Lifestyle

The future looks bright for Becca Benz!

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After spending almost a week with my mom I’m feeling recharged and ready to get moving. The past few months have been difficult but things will soon be changing for the better. I’ll be moving on May 1st, which will be a huge step in the right direction to get out of my current living situation which has been extremely stressful and frustrating and into the new place which will provide some much-needed calmness. And I will have my own little deck outside my room, which I’m really excited about! With summer approaching I can’t wait to sit out on my deck and enjoy the warm weather!

My mom and I have always been very close; she raised my sister and I after my parents divorced and I could not have asked for a better mom. She was both a mom and dad and was always there for us, and it’s because of her that I am the person I am today. After spending so many years in the mid-west where we rarely got the chance to see each other it’s nice to be in Oregon where I’m able to see her more often. We still don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, but now that the weather is improving I’m going to make it a point to spend more time with her this summer. As she’s gotten older and has had her own issues to deal with it’s nice that I can be there for her and help take care of her. It’s interesting to see how the cycle of life works, that our parents take care of us and then later in life the roles reverse and we get the chance to take care of them. After all my mom has done for me I feel it’s a privilege to be able to be there for her. She has always been there for me and stuck with me through some difficult times and has accepted me as her daughter, and shown me what it means to be a good parent and a good person. I may not have had a father in my life but I was blessed to have a mom who more than made up for my father’s absence.

On May 2nd I have my consult for my reassignment surgery, which I’m really excited about. For most of my life having the surgery was not an option for financial reasons, but now that it’s covered by insurance it became a possibility for me. My penis was always a reminder that my body was not as it should be, but even so, I never had any hatred for my penis or a burning desire to get rid of it, but since the surgery is an option now I decided it’s something that made sense to do for several reasons, and now that I’ve made the decision to go for it I’m really excited! I think the one thing which I’m most stressed about is not being able to go to the gym for several months after the surgery while I recover, but I think I can handle it.

So there are a lot of exciting things to look forward to in the coming months and I’m ready to get on with my life and start moving forward again.

And finally, I want to thank everyone for all the support and encouragement and nice comments I received after my recent column about my uncertainty about whether or not to continue writing this column. The outpouring of support showed me that people do read it and that I have reached people. So I feel a renewed sense of excitement and I’m going to keep writing it. And I’ve had several people reach out to me about interviews, and I’m really excited about these upcoming interviews, so stay tuned!

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TSA Releases New Guidelines for Trans Airline Passengers

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) last week released new guidance for its agents and travelers to improve the airport screening process for transgender fliers.

A video posted on YouTube attempted to recognize transgender traveler needs, and offered answers to questions and concerns about screening procedures, after the agency received a barrage of criticism over how it treats LBGTQ passengers.

Last year, the National LGBTQ Task Force said the TSA had codified “discrimination against transgender people” by leveraging widespread use of body-scanning technology that identified passengers by their perceived gender.

The new video asks passengers to ensure their boarding pass information matches the information on their government-issued ID, and advises they can choose not to be screened by a full-body screener or walk-through metal detector, but instead undergo a pat-down conducted by an officer of the same gender they present, in private.

Source: Travel Market Report, author: Richard D’Ambrosio

April 24th, 2017|Categories: Featured Post, Lifestyle|Tags: , |0 Comments

Kelli Lox on art, porn, life, and social media!

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Kelli Lox is one of the biggest names in the trans porn industry, but her popularity and influence far exceeds that of just the world of porn. Kelli is known for her intelligence and her open and honest approach to life, and for her willingness to speak her mind. She is a true artist in every sense of the world, expressing her creativity in a wide variety of mediums. Kelli has broken down the stereotypes of what so many people assume a pornstar to be and has blazed a new path and become a role model to many. I had the pleasure of interviewing this amazing lady and getting a glimpse into her life and a better understanding of what drives her.

You have what many would consider to be a dream job, being a model in the porn industry. Is the job really as glamorous and interesting and much fun as people would assume?

Yes and no. It’s very Wizard of Oz in that way, as in, you sometimes do and sometimes don’t want to look behind the curtain. I don’t know if it’s better to maintain that ‘it’s so glamorous’ thing or to humanize it with unglamorous details. But I will say, yes. Yes the life of a porn star is fucking rad. You get to travel and have sex with beautiful people and party and make money and get treated like a fucking rock star everywhere you go and interact with fans and great creative people. It is a dream job, for sure.

How did you get your start working in the porn industry?

I modeled for art classes in college and when I transitioned I wanted to get back into it. A photographer friend of mine helped me make a profile on a modeling website and I started dancing at a local trans strip club. I got some modeling work and then got an offer to do a shoot for Grooby. The scene did well and I attended what was at that time called the Tranny Awards in LA. And the rest is history I guess.

Dancing seems to be one of your passions, since you’ve done everything from ballet to stripping. Can you tell us what dancing means to you?

Dance is one of the purest art forms. It requires little to no equipment and anyone can do it. And the trained dancer’s body is a work of art, too. I had to quit ballet when I transitioned, and I might be getting too old to dance in strip clubs, but I still have my pole in my bedroom.

Did you attend college before or after transitioning? Can you talk about what your college experience was like and what you majored in? Has your college education been useful in helping you to become successful in porn?

When I was in college, I was a boy with a secret. I was in a serious relationship with a girl and I earned my B.S. in geography. I went on to get a Master’s degree and got a professional job and that’s how I supported/support all my loved ones and why today I have been unemployed for nearly six months but drive a new car and live in a mansion. College is so important for a lifetime of financial stability and my dream is to help young trans girls get a college education. Sucking men’s dicks as a way to make ends meet is fun but when you get older you will want stability and you’ll question the choices you made in your 20’s with a critical eye.

Kelli Lox Through The BenzWhat does Grooby means to you?

Grooby is to the transgender movement what the Beatles is to the 60’s. You can look at the Beatles’ work and track an entire mental process of a generation. Same with Grooby. If you look at the way they’ve changed their terminology and marketing over the past few years, it reads like the diary of our social movement. For example, they changed the name of their awards show from The Tranny Awards to Transgender Erotica Awards. That’s like leaving the Sgt. Peppers and Yellow Submarine stuff and going to White Album, you know? It coincides with a mental change in awareness of a lot of people. Like, okay that’s not cool anymore for whatever reason, let’s class it up and grow up a bit. I am very proud of the people at Grooby, and I am very proud of my good working relationship with Grooby. They get a lot of flak from lots of folks, but that’s to be expected. Like Peter Acworth at Kink, you just become an easy target for a lot of angry people who have an axe to grind. At the center of these companies, there are very cool and well-meaning people who really just want to do the right thing and also remain profitable. I know we want to hold people accountable but if there’s a way to do that without being dicks to them, that would be appreciated.

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

Yeah, everyone knows. The metaphorical cat is out of the metaphorical bag, so to speak. I don’t know how everyone really feels about it because I only get what they say to my face or whatever. I know some of my relatives know and judge me and either don’t want to associate with me now or will act nice to my face but still judge me. And other relatives know and think it’s kind of cool – they’re proud that I did something with my life that I enjoy and attained some kind of fame – the whole American dream thing. And some of my relatives don’t really care either way, they just want me to be happy and healthy and look forward to seeing me again soon. I text my mom about going to the awards show and working and stuff, at the end of the day, she is proud of me and wants me to succeed.

What advice would you give to aspiring models who want to get into the industry?

I don’t really want to give advice. If I had followed all the advice that was out there when I started, my career would have gone differently. I think you have to see it as art – there’s no wrong or right way to do it. Make it YOU, or not, I don’t know. Advice is tricky because the wise don’t need it and fools don’t heed it. lol

Do you foresee a point anytime soon when you’ll retire from porn?

I was told once “never retire from porn.” I don’t really understand why but I think it’s something about letting work happen or not happen organically. A lot of times people get into a mood and want to make some kind of fatalistic statement and then, like, no one really cares, and maybe instead of stewing and brewing statements like that, you could be doing something more productive. And anyways, I know I’m a porn star but secretly I never have seen myself as a porn star – I’m an artist and an internet personality. If you look at my behavior on twitter, it’s very different than most porn stars. I’ve been told that I’m doing it wrong by a lot of people, but I have more followers than them so I just nod and say thanks and keep doing what I’m doing.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by your behavior on social media being different than other porn stars?

Well, most porn stars are careful not to offend any fans or potential fans, and many don’t feel comfortable revealing personal information such as hobbies and interests. They feel very strongly that their Twitter is a facade, just business. Their approach is to never be political, never say anything that could jeopardize future work, never say anything controversial, etc. So if you see a porn girl talking about how she hates Trump (Janice Griffith) or a porn girl bitching about how she’s getting blacklisted by some studios just because she’s done scenes with TS girls (Adriana Chechik), that takes balls. And I’m like that too. Most girls, even trans girls, don’t have the balls to be girls who speak their minds. or they just made a decision to keep their Twitter purely a business facade, which is okay too.

Kelli Lox Through The BenzNot to make generalizations, but in many ways you seem to be outside of the norm in what people generally assume a pornstar would be like with all your artistic and intellectual pursuits. You express your creativity in so many ways such as in front and behind the camera, in your drawing and painting, writing, composing and playing music, and dancing. You’re also well-educated and speak several different languages, and are obviously being very intelligent and independent. Would it be fair to call you a renaissance woman?

Yes, people have called me a renaissance woman. Ii am 100% a renaissance woman. I’m not like other girls, and I’m certainly not like other girls who say they’re not like other girls. I have paid my dues and I don’t take shit from anyone. I’m smart and talented. Before I start listing too many good traits I should remind myself that I’m also modest lol. Really, I’m just another woman who depends on a support network of women.

What was your childhood like and when did you realize you were transgender?

I was born and raised in Boise, Idaho and had what I would call a pretty normal childhood as a boy. I always knew I was a girl, but I also very quickly realized that I had to hide it. I saw a gay boy in kindergarten getting teased and I didn’t want to get teased like that.

I lived in Pocatello and Idaho Falls for 13 years, so I know what a beautiful area that is, and also how conservative, although Boise is one of the more progressive cities in Idaho.

Yeah Boise is mostly alright now, especially the north end where I grew up. but it wasn’t like that when I was a kid. And still, it’s one corner of one town in a big state that’s run by conservatives.

Was it a process for you to come to terms with the fact that you were trans?

Well, my PR lady says not to talk about drugs in interviews, so I’ll just say that I went on a deep spiritual journey sometime in 2009 or 2010. I went really deep inside myself, and realized that it was suddenly more painful to go on pretending that I was a boy than it was to face my fears and decide to transition. So, all by myself, in the dark, sitting naked on the floor with a blanket, a candle and a jug of water, I asked myself “am I really going to do this?” And there in the silence there was this really deep little ‘click’ as I said “yes.” And that was that. The decision had been made and rest was a matter of execution.

Looking back, was transitioning easier or harder than you expected?

I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew I would have a difficult time with family members and friends, and I was right about that. Obtaining hormones and getting rid of boy clothes was work, but learning how to do makeup and put together stylish outfits wasn’t that hard at all. It felt like home to me. Yes, there were a lot of heavy social tribulations but there’s no way to tell how much of that was just my life and how much was a direct result of transitioning.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning their transition?

