Sex worker Trip Richards has a reason for revealing it all. "I am a transgender man," he says. "Basically that means that I was assigned female at birth, but it did not match my own masculine gender identity, so I transitioned in order to live congruently as myself. I am also a full-time adult performer producing mostly gay porn." Richards explains his life and transition, revealing himself along the way.
When did you start to feel different? When did you realize that the difference was that you are a trans man?
With the benefit of hindsight, I realize that I always felt "different," but I didn't have the knowledge or language to describe what I was feeling until I reached my early 20s. At that point I first started learning about transgender people, and encountered a transgender man for the first time, and everything about my own personhood "clicked" at that point.
When did you make the decision to come out and to begin the medical aspects of this journey? What changes did you start to notice mentally and physically with the hormone treatments?
I made the decision to transition just after turning 24. It was scary because I didn't know how people would react, and I also didn't know if I would achieve the physical results I wanted. However, as soon as I began testosterone, I felt so much better. It was like my head cleared and I felt at home in my body for the first time ever. The chemical changes of having the proper hormones in my body were incredible, and then once the physical changes like body and hair and beard began, I felt even better. While these physical characteristics do not define manhood (being a man is about identity not appearance) it still felt great to finally recognize myself in the mirror as the man I was on the inside.
When did you begin sex work? How do you feel our society has or hasn't changed in the way it looks at and treats sex work? How do you feel the LGBTQ community has or hasn't changed in the way it looks at and treats sex workers?
I did some sex work prior to transitioning, but my discomfort with my physical body made it challenging. I returned to the adult industry after having been on testosterone for about a year, and my experiences were more positive at that point. I honestly didn't know if there would be a market for a person like myself, since at the time there were hardly any trans men in porn. But I quickly found an accepting and supporting audience. Over the next few years I have become full-time as a performer and have achieved success that I never thought possible as a niche performer. That said, being a sex worker is still challenging due to the amount of stigma and disinformation in the world. This is not a trans-specific issue; it affects everyone who does adult work of any sort. There is an assumption that people who do sex work are all exploited (not true) or that we are all dumb and have no other options (also definitely not true). People also judge us for doing the exact things that personally they fantasize about, which is frustrating. As a performer, I try to focus my energy on the people who are my supportive fans, but it is tough to know that a lot of people in the world consider me to be "lesser-than" both because of my body and my career.
You work with a lot of cis gay men. How do you feel you are treated and accepted by them (by and large)? How do you feel about working so often with cis gay men?
I have had almost-exclusively positive experiences with my cis gay costars. In fact I am really happy how accepting gay porn performers are of trans men, as they realize that manhood is not defined by genitals but instead by personality and energy.
Do you feel that you are fetishized by your fans and by fellow members of your community, and/or by society at large? If so, what are some of your feelings about that?
Fetishization is, in my opinion, a natural part of eroticism. It only becomes problematic when it occurs to such an extent that it obscures basic humanity. Since porn is my full-time job, I don't have a problem with fans seeing my body as a sexual object provided that they are paying for content and treating me nicely. I think a bigger issue is the way that trans men are shoehorned into certain types of sexual roles/role-play, such as always being seen as bottoms or submissives, I fight against these assumptions in my own work, and have made a concerted effort to produce films where I am in dominant and topping positions, just so that people realize that trans male sexual roles are as diverse as cismale roles.
Are you often asked some of the same questions over and over? If so, what are some of those questions? And would you like to answer them here for the readers who may have these same questions?
I still get asked a lot of ignorant questions. It is frustrating how many people still seem unaware that transmen exist, and who don't understand the most basic elements of gender transition. I don't expect everyone to be scientists or anthropologists, but trans people have existed in human society for a very long time, and medical transition is nothing new either. I encourage people to do some basic research on their own. Plus my website triplextransman.com has an FAQ page to answer more specific questions about myself.
Do you feel a strong part of any particular community? How important is identity to the way you like to be seen and the way you live your life? What are some goals for your career and in your personal life?
I honestly don't feel connected to any particular community, I just feel fortunate to be able to live my life authentically. My goals are to continue to do this. From a career standpoint, I want to keep increasing transmale visibility through my work, and also use my platform as a performer to showcase other diverse performers.
Author and photographer Ryan Stanford on Instagram