Photos: Talking About Trans Issues With Porn Stars At The Tranny Awards (NSFW)

Transsexual pornography is one of the largest taboos in a sex industry rife with niches carved out for almost any kind of kink. While they do have their recognition from porn's top brass (even if they're usually swept under the rug), trans porn is still very much in its own world.

Enter the 2014 Tranny Awards in Glendale. The awards, held Sunday night and hosted by Jujubee from RuPaul's Drag Race and featuring an appearance from Jenna Jameson, showcase the best of the trans porn industry.

Right off the bat, there are two main groups in different pockets of the industry: the glamour girls with flowing (mostly) blonde locks and a higher propensity for "passing" (which means looking like cisgendered women, or women who keep their gender assigned at birth) and the revolutionaries—queer/feminist performers and directors, including Chelsea Poe, James Darling, Chance Armstrong and Ari Crow, who see porn as the ultimate form of body-positive expression and empowerment. As FtM performer Devon Wipp put it, "there's a new wave of genderqueers and gender pirates" that are coming up in the scene.

"Taking transwomen and seeing them as sexy is doing so much for queer people and trans people as a whole," Ari Crow, who was nominated for Best DVD for "Trans Grrrls," told LAist. "We're normalizing our sexuality and trying to just spin the fetishization of transwomen. It's really important."

Poe, a feminist performer who was up for a number of awards, says that trans porn opens the door to mainstream visibility, no matter where that's coming from.

"Like it or not, trans porn is where we're most visible, and that's a matter of fact," she said.

Domino Presley, a mowhawked brunette with fierce features who has been in the industry for five years, opined on how the trans porn industry benefits the trans community as a whole.

"I think there's a very positive influence, I just think we're negatively looked at because we do adult films," she said. "But when it comes down to it, we're the ones these girls look up to. They're not going to go to RuPaul's Drag Race and look up to a drag queen, they want to look like women."

Despite the trans porn industry's taboo nature, it's definitely not as fringe as one might think; according to the book A Billion Wicked Thoughts, it's the fourth largest porn industry in terms of internet searches. Some of those fans who love their t-girls and guys were at the show, mostly hanging out along the walls while holding their drinks and surveying the scene. One gentleman, named Felix, was more than willing to shed light on his love for trans women.

"It's difficult to encapsulate it," Felix said. "It's exotic. I hate to fetishize someone who takes their lifestyle so seriously, but there's something very different about it. They very much know what men want [more] than women do. I've considered myself straight for my entire life, but a woman with a cock is interesting."

As Salon points out, many performers in trans porn actually go into the business as a last-ditch effort for employment or as a way to pay for their expensive transition. But Wipp, who was nominated for best FtM performer, sees it in a more positive light.

"[Porn] provides access to the trans community that we may not have access to, like a way of making money," Wipp said. "Trans people, especially trans people of color, have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. So it's imperative that there are systems in place that, even though they're socially unacceptable, create a form of camaraderie."

And then there are derogatory words such as "tranny," "ladyboy" and "shemale" that are ubiquitous throughout the transsexual porn business. At the show, there was a decidedly mixed reaction to the terms from the performers. Many members of the Bay Area contingent find the terms downright offensive (Poe makes it a point to call the show the "Trans Awards") while Jenna Blaze claimed that they have become terms of endearment within the community.

But Wendy Summers, who won the award for Best Internet Personality, was all business in her assessment. "When someone is out looking for trans porn, they're going to be googling shemale, they're going to be googling tranny," said Summers. "Listen, we gotta use those words, it's marketing."

There's an incredible sense of family within this community, with the queer insurgents and the classic mainstays all existing in a tightly-knit culture. Summers, whose site is completely supported by money from her fans, predicts that the trans porn genre has nowhere to go but up.

"As transsexuals become more accepted in our general culture, I think you're going to see transsexual porn getting more into mainstream porn." said Summers.