Young trans girls should just know that they’re gonna need support groups, and they’re gonna lose some social groups, so they’ve got to find new ones. I’d tell them to make allies among genetic females if they haven’t already, because they’re gonna need them. They might need to move to a city where they can function normally among the population. The first years can be really awkward, so realize that it won’t always be that way, at least for most trans girls. After those awkward few years right out of the gate you start to settle into a new personality and pacing that is really you and feels more comfortable. You gotta stick with it for a minute and after a few years you’re like “oh, okay, okay.”

Kelli Lox Through The BenzIs your family supportive and accepting of you?

I think it’s all relative. I mean, when it came to being supportive, my parents were better than some parents, not as good as other parents. There are a lot of valid reasons that I could be really resentful towards them. There are ways I really needed them and I guess I was asking too much of them, or it was just beyond their ability to deliver. I don’t know. But they stuck with me and my relationship with both of my parents is really good; better now than it has ever been. Not everyone can say that, whether they’re transgender or not. That took a lot of work and forgiveness on all sides. I’m just at that age now where you’re like “holy shit I hope I didn’t cause too much damage when I was being a mega brat!” and you really start to value being on good terms with your family. My brother is also very close to me. My transition was a challenge for him because he always saw himself as open-minded and progressive and found himself painted as kind of a jerk in some ways during those years. We worked through it all, and now we’re super tight in a new way. In fact, he’s getting married in Seattle later this year and he asked me to be his best lady!!  I’m so excited!!

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

Interacting with fans on Twitter is, like, my favorite thing in the world. And not only that, but interacting with other artists of all kinds all around the world, and giving voice to artists I support, and constantly showing my support of other performers – these things are the things that make me feel good about what I do. And there are lots of younger trans girls who follow me on twitter. I actually am a huge influence for a lot of them. I appreciate that so much and I also recognize that I have some kind of responsibility towards them. I am doing the best I can to live up to that responsibility. I think that’s how I sleep well at night, knowing that I am making a difference and authentically doing the best I can, not just for me, but for all trans people, and all artists, and all women, and all sex workers.

Speaking of sex workers, there are some who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers. What are your thoughts on this?

Meh, all people are exploited. Yeah I have it harder than many but mostly I’m super privileged. We need to complain when it’s time to complain about stuff, and call things out when it’s time to call things out, but we also need to sit back sometimes and just shut up and thank our lucky stars. I don’t know, it gets tricky. It takes a lot of presence and intelligence and creativity to fight social injustice in a way that is actually effective in fomenting real change. Sometimes people introduce an issue to me like “wanna get worked up about this? what’s your opinion?” and I’m like “I’ll pass, thanks.” Opinions are like chopped onions, I don’t want anyone’s in my face and I’ll cry if I can’t get away fast lol.

Can the trans porn industry be a positive influence within the trans community since there is still such a stigma attached to the industry and being a sex worker?

The porn world isn’t just one thing, it’s a lot of different studios and distributors and fan bases and consumers. I think if you look at it a certain way, you’ll find some evidence that you’re looking at it the correct way and find what you though you would. Like, if you approach it with a “porn is bad” mentality, you will find evidence to concretely back that up. And if you start with “porn is good” you’ll find indisputable evidence that it’s true. So, I don’t know, a lot of it is like clay – if you want something good to come out of it, make something good out of it.

What is a typical day in your life like?

Hmmm I don’t know there are times I party hard for four days straight and there are times I sleep all day and do laundry.  Sometimes I exercise religiously every day and sometimes I have a friend over and we order takeout from two restaurants at the same time and eat them in bed, so I dunno. Some days I’m really busy with work, running errands etc.  and sometimes I just clean my room and play my keyboard and sing or draw. Sometimes I am hanging out with friends but a lot of time I’m alone. I like being alone, it helps me think.

Kelli Lox Through The BenzDo you find it difficult to date being trans? Do you think working in the porn industry make it harder or easier?

Oy, this is tricky because it’s hard to tell what people’s real motives are. It’s like, when someone acts interested in me, I ask the magic eight ball “what are their true motives here?” and the magic eight balls says “… time will tell.” So sometimes you get burned and sometimes there’s a fun experience to be had with someone. In the end, you have to make sure you got your rocks off, at least, or had fun or got financial help or whatever, so that you don’t feel like you were taken advantage of, but also still think of the other person respectfully even if things didn’t end well. Relationships are like hamburgers – the most delicious ones are often messy, and though you might swear them off for a while, one day you’ll be ready to bury your face into another one. Also, it’s a meal – it’s a one-time thing, it ain’t forever. For better or worse, no burger lasts forever. hhaha

Looking onto your crystal ball, where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

More famous. Author of a book. In a major movie. Writing for a TV show. Doing amazing shit with amazing people. Making art. Making a difference. More followers. And, I dunno, in love and living with a beautiful girl who dances or draws comics or something. Drinking iced tea on a sunny day or snuggled watching cartoons on a rainy day. I see my future self as fit and healthy, with something to smile about.

What sort of book would you like to write?

I book about my life. I have seen some shit and I have been through some shit. Even people who have been through some shit tell me “holy hell girl you’ve been through some shit” lol  I have a very important story to tell.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Hahaha I don’t think I can surprise anyone anymore. I was talking about a dream I had where I jumped out of an airplane with no parachute on, and a close friend of mine had missed the part where I had said it was a dream, and walked in when I was in mid-story, and he says “oh my god Kelli, you are the only person who can do shit like this and live to tell the tale! go on.” and sat to listen to the rest of my story. Then we explained that I was talking about something that happened in a dream and we all laughed so hard and he said “Kelli, that’s how amazing you are! You could mention things you’ve done and I’d just be like ‘okay, and then what happened?’ even though it’s something completely unreal that if anyone else said I’d immediately be all like ‘bullshit!'” hahaha

Thank you for taking the time to do the interview Kelli, it was a lot of fun!

Be sure to check out more about Kelli on:

Her official blog at kellilox.com/

On Facebook at facebook.com/kelli.lox

On Twitter at  twitter.com/KelliLox

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Is there a future for Through The Benz?

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I’ve done a lot of thinking and soul searching lately about my life in an effort to regain a sense of equilibrium and move forward. Part of that is doing things to take care of myself, such as going to a gym and volunteering at the dog shelter, along with removing things which are sources of stress and trying not to worry so much. And that brings me to this column, Through The Benz. I feel like I’ve reached a fork in the road and need to make a decision about whether or not to continue writing this column. There seems to be very little interest in the column, and it just isn’t fun anymore which has made it really tough to write lately; the inspiration and excitement I felt when I first started writing the column just aren’t there anymore.

My youngest son is an amazing cook, and he even worked as a sous chef in a restaurant while he was still in high school. He was in the Culinary Arts Program and seemed to be heading for a career in the culinary world, so I was shocked when he told me he had decided he didn’t want to pursue a career a chef. When I asked him why he explained that he enjoyed cooking and that he was concerned that if he did it as a profession it would take all the enjoyment out of it, and he didn’t want to take a chance on that happening. And now I understand what he meant because writing is no longer fun for me. In all honesty if I didn’t need the money I’d seriously consider not writing this column anymore because I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything.

I’ve always loved to write and it was a dream come true when Grooby gave me the chance to write a weekly column. I thought having a column would give me the opportunity to have a voice in the trans community and porn industry, but it’s like the saying “if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it does it make a sound?” If I write something but no one reads it does it give me a voice? Am I accomplishing anything productive if no one reads what I write? The answer is a resounding no.

I have always had faith in myself that I was a good writer, but the fact that there is so little interest in my column has led me to question my ability as a writer. I have lots of followers and friends on social media and people seem to like me well enough, so what does it say about my writing when no one has any interest in reading what I write? I know it takes time to build up a readership, but that’s not happening; if anything, I have less readers now than I did when I first started.

I have tried not to worry about the numbers, but it’s hard not to be discouraged when my interviews oftentimes struggle to reach low double digits when it comes to likes/favorites/retweets/shares while other writers who do similar interviews routinely reach triple digits. And my non-interview columns get even less attention, and that is with Grooby promoting my column, which should give me a big boost. I know the poor numbers shouldn’t matter, but it does. If I do something I want to do it well, and judging by the lack of interest in what I write I must not be doing a very good job. I know I should just write for myself and be happy with knowing I put out a quality column and not worry about all the other stuff, and I did that for a while, but it’s not so easy anymore. I’ve asked time after time for feedback so I know what people like or don’t like, and asked for people’s opinion about ways to improve the column, but it’s rare that I actually do get any feedback. I’ve tried writing less about my life and focused more on other things, but that seems to have made little difference. I’m out of ideas on what to do to keep people interested in reading what I write and resurrect the column.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me feeling uninspired about writing anymore, and makes it really difficult to come up with a decent column each week. And if I don’t enjoy it and don’t feel like I’m putting out something which I’m proud of, and if no one is reading it, then what’s the point of continuing?

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TG Prom this Weekend at Dunes Resort in Michigan

Hello, midwest friends! We heard through the grapevine about a bunch of cool events happening this weekend (April 7-9, 2017) at the Dunes Resort.

If you attend on Saturday (April 8th), come for their fun TG Prom Queen and King contest! Take pictures and have a good time!

April 3rd, 2017|Categories: Events, Lifestyle|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Becca Benz 2017 TEA Part 2: Parties and shows!

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The Transgender Erotica Awards weekend is always such a fun time, and my week in Los Angeles had already been pretty eventful before the TEA events had even begun!

Thursday night at Club Cobra signals the unofficial start of the TEA festivities and is always a fun time, and this year was no different. I got there early and was sitting in a booth chatting with friends when my good friend David gave me two bags of delicious Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel chocolates! David is so sweet and thoughtful; last year he brought me flowers, and this year chocolates! It’s moments like this, and seeing good friends again, that makes TEA so meaningful to me.

2017 TEA Awards     2017 TEA Awards

And then a bit later in walks none other than the beautiful Staci Miguire, looking decidedly more blonde than the last time I saw her! She and I always have fun hanging out and dancing and she brings out my wild side! And it’s nice to be with someone taller than I am for a change! And it so happened that I wore a leopard print dress and Staci wore a zebra print dress, so we had fun with the animal print theme, and there were lots of jokes about predator and prey! We even considered swapping dresses since she’s more predator and I’m more prey, but thankfully we never actually got around to doing it lol

The club closed and security had their hands full ushering us all out of the club and off the property, and then trying to get everyone to go home. There were large groups of people mingling on the street and suddenly a fight broke out and it was like watching moths being drawn to light; everyone ran to the fight and cell phone flashes were going off like mad. We soon heard the sound of police sirens, and then a police helicopter appeared overhead with its light scanning the scene, followed by a fire truck and police cars screaming down the road. It was a crazy ending to a wild night!

