[ManyVids] Trans Talk with Kristen Kraves

Our friends over at ManyVids just released a new interview with our favorite TMILF, Kristen Kraves! Be sure to read the entire interview at the link below!

Read Trans Talk with Kristen Kraves

 

 

September 10th, 2018|Categories: Featured Models, Lifestyle|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Dating and Sex After Trauma Webinar on May 22

Reclaim your right to pleasure in your body and connection in your relationships.

Adult industry mental health professional Traci Medeiros-Bagan will be presenting a webinar on May 22nd on “Dating and Sex After Trauma” at Everyday Feminism.

“In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.” – Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, Sister Outsider

Do you struggle to build and create nurturing relationships, or struggle to trust them once they’re established? Has it ever been hard to stay present during sex or are there things your lover does that incite terror or rage for seemingly no particular reason?

Has it been challenging to practice clear consent with yourself, or communicate your needs and boundaries to a partner? Do you have a lurking suspicion you don’t deserve the enjoyment of sexuality and connection?

Trauma can literally change our physiology in ways that make our bodies and brains believe that we are living in the past. It organizes our lives from a place of defense and survival, and relinquishes our right to joy and thriving.

If you’re a survivor, this webinar will help you start to untangle the complicated effects of trauma on your sexual wellness and relationships. It will give you a framework for using triggers as guideposts rather than stop signs on the road to healing.

If you are dating a survivor, this webinar will offer insight into how to support your partner’s healing without taking responsibility for the causes of it. And if you are both survivor and ally, having found a loving reflection in this sometimes challenging world, you will leave this webinar ready to start building intimacy from a place of healthy differentiation.

The work of healing from trauma to reclaim our right to pleasure in our bodies and connection in our relationships is complicated, yet profound. Nurturing our ability to engage in a safe and empowering way with dating and sex can be both the agent of change in our healing and a symbol of the healing itself.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY!

 

Being transgender in today’s America

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Looking back at 2017 it’s difficult to see it as anything but a disastrous year for the transgender community, and to feel a great deal of trepidation about what 2018 has in store for us. As a community we certainly faced many challenges last year and it’s easy to get caught up in all the negativity and feel a sense of hopeless or frustration seeing so much of what we gained under previous administrations being undone by Trump, but there is reason to be hopeful.

The election last November was a historic day for the transgender community as seven openly transgender candidates won elections across the nation, winning seats on school boards, city councils, and in a state house. Voter turnout was strong and Americans sent a clear and loud message that the Trump Administration’s agenda of hate and discrimination is not working and is not endorsed by a growing number of Americans. Democrat Danica Roem became the first openly transgender candidate to be elected and seated to a state legislature when she beat 26-year incumbent Bob Marshall for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Marshall is well known for his anti-trans beliefs, having proposed a bathroom bill last year to restrict access to public bathrooms for trans people, and continually mis-gendered Roem during the campaign. Ms. Roem was sworn into office this week. Andrea Jenkins became the first transgender woman of color to be elected to public office as she won a seat in the Minneapolis City Council to represent the city’s 8th ward with a convincing win, getting more than 70% of the votes. And there is every reason to be hopeful that in this year’s mid-term election the Democrats will continue to gain more seats in Congress. Trump’s dismal approval rating, along with the large number of Republican House members opting not to run for reelection, have paved the way for a major shakeup in the House. Gaining control of the Senate is more of a longshot, but still within range. This is why it is so vitally important for trans people to register and vote; we need to make our voices and our votes heard now more than ever.

Another major victory was achieved when the courts, and public opinion, ruled against Trump’s proposed ban against transgender people serving openly in the military. After several courts ruled against the ban, and many military leaders spoke out against the ban, Trump finally gave up the battle. But what Trump did accomplish was to draw public attention to the many transgender service members who, as District Judge Kollar-Kotelly noted in the first of several court rulings against the ban “have and continue to serve with distinction.” Trumps attempt to drum trans service member out of the military backfired and only served to strengthen the resolve of those who serve and those who support them.

Illinois recently became the second state to ban the “trans panic” legal defense, after California led the way and banned it in 2014. While this is certainly a positive step to have another state ban this barbaric legal defense, it’s disheartening that there are still 48 states in America where it is allowed. But momentum is building and activists are mounting legislative campaigns to follow suit in seven other states this year.

In a move that was bizarre even for Trump, he tried to ban the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using the word “transgender” but once again public outrage forced him into backing off from his demand. Last December The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration banned the CDC from using seven words — “fetus,” “transgender,” “diversity,” “science-based,” “evidence-based,” “vulnerable,” and “entitlement” in any documents used to prepare the agency’s budget. This sparked immediate outrage from across the nation and sent the administration backpedaling in an attempt to ease the uproar. This was yet another blatant attempt to erase the trans population from existence, but once again the action was rebuffed by outraged Americans.

These are but a few examples of the gains we’ve made the past year, and I’m sure I’ve missed some. It’s easy to overlook the good things that are happening when we’re bombarded daily with so much negativity, but they are there if we look. And I think we all, myself included, need to refocus on the positives and not dwell so much on the negatives. We also need to find the resolve to keep fighting and not give in, and to work towards creating more positive outcomes. The reality of the world we live in today is that is we choose to do nothing we are in effect endorsing the Trump administration’s agenda of hate and discrimination, and I don’t think any of us are okay with that.

