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Transgender porn quickly growing in popularity

Transgender porn has been steadily climbing in popularity for years. (Stock photo).
Roger Carisen | Getty Images
Transgender porn has been steadily climbing in popularity for years. (Stock photo).

While many Americans might say Caitlyn Jenner's much-watched interview with Diane Sawyer was their introduction to the transgender community, the adult entertainment industry says transgender porn has been a big seller for years—and it's getting bigger.

Transgender porn has been steadily climbing in popularity for years and, with Jenner's emergence and the favorable publicity surrounding her decision, it has grown into a full-fledged phenomenon.

"Porn is part and parcel of society, and our culture is getting more aware and understanding," says Chauntelle Tibbals, an independent sociologist (and former visiting scholar at the University of Southern California) who studies the adult entertainment industry. "Even though transsexual porn has existed forever, as the world and our culture is becoming more accepting, it looks at and interacts with this content in a way that is more savvy and forthcoming. In that way, the content has to step up its game."

If nothing else, transgender porn is becoming a hot seller. GameLink, an online porn provider, says its sales of transgender porn have increased 14 percent in the past year, and now make up 10 percent of its overall revenue.

Perhaps even more surprising than the numbers is who's watching it. California and New York were the top two states—accounting for 17.6 and 7.3 percent of transgender porn sales on GameLink last year. Not a big surprise, given the generally liberal leanings of both states. And Illinois' entry at No. 3—with 5.6 percent—may not surprise some people.

But the fourth-biggest consumer of transgender porn is Texas, making up 5 percent of the GameLink market. And Arizona is fifth at 4.9 percent.



While the inclusion of two conservative bedrock states might seem curious, Tibbals says it's actually quite logical.

"It doesn't strike me as surprising in the slightest," she says. "If you look at consumption of any adult content, you get the coastal states and hubs, but when [states] become more oppressive [and] try to limit people's sexual expression or what they desire is considered shameful ... you're going to see people going online to get access to what they need or want."

The GameLink data is intriguing, but by no means scientific. To date, no other online porn company has revealed statistical data about the transgender viewing habits of its customers. Only Evil Angel has addressed the subject, telling the International Business Times that the category has been its most popular in terms of revenue per scene for decades—since the company can command a premium of more than 20 percent for the content.

While transgender porn's popularity might be growing, that's not a sure sign that the mainstream world is prepared to become more accepting of transgendered people on the whole. In fact, it's entirely possible that this is just the latest phase of interest for the porn audience, much like films with plus-size actresses were recently.

While those plus-size porn films continue to be made, they've lost some of the traction they gained in recent years, something at least one actress in the category predicted would happen.

"I hate to say it, because I don't want to be a wet blanket, but I think we've peaked or we're going to peak in the next 12 months," actress Kelly Shibari told CNBC in January.

(Even bondage films and products have seen a bit of a slowdown since the release of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" film, though those may see a resurgence with the upcoming sequel.)

Tibbals, though, says she thinks the upsurge in transgender porn might be the exception.

"I think we, as a culture, are making great strides forward as far as our understanding of TS individuals and experiences," she says. "Unfortunately, we're not making those strides in terms of size acceptance. As a consequence of that, I'm hoping we won't see this flash in the pan, pay attention to it for a year, then forget about it mindset."