Friday I had the pleasure of having breakfast with my dear friend Fran, who is someone I’ve gotten to know a lot more this past year and who has become near and dear to my heart. We’d been counting down the down the weeks and days as TEA approached, looking forward to breakfast and being able to talk and enjoy a break from the dreary Pacific Northwest weather. And it was definitely worth the wait, getting to talk face to face and just hang out and enjoy being together. We had the most wonderful conversations and I wouldn’t let her go back to work because I so enjoyed having her all to myself! And she also gives the absolute best hugs! It was such a wonderful afternoon and one of the things I will remember most from this year’s TEA.

Friday night it was the TEA party, which was moved up this year instead of being the night after the awards show as in previous years. The party was at Bardot and fabulous as always, and it was so much fun seeing everyone, and of course seeing what everyone was wearing, and in some cases, not wearing lol The folks at Grooby know how to throw a party, and this was one of their best!

2017 TEA Pre-Party

My favorite moment from the party was getting Fran and Kristel together for a picture of the three of us. Last year we’d forgotten to get a picture, so Fran and I had been reminding each other not to forget, and I was on a mission to make it happen! And we had such fun doing this picture, and it could not have turned out any more beautifully. These two ladies are good friends who mean the world to me, so I was pleased we got such a wonderful picture together. And as you can see, Fran was kind of getting all touchy feely back there, but she can cop a feel of my ass any time she wants 🙂

In previous years I remember seeing the food vendors outside the Avalon after it closed and how delicious the hot dogs smelled, but I never got one because I was worried about slopping food onto my dress, but this year I was hungry and it smelled so good that I broke down and bought one, and it had to be one of the best hot dogs I’ve ever had. And I managed to eat it without getting any on my dress!

2017 TEA CON After a late night of partying we all dragged ourselves out of bed Saturday afternoon for TEA Con, which this year was held at the Avalon, site of the awards show, and it’s such a great venue; much roomier and you couldn’t ask for more beautiful setting.

I spent the entire afternoon wandering around talking with everyone and never did settle down at a table; my friend Hanna from Transformation Magazine let me put my stuff at her table and it was nice to just sit with her and talk when I needed a break from wandering.

I went for comfort this year, wearing a casual maxi skirt and comfortable top, and flip-flops to give my tired feet a rest! I did have a pair of heels in my bag in case I felt too under-dressed, but they never did make it out of the bag lol

One of the funnest moments from TEA Con was getting the photographers together to pose for a picture for me, which was not unlike trying to herd cats! They have all become good friends over the three years I’ve been attending TEA, and I am so appreciative of the awesome work they do and all the time and effort they put into capturing all the special moments during the TEA events. And I always have so much fun talking and joking with them, and they are always so gracious when I ask them for a picture with someone, which I tend to do more than I probably should!

2017 TEA Con

I had decided I wasn’t going to attend the Saturday night event at Cheetah’s because the previous year had been such a fiasco; instead I had planned to go to either Hamburger Mary’s in Long Beach or Club Shine, but for some reason I was really tired decided to just hang out in my hotel room and order room service and watch the Food Channel. I felt guilty spending a Saturday night in Los Angeles in my hotel room, but I just needed a break and some time to rest and recharge. I don’t have access to tv or the Food Channel where I live, so it was kind of nice to just relax and watch Chopped, and take a nice long hot shower.

Sunday was the TEA awards, and I got my hair and makeup done that afternoon, which is always a fun thing to splurge on. I went to the same salon in Burbank that I went to last year but had a different lady do my hair, and I really enjoyed talking with her. I guess I’m getting chatty in my old age! And it turned out I got to see the lady who did my hair last year, which was nice!

It’s always fun getting all dressed to the nines and getting to wear a gown, and I really liked my gown this year; simple but elegant. I initially hadn’t planned to wear a gown this year because I felt I’d never be able to do better than last year’s gown, but I couldn’t resist. I mean, how often do you get the chance to wear a gown? So I took my time getting ready and then took Lyft to the Avalon. It’s always such a cool moment to arrive and walk in, knowing it’s finally here and that it’s going to be such an amazing night, and seeing everyone there! One of those magic moments that never seems to get old. This year I had the pleasure of walking the red carpet with my friend Eddie Wood, and we had a lot of fun; in fact I may have gotten a bit too carried away with the fun part, but I think Eddie had a good time!

Becca Benz 2017 TEA Awards     Becca Benz Eddie Wood 2017 TEA Awards

I mingled and talked and hugged and posed for pictures and was having such a wonderful time and felt so fortunate to once again be part of such an awesome event. When I looking through the program I was so excited to see that Al Tom was getting the Best Industry Professional Award!! I got up to go find him so I could give him a great big hug! Al is such a great photographer and a good friend to so many of us, and if anyone is deserving of this award it’s him.

The show was going to be starting soon and I was sitting at our table when I saw Laura Espinoza across the room, so I ran over to say hi to her, and we talked for a while. When I went back to the table I noticed my purse was gone. I asked the people at the table if they’d seen it and asked security if it had been turned in, but no one had seen it. I didn’t have time to worry about it because the award Jamie Jameson and I were presenting was the third award, so we had to go backstage before the show started. It was neat to present an award, and I was happy I got to do it with Jamie because I knew her and knew I could get by with not having to talk much. We were announced, which was pretty cool and then we walked out onto the stage, and I managed to do so without tripping, so I was happy and relieved! Jamie did the talking and I just stood there and smiled and clapped and enjoyed the moment. I kind of felt like Vanna White from Wheel of Fortune! After the winner was announced we moved off to the side and then exited after the winners.

I made it back to the table and still no sign of my purse, and that’s when I really started getting worried. And then when I realized I would not be able to fly home if I didn’t have my driver’s license, which was in my purse, I really started stressing out. And without my credit card or identification I wouldn’t have access to any money, and I stressed even more. I asked a friend who also lived in Portland and who had driven to Los Angeles if I could possibly get a ride back with her, and she graciously said yes, so at least I didn’t have to worry about being stranded here. And thankfully I hadn’t left my phone in my purse so at least I had that.

Miran Becca Benz 2017 TEAWhen the nominees for Best Internet Personality were announced it was such a cool moment to hear my name and see my picture, and to be included among such a distinguished group of nominees. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to win this year because I just felt like there were people more deserving than me. It was still a little disappointing not to win, but Miran is a friend and someone I have a great deal of respect for, and I was happy she won. And I have to say she looked stunning in the gorgeous gown she wore, as she always does.

I stayed until the intermission and then checked again with security, and when my purse was still missing I decided to head back to the hotel so I could call my bank and report my card missing, so I got a Lyft and went back to the hotel, where I had to get another key card so I could get in my room. I changed out of my gown and got cleaned up and then called the bank to report my card missing and arranged for a new card to be sent which would be waiting for me when I got back to Portland. Once that was taken care of I took a shower and tried to calm down. I would be leaving early in the morning to go home with my friend, and I still had to get packed, so there wasn’t much point to going to sleep, even if I could have slept, which was doubtful.

After the awards show ended a friend called me and left a message saying my purse had been found and it was in the security office, so I got dressed and drove back to the Avalon, hoping it wasn’t too late to get my purse before everyone left. I got there just as they were closing up and it took a while to find the right person to unlock the door, but when they opened the security office there was my purse on the counter, and my driver’s license and credit card were still in it. I was so so relieved.

When I had walked in I smelled the hot dogs from the street vender and as I was leaving I realized how hungry I was so I was looking forward to grabbing a couple of hot dogs to take home, but of course they were gone by the time I came out. I got home and checked online to see what was still open, but everything was closed or was not delivering, so I finally ended up going through the drive-through at McDonalds and getting two Egg McMuffins, which seemed an appropriate ending to what had been a long, long night. I got to bed just as the sun was coming up, but thankfully my hotel room had blackout curtains so I was able to get some sleep. I was exhausted Monday and didn’t do much beyond getting packed and having one more meal at In N Out. I had an early flight Tuesday morning so I went to bed early. The trip home was uneventful, and I was just thankful to be on the plane. It was good to get home, except for the weather. I had left warm, sunny California and returned to cold, rainy Portland, which was depressing. I got home and unpacked, and as much as I enjoyed my time in Los Angeles it was good to sleep in my own bed again.

My 2017 TEA was filled with lots of wonderful memories, even though it ended on a sour note with my purse having disappeared, but such is life. Last year was magical in every possible way and I will forever have those memories, and this year was special in its own ways. It all worked out in the end, as it invariably does.

It wasn’t until last week that I even looked at any of the pictures from this year’s TEA events, and when I did I was struck by how tired I looked. I was missing the energy and sparkle from previous years, and that was sort of a wakeup call that something was not right with me.

As for TEA 2018, I’m not sure at this point. I have a lot of personal things to sort out and I’m not sure what the future holds for me. I have three years of special memories and so many wonderful friends, and those will stay with me forever, no matter where my life takes me.

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Becca Benz 2017 TEA Part 1: Adventures in Los Angeles!

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I had been counting down the days and looking forward to TEA for a long time; actually since last year’s TEA ended! I got my gown and all the accessories and had all my reservations made and was ready to go! I was so excited to see all my friends, and was looking forward to lots of warm, sunny weather after having endured a Portland winter in which we’ve seen very little sun and lots of rain. I had been checking the weather forecast and was so relieved when I knew the weather would be good. I got packed and managed to get everything into my luggage, including four pairs of heels and my sneakers, and was ready to go!

Going through airport security is never fun because I always get “selected” to go through a pat-down and have my luggage searched. Go figure. So I get the Portland airport and check my bag and get ready to go through security, and it looks like I’m going to make it through without getting searched, but then the TSA agent points to my carry-on suitcase and asks me if that’s mine, and I reply yes, wondering what’s going on. He then gives me a funny look and asks me if I realized I had a large hunting knife in my bag. Shit! My bag has a small pocket on the side which I never use because I never remember it’s there, and when I recently moved I must have thrown the knife in that pocket of the bag and forgotten about it. I try to remain calm and collected and I tell him it’s my son’s knife and I hadn’t realized it was there, hoping I wasn’t going to be detained and have to explain all this. He gives me another funny look and then takes the knife to swab it for residue. He then tells me I can’t keep it, which I already know, and then sends me on my way. So, I normally always get patted down and searched, but when I carry a large hunting knife in my carry-on bag through security I don’t get patted down or even have my luggage searched. Huh. Guess I’ll have to put prohibited items in my carry-on bag from now on.

Becca Benz TEA 2017

Becca Benz TEA 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I make it on my flight, which was no small relief after the knife incident, and have a smooth trip to Burbank, and get my rental car and find my way to the hotel and get checked in. I splurged a little and went with a nicer hotel, but I was blown away at how nice my room was, and how amazing the shower was! I knew I’d be enjoying lots of long hot showers while I was there! My apologies for not doing my part to conserve water while I was there.

My first order of business was finding the sun-deck at the hotel to lay in the sun and get some much-needed color, but I find out the sun-deck is closed for repairs. What??? Thankfully their sister hotel was across the street and had a nice sun-deck, so I found a comfy chase lounge and enjoyed the warmth of the sun while I relaxed and looked at the palm trees. It was good to be back in Los Angeles! The second order of business was heading to my favorite In N Out Burger for dinner. Surprisingly it wasn’t too crowded and I got a booth to sit in while I enjoyed my animal-style burger and fries. God how I’d missed In N Out burgers!!!

