Sex Gets Real 173: Riley J Dennis on trans identity and sex, YouTube culture, & porn

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Riley J Dennis is someone I’ve been watching on YouTube for a little while and completely admiring. I adore her passion for anti-oppressive work, talking about feminism, politics, sex, trans issues, and a bunch more.

So, I decided to reach out and invite her on the show. When she said yes, I immediately went to work watching as many of her YouTube videos as I could find. Some of the most fun homework because I spent hours geeking out over the topics and rolling around in her facts and super logical approach to things that a lot of people really hate.

We not only talk about trans identity policing, trans porn, and being visible online, but we also explore what it’s like to be so hated in the online space and why Riley’s sex toy video for trans folks completely melted my heart.

It’s super fun and I can’t wait for you to hear it.

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In this episode, Riley and I talk about:

  • Dawn’s delight over Riley giggling in her trans sex toys video. It’s adorable and so honest and sweet.
  • Riley’s videos and how she talks about trans issues, politics, feminism, and life. The diversity of Riley’s topics makes for a really enjoyable experience, and I adore her perspective on so much.
  • The culture of demanding private information of people who share themselves online or in the media – as if people are owed details about people’s private experiences. This ties in with identity policing and wanting people to prove they’re queer or bisexual or trans.
  • People demanding private medical information from Riley to prove she’s trans enough – demanding pictures of her hormone bottles or doctor’s appointments, proof of a diagnosis of her trans identity from doctors. It’s incredibly invasive and gross.
  • Why people who have an identity that is considered the norm don’t even know they have an identity because it’s normal or a given. It pushes people who aren’t in the norm to have to constantly prove or validate themselves, and that’s shitty.
  • Bisexual erasure and why the only people with straight privilege are straight people. Bisexual folks are denied access and identity left and right, even if they’re in a relationship that reads as straight. Same with trans folks and how their identities get erased.
  • This bizarre fear that cis people have around people lying about being trans. Where does this fear come from? And even if it happens, it doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s so weird and unfair to trans folks.
  • The phenomena of people who had to fight so hard for their identity or their status and so now turn around and police others in their same situation to try and make things hard for them, like hazing. We see it with trans folks and we see it with immigrants who immigrate and then become fiercely anti-immigration.
  • Riley’s amazing video about genital preferences and why they’re transphobic. I love this conversation and I know it will make so many of you uncomfortable.
  • Why straight men liking a trans woman is still straight because trans women are women. The end.
  • The common narrative is that people know they’re trans from the time they were young, but that’s not always true. Sometimes it takes decades to realize you’re trans, to find the language or the permission to even name it.
  • So much of the discourse within lesbian communities is anti-penis as a point of pride. We talk about the difference between rejecting heterosexuality versus rejecting trans bodies. There are women who have penises.
  • A woman with a penis does not mean penetration is going to happen, but our assumption that sex is penis-in-vagina means we assume someone with a penis will be doing some penetration. No.
  • The stigma of trans porn, the damage of having trans porn being separate than cis porn, and the super gross practices of mainstream porn using slurs and offensive language to even describe the porn.
  • People have such a warped idea of what trans sex looks like. We explore what it really looks like.
  • YouTube culture and harassment online. Riley has to deal with so much bullshit. Watch Riley’s video on trans & gender dysphoria not being a mental illness here.

About Riley J. Dennis

On this week's episode of Sex Gets Real, Dawn Serra and Riley J. Dennis geek out over trans issues, identity policing, celebrity culture, and not needing to prove your identity to anyone under any circumstances. Oh! And why trans porn often isn't about trans folks at all.Riley J. Dennis is a trans, non-binary, gay, polyamorous woman who makes YouTube videos about intersectional feminism, politics, queer stuff, and a whole lot of other topics. She thinks all TV shows and movies should be gayer.

You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @rileyjaydennis.

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  • Dawn
  • August 6, 2017