Collectively and individually we are stronger than we realize. I just read a post on social media by a friend about what she has had to endure during her life, and she has had deal with some horrendous situations and a lot guilt and self-doubt. But she fought through it and survived and is stronger because of it. It pains me that so many in the trans community have had such difficult and challenging lives, but the positive side of that is it makes us stronger and better able to survive the difficult times we face later in life. And we as a nation and a community are facing one of those difficult times now. But make no mistake, we will prevail. The transgender community is going to be thriving long after Donald Trump is nothing but a distant and unpleasant memory in this nations history. We just have to have faith in ourselves and our fellow Americans that right will prevail, as it always has.

On a personal note, I’m excited to be back writing my Through The Benz column after being on hiatus for a while and thank you all for sticking with me.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance 2017

Today we pause to remember and honor those in the trans community who were killed this past year due to anti-transgender violence and bigotry. In 2017, there have been 25 documented cases of transgender people killed around the world. The Transgender Day of Remembrance (also known as TDoR) was started back in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed during the prior year. It has since become an important event participated by the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
– Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith

To those who want to be with community today, a google search for TDoR events in your area might be helpful in locating a vigil near you. If you have a local LGBT center, that’s also a helpful resource to find a nearby event to participate in. Every vigil is run a bit differently, but generally will involve reading a list of names of those who died this year.

If you are unable to find an event in your area, consider taking a moment for yourself today to pause and pay your respects to those who lost their lives this past year. Light a candle (if you can). Say each name out loud.

Visit https://tdor.info/ to learn more about the significance of the event and to see a list of trans people who lost their lives to violence in 2017 (the same list is often used at TDOR events).

For those interested, LGBTQ Nation has posted a list of some US cities planning a special event for today.

Historic election wins for transgender candidates.

Yesterday proved to be a historic day for the transgender community as five openly transgender candidates won elections in Virginia, Minnesota, California, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, winning seats on school boards, on city councils, and in a state house. Voter turnout was strong and the nation sent a clear and loud message that they are not satisfied with the status quo and that things need to change. Democrats were the big winners when the votes were counted, and the LGBT community was the biggest winner of all, showing that the Trump Administration’s agenda of hate and discrimination is not working and is not endorsed by a growing number of Americans.

Through The Benz Danica Roem

Democrat Danica Roem became the first openly transgender candidate to be elected and seated to a state legislature when she beat 26-year incumbent Bob Marshall for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Marshall is well known for his anti-trans beliefs, having proposed a bathroom bill earlier this year to restrict access to public bathrooms for trans people. During the campaign Marshall continually misgendered Roem by using male pronouns. While this was a historic win it was also especially satisfying beating someone so openly opposed to the LGBT community. “To every person who has ever been singled out, who has ever been stigmatized, who has ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own because there is no one else with them, this one is for you,” she told her supporters Tuesday night.

Andrea Jenkins became the first transgender woman of color to be elected to public office as she won a seat in the Minneapolis City Council to represent the city’s 8th ward with a convincing win, getting more than 70% of the votes. “My election is what resistance looks like,” Jenkins said in a statement Tuesday night. “It’s also about hope. As a City Council Member, I will be committed to advocating for equity for the most marginalized in our community.”

Lisa Middleton became the first transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California. She was elected to a spot on the Palm Springs City Council with nearly 31% of the votes.

Tyler Titus is the first openly transgender person ever elected in Pennsylvania after winning a seat on the Erie School Board.

Also of note, Jenny Durkan became the first lesbian mayor in Seattle.

It has been a year full of anger and frustration for the trans community, but last night gives us reason to celebrate and be hopeful that the tide is turning against Trumpism and that Americans are finally coming to the realization that hate and discrimination is not acceptable in this country. And a big thank you to all who cast their vote yesterday, clearly showing that change can be affected by voting and that your vote does matter. Let’s continue this momentum into next year, when the election will be even more important as congressional seats will be up for vote. Continue to make your voice heard, because last night showed that it’s working.

The legacy of Hugh Hefner and Playboy

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Hugh Hefner Playboy Through The BenzWe all recognize Hugh Hefner with his trademark silk smoking jacket and pipe, always accompanied by beautiful Playboy bunnies draped over each arm. He became the persona of Playboy, both the magazine and the lifestyle, living at his infamous Playboy Mansion with outrageous parties and socializing with the rich and famous. But there was more to Hefner than the superficial trappings of success. Playboy was founded at a time when the prevailing attitude of American society was that a woman’s place was in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. Hefner changed that with his magazine which empowered woman and gave a voice to sexuality, and was at the forefront of the sexual revolution. Playboy helped break down sexual barriers and made sexuality something to feel good about instead of something which was thought of as dirty and only spoken about in whispers. He helped us appreciate the beauty of the human body as well as blazing a trail of free speech and free enterprise.