I spent the next two days lounging in the sun and working on getting a tan, but being careful not to burn, and just being lazy and checking out my old haunts from when I lived there. Wednesday night I went to The Abbey, which is a place near and dear to my heart. The people who work there are so friendly and always so good to me, and it’s such a fun place whether I’m there to dance or just people-watch, plus they have really great food! I got there fairly early before things got too crazy and order a drink, which is the first drink I’ve had in a long, long time, so it doesn’t take much to get me feeling good lol And then Brooke Zannell, Eddie Wood, Chelsea Marie, and Montasia showed up, which was a really nice surprise! I was so excited they were there and to get the chance to catch up! Little did I know just how exciting things were going to get! We were sitting at a table talking, and I leaned over so I could hear what Brooke was saying when all of a sudden Eddie jumps up and starts furiously patting my head, and I’m wondering what the heck is going on. Then I smell something burning and Eddie is telling me my hair caught on fire when I leaned over the table and my hair went into the candle, which I hadn’t even noticed. Thank God Eddie saw what happened and took such quick action. And thankfully I didn’t have any product in my hair or hadn’t worn hairspray, otherwise my hair might have gone up like a Roman candle. Everyone assured me not much hair burned and that it wasn’t noticeable, but I was still pretty freaked about it. But after another drink I wasn’t so worried lol I managed to get back to the hotel at a decent hour without any further incidents. My first few days in Los Angeles were pretty exciting, and the TEA events hadn’t even started yet!

Becca Benz TEA 2017

Next week in Part 2 I’ll cover all TEA Con, the TEA Pre-party, and the TEA Awards, as well as a fun night at Club Cobra.

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Holly Parker opens up about life, porn, and being trans

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Holly Parker is one of the biggest names in trans porn, and for those of us fortunate to be able to know her as a friend, she is one of the most caring people you’ll ever meet. I got the opportunity to hang out with Holly and get to know her at last year’s TEA and discover what a special person she is, so being able to do this interview means a lot to me. Holly has achieved a great deal behind the camera, but it’s her voice as an advocate for the porn industry and the trans community where she really shines. And she has become a leading voice for trans health care, which we will cover in Part 2 of this interview. So without further ado, I give you the one and only Holly Parker!

What was your childhood like growing up?

My childhood growing up was mainly influenced by my immediate family. I was born in a sleepy little fisherman’s town in the early 90s. My family was very religious and until my grandparents died in 2003, I attended a prestigious private school. In 2004, I began going to public school. I was immediately introduced to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I kept it a secret from my family for some time, but then it got out of hand. My addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs was causing me to be reckless. By mid-summer 2006 it was either a long-term inpatient rehab or alternative school and outpatient.

The change of pace and size of my alternative school made it possible for me, for the first time, to acquire straight A’s. I drank every weekend I attended that school and passed every urine analysis. One day I decided to be honest about my substance abuse and my counselor told me that I needed long-term rehab or I was to be kicked out of school. I was 18 and dropped out of that school and went back to my old high school. I decided to drop out and got my GED in 2009 as Holly.

I grew up in a typical single-parent, American family with most relatives alive until I was 14. I even got along well with my dad separately from my mother. They were never married, I am a bastard child. I was raised privileged and loved, and was protected by my family and well taken care of growing up. The one thing that made my childhood difficult and stemmed any trouble or misunderstanding, was the fact I was transgender. I was never molested or abused, was always given the chance to make mistakes and learn from them and if I did not, whatever punishment WAS necessary, in my opinion now. Looking back, I never wanted or needed anything growing up, except acceptance and understanding of my gender dysphoria, although, I did not know how to do that or where to begin until I was 14. I had developed a full understanding of myself and was able to begin explaining and expressing myself in ways that may bring better understanding to other trans* people someday. This is regardless of how different my experience may be from theirs.

Holly Parker Through The Benz

Have you always known you were trans, and was it a process to come to terms with that?

I have always known I was trans. Recently in San Francisco I was with my mother for my gender reassignment surgery. We were being interviewed by BBC for a documentary on gender, and my mom and I discussed many things including random memories from my childhood. I’m talking about when I realized I was trans, which I unfortunately did not have that word for back then because of lack of education on gender. I thought I was a normal girl and the memories I have just so happen to be from meeting around two years old that I begin remembering. I didn’t even think I would have consciousness at that point ha ha that is enough for me, personally, so now I have been female all of my life, or a more general term, trans.

The only process I have gone through is convincing people I am “female” and I had a real disorder, mentally and physically debilitating. Passing cars, passing trains, overpasses, building windows, a gun. Many different choices for taking one’s life at any given time at RANDOM. I now look at those things and think of them as they are in the moment and not anything else harmful. I would like to avoid harm at all costs because I love life now and I see a real future ahead of me.

If I can bring more understanding and involve as much of the world in my transition as I can, I have a chance to bring some acceptance to all trans people across the world. As a young child, I just did not want to see anyone suffer and dreamed to be like Princess Diana and travel to other countries and volunteer with the sick and less fortunate. Although I realize that if you are going to make a difference in this world, it starts by making a difference on your home soil first or wherever you call home.

Is your family supporting and accepting of you?

My family may not have understood me all the way through, but they have never let that factor into their decision on whether they will except me in their life or not. Knowing it’s none of their business to understand me, for I am not hurting them or anyone mentally or physically to be happy myself. They just love me and are happy to see me happy when they watched me be miserable for so many years.

Now, even though they may not always understand me, they have always supported me in my journey be happy and grow as a human on this planet. I deserve to feel just as human as the next person. They have witnessed every decision I have made, and it has only bettered me as a person and helped my transition. My family knew me before I came out as trans and continue to know me and want to know me now. They remember how miserable and sad I was and for years no one knew what to do. Now that I am me and only become more of me each day, they see how happy I am and have been since I’ve transitioned. They have not only seen how much good I have done for myself, but the good I have done and kindness I have shown to others in order for them to feel acceptance when no one else may have been showing them acceptance at the time.

Holly Parker Through The Benz   Holly Parker Through The Benz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you get started working in the porn industry?

I googled “trans porn applications” and found a step-by-step application process and originally shot my first solo and hardcore with Radius Dark Photography. I began working in the porn industry after I moved back from Arizona, broke as fuck, after attempting to start over with my fiance at the time in Phoenix, Arizona. Sadly, he passed August 20, 2015. Little did I know that first shoot I desperately applied for online would be the first of many. It would be the beginning of my career as a “Porn Star.” I thought I would shoot one and fade out quickly. Sometimes I still wish I did.

Can you tell us a few of the people who have influenced you the most throughout your career?

There are so many influences in my career I don’t know who to begin with! These people did not influence me to get started in porn, but they influenced me to stay. I hate mentioning names because my philosophy on that as, “Every name you mention, you forget a name to mention.” My Twitter shows many retweets, posing photos, and advertisements for past work with many people who have made a large impact on my life as a Trans Porn Star.

Can you tell us what Grooby means to you?

Can I tell you what Grooby means to me? Friendships and paychecks!

Holly Parker Through The Benz

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

My family has always known I’ve worked in porn and they see my success and happiness today. I am happier and a lot less broke than working for minimum-wage 9-to-5 job. I want to build a career. I do not want a job. I learned a job stands for “Just Over Broke.” I was over working paycheck to paycheck many moons ago.

There are some who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers. What are your thoughts on this?

Well, all women in porn are exploited as sex workers, we have sex for money. Is it anyone’s business, other than the government at this point, to know how we make our money, pay our bills, feed our children and stay alive like the next privileged American? Most of us (Trans*) Women exploit ourselves as sex workers all day, every day. It is our livelihood. Porn is the ultimate advertising for sex work. There is nothing wrong with that. If it is done right, everyone is safe and making money.

Now that you’ve had reassignment surgery will you be retiring from porn?

Retiring from porn is a statement. For some, porn is a career. For others, like myself, it was an artistic outlet to temporarily support myself.  I did not need tax money from someone else to buy my groceries or federal funding support to help me with my transportation. I was able to work legally and pay my taxes, comfortably. Porn has, unfortunately to some, opened up many other doors for me to be successful. At this point, it depends on how I feel after I am 100% healed from my Gender Reassignment Surgery.

You have what many would consider to be a dream job, being a model in the porn industry. Is the job really as glamorous and interesting and much fun as people would assume?

It is considered a dream job, being a model in the porn industry. You question if it is glamorous, is it as interesting is you think? This is a hard question to organize an answer to. Working is always interesting. In the beginning of your career, you think you will only be asked to do what you are comfortable with personally. That is not always the case. You are challenged, mostly in your own thoughts, to questions you are asked about performing acts you may have never considered comfortable to try. I have not been in a porn setting where I did not try and learn something interesting about myself that was new. Then again, I am a girl who says go forth and face whatever you are scared of and just get it out of the fucking way! There is so much more opportunity for you to bloom without restriction.

Porn is glamorous when you attend award shows, like the Adult Video News (AVN) Awards and the Transgender Erotica Awards (TEA) Show. You get to dress up and attend red carpet events with costars, producers, photographers, other models, directors, etc. Really, any title you can think of in film attends those awards to celebrate the individual success brought together by so many in the adult film industry to create so many productions teamwork could only accomplish.

Holly Parker Through The Benz

What’s your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part?

My favorite and least enjoyable parts I endure in porn? Well, my favorite part is getting ready for the project. I become a princess preparing for her coronation day, figuratively speaking, when my make-up begins. Each fresh curl is like a brand-new, warm and beautiful day. I become presentable and I feel ready to be seen.

I do not like traveling to the shoot, since I’m always dealing with some kind of unnecessary delay, although I don’t stress if it is in the same state or city. A missed flight because of uncontrollable weather conditions, traffic or some unexpected delay. Also, most adult production companies make you pay for your travel and do not reimburse you. Like a 2 way Spirit Airlines ticket is going to break the bank! lol

What advice would you give to aspiring models who want to get into the industry?

My best advice to aspiring models is never let yourself feel like lesser of a human due to your personal or someone else’s personal negative opinion. Constructive criticism him should always be welcome to. Only to humble, better yourself and build self-confidence. You were born to be who you want to be. Let it show, let it shine. Your individuality will be what makes you stand out from the rest.

As you know, violence and suicide are two of the biggest problems that the trans community faces, with 41% of trans people attempting suicide. There are organizations like Trans Lifeline which provides vital resources for trans people in times of crisis. What can we as a community, and more importantly, what can society do to address the issues which all too often leave trans people feeling like their only option is to end their life?

It does not start as a community or society together that makes a difference. Making a difference starts with yourself individually. Suicide comes from so many places inside one’s self. There is no knowledge of what giving up does for you once you cross over. Know the pain of your own life’s loss you cannot understand, that is something you will cause someone else. Surviving and helping others find a reason to survive inspires hope. Do not stop inspiring hope. Do not stop inspiring a future for Love. Your own story in survival of doubt will save someone else. Save lives on behalf of your own story about simply making a conscious decision to live now and in the future when you consider ending your life.

