Meet the Trans Porn Star, Activist & Entrepreneur Redefining Gender

Buck Angel is the female-to-male trans porn star who calls himself the “man with the pussy”. He is also an activist and public speaker whose work has radically shifted understanding of gender and identity. We find out more.

We are often called the Slash Generation because everyone is something/something/something else. So what do you call a porn star/adult toy designer/director/trans activist/inspirational speaker/author? He’s called Buck Angel, and he calls himself “the man with the pussy”.

Choosing your name is perhaps one of the greatest acts of self-creation. “I loved the name since I was a kid,” says Buck. “I have always desired to be hyper masculine and Buck is such an ultra masculine name.”

An even greater act of creation is choosing your body and your sex. Buck is a female-to-male trans man who has not had bottom surgery to transform the vagina into a penis – hence, the “man with a pussy” moniker. “Prior to my transition, I was a suicidal, alcoholic, crack-head mess,” says Buck with complete candour. Before Buck, Susan was a model with an addiction. “The only reason I did modelling was for the money and drugs. I was a dude in a dress and it was horrible for me.” But then Susan transitioned into Buck and his life changed. “I’m lucky enough to come from a survival place. To survive, you have to create. My transition was everything and it’s why I’m very outspoken about becoming yourself. It’s a universal message.”

Images courtesy of Buck Angel

Before and after his transition, Buck has lived in front of the camera, formerly as a fashion model and then as an adult entertainer. However, when Buck first started out, the porn industry was slow to take him on. Despite the many myriads of porn, fetish and film, the idea of a man with a vagina was too strange a concept. “Oh, they hated me – I was exposing the world to something they hadn’t seen before. It took me about three years to get people to understand that what I had was important,” says Buck.

Since then, Buck has won the Transsexual Performer of the Year at the AVN Awards (equivalently the porn version of the Oscars), Boundary Breaker of the Year at the Feminist Porn Awards, Best FTM Performer of the Year at the Transgender Erotica Awards and an honorary award at the Tel Aviv Film Festival, amongst many more. While winning any award is nice, for Buck, these achievements made him understand the value of his work. “I thought I was just making porn. I didn’t have any clue how powerful my voice was or was going to be until I got the acknowledgement by my peers when I won AVN awards for my work in pornography. Then I thought, ‘maybe it’s not just about pornography; maybe it’s about something more.”

It wasn’t just cis-gendered people that Buck has to battle against. He also fought discrimination from fellow trans men when he first started out. “Back in the day [Buck transitioned 22 years ago], it was all about having a penis and I broke that mould,” explains Buck. “If you don’t want to have a penis, it shouldn’t be the be all and end all, and it shouldn’t mean that you’re never going to be a man. I experience my vagina as a man all the time. It was important for me to give a voice to that.”

Thankfully, Buck is made of sterner stuff than most, and no matter what battles he has had to fight, he has overcome them all. “I have fought through adversity – not only from my own community but also from the rest of the world,” says Buck. “People fucking hated me, dude! I don’t get that anymore. I stayed true to who and what I am and what I believe.”

Images courtesy of Buck Angel

Now, as well as continuing to perform in adult films, Buck has stepped behind the camera and can now also call himself a director. He’s the creator of a series called Sexing the Trans Man, which he describes as “docu-porn”. Buck speaks with his subjects about their bodies and sexualities and “humanises them” before they engage in sexual activity. “My whole idea was to give a voice to trans male sexuality. It lets you see another trans man loving his body and his sexuality. We need to understand that connecting to your own body sexually is everything. It’s a game-changer – not just for trans people but for everybody.”

Buck is also the creative genius behind the Buck Off, the first sex toy designed for female-to-male trans men. The idea behind the toy allows trans men to masturbate with the feeling of a penis while stimulating the genitals. Like his pornography when he started, it took Buck five years to find a toy manufacturer who want to make it. “They didn’t get it,” he says. “They did see a market. Finally, I found Perfect Fit, which is really community-oriented. They understood the need for this product which didn’t exist in the world. When we made it, history was made.” Earlier this year, the Buck Off won the Outstanding Innovation Award at the AVN Awards and Specialty Product/Line of the Year at the XBIZ Awards.

The adult entertainment industry is often held in a negative view, a place where people lost the morals, their autonomy and their money. While this may ring true for numerous cases, in the case of Buck Angel, pornography has been a saving case. “We have this idea that porn is a bad thing. I will tell you: I would not be the person I am today, being an activist and travelling the world, if it was not for my pornography.”

Images courtesy of Buck Angel

Keeping his fingers in the porn pie, Buck can now also call himself an activist and public speaker. He has spoken at events such Ideacity in Canada, at international Pride events, film festivals, contributed to the It Gets Better campaign and was recently featured in HIBO’s Trans Voice. He continues to speak at universities around the world with his presentation Bucking the System, which aims to breakdown the traditional understanding of genders and identity. “It’s our job as a community to educate people outside of our community – you can’t just expect people to educate themselves.”

Through his events, Buck knows he is making a real difference. “I remember speaking at a university and I shared my story,” he shares. “Afterwards, this guy waited for everyone to leave and he came up to me with tears in his eyes. He said, ‘thank you for letting me be a part of this and finally understanding who and what you people are. I was so angry at people like you. I hated people like you, but now you’ve explained it to me.’ He was crying and I started crying. I just changed this kid who had been a gay basher.”

Buck’s one-man revolution against perceptions of trans bodies, trans sexuality and identity has also caught the attention of the art world. In 2009, visual artist Marc Quinn made a golden sculpture of Buck Angel and fellow trans actress Allanah Starr. The sculpture has been praised as “a modern day Adam and Eve celebrating the loss of innocence as expressed through the radical options for self expression in the 21st century.” Speaking of the experience, Back says that is it “possibly the biggest honour I’ve had.” The artwork is now a permanent feature at the Adelaide Museum of Art.

Images courtesy of Buck Angel

More recently, Buck Angel was included in the Museum of Transology exhibition at the Fashion Space Gallery in London, where a film of him speaking with the curator was played on repeat.

It is this journey throughout his life, his lived experiences from addicted fashion model to trans man to porn star to director to activist to public speaker to sex toy designer to author and every other titles that Buck can call himself, that makes his message such a powerful one. “I became myself through my own passion of understanding my own desire. I am continually pushing people’s ideas of what it means to be a man and to be a woman and to be a person,” says Buck. “We need to respect each other’s journeys in a way that is all humanising. Your journey is your journey and mine is mine, and we need to respect that. No journey is more important than the other. You have learn to be confident in who you are and learn to love yourself, then nothing can fuck with you.” Whatever you want to call him, make sure “inspirational” is one of those words.