Hugh Hefner passed away in September and depending on your feminist viewpoint he was either seen as a champion of civil rights or as a misogynist and dirty old man. But whether you liked or despised him, we all must agree that he left behind a legacy which continues to make an impact, such as personally selecting Ines Rau to be the first transgender Playboy Playmate in the magazine’s 64-year history.

Hugh Hefner was the Editor-In-Chief of Playboy Magazine, which he founded in 1953 after scraping together $8,000 from 45 investors, including $1,000 from his mother. The first issue was published in December 1953 and featured Marilyn Monroe and sold over 50,000 copies, and the rest is history. During it’s heyday in the early 1970s Hefner had built Playboy Enterprises into a major corporation with the magazine’s circulation at 7 million copies a month and a $12 million profit in 1972.

Hugh Hefner Playboy Through The Benz

Initially seen as just a porn magazine, Hefner envisioned a more mainstream audience so he expanded Playboys circulation with articles and interviews geared towards being more intellectually stimulating. The magazine gained a reputation for serious journalism when author Alex Haley launched the “Playboy Interview” in 1962 by interviewing jazz great Miles Davis. In the following years the interviews included many notable names including Bette Davis, Bob Dylan, Steve Jobs, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Muhammad Ali, Ansel Adams, Walter Cronkite, and during the height of the civil rights era, Hefner had Haley interview Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X, as well as George Lincoln Rockwell, the notorious founder of the American Nazi Party. Hefner also developed the Playboy Philosophy which included politics, governance, free enterprise, and of course the nature of man and woman, along with advocating for open dialogue on the truths of human sexuality. But through all his side pursuits Hefner never lost sight of the fact that it was pictures of nude women which ultimately sold the magazine.

Hefner was at the forefront in the fight against censorship and those who sought to ban porn. In 1963 he was arrested and charged with selling obscene literature after an issue of Playboy featured nude photos of Hollywood actress Jayne Mansfield. The trial resulted in a hung jury and the charge was eventually dropped, but this led to Hefner founding the Playboy Foundation to support endeavors related to fighting censorship and researching human sexuality. Hefner later donated $100,000 to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts to create a course called “Censorship in Cinema”, and $2 million to endow a chair for the study of American film. The Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award was created by his daughter Christie Hefner “to honor individuals who have made significant contributions in the vital effort to protect and enhance First Amendment rights for Americans.” So, Hugh Hefner and Playboy were more than just about beautiful women; they influenced our culture and society in important areas such as freedom of speech and politics. Hefner referred to himself as an independent due to his disillusionment with both the Democratic and Republican parties, but he did donate and raise money for the Democratic Party. Hefner supported legalizing same-sex marriage, and he stated that a fight for gay marriage was “a fight for all our rights. Without it, we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time.” Hefner lived long enough to see just how prophetic that statement was, with Donald Trump pushing the conservative’s religious freedom agenda as a way of discriminating and taking away rights from certain groups of people, most notably the LGBTQ community.

Hugh Hefner Playboy Through The Benz

Hefner also waged a long-standing battle against “militant feminists” who accused him of exploiting and objectifying women and promoting pornography. A New York Times article described him as “a pornographer and chauvinist who got rich on masturbation, consumerism, and the exploitation of women” and branded him as the “pimp of the sexual revolution.” English writer Julie Bindel stated that Hefner “caused immeasurable damage by turning porn, and therefore the buying and selling of women’s bodies, into a legitimate business.” Journalist Suzanne Moore wrote that Hefner threatened to file a lawsuit against her for calling him a pimp, arguing that “he was a man who bought and sold women to other men.”

Whether you view Hugh Hefner as a hero or villain is subjective, but the fact remains he changed the way we as a culture view sexuality and gender, and by default, ourselves. He brought sexuality out from behind the veil of prudishness and pushed it into mainstream society, which got people thinking and talking about it. Playboy played a large role in laying the foundation for the adult entertainment industry as we know it today, and for that we owe him a debt of gratitude.

NEXT WEEK: INES RAU, THE FIRST TRANSGENDER PLAYBOY PLAYMATE.

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Mass-shootings and the dehumanizing of America

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It’s difficult to comprehend the horror of Sunday night’s tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas where 59 people were killed and 527 were injured. But what makes this tragedy even more heartbreaking is the way America has reacted to it, because it clearly shows that we as a nation have lost our humanity. We have lost the ability to see things and react from the standpoint of just being human.

It’s sad and discouraging that so much of how people reacted to this tragedy was framed within political views, or racial, or religious. The Democrats blame the lack of stricter gun control, while the Republicans go with their usual response about the Second Amendment right to bear arms. There are people who blamed this on Donald Trump. There has been much speculation as to whether it was an ISIS backed terrorist attack. There are even arguments over how the reaction would have been different if it was a rap concert which was attacked and black lives were lost.

But why does it matter? The fact remains that 59 people are dead; people of different races, religions, political beliefs. 59 families are grieving and will have to deal with loss for the rest of their lives. These people were moms and dads, sons and daughters, sister and brothers, co-workers, and students. They were part of their community. And now they are gone, and those who knew them are left to deal with their loss. There are 527 people who will have to recover from their physical injuries, but it is the emotion wounds which are the deepest and will take the longest to heal. There are many who were at the concert who were not physically injured, but they were still traumatized in ways we can’t imagine.