Always believe in finding a light at the end of your tunnel, figuratively speaking. If you do not see the light, never lose hope, or give up and let yourself die or kill yourself to put yourself out of misery. You claw and scratch kick and chew if you have to. If you are going to go out, always go out with a fight.

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

An individual need to understand a human’s personal life in order to confirm their existence as deserving the same basic rights and respect as your own only if you relate to them in some way that, subconsciously, you do not feel physically threatened or mentally inconvenienced. Whatever the word is for that need of equal or greater value as a human with no lesser accepted based on specific personal identification and beliefs. That is one of the biggest issues facing the transgender community today.

Holly Parker Through The BenzWho inspires you?

My inspiration in general, for life? I have parented and loved a life and I thank my lucky stars I am responsible for him until death do us part. My American Staffordshire terrier, Jengo Fett (Yes, from Star Wars). Jengo was gifted into my life in October 2012. An interesting fact about Jengo is that he was born the same day I was. I will be turning 26 while he turns 6 this Summer.

Jengo Fett. Do I want to be responsible for the death of my dog with an “Oh Well!” Attitude after he dies? Nope. I will always choose to be responsible for the death of nothing, especially a life. He inspires me to live. He inspires me to be responsible for my own life, I come home each night happy and don’t feel alone. I cannot accept him going to the pound because I decided to give up responsibility for a life I allowed into mine knowing originally the only way we would part is if one of us died. Jengo is the reason I wake up in the morning and why I strive for success. I do not want him to be homeless!

 

As a trans woman do you find it difficult to date, along with being a pornstar?

Dating is difficult not only for trans women, but every human that is able to date. Some make it feel easy until it is not. Do not stop and stay on my own when it is not easy, settling in sadness. Move forward. Do not ever give up on even the smallest chance to fall in love!

I have dated so many. Enough that more than a couple are no longer alive. I evaluate myself on dating in the past. I ask myself, “What have I learned? Not a fucking thing! I am still so fucking confused!”

Holly Parker Through The BenzWhen you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy in your free time?

Currently, home is in Las Vegas. You can only imagine how much there is to do here. In my free time, it is always the same things, just in a different order on a different day. I walk my dog, I love music and I especially enjoy traveling. I also enjoy keeping up on my laundry and every once in a while, I will receive a great recommendation for a TV series to binge watch.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Something people would be surprised to learn about me. I was arrested two times before I turned 18.

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

When time allows or something hilarious pops up from one, I will interact with fans on social media. I really enjoy unique messages or fan art. I also appreciate the personal messages and it sucks I cannot respond to all of them. I apologize for any recent weird messages or posts on one of my social media accounts. It was maliciously hacked several times, but it has been resolved

Holly Becca TEA 2017

Holly Parker Through The Benz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see myself well established in my choice of career and close to a comfortable retirement. Possibly married, definitely a few kids. Two or more dogs and simple family filled holidays. I may have put on a few pounds, ideally in the right places! All this in the a well-deserved home.

There continues to be a negative perception of the adult entertainment industry and those who work in it by mainstream society. What can we as an industry do to break down those stereotypes and get people to view us in a more positive light?

Avoid complaining about negativity. Be yourself and make an attempt to discuss the professional side of your experience if given the chance to share. Give some examples on how your career in the adult industry has benefited you. You can begin to bring a better respect to adult entertainment, maybe not by discussing the work you are performing, but the benefits the work has allowed you to prosper from.

The only way to normalize adult work is to leave out the discussion about the sex aspect. Talk about the business aspect and how it allows you to enjoy life when you’re not working. The work for some may not be agreed with, but the advantages business-wise can create a better platform to show people there is positive profit from adult entertainment. Sex is one of the few things in this world that will always and forever continue to sell in all shapes and forms.

You can follow Holly in Twitter at @TheHollyParker

See more of Holly on her website at hollyparker.xxx/home

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Trump abandons transgender students, condones discrimination and bullying

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Last week I attempted to write something positive to show that there is still hope for the trans community and progress is still being made, but unfortunately I feel compelled to wade back into the cesspool of politics given the importance of Wednesday’s events and the impact they will have on the most vulnerable members of our community; our children.

It was a shameful day for America Wednesday when the Trump Administration rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use the bathroom which corresponded to their gender identity, and in the process overruled his own Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. A letter issued jointly by the Justice Department and Education Department rejected the Obama Administration’s stance that nondiscrimination laws required federally funded schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice in schools, claiming it disregarded the primary role of states and local school districts to set educational policy, and was an example of federal overreach and a misinterpretation of federal law.

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So the Trump Administration has made it official that they will not protect transgender students from discrimination and bullying. They have in effect sanctioned the bullying of trans children, who already have to deal with disproportionately higher rates of bullying, violence, and discrimination. And the sad reality is that there will be an increase in the bullying of trans student and a corresponding increase in suicides of trans students. Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, wondered “What could possibly motivate a blind and cruel attack on young children like this? These transgender students simply want to go to school in the morning without fear of discrimination or harassment. The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking.”

The letter did state that “All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment” but personally I don’t put much stock behind that statement, given the systematic assault on LGBTQ rights since Trump took office. This is not just about transgender students; it once again shows how the Trump Administration feels about federal civil rights and specifically rights for trans people. The Obama Administration was progressive about rights for the LGBT community and a lot of gains were made, but the Trump Administration has made it clear they take a much narrower view of civil rights law, and that trans people have a lot to be fearful of. If we cannot count on the government to protect transgender children in schools, then there is something very wrong with this country.

I have always been proud of my country and proud to be an American, but today I feel ashamed of our nation and the direction we’re heading; that I as a trans person am treated as a second-class citizen and forced to fight for basic human rights. We as a nation need to take a hard look at ourselves and the decisions our elected representatives are making, and ask ourselves if this is really what America stands for and if this is how the Founding Fathers envisioned this nation being run. And as citizens of this country we need to ask ourselves if Donald Trump is upholding his responsibilities as President of the United States and giving all citizens equal rights and opportunities. Has our society deteriorated so badly that it’s become acceptable to openly discriminate against certain groups of people, and to put children at risk? I thought America and its citizens were better than that, but sadly it appears I am wrong.

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Hope for 2017: trans community is still moving forward

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While 2017 has given the transgender community a lot to be fearful of, there have still been some positive things which have occurred that may have gotten overlooked. We’ve all been inundated with politics lately and everyone should be well aware of the intentions and risks we’re facing from the current administration, but in the midst of so much negativity and fear there are signs that we as a community are still making progress and moving forward, which is an important message that we need to make sure people hear. We need to give people in our community hope and to show that in spite of the overwhelming amount of fear we are still here and moving forward and we’re not going anywhere.

Among the positives for the transgender community so far in 2017:

Texas Mayor Jess HerbstNew Hope Mayor Jess Herbst became the first openly transgender mayor on record in Texas when she made the following statement in an open letter posted on the town’s website in February: “As your Mayor I must tell you about something that has been with me since my earliest memories. I am transgender. Two years ago, with the support of my wife, daughters and son-in-law, I began Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). At the time, I did not imagine I would hold the Mayors position, but here I am” Herbst wrote.

Herbst’s open letter comes as transgender rights have been thrust into the state and national spotlight thanks to a slew of so-called bathroom bills, including Texas’ Senate Bill 6.
 

The Boy Scouts of America announced in January that it will allow transgender children to enroll in scouting programs. Boy Scouts chief executive Michael Surbaugh said in a video message that the organization will now accept boys based on the gender a parent puts on a child’s scouting application, ending a policy of accepting boys based on the gender listed on a child’s birth certificate. One week later a New Jersey boy has become the first openly transgender member of the Boy Scouts.

National Geographic Gender RevolutionNational Geographic Channel premiered the documentary Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric in February. A companion piece to National Geographic Magazine’s recent “Gender Revolution” issue, the new documentary follows Couric across the states as she unpacks all the complexities of gender. The documentary premiered at a screening in Washington, D.C. to a very appreciative audience, including Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who praised the show by saying “This is going to save lives.”

And in a first for the magazine, National Geographic featured a transgender person on its cover, with 9-year-old Avery Jackson who appeared on the subscriber’s edition.

 

 

 

Long-time transgender advocate Laverne Cox made history as the first transgender actress to play a transgender series regular on a broadcast television show when the legal drama Doubt premiered on CBS February 15th. Cox, already known for portraying Sophia Burset, a transgender woman on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, became the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy award back in 2014 for her performance on the show.

Laverne Cox Doubt

At this year’s Grammys, a transgender woman served as a trophy presenter for the first time in the award show’s history, which puts the Grammys in the lead among award show diversity. Slay Model Management’s Martina Robledo joined actor Derek Marrocco and model Hollin Haley as presenters at Sunday night’s festivities, which broke away from the outdated tradition of simply using a “trophy girl.”

French Vogue transgender cover For the first time in the magazine’s 97-year history, Vogue Paris put a transgender model on its cover. Valentina Sampaio appears on the magazine’s March issue, which is the second biggest cover of the year for any fashion magazine. The cover’s celebratory headline reads, “Transgender beauty: How they’re shaking up the world.”

 

And finally, Tonner Doll Company announced it will release a doll based on 16-year-old transgender teen Jazz Jennings from the TLC reality series I Am Jazz, which will be the first doll based on a transgender person.

While these are not all ground breaking news they do show that progress is being made in a variety of areas, and there is still much to be hopeful about. And 2017 is barely even two months old and a things can change in the blink of an eye, as we are already beginning to see. There is hope.

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Getting to know three-time TEA nominee Lianna Lawson!

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Lianna Lawson is a new face in the trans porn scene who has made a big impact and become a fan favorite. Her work can be seen on several different sites such as Shemale Yum and Tgirls.porn, and she can also frequently be found camming. Lianna was nominated for three 2017 TEAs for Best New Face, Best Solo Model, and Best Scene with Casey Kisses.

Hello Lianna and thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!

No problem, I’m happy to oblige!

Lianna Lawson TEACongratulations on your three TEA nominations! How does it feel to get that many nominations?

It’s almost surreal. I wasn’t going into porn thinking I’d get nominated for anything, however that being said, it’s amazing to have not only one but three nominations among many other talented and beautiful ladies. So something is being done right, I think.

How did you get started working in the porn industry?

Well I just started posting images of myself on social media revealing more and more. Eventually Grooby director Omar Wax scouted me and got my ass, quite literally in front of a camera. The rest kinda just went from there.

Many consider being a model in the porn industry would be a dream job. Is the job really as glamorous and as much fun as people would assume?

To the uninformed it would seem like the “dream job,” but it is, in fact at the end of the day, a job. I mean there are some cool parties with cool people though, but you gotta *work* to get there.

What’s your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part?

My favorite part about the job is getting to meet all the amazing people in front of AND behind the camera. Some of the most interesting and amazing people I’ve ever met have been through doing porn. As for the least favorite thing about the job is the stigma attached with being a trans sex worker.

What advice would you give to aspiring models who want to get into the industry?

I would tell them that they should know the risks and to think really long and hard about what they want out of working in the adult industry.

Who are some of the people who have influenced you the most throughout your career?

