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More Than Porn: Tumblr Affirmed Trans Youths' Identities

COLE HAYES

Besides serving as a melting pot for creativity and self-love, Tumblr and has been the go-to place for many in the LGBTQ community to express their sexuality and their gender identity — in particular trans masculine bodies.

A large part of celebrating one’s identity involves sex and not feeling shamed for enjoying sexual experiences with other consenting adults. That truth is bumping up against Tumblr's new ban on adult content.

The Advocate's senior editor Savas Abadsidis (who's cisgender and gay) spoke with contributor Cole Hayes and actor Ethan Remillard (aka Luke Hudson) — both Hayes and Remillard are trans and gay — on the positive effects Tumblr had for many FTM guys.

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Cole HayesBefore and during the early stages of my transition from female to male, I used Tumblr to connect with others in the trans community and followed many blogs that documented transitions. I also found myself watching pornographic videos of trans men. It helped me so much in learning about how my body would change if I ever decided to start HRT.

Savas Abadsidis: I remember the first time I looked at Tumblr — my boyfriend J was trans and Tumblr was one of the few places that had any FTM trans content, let alone porn. More than that, it was fascinating to me to see the thousands of FTM guys showing off the size of their cocks while on testosterone (HRT) and documenting their evolution from girls' bodies into young men. One thing that stood out to me was the declaration from a very hot guy named FTM Good Boy:

Transboy Tumblr Cropped

[Transboy Tumblr]

he/him/his / leave my caption and respect my pronouns

It’s something that I began to see and recognize as a mantra and a call-to-action: If you want to eroticize this body you will call me a man.

Ethan Remillard: Hell yeah! Tumblr — before anything else — had given me hints that it might be okay to be trans. I got on in 2010 and for a long time mostly used it to look at indie animations and share D&D stories, but Tumblr had a large user base who were LGBT. I had my account through my transition and I still do! I could see other guys in their transition, and I myself even posted pictures of myself. Surprisingly, just not nude. My friends often joke that they can’t scroll through Tumblr without seeing my adult content. Even more so, people will sometimes tell me that they found my videos and about how it gave them the inspiration to put more effort into transitioning. With the new rules for Tumblr, trans boys could lose a form of media where they feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Ethan Superboy Copy
Above: Ethan Remillard

Abadsidis: There were some straightforward bloggers who simply put up posts that served as "service journalism" like this: (see below) “Just so yall know, there’s a great website called transbucket where people can post before and after pictures of their top and bottom surgeries with info on who their surgeon was, what the cost was, how they like it, and a place for more detailed comments. It’s free. U gotta create a login to view the pictures and post, which is kinda nice for privacy reasons. Oh and I think it’s mostly for Americans, but I could be wrong pls reblog this so other ppl can see it.”

Screen Shot 2018 12 08 At 4.42.26 Pm

Hayes: Yeah sometimes you need those. My best friend Rowan and I had a falling out in our early twenties. Through mutual friends, he’d found out that I had started to medically transition, and he had told me later how jealous he’d gotten but he didn’t know why. To clarify, Rowan is also a transgender man. Shortly after he’d found out, I was on Tumblr, seeking out blogs that aligned with my interests and I came across a blog where the owner had posted about needing some questions answered about transitioning. Without realizing whose blog it was, I reached out, very quickly learning that this blog was Rowan’s.

Through Tumblr, we reconnected, and I helped him try and figure out his own feelings about his gender. It’s not a sexual experience revolved around videos and pornographic pictures, but this shows how important it is that people have a platform to learn and connect with others in their community, and that includes sex.

Abadsidis: Since LGBTQ identities — and particularly trans youth — are so often stigmatized, the internet has been pivotal in helping those with diverse gender and sexual identities learn about themselves and find each other. Tumblr provided a safe space for this through many of its key features — pseudonymous accounts, reblogging — and the communities it attracts.

An Australian survey found a larger percentage of LGBTQ youth use Tumblr more frequently than the rest of the population. Many respondents indicated content on Tumblr broadened their understanding of sexuality and gender and facilitated self-acceptance. Starting December 17, Tumblr will only permit nudity "related to political or newsworthy speech." This new rule reflects the historical development of obscenity law that has viewed representations of sex as devoid of merit unless they are redeemed by "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."

I doubt that the kind of self-affirming images we've been talking about will meet these new guidelines.

Hayes: We’ve seen how censoring content has negatively impacted creators on YouTube, with demonetization of videos that YouTube finds inappropriate for kids. I’ve seen how this has nearly destroyed very helpful channels, that without, I would have struggled greatly in the beginning of my transition. To put it simply, sex is a natural part of development and Tumblr has given many the opportunity to learn, question and wonder about their own sexual growth.

Abadsidis: And I’ll never get to see FTM Good Boy again. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

bros #tarpits #losangeles #ftmselfie #bornstars

A post shared by Cole Hayes (@itscolehayes) on

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