And once again America is grieving over yet another mass-shooting. Pulse nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Newtown, Columbine; names we know all too well, and now Las Vegas gets added to the list. We’ve seen how this plays out; the initial outrage and grief and then the bickering over gun control, but in the end, nothing ever changes. The deaths in Las Vegas will fade away only to be resurrected later on when the next mass-shooting occurs. And the sad part is that we know it’s just a matter of time until this happens again. Everyone is so quick to offer “thoughts and prayers” whenever a tragedy happens, but they are far more reluctant to actually take any meaningful actions. This column is not about gun control, but clearly something needs to be done; citizens have no business owning assault rifles. The other issue which is rarely addressed is mental illness and the difficulty in getting treatment. America deinstitutionalized mental heal care in the early 1970s, which reduced the population in mental institutions and made mental health care more community based. But during the ensuing years as the economy worsened mental health was always one of the first things which had their budget cut, and now we’re at the point where it can extremely difficult to access mental health services because there are so few resources available. And the result is that there are many people who have mental health issues, and who have the ability to get high powered guns, and that, as we’ve seen, is a deadly combination. Add to that the general state of this nation and all the unrest and divisiveness, and it’s a recipe for disaster. More innocent people will die, only to used as political fodder for each party’s agenda.

We’ve stopped seeing people as people; in today’s America being human is trumped by your political beliefs or the color of your skin, or what religion you follow, and that is a shame. We have lost our humanity.

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Family

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There are various definitions of the word family; most often it refers to a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household related to one another by blood or marriage. There are other definitions as well, such as a group of people united in criminal activity, like the Mafia, or a taxonomic rank in the classification of organisms between genus and order. But there is another definition of family that can be just as meaningful as the other definitions: a group of objects united by a significant shared characteristic.

For many in the transgender community the simple fact that we’re trans brings us together and into a new family because of the shared experiences and the bonds that develop from those experiences. It doesn’t mean we love the family we were born into any less, it just means we have another family of people with whom we share an understanding of what it’s like to be transgender. I was there when my children were born but that doesn’t mean I understand what it’s like to actually give birth, just as cis-gendered people can’t truly understand what it’s like to be transgender. After feeling alone for so long it’s a wonderful thing to find others who understand.

And sometimes we turn to other people for friendship and support when we lose relationships with the family we were born into. There is no replacing the love of a child or sister, but sometimes it helps to have friends to talk with and who listen and understand what’s it’s like to lose a relationship. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to find a substitute family, it just means I’m human and there are times when I need a friend. It’s human nature to want to be part of a community or a family; we are not meant to be alone. When we are alone and feeling the loss of those relationships there are several common ways to react; we can seek out others to not feel so alone, or we can try to numb the pain through things such as alcohol or drugs, or we can just stop feeling anything and stop living life.

Through The Benz FamilyI was blessed to grow up in a loving family where I had a mom and a sister who loved me, and later in my life to have a wife and two sons who also loved me. Those are the relationships which have always meant everything to me and always will. Most relationships experience some amount of ebb and flow, whether they be family, friends or acquaintances. Some relationships grow and flourish, while others fade away. Sometimes rifts develop with people we love and care about which are not easily mended, and if we’re not careful we can lose people we love. Relationships are easy when things are going well, but it’s the difficult times which ultimately show how strong a relationship really is and whether or not it can weather the storm. Relationships require effort and dedication to make them work; they need to be tended to and nurtured, or else they shrivel up and die.

I am also blessed to have many friends who I’ve met online, and occasionally in person, and those friendships mean the world to me. Many of those friendships developed through my work in the porn industry, and over the past couple of years some of those people have become dear friends who have become like family to me. I have friends who I talk baseball with, or cooking, or any number of shared interests we have. We’ve gotten to know each other and shared parts of our lives and developed a bond and a level of trust that is very special. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate the friendships I’m fortunate to be part of, and I’ve learned that the quality of my life is directly proportional to the friendships I have. Unfortunately I’ve also learned that no amount of friendships can replace the love of the family I was born into.

I’ve learned things can be said out of anger and hurt, and that some things can never be taken back.

I’ve learned that life can change in the blink of an eye.

I’ve learned that time is precious and once we lose it we never get it back.

I’ve learned that forgiveness is hard, especially trying to forgive yourself for fucking things up.

I’ve learned I’m not the person I thought I was.

I’ve learned that therapy only helps so much and that talking about it hurts like hell.

I’ve learned that working out at the gym is one of the few ways to block out the pain, but my body can only take so much exercise before it starts breaking down.

I’ve learned physical pain hurts less than emotional pain.

I’ve learned that I can’t escape the pain through sleep because I dream about people and things which hurt and I’ve woken up crying too many times.

I’ve learned there is no pain which hurts as much as the pain of losing the love of your family

I’ve learned what it feels like when life isn’t worth living and you want to die.

And I’ve learned that when it’s all said and done, that the only thing that really matters is the love of your family. None of the other stuff maters; the material possessions, the awards, the number of Twitter followers, the compliments about my looks, the mementos of my past. None of it means a damn thing.