A lot of my influences comes from fans and friends, some of my friends being people like Shiri, Robin Banks, and Natalie Mars. All wonderful people. As they’ve all definitely helped me throughout my career in one way or another.

Lianna Lawson

Can you tell us what Grooby means to you?

Well as you know Grooby is one of the flagship companies that produces and distributes trans porn. That being said, it’s quite an honor to be featured by them and basically be propelled onto the home screens for those that appreciate and admire trans porn. And for that I’m pretty grateful. It means a great deal that I can be a part of the Grooby community and be accepted for who I am.

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

They know I do porn, but like any parents they’re concerned with all the risks associated with doing porn, I assure them that I am safe and doing well. They’re not happy with my choice to be in porn, but hey I’m here.

What was your childhood like growing up?

My childhood was pretty ordinary growing up so to say; I grew up in a military household, so there was lots of moving around and some strict rules. I was also the youngest of three siblings and for the most part I stayed outta trouble, got good grades, and played an unhealthy amount of video games. I didn’t necessarily have any long friendships because of the moving, so I found solace with online games and their communities and kinda explored things from there.

Lianna LawsonHave you always known you were trans, and was it a process to come to terms with that?

I wouldn’t say that I always knew I was trans, but I had a feeling that things were not “right” growing up. My teens were basically a period of self-discovery and lots of teen angst. And being raised in a fairly strict conservative household did push me to hide some of the ways I felt and acted. Initially I thought I was just gay, but I was drawn more to the feminine side of things and felt more comfortable exploring those aspects of myself. Eventually I sought professional help and guidance when I was 23 which allowed me to be more comfortable with myself and much happier.

Is your family supportive and accepting of you?

I would say they’re still getting used to the fact that I’m transitioning and are slowly coming to terms with it in their own special way.

How do you address those who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers?

There’s exploitation in almost every aspect of life, to think that trans sex workers are an exception is a little naive. You just have to have a steady head about yourself and know when something just isn’t right.

Violence and suicide are two of the biggest problems that the trans community faces, with 41% of trans people attempting suicide. What can we as a community, and more importantly, what can society do to address the issues which all too often leave trans people feeling like their only option is to end their life?

A part of the solution would be the community recognizing the warning signs when people are at risk of committing suicide. It’s up to the community to know and address what’s wrong or troubling the individuals who reside in said community. Support groups for LGBTQ people would be a great place for trans people seeking help and to get the care that they need to help prevent suicide. With increased efforts by the community it can bring awareness to society to change for the better and hopefully decrease suicide rates among transgender people.

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

I think one of the big issues facing the transgender community would be acquiring and maintaining a job in the workforce without discrimination or fear of losing their job and having job security not only on a federal level. The mainstream media tends to focus on some non important issues like trans women in bathrooms and are primarily concerned with what our genitals look like. So the public is being informed that when it comes to trans people, you should be afraid or disturbed. Not to mention the media has a tendency to portray only the bad news, but that’s an entirely different subject.

Lianna Lawson Shemale Yum

There is a negative perception of the adult entertainment industry and those who work in it by mainstream society. What can we as an industry do to break down those stereotypes and get people to view us in a more positive light?

What would really help break down the negative perception of the adult industry would be the normalization of sex and breaking down how it is seen as a holy ritual. However that isn’t going to happen anytime soon because we live in a puritanical world where violence is rewarded and sex is shamed. Hopefully society’s attitude towards the adult entertainment industry will evolve and everyone will be better for it.

Who inspires you?

I’d say friends and a little bit of Sasha Grey.

As a trans woman do you find it difficult to date, along with being a pornstar?

Well I don’t date much and I’ve only been on a couple dates and the dates I have been on the people I’ve seen have known that I’m trans and do porn. I can see how it would be difficult, but I have not encountered those problems just yet.

When you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy in your free time?

Well I enjoy playing videogames, watching movies, reading books, etc. y’know the usual. Two things worth mentioning though are my interests in photography and dancing. I’d like to explore a little bit more with both, but they’re kinda just little hobbies that I dabble in. Also dancing is a great way to stay active.

I read that your favorite movie is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which is also one of my favorites. Do you enjoy classic movies?

Yea I really enjoy the classics, they’re a great place to delve into the beginnings of a really fascinating industry.

With your interest in photography would you eventually like to get behind the camera and shoot or produce porn?

I think it’d be an interesting move to shift from in front of the camera to behind and end up shooting porn. That would be something to see.

Lianna Lawson     Lianna Lawson

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

Sometimes it’s an absolute blast talking to people from all over the world and other times it’s a total drag. For example I can talk about some really cool things like chemistry or firefighting and other times it’s some Joe Blow who is looking for some wish fulfillment or a cheap thrill. it’s kinda all over the place, lots of hits and misses.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

That I have a dick, but seriously I think people would be surprised to know that I’m down to earth and a fairly easy going person.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I just don’t know, I do however hope that it is not as a statistic.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Lianna, it was a pleasure!

Be sure to follow Lianna on Twitter and Tumblr!

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TEA Time is almost here: the 2017 Transgender Erotica Awards are coming!

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With the Transgender Erotica Awards coming up soon I thought I’d share my perspective about what it’s like to attend the TEA events for those of you who have never gotten the chance to experience it in person. Hopefully this will help convince you that it’s an event that can’t be missed!

TEA 2017

The purpose behind the Transgender Erotica Awards is to recognize those who work in and have excelled in this industry, but it’s so much more than just the awards. While it is nice to be recognized for your accomplishments, the best part of TEA is just getting together with friends to celebrate what we do. And with all the negativity we face because of working in the porn industry, let alone the fact that we’re also trans, it’s nice to be with people where it’s okay to feel good about what we do and who we are. We get a chance to put aside all the negative crap that seems to predominate the news lately and have some fun for a few days. And for me, it’s more than just a gathering of people I work with and the fans who enjoy the product we create, it’s more like a family reunion. I’ve made so many friends in this industry, people who have come to mean the world to me and are like family, and that is what makes this so truly special. I get to dress up in a fancy gown and hang out and party with some pretty amazing people, and it doesn’t get much better than that! And for those new to the industry it’s a great opportunity to learn how the industry works and to meet people and network. But TEA is so much more than just about the awards!

TEA Con 2016     TEA Con 2016

TEA Con debuted last year and was a rousing success, and it looks to be even better this year with it being held on Saturday March 4th at Avalon, site of the awards show. TEA Con gives fans a chance to meet and hang out with the performers in a more relaxed environment, along with the opportunity to get autographed photos and merchandise, along with a picture with their favorite model. And Grooby will no doubt have some goodies to give away such as their awesome Grooby Girl t-shirts and calendars. I think I spent all of five minutes at my table because I was having too much fun wondering around talking with people and taking pictures. Even though I work in the industry I’m still a fan, and TEA Con gave me the opportunity to hang out with people I hadn’t met before and make new friends.

TEA 2016

The After-party has traditionally been held the night following the awards, but this year it’s been moved up to Friday March 3rd, with the awards being held on Sunday March 5th. The party takes place at Bardot which is a fabulous venue, and the folks at Grooby know how to throw a heck of a party! It’s always fun to see the outfits people wear, which range from elegant to outrageous and everything in between! The music rocks, the alcohol flows, and the party is one of the best! What I notice most are all the smiles and laughter and hugs, and people just happy to be there among friends. You can say with absolute certainty that a good time is had by all!

TEA 2016

And finally, the Awards Show is Sunday March 5th at the Avalon, and is always an amazing event. The Avalon is a beautiful venue and adds to the over-all atmosphere, which is one of excitement, elegance, and celebration. When you first walk in and see the red carpet and then the big staircase and the auditorium beyond that, it literally takes your breath away. And even more breath-taking are the people who attend and all the amazing gowns and dresses you see, along with some pretty snazzy tuxedos and suits! If you like to people watch then TEA will be your dream come true! The awards show begins with walking the red carpet and getting interviewed and photographed, which in itself is quite an experience! Morgan Bailey is the queen of the red carpet and nobody does a better job of interviewing that her! Then we mingle and have a drink or two and socialize with everyone before making our way to our tables for the award show. And then the fun begins, with your friends and coworkers getting recognized for their hard work. It’s always hard to pick who you want to win because most of the nominees are friends, so no matter who wins we’re all happy. It’s quite an evening.

TEA 2016     TEA 2016

And the TEA weekend wouldn’t be complete without attending Club Cobra on Thursday night which is the unofficial start to the TEA festivities. Cobra is always a fun night and a good chance to hang out and have a few drinks with your friends, or to make new friends!

And come Monday when all the festivities are done and we’re dead tired and our feet are killing us from wearing heels for the past four days, you’ll look back and have a lifetime of great memories and understand what an amazing experience the Transgender Erotica Awards really are! It’s one of those things that has to be experienced in order to understand it! And then you’ll be counting down the days until next year’s TEA!

TEA 2016

This would not be complete without a big thank you to everyone at Grooby who put in so much time and effort to make this event so special. A lot of work goes into organizing and planning TEA and making sure everything runs smoothly, and it’s a credit to them that these events always seem to come off without a hitch. The Transgender Erotica Awards have come a long way since the first one held in 2008, and it will be exciting to see how it continues to evolve and grow in the coming years.

TEA    TEA

Nice socks Dev 🙂

And last, but certainly not least, a big thank you to the many talented photographers who cover all the TEA events and never miss capturing all the special moments. You guys are the best! It’s nice to have so many amazing photos to remember these events by, and to use to promote things. TEA photos are always the first ones I go to when looking for images to use for my interviews, so thank you for that!

TEA 2016     TEA 2016

For more information about TEA and to purchase tickets, visit the TEA website here: theteashow.com/

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TEA Nominee Chloe Wilcox: model, carpenter, nun, and so much more!

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Chloe Wilcox is one of the up and coming new models for Grooby who has become a fan favorite and earned a TEA nomination for Ms. Unique! She is someone I have a lot of respect for, and even more so after doing this interview. It’s interviews like this which make my job so rewarding, because I get the opportunity to know some really amazing people like Chloe who inspire me in so many ways. So, without further ado, I give you Chloe Wilcox!

Chloe Wilcox TEACongratulations on getting nominated for the Ms. Unique Transgender Erotica Award! How does it feel to be nominated?

It is very humbling and an honor to be nominated alongside such great talent. In all honesty, I’m still surprised I was nominated.

Can you tell us what makes you so unique?

I have to admit, Becca, I really, really struggled with this question, and I actually asked for an outside opinion. And there are two things that people constantly tell me. I am unabashedly me; there is no difference between my porn, vanilla, or sister personas, I’m just me 24/7. And the secondly, I’m extremely humble and modest. Recognition is great, but at the end of the day I’m just doing what makes me happy.

How did you get started working in the porn industry?

Even before I transitioned I would see these beautiful trans girls in porn and I would think to myself that I wish I could be like her. So I guess you can say I’m living the dream, so to speak! I started out by applying to Grooby on their Femout site and was selected to do a shoot. About five months later Grooby photographer Omar Wax was passing through Nashville and we were able to get a shoot done.

Chloe Wilcox What’s your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part?

My favorite part is the empowerment and freedom it gives me in feeling attractive with my sexuality and body, which for a lot of girls can be a struggle. As well as the great friendships I have made in the industry thus far.

