooby of Grooby Productions, the organization behind the annual adult entertainment-focused "Tranny Awards," announced last week that the show would be changing its name to the Transgender Erotica Awards.

"While I personally believe, within the context of porn, that 'tranny' has its place as a descriptor in the same way many words have their place only in porn, I do understand why some people have become frustrated with its usage," Grooby wrote in the announcement. Later, Grooby offered thanks to the "extended trans adult community for their input and feedback over the last few months," and promised to produce "a show that the whole transgender adult community can be proud of."

The show had come under fire for using the word "tranny" in its name. GLAAD has called the word "defamatory," along with words like "shemale," "he-she," and "gender-bender," arguing that "these words only serve to dehumanize transgender people, and should not be used."

Additionally, a number of op-eds rallying against use of the word — including one from this writer last month at The Advocate — have been written by transgender people and their supporters over the course of the past several years.

Still, the response to this rebranding effort has largely been positive.

Tobi Hill-Meyer, trans creator of Doing It Again, lauded the move. "Really exciting to see this change," Hill-Meyer wrote on a Tumblr post. "Over the past two or three years, I've seen folks from queer porn reach out to this industry and this award show in particular, and have seen a lot of respect and movement in positive directions. This latest move gives me a lot of optimism that such relationship building work is worthwhile. ... From a personal perspective, I'd hold no reservations about getting a 'Transgender Erotica Award,' and would be excited to be nominated."

What doesn't appear to have changed is Grooby's company's take on the use of these derogatory terms outside of the awards show's name. Grooby Productions (link NSFW) was one of the pioneers in the field of online transgender pornography, launching websites dating back to the mid-'90s like Shemale Yum, Ladyboy-Ladyboy, ShemaleJapan.com, and a host of others. In addition, Grooby produces and distributes numerous DVDs featuring transgender women and capitalizing on those derogatory terms in its naming conventions. Just a sampling of Grooby's currently available DVD titles include The Tranny Chaser, House of 10,000 Shemales, The She-Mazing Transsexual Midget, and Bailey Jay is Line Trap.

Regardless of whether the terms are offensive, words like "shemale," "trap," and "tranny" are so common in modern pornography that it's unsurprising that so many people believe those are appropriate ways to describe transgender women. From a capitalistic perspective, the opportunity to shift the terminology may have already passed. On average, in the U.S., the term "shemale" gets between four and five times as much search traffic as the term "transgender" on any given day, according to Google Trends. A change in language at this point would likely result in a loss of traffic for those sites featuring porn with trans women. 

Contributor: 
Parker Marie Molloy