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It’s Time To Abolish The Trans Panic Legal Defense

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Last week Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a bill banning the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defense in murder cases, making Illinois the second state to do so, after California become the first state to officially ban the defense in 2014. The law prevents people in those states from claiming that the murder victim was gay or bisexual and made a sexual advance that caused them to react violently, or that the victim’s gender identity caused them to react violently. This is a defense tactic which specifically targets members of the LGBT community and is based on stereotypes and ignorance and fear. Defendants in murder cases have sometimes been able to argue their way to a lesser charge of manslaughter if the killings happened during a “sudden quarrel” or in the “heat of passion” when defendants claimed they were so shocked to learn their victim was gay or trans that they had no other recourse than violence. The new law clearly states that a defendant’s discomfort, surprise, or fear of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity may not be used as a legal defense to justify the assault.

Gwen AraujoThe case which brought this issue to light was 2002 murder of transgender woman Gwen Araujo, who was beaten to death by four men after they realized that she was transgender. The defense came up with a “panic” defense, stating that the defendants were unaware that Araujo was transgender. Two of the men were convicted of second-degree murder and were sentenced to life in prison, and the two others pleaded guilty to lesser charges. There were no convictions for hate crimes.

While this is certainly good news that a second state has outlawed this barbaric defense, it begs the question why are there still 48 states which still allow it? Why do we still have 48 states which say it’s acceptable to use sexual orientation or gender identity as a reason for killing someone? It is astounding that in this day and age of supposed equality and freedom for everyone that a legal tactic like this even exists, let alone that it is legally allowed in 48 out of 50 states. This is unacceptable and we as a community need to stand up and work together to change this.

In years past under previous presidential administrations the standard method would be to contact your state and federal representatives to let them know you support introducing legislation to ban the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses. However, given the current political climate I’m not sure that this is an issue which would be much of a priority to most legislators, but it’s still the best avenue to affect change and get this archaic defense banned in every state. One thing to be aware of is that if you aren’t a registered voter your voice literally doesn’t count; you must be a registered voter in order for the politicians in your state or district to listen to you. And this is a big problem for the trans community because we are extremely under-represented due to the fact that we often move out of necessity to find available housing or jobs, and that many trans people may not be registered voters due to name change issues and/or having to move frequently.

If ever there was a time for our voices to be heard, now is that time. It is crucial for members of the LGBT community to be registered voters and to actually vote. We must make our voices heard. Moreover, we need to let our state and federal legislators know that we do not support legislation which is discriminatory or results in our rights being taken away. We must demand equality and end the discrimination, and the only way to do that is if our voices are heard.

To find out who your legislators are and how to contact them click here

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Grooby Goes to Seattle: Vlog 002

To celebrate the rebrand of GroobyGirls.com, our Marketing Director Kristel Penn visited the famous gum wall in Seattle to leave our mark!

Ya Gotta Have Style!

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Being transgender is no easy task; there is a lot to learn and it’s a steep learning curve. When we transition we are literally reinventing ourselves from the ground up; we have to learn things on the go that cis-people have had their entire lives to learn and understand. Not only do we have to learn how to be comfortable with ourselves and figure out our place in life, we also have to deal with practical issues such as how to present as our authentic gender. Our appearance is one of the things we focus on, especially early in our transition, because the reality is that how we look plays a large role in how we are accepted; in other words, whether or not we pass. But passing is more than just about looks, it’s about confidence. There are some things we can change, for instance, through surgery, and there are others which we can’t change and we just have to adapt and manage with what we have. But one of things which we can learn, is fashion. And fashion is more than just the clothes we wear; it’s a statement about who we are. It’s an attitude.

Developing your own unique sense of style takes time, and a lot of it is trial and error; figuring out what doesn’t work is just as important as figuring out what does work. You can learn a lot online and by observing other people, but there is no substitute for actually trying on different outfits and styles and seeing what you like or don’t like, and more importantly, seeing what looks good on your body style. And while it can be a challenge, developing our sense of style should also be something which we have fun with, because most of us had to go through quite a journey to reach the point where we can express who we really are. And it’s not as much about the clothes and makeup and shoes as it is that we now have that option to wear whatever we want and to be our authentic selves. One of the things I enjoy most about being a woman is that I’m able to polish my nails. Something as simple as that is very meaningful for me, along with having long hair. I had to wait over 50 years to be able to transition and reach the point where I could express who I really am, so you can be darn sure I’m going to savor every moment of having polished nails and wearing my hair long!

But as I mentioned earlier, having a sense of style is more than just the clothes and make-up and hair; it’s about who we are on the inside. It’s being confident in who you are and feeling good about yourself. You can wear the most expensive clothes and makeup, but it won’t matter if you don’t have confidence and your own sense of style. I don’t need to be perfectly dressed and made up to feel good about myself. Early in my transition I wouldn’t leave the house without wearing make-up and being perfectly dressed and accessorized because I wasn’t secure enough about myself without all those things; they were my battle armor I needed to venture out. But these days I generally go without make-up and I wear my hair up, and I’m okay with looking frumpy! I still love the opportunity to get all dressed up, but the difference is now it’s my choice; my sense of worth is not determined by what I’m wearing or how I look or worrying about how others perceive me. And that is part of the process as we transition and learn to be comfortable with ourselves; we are all unique and there is no right or wrong way to be trans, just be yourself. The only person you need to please is you! And that brings us back to developing our sense of style. Again, there is no right or wrong way to express who you are and your sense of fashion; the most important thing is to find what works for you! Some people just want to blend in and live their lives, while others want to express their unique style and stand out. So, it’s important to know yourself and what style you’re going for.