I would say my least favorite part so far is really just the lack of opportunities being in the mid-south. So that is definitely a struggle.

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

Absolutely! It’s been a pleasure and a delight interacting with my fans! At least, the active ones who respond.

What was your childhood like growing up in Tacoma, Washington?

Well, I grew up as an only child and never had many friends, I pretty much had a few close friends and kept myself busy with my artwork to keep from drowning in my depression as a child.

Depression is something which is all too common in the trans community. Is this something you still deal with?

Having the strength to live my truth, has freed me from my depression. For once I’m living on my own terms, not just existing, and its truly liberating.

What kind of artwork do you enjoy?

Like with everything else in my life I enjoy variety. I can draw, paint, craft, carve, skrim-shaw, and play music. If there is a way to out let my creative juices, I will do it! As long as the muse is with me.

At what point did you realize you were trans?

Like most girls I knew I was physically in the wrong body around the age of 7, I just didn’t know the word for how I felt. And I was taught to hide it.

At what age did you start your transition, and how did it go?

I came out as being transgender in October of 2014. It was scary at first, as is any huge life change. However, I was fortunate enough to have amazing support from friends, and being part of my local community was a great support system as well.

Has your family supporting and accepting of you?

My family was never supportive when I was figuring out who I was as a child. To this day, none of my family, biological or adoptive, talk to me since I started transition.

Chloe Wilcox Chloe Wilcox

There are some who claim that trans women are being exploited by the porn industry. What are your thoughts on this?

I feel like just as with anything else in life there are going to be people who are going to try and take advantage of you. I think that it is important for those getting in the industry to research the average pay rates for the different types of scenes, as well as network with other actresses about their experiences with different producers to keep them from being taken advantage of. Secondly, with the amount of websites where you can sell your own content, a lot of individuals produce their own content and sell it, which allows us more freedom and helps to prevent people from being taken advantage of.

What can we as an industry do to break down the negative stereotypes associated with porn and get people to view us in a more positive light?

As with anything the best way to change perception and enlighten ignorance is through education and outreach. And for individuals in this industry to continue to push and enforce the safe sex practices we have in place.

Who inspires you?

I really can’t say there is any one person that inspires me. I really just try to be a better person than I was the day before. But I do have many people in my life, both in and outside of the industry, that I have much respect and admiration for who have been very supportive.

Chloe Wilcox Chloe Wilcox

Do you find it difficult to date as a trans woman and a pornstar?

Dating, in general has been tricky, for cis males it is harder for them to keep my attention because the majority are very one dimensional. But I do find connecting with females, both cis and trans, easier.

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

Well, with the recent events, and as violence against LGBT community has increased, I think the biggest issue right now is safety. I personally know a few trans women who have been targeted because of recent events.

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

I find it hard to see that far ahead, perhaps married? A lot can happen and change in ten years, so as long as I’m happy with who I am and my life, the details are irrelevant.

What is a typical day in your life like?

A typical day is fairly uneventful for the most part. I work a 40-hour regular job, which I’m 100% out and proud as a trans woman. I cam here and there when I have the time and energy. And I usually end my night playing a game with my two girlfriends and falling asleep with each other over Skype.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Well, I live my life very transparently, but the two things that typically surprise people is that I do porn (for those in my vanilla life) and that I’m also a journeyman level carpenter and can do plumbing, electrical, and even weld. I’m basically a Jacqueline of all trades. And I’m also a Nun.

Chloe Wilcox Chloe Wilcox

You’re a nun?

Yep, I’m a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in the Music City Chapter. We are 21st century nuns and our mission is to banish stigmatic guilt and to spread joy. We do everything that nuns do such as raising money for other non-profits in our local communities. The only things we don’t do are spread religion and take vows of celibacy. We have over 30 houses world-wide, and every sister comes from many different backgrounds. We mostly help the LGBT community but also help others as well. We go where we are called to.

That’s really neat because I grew up in the Bay Area where the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence began and I remember them very well, as a symbol that I wasn’t alone, even back then. And more recently I’ve seen them at Portland LGBT events and marches.

How is it for you as a trans woman working in the construction industry, which is typically considered a male dominated industry?

When I first started transition I was very quiet about it, for obvious reasons. I’m sure a lot of people probably just thought I was gay *lol* but as I got further along in my transition I was growing tired of having to feel the need to hide myself and be called a name I did not identify with. When I came out I was working in a job as a mechanic on tractor trailers and I had to fight to be called my preferred name and pronouns. Eventually the constantly misgendering from truckers, even though my uniform had my preferred name, was becoming mentally and emotionally tiresome, not to mention physically draining. I eventually quit that job and am now working at a place I am much happier at!

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Chloe, it was a pleasure to get to know you better and to learn more about the interesting life you’ve lead. You truly are an inspiration and I look forward to meeting you at the Transgender Erotica Awards in March!

To learn more about Chloe you can follow her on:

https://twitter.com/ChloeWilcox_Ts

https://www.facebook.com/CoraElizaLove

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A Canadian original, the beautiful Jelena Vermilion!

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Jelena Vermilion gives us one more reason to love Canada! This sassy and articulate young woman has made a splash in the porn industry and leaves quite an impression when you get to know her. She has that special star quality of being amazing in front of the camera while performing and also being extremely insightful and informed about not only the issues within the trans community and porn industry, but also global issues. This lady can definitely hold her own in an interview! One of the things I enjoy most about doing these interviews is that it gives me the opportunity to get to know people a lot better, and I particularly enjoyed chatting with Jelena and doing this interview. Jelena is a special lady and I see great things ahead for her in whatever endeavors she chooses. And congratulations are in order for her recent Transgender Erotica Awards nominations for Ms. Unique and Best International Performer (West)!

Jelana Vermilion

What was your childhood like and when did you realize you were transgender?

My childhood was pretty tumultuous. I experienced a lot of trauma growing up, which I think contributed to my delayed realization of being trans until around 16. I had always acted in my own way which I suppose would have been read as ‘feminine’ archetypically, but I didn’t express it knowingly until around 16, even though my presentation was pretty femme.

Was it a process for you to come to terms with the fact that you were trans?

Yes, it was a challenge. I struggled with feeling helpless to do anything about my feelings of dysphoria. I balked at starting HRT for a long time because I was conflicted about being on medication for the rest of my life. Thankfully when I decided, I was able to start before the end of my puberty, at 17.

Is your family supportive and accepting of you?

My folks are strange people. They are superficially accepting of me as being trans and who I am in general. But, I don’t have contact with them, as they can be quite inadvertently abusive, without effort to be accountable. My siblings and other extended family (I have few relatives I am in frequent contact with) are accepting, mean well, and we are on good terms.

Jelana Vermilion Jelana Vermilion

How did you get started working in the porn industry?

I had recently started escorting, and I was scouted by Toronto Grooby Producer (at the time) Kevin Dong. He asked me if I’d be interested in modeling for Canada-Tgirl.com, and that if things went well, there may be opportunity to shoot a hardcore set. I agreed, and I really enjoyed myself. The rest, as they say, is history. I was then scouted again by new Toronto Producer Vito Scalia once Kevin left Grooby.

Does your family know you work in the porn industry and if so, how do they feel about it?

I have no interest in hiding who I am or what I’m about, so I have told them. My mother gets paranoid about my safety, driven by her misconceptions and (of course), sincere concern. My father- I’m sure- has complicated and condemning feelings about it as he doesn’t want to think of his (daughter) in that light. I couldn’t care less what they think about it.

Jelana Vermilion

There are some who claim that trans women are being exploited as sex workers. What are your thoughts on this?

I think that it’s a complicated issue. I think in a world where trans people- especially femme trans folks- had the same employment, educational, and economic opportunities as their cis peers, many would not choose sex work. Many people revel in sex work, and others choose it because it is the least foul/best overall choice for them. I know that I fall within the former category. I think, however, that it is poverty and capitalism which exploits people to make choices (i.e. consent to labour) that aren’t ideal.

What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?

I think that transgender people being given more exposure within the collective consciousness has been a good improvement. I also think that the gender binary has been reinforced through these homogenized narratives of Male-to-Female and Female-to-Male transitions being disseminated. I think an issue the trans community faces is the erasure of non-binary and intersex identities. I think medical coverage for trans folks who choose to medically transition is obviously a contentious issue, also.

When you look back at 2016 what will you remember most?

I was nominated as Ms. Unique and Best International Performer (West) for the 2017 TEAs, and that was a pretty special moment for me in 2016. I am ever grateful.

Congratulations on your nominations!! Will you be attending TEA in March?

I’m not sure; I’d really like to I’m just not sure if I can swing it.

Jelana Vermilion Jelana Vermilion

As a Canadian, what are your thoughts when you look at what’s going on in America, with the country so divided over Donald Trump being elected?

I feel for my American neighbours. Many people are hurting and scared, and many people are now emboldened by what they perceive as righteous and valid behaviour. It seems to have created a large dissonance within many communities in every state. I hope that people will focus on being kind to one another.

Do you see any big differences in how trans people are treated in Canada versus America?

It does seem that on a federal level, Canada makes a conscious effort to ask pronouns/gender identity/preferred name in interpersonal dealings and on their governmental forms. I have even noticed these changes trickle down provincially and municipally, so it is quite interesting to see. We also have gender identity and presentation protected from discrimination under our criminal code, so that is neat.
I had lived in Virginia for six months, and while I do think attitudes vary by state, America is still learning how to respect and understand trans people. Canada is also still learning.

Do you enjoy interacting with your fans on social media?

Generally, yes! I am very grateful to have my fan base and a loyal following. I enjoy having meaningful discussion and sharing parts of myself for them to see. It’s always neat to see the kind of connections that can be made!

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

I would like to have a partner (wouldn’t most?), and I’d like to be focused on creating more art- whether that is erotica, pornography, fashion photography, film, etc. I am interested in creating and disseminating beauty into the world. I feel like it is something of value.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I can be quick to tears, I struggle with depression and anxiety, and I prefer living in smaller spaces as I prefer not to own many possessions.

Jelana Vermilion Jelana Vermilion

When you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy in your free time?

I am an audiophile, so I listen to a lot of music at home on my record player or on-the-go in my car. I like dancing, going on road trips, exploring nature, trying new food, and spending time with friends.

Who inspires you?

So many of my friends! I’m also inspired of the musicians that I listen to, such as Stevie Nicks, Alysha Brilla, Grimes, or Crystal Castles. I get a lot of inspiration through beauty and exhibitions of beauty.

You have very good taste in music! Stevie Nicks is also someone who has inspired me for her sense of style and obviously her voice.

Thank you again Jelena!

To learn more about Jelena:

Twitter: @IsisIntrepid

Facebook: Isis Jelena Vermilion

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Remembering 2016 and what it means to you

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2016 has been quite a year, and as it comes to a close I thought it would be fun to look back and ask people what they will remember most from this year. I reached out to a bunch of folks and here are the replies I got back. A big thank you to all who took the time to participate and for the thoughtful answers you provided.