When I do clean up and dress nicely I often get comments about the clothes I wear and my sense of style. I doubt I have a better sense of style than anyone else, I’ve just figured out through trial and error what works for me. I understand my body size and shape and know what styles look best on me. Trust me, I’ve spent countless hours inside store dressing rooms looking at myself in the mirror trying to decide if a certain style looked okay on me and figuring out the right size. Like I said, trial and error! There are some styles I’d love to wear but they look terrible on me because of my body type, so I avoid those and instead wear things which accentuate what I do have. Being rather flat chested eliminates a lot of clothing options, but I can get away with small boobs since I’m tall and slim and wear styles which emphasize a slender figure like mine. Basically, I’ve always just worn things that I liked and which I felt looked good on me. I don’t worry about current fashion trends; I tend to stick with the classics which never go out of style. And I’m not overly adventurous when it comes to fashion, I mainly stick with a few certain styles that I know work for me. Also, be aware of your surroundings and dress appropriately for the occasion; you won’t see too many women wearing a little black dress and 5 inch stilettos at the grocery store. Nothing will draw attention to you as quickly as being inappropriately dressed.

Another consideration is cost; it can add up very quickly when you’re trying to build a wardrobe. But you don’t have to buy expensive clothes to look good; I buy a lot of my clothes from stores like Target which have pretty reasonable prices. And when I first began transitioning I shopped at places like Goodwill and found a lot of really nice clothes at bargain prices. Another thing to keep in mind is that even though we all love dresses you have a lot more options with separate tops and bottoms which you can mix and match.

And one last thought: SMILE!!! It drives me crazy how often I see trans women who post pictures of themselves and they’re dressed nicely and have beautifully done hair and makeup, but it’s all for naught because they’re not smiling! A smile goes a long way towards how you look, as does how you move and carry yourself. And not just how we walk, but the overall way we move and carry ourselves. The best way I can describe it is flowing; you want flowing graceful movements, whether it’s walking, reaching for something, or turning around. You can see what I mean if you watch people dance, and in particular ballet; the graceful and elegant way they move. It takes time to develop an awareness of how you move and to be able break old habits and develop new ones. Lots of practice and lots of patience!

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Are “you guys” being overly sensitive?

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We in the transgender community have a lot of things to be concerned about in these troubling times. Our state and federal governments continue to attempt passage of legislation which takes away our rights and makes it legal to discriminate against us. Bathroom bills continue to be proposed in state after state. Federal protections for transgender youth have been done away with, leaving them more vulnerable and at even greater risk of bullying. Transgender murders and suicides continue at a horrendous rate. Trans people still have high rates of unemployment and poverty. We have a president who is systematically taking away our rights, such as declaring he will reinstate the ban on trans people serving openly in the military, and who is sorely lacking in moral character by failing to stand up to and condemn the violence and hate carried out by the white supremacists and neo-Nazis. We have a nation which is divided and coming apart at the seams.

And in the midst of all these pressing issues, there are an increasingly large number of people in our community who would rather worry about petty things, which, in the large scheme of things, aren’t really very relevant. And more importantly, they divert our time and attention away from the issues which are important. One of my pet peeves is people who get very offended when they are part of a mix-gender group of people which gets referred to as “you guys.” I completely understand that some people are sensitive to being triggered by certain things, such as being mis-gendered. No one, including me, likes to be mis-gendered, and especially when it’s intentional and meant to be hurtful. But the term “you guys” is generally considered to be gender-neutral. There is a big difference between being called a guy, which is gender specific, and being among a group of people which is addressed as “you guys.” We need to use common sense and have some level of comprehension as to how the comment was said and the intended meaning. Someone can be called a lady, but based on the context of how it was said along with the tone of voice and whether it was said sarcastically, it can be said as an insult and to be demeaning.

Some words, such as dude, guy, lady, gal, girl, boy, etc., refer to specific genders and are pretty much universally accepted. “You guys” is generally accepted as a generic mixed-gender colloquialism. Very few people these days refer to a mixed gender group as “guys and gals.” Just doesn’t happen in today’s society and with how the English language has evolved. Should we be in an uproar because we still continue to use the words “manhole cover,” “freshman,” and “mankind?” Again, where do we draw the line? Should we start a petition to change the name to “womanhole covers?” I personally think that sounds like a bad idea!

My point, is that sometimes we lose perspective, and maybe get a bit overly sensitive. Let’s not jump down someone’s throat over an innocent comment when there was no malice or ill-intent behind it. The English language is always evolving and words take on new meanings, but we still have to use common sense and take into account the context of how something was said, along with body language and tone of voice. Let’s not stress over the little things when we have so many important issues which need our attention.

And with that I’m going to thank you guys for taking the time to read this and go to bed now!

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Trump trans ban: A slap in the face to trans community

I woke this morning to the news that Trump will reinstate the ban against transgender Americans being allowed to serve openly in the military. The ban had been lifted under President Obama but the plan to allow trans people to serve openly was still under review, and it was an ominous sign when Defense Secretary James Mattis announced last month that he was delaying enactment of the plan.

Trump made the following statement in three tweets this morning: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

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The “tremendous medical costs” is nothing but an excuse. In 2016 the Defense Department commissioned the Rand Corporation to do study which concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few in the military’s 1.3 million-member force. The study put the number of transgender people in the military between 1,320 and 6,630. Gender reassignment surgery is rare in the general population, and the RAND study estimated the possibility of 30 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries among active service members. The cost could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million, an amount that would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care expenditures, the study found. Trump’s argument that the medical costs would be a burden is nothing but a thinly veiled excuse to discriminate against transgender Americans and deny us the right to serve openly. So, what’s next, reinstating the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy? Our rights are being systematically taken away, and where does it end?

Trump trans military banI am beyond outraged. I am angry that we as a nation have taken yet another step backwards by allowing the trans community to be so blatantly discriminated against. Up until now I have refrained from criticizing those in the LGBT community who voted for Trump, but I can no longer hold my tongue. I am furious and bewildered that so many in the trans community actually voted for Trump. He was very clear during his campaign that he intended to take away the rights of the LGBT community, so It’s not like the reinstatement of the ban or the other anti-trans legislation should come as a surprise. How any member of the trans community could think it was a good idea to vote for Trump is beyond me. During his campaign Trump stated “Thank you to the LGBT Community! I will fight for you!” Does it look like he’s fighting for us? The only thing he’s fighting for is to take away our rights and legislate us out of existence. It’s frightening how simple it apparently was for so many people to be persuaded to vote for him.

As a trans veteran I have always been unabashedly patriotic and proud to be an American. It was an honor to serve my country. But today I feel like I’ve been spit on by my own country. The very people whose rights and freedoms I protected while serving are now taking away my rights. I have never felt more ashamed of my country. Trump does not represent the principals which made America great; he stands for hate and ignorance and greed. He is not my president.

We as a nation, and especially those of us in the LGBT community, need to think long and hard about what America stands for and whether the current direction this nation is heading under Trump is in line with those beliefs. We have taken a huge step backwards under Trump and it’s only going to get worse. We need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask some hard questions. We need to take a stand before it’s too late; before there is nothing left to fight for.

Attack my integrity? A shill for Grooby? Think again.

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I had intended to write about Caitlyn Jenner’s possible run for the Senate in California, but after recent events on social media I felt the need to clarify a few things about this column and what I write.

Last week I wrote a column about Trans Identity and the issues we face in our own community because some choose to judge and try to exclude certain people who they feel are not really trans or “not trans enough” which has led to a lot of bickering and divisiveness within our community. After logging onto Facebook yesterday and reading yet another diatribe against cross-dresser, I made the following post:

“Some trans women need to take a long, hard look at themselves because they are nothing but self-righteous hypocrites. We’re fighting to be accepted, and yet so many trans women are extremely judgmental as to whether someone is really trans, or “trans enough.” As if it’s up to them to decide. At this rate the conservatives are going to get exactly what they want because the trans community seems intent on tearing itself apart from within with this idiotic bickering. This is why I’m not on FB much anymore, because you can’t post anything without it erupting into petty bickering and bitching about cross-dressers.”

The post got a decent number of comments, including many thoughtful, intelligent replies, as well as lot of comments which were nothing more than the same old arguments that always come up during the bickering. But one particular trans woman chose to aggressively go after me and take me to task for being too inclusive (of cross-dressers), and she also accused me of being a mouthpiece for Grooby Productions. She said I only wrote what was sanctioned and approved by the people at Grooby, and that they would not publish something they didn’t like or agree with. And she had the audacity to make all these accusations without having ever read my column! If you don’t like my column or agree with my opinions, that’s fine, I have no problem with that. But if you want to criticize my writing you damn well have better at least read it first.

For the record: Steven Grooby, CEO and Founder of Grooby Productions, and Kristel Penn, Marketing and Editorial Director of Grooby Productions, have given me the creative freedom to write about whatever interests me, and have never censored or edited anything I wrote. NEVER. And I’m pretty sure I’ve written some things which they did not agree with.

Yes, I am very loyal to Grooby Productions and the people who work there because they have without fail been supportive of me and treated me fairly and with respect. And that in turn has earned my respect and loyalty. Do I agree with everything Grooby Productions and Steven does? No. But Steven has shown time after time that he cares about the trans community and has helped countless trans people, including me.

Furthermore, I would sooner quit than be forced to write something which I did not believe in or support. I have too much self-respect to compromise my beliefs, and I strongly resent that anyone would challenge my integrity.