Steven Grooby

There has been a lot of confusion, anger and division in 2016 but what I remember most of the year is much different. I try to travel somewhere new each year and this year I was lucky enough to go to Panama, Cartagena (Colombia), Madrid and Kyoto and what I noticed was how warm and receptive people in all those places were, to a foreigner who spoke none of their language and often didn’t know his way round. People took the time to make sure I got what or where I wanted. Friendly, smiling people from all walks of life (when I travel, you’ll find me in the smallest neighborhood places as well as the higher end venues). I’ve seen an increase of friendliness in Los Angeles (which some find to be a city that is somewhat aloof) over the years and hosting our 20th Anniversary there, we were given so much love and attention from those attending as well as those that couldn’t make it.

So among all the problems we’ve had in 2016, and there are bridges that need mending and a lot of issues that need to be addressed, when asked what I personally remember most from 2016, it’s the warmth, the friendliness, the acceptance and the smiles from all over the world, and perhaps that is what we need to take forward and appreciate people as individuals instead of categorizing them.

Krissy Kyung

Whenever I get introspective about the past year, I try to remind myself to be optimistic about the future. This past year has been most memorable as a year of loss, unrest, and divisive politics here in the United States. Still, I have hope for a better future, not just for those groups that I identify closely with, but for all humanity.

I think what I will most remember from 2016; or perhaps it is less “remembering” and more a, “lessons learned” type of thing, is that division, hatred, and bigotry only serve one purpose – to spawn more division, more hatred, and more bigotry. This cycle of “I hate you because you hate them and your opinion doesn’t align perfectly with mine” … must stop. We must find common ground, or else we will destroy ourselves; and believe me, we’re well on our way to that end. So… 2016… I’d much rather forget 2016 and press on towards 2017 – a year of hope, healing, and a reclaiming of humanity. It starts with me and it starts with you.

Jacquie Blu

2016 has been a major year for me. This is the year where everything started to turn around for me. I have heard others complaining about this year, but it’s been one of the best years I’ve had in a long time. The last 12 months has been a whirlwind of activity, from launching my official website, to making an appearance in Transformation Magazine, to the Red Carpet at TEA 2016. Two months later, I began appearing as a weekly guest on the Dr. Susan Block Show, and two months after that I began working with her and quickly became her Associate Producer. I have been interviewed four times this year and I have been getting invited to events at The Sanctuary LAX as a VIP guest. I have shot a few scenes with Mistress Cyan, owner of The Sanctuary LAX and founder of DomCon and have been invited to attend DomCon 2017 as a Special VIP guest. I began shooting scenes with Paranormal Perversions, creating some of the highest quality content that I have ever seen in porn. In November, I became a sponsor for TEA 2017. This has been an exciting and productive year, with even more on the horizon for 2017. I had goals and high hopes for 2016, but there were a few events and occurrences that exceeded my expectations. There is a lot more for me to do, and I anticipate that the next year will be even more productive than this one.

Miran

That’d would be TEA that I won Best Non-US Performer 2 years in a row!!! It was unexpected and I hope I can win again!

Buddy Wood

2016 will always be the year the Cubs won the World Series for me. Those last few weeks of the playoffs and then the actual series were some of the most exciting and emotional times I’ve had in my entire life! You can’t really fully appreciate it unless you’re from Chicago but…it’s a big fucking deal. I recorded the victory parade and still haven’t watched the entire thing because I start crying. Lol I can’t get through it. I made an action/cop porno starring a bunch of my friends this year, shot tons of new models, got nominated for a hip-hop song I wrote and rapped and came out with my own adult website (ts-castingcouch.com)…but nothing beats the Cubs winning the World Series and the memories I will have of that in 2016.

Chelsea Marie

2016 was a very stressful year not only for African Americans and the LGBT community but for countries around the world facing wars against each other. 2016 was a troubling year but the one thing I will remember are those who lost their lives at the Pluse Night Club in Orlando; that used to be my place to go to every Wednesday and Saturday when I lived there, so my heart goes out to the families of that incident. Also my grandpa dying this year broke my heart because he called me beautiful on his death bed; I will always remember him as the fun Grandpa.

Krista Michaels

If I’m being honest, I must say that I most remember having to endure that awful election. I’d say that it was particularly one of the worst years of my life (not to sound completely negative, though!). lol. I’d give a better answer, but I’m slowly recovering from a terrible sickness. Trying to get everything back on track.

Brooke Myers-Zannell

When I look back on 2016, I remember being part of a porn company that turned into a lifestyle brand, being a Heritage Model, and attending the Grooby 20th Anniversary Party where we got another chance to hang and party together. I remember feeling shaded cause I don’t like to make lesbian porn with other tgirls, shaded cause I choose to keep my natural breasts and not have big implants on my chest. I reflect and remember myself on the back of Transformation Magazine. I reflect on myself I’ve hosted & danced at many clubs around the country this year, I’ve worked with Atomic Visuals and Sammy Mancini and Fran from Shemalestrokers. I reflect on all the girls who I helped get their first shoot with either Grooby or Shemalestrokers . Basically I come to this conclusion there are moments that haven’t seemed fun to go through but in one single act of kindness all that can change and the world doesn’t seem so bad. So here is to 2016 and I look forward to 2017!

Michelle Austin

This year has been a big change for myself and our company. We have worked to bring FTM porn to the mainstream audience. It is slowly growing and we have had tons of new guys shoot for us and produced some amazing scenes.

Also, after six years being in this industry not only is my company getting recognition from the industry with FTM.xxx being nominated for Xbiz, a lot of our scenes and models being nominated for TEA Awards and myself getting my first AVN Nomination for Trans Performer of Year. So, 2016 was a great year for our business and I can’t wait for 2017!

Jonelle Brooks

I will remember most my decision to move across the world to Thailand and my acceptance into LSU MBA program

Kylie Marie

I drove from Philadelphia to Vegas when I moved with my friend and my dog. Took about a week and 2 hours from Vegas to Cedar City Utah where I got into an accident on the highway. We came to a stop for an accident and the woman behind us was either drunk or texting or whatever but she drove straight into us and sent us flying into the medium. My car was totaled and my tv and computer were all destroyed. None of us were hurt seriously except my friend got a piece of metal rammed into his ankle. It was terrible, we had to stay overnight there and figure out everything. But we all survived which was the main thing and I made it to Vegas lol

Dave Naz

I found 2016 to be a fun and productive year. The only downer was the brutal Trump ending.

Tasha Jones

2016 has been a rollercoaster of eventful memories for me both personally and professionally! Both good & bad! Life changing and forgetful! The start of the year I was nominated for lots awards from both TEA & AVN more than ever before in my career! I finally did a shoot with the amazing Buddy Wood! I was so honored he wanted to shoot me. I finished my last DVD, something I had been working on for years. It was sad to know the curtain had finally went down and it was over. But that last shoot I did is nominated this year for best FTM scene! It is never about winning it is about being recognized for your hard work and dedication! I have never wanted to be the best I just wanted to be noticed.

Personally, this has been a year of difficult decisions and unanswered questions medically. Facing my mortality. Seeing the world fall apart with disasters forcing me to see how insignificant our personally problems in life are. Trying to look at the bigger picture rather than the moments that test our strength!

2017 will be a new year and a new way I will have to live my life. Putting who I was and who I hoped to be to bed. Letting go of the past and trying to stay positive for my future. Medically, I have life changing events to focus on. Finding peace within myself, some form of happiness! Some people would crumble with what I have had to deal with over the last 3 years. I am sucking it dry of the strength I have had. I have held on this long and gave it my all to reach my dreams even through I was staring hell in the face daily! I made it, I have the scars to show for it and I will wear them with pride!

Love yourself, believe in yourself! Support one another. Remember if a unknown girl from Canada with a concrete wall to block her from reaching her dreams can do it, anyone can! Thank you everyone for the support!

Rusty Eldora

I have had a quite busy 2016 with both ups and downs. I finished fixing up my house of 31 years to a quite good place with it selling in June at a number I am happy with. The best part of this was that it was a real party house for 3 months with a number of friends staying there.

In the fall of 2015 I reached out to someone that was having dark times, even though it felt like an inconvenience. Fast forward a year and she is now my best friend. Please everyone, answer that cry of help, you can really make a difference.

The highlight of the year was my two week car trip to LA, with 5 days around the Awards. A total blast because I was surrounded by close friends. This was my 3rd year attending and clearly the best. Yes, I have nothing to do with the industry yet I feel like I have been adopted into a family. I am in a professional career and it shocks me that the quality of people in the industry are among the best anywhere, far, far above the stereotype.
Another year realizing how wonderful transgender women are. Not just the appearance, but the smart woman inside that is finally living as herself. Guys are really missing out on the best women around.

Kristel Penn

I am so glad that 2016 is coming to an end. It has felt like a year of tragedy and struggle met with a surprising response of hope. As I write this, I’m listening to George Michael in the background and reminiscing about how much his music meant to me as a misfit in high school. There are stories now circulating about his secret generosity and quiet charity. 2016 has felt like a call-and-response. Each time we were delivered a gut wrenching blow, we were met with some kind of unexpected kindness. The surge in post-election violence toward the LGBTQ community in particular has been met with wave of activism within our community and from our allies. I’m trying to stay positive in all of this with the hope that 2017 will be a phenomenal year to counterbalance the horrors of 2016.

Isabella Sorrenti

What I will remember most from 2016 is the hot summer. I think it gets hotter every year. I can’t stand the heat or sun for that matter so perhaps I should relocate somewhere that’s not so sunny. I established many connections and actually put myself out there to become a better me. The opportunity to travel because I’ve never flown as much as I did this year. I plan on topping that and then some for 2017. The world and it’s many cultures await me. I do intend on upping my vegan diet to raw vegan next year. It will be pricey and hard but I feel I’m determined enough to make this happen.

2017 will be about change and fulfillment. I’ve gained the fame and self-confidence I yearned for. Now it’s time for a new beginning. A change of pace and scenery. 2017 will be about health and fitness and achieving those goals. It will be about taking that giant leap into my transition and coming out in a more evolved state of being. And NO ONE will get in the way of what I want to accomplish.

Some great things are in store for me in the coming year and I’m happy for all the support every one of you has given me. Happy Holidays.

Becca Benz

2016 for me has been a roller-coaster, full of amazing highs and difficult lows. The most meaningful and special moments were the birth of my grandson and getting to spend time with him. And winning the TEA for Best Internet Personality was another magical moment. But this was also a year full of loss. My father passed away this summer, and my relationships with a couple of family members have become badly damaged. And we lost so many people this year, including Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Prince, John Glenn, Jose Fernandez, Arnold Palmer, and most recently, George Michael and Carrie Fisher. But the one that hit me the hardest was the passing of Glenn Frey; I’ve loved the Eagles music since I was a kid, and it was like losing part of my youth, and showed how mortal we all are.

The other thing that stands out was the election and how ugly it was and the division it caused within our nation. The fallout over Trump being elected has been unprecedented, and those of us in the LGBTQ community are left to wonder what will happen to our rights over the next four years. It appears there are difficult times ahead for our country with many unanswered questions, and it will test the strength of the American people. I hope we are up to the challenge.

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