In last week’s column, I stated at the very beginning that “These are my own views and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with them, or imply that my views are the only ones which are correct. Everyone has their own opinions and who is to say one person’s opinion is better or more correct than anyone else’s.” I don’t claim to be an expert on anything or to suppose my opinions are better than anyone else’s. My opinions are just that; opinions. We all have them and we all have the freedom to express our opinions. What I do have are life experiences which is what I draw upon when I write, and hopefully I’ve gained a bit of maturity and perspective in my 55 years of living.

And lastly, if you have a grudge against Grooby that’s your problem, not mine, and I do not appreciate being attacked because you choose to be petty and vindictive. Grow up and get over it.

And now, back to Caitlyn.

This column was originally going to be about Caitlyn Jenner, who recently announced that she is considering running for the Senate in California. I was curious what people thought of this, especially those in the trans community where Caitlyn is a very controversial figure. Most agree she has done a lot to help the trans community by getting trans issues into mainstream media so more people are aware of trans people and the issues we face. But, and this is a very big but, she has drawn a lot of criticism for being Republican and for making a lot of comments which almost seem transphobic. That, along with the fact that most feel she is in no way representative of the trans community as a whole given that she is a celebrity and has unlimited financial resources available to her.

Most of the responses, as expected, were not supportive of Jenner running. Most had an issue with her being a Republican, along with the fact that she has no political experience. And frankly, she is just not well liked in the trans community and most people feel she has done little to help her own community. So, it appears she has very little support within the trans community, and she would almost certainly have no support from the conservative population, so that seems to indicate she would have no realistic chance of winning. But, she has a lot of money, so who knows. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and if she does indeed decide to run.

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Q&A Quickies with the beautiful Casey Kisses!

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This week’s edition of Q&A Quickies features the beautiful Casey Kisses! Casey is the 2017 Transgender Erotica Awards winner for Stroker of the Year, sponsored by Shemale Strokers, and she is always a fan favorite! When Casey isn’t busy shooting scenes she can be found on Chaturbate where she is always in demand!

And stay tuned for a full-length interview of Casey coming soon! And based on some of her answers to these questions it’s going to be a fun interview!

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Bacon cheeseburger or tofu burger?

CK:  Bacon cheeseburger, with extra bacon

Favorite sex partner: male, female, or trans?

CK:  Male

What songs are on your playlist right now?

CK:  Deceptacon, Short Skirt Long Jacket, Are You Gunna be my Girl

Favorite scene you’ve shot?

CK:  My first hardcore and it was for Two Tgirls. It was my favorite because it was the first time Korra Del Rio and I kissed. We haven’t been too far apart since.

If you could choose anyone, who would you want to do a scene with?

CK:  Spit roast with mark whalberg and James Franco

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Favorite part of being a pornstar?

CK:  I love making connections and learning things that help me improve my image.

Least favorite part of being a pornstar?

CK:  Buying outfits only to use them once

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

CK:  Milk

Where would your dream vacation be?

CK:  Greece

Favorite movie or tv show right now?

CK:  Finding Nemo

What are you wearing right now?

CK:  Short shorts and flip flops

How often do you masturbate?

CK:  2-3 x daily, mostly on Chaturbate

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Oral sex or anal sex?

CK:  Both please!

Favorite social media site?

CK:  Twitter and Instagram are my go to

Interacting with fans on social media: fun or not fun?

CK:  Fun fun fun!

Who inspires you?

CK:  Nicole Charming, Korra Del Rio, Morgan Bailey, & Foxxy

Are you left or right-handed?

CK:  Right

How old are you?

CK:  27

What would be your dream job?

CK:  Life guard in Hawaii

What do you like to do in your free time?

CK:  Movies, eating, swim, kayak, hike, explore and adventure. Clubs and casinos are super fun too!

If you could choose not to be transgender, would you?

CK:  Not really. I love myself too much!

Best advice you have ever received?

CK:  Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.

Favorite subject in school?

CK:  Drama and art

Favorite city?

CK:  Miami, so far

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Favorite fast food place?

CK:  Starbucks

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

CK:  Harriet the spy

Last movie you saw in a theater?

CK:  Moana

Beach, city, or mountains?

CK:  Beach, any time of day

What age did you know you were trans?

CK:  Super young

Do you work out regularly?

CK:  I try to stay active

If you could have dinner with any three people from history who would it be?

CK:  My grandmother brother and sister

Favorite animal to see at the zoo?

CK:  I don’t like zoos, I love all animals!

Are you a cat or dog person?

CK:  Both

One thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

CK:  All of my tattoos were given to me by friends and I let them pick out the design

Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the future of America?

CK:  Optimistic. I love my country and the freedoms I have. I love and respect anyone in service trying to protect these rights as well.

Describe yourself in three words:

CK:  Always hungry. Always.

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Star Wars, Star Trek, or Dancing with the Stars?

CK:  I’ve never seen any of them lol

How did you choose your model name?

CK:  My cam name was Casey Haze originally but I thought Kisses were cuter

Mac or PC?

CK:  Alienware

Do you have a kinky side?

CK:  Very kinky..

Do you sleep clothed or in the buff?

CK:  Naked, face down

Thanks Casey, this was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to do our interview, which will be coming soon to Through The Benz!

Be sure to follow Casey Kisses on Twitter at @Caseykissesxoxo!

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