I was going to keep quiet on this for a bit, let this issue sort itself out. However, after personally dealing with and now seeing legal threats, I can’t keep my yap shut. Buck Angel’s racist, classist, transmisogynistic and sexist history is out in the open already. It is not any news to many people that Buck Angel blames trans women for their own murders via not disclosing. He used to believe that trans men should just ‘man up’ when it comes to affording surgery. He looked down upon people who asked others to help them with their surgery funds.
However, Buck seems to have changed his tune on that one. In fact, him and Jody Rose, started Transgasm which despite the name, was not about porn, sex or orgasms. Transgasm was about crowd sourcing to raise money for trans* people and their surgeries. It looks at taking the works of trans* people, selling them in the Transgasm store and dividing the profits. 50% of the profits would go to the creator of the product, 25% would go to the group pool for the surgeries, and 25% would go to keeping Transgasm around.
In reality, it seems like a pretty ok idea. The limit was 7 people with no time frame. Now, depending on the make-up of the group, and estimates the lowest range would be 7 CAFAB people sourcing for top surgery. Estimates for the surgery alone are around $6,000, meaning that $42,000 would be needed to be raised. However, in essence even MORE would have to be raised, since minimum, only 25% of profits is going towards the surgeries. The idea behind this is that these people would market their own products or services in order to fund their surgeries. This article on the Advocate, written by Parker Marie Molloy explains the breakdown of the site, its intentions and one of the biggest issues.
This reads like a pyramid scheme. People buy in with their time and their own products. Buck and Jody sell them and divide the money. The money for the products does not go towards that specific person, but the entire group. Buck and Jody believe in the idea of paying it forward. Everyone is in this for the long haul, together. This was also founded on the ideas of the laws of attraction. By the laws of attraction, if you get something in the mail, you believe to be a bill, it will become a bill. If you believe it to be a postcard, letter, or something positive, it will be that positive thing. Basically, whatever in the world happens because you willed that to happen that way.
When questioned about the project (by me and several others), Buck became instantly defensive. He began to tell a trans woman that she was too angry and hostile and that she should just be more positive, smile more. According to Buck, the woes and struggles trans* people face due to cissexism, trans*phobia, and transmisogyny are just because they are not positive enough. This seems to slightly play into the fact he blames trans* people for not disclosing. The fault can never be on another, it is always the person who did not disclose, who thought of the bill, who did not wish hard enough to acquire their surgery. Is this not what victim blaming is?
I want to look at the break down a bit more too. Buck and Jody keep 25% of all profits. That means, at minimum, going by my estimate, they keep $10,500 to keep Transgasm running. Their original website is hosted on WordPress. As someone who owns one of these, the sites cost very little. A .org is about $50 or so a year. If he wants a custom layout, maybe $100 to $200 for something fully customizable. If he wants to advertise, maybe through in a couple grand or so. However, knowing Buck and Jody’s massive followings, advertising may not be as serious as an issue. So where does the extra money go? Buck and Jody never mentioned. In fact, they did not even do this basic of a break down. They simply said it goes back to keeping Transgasm running. A bit shady. Not to mention again, this was if their goal was just the surgery costs. Due to how the break down works, they need to raise a much higher number. With only 25% going towards surgery, they need to raise even more money, thus, my figure is extremely, extremely low.
For someone who used to be so vehemently against raising money for surgery, in fact, so against it he called trans men who did it less of a man, why did he change his tune? The only reasoning I can find behind it is that Buck found a way to pad his pockets with the project. Buck is profiting off the desperation of poor trans* people. Buck and his lawyer claim they are in the process of making it a non-profit, but even people who work non-profit still make money. There are large non-profit organizations that pad their pockets with donation money. I mean, making a living is part of helping keep these things running in a way.
Buck changed his tune because he found a way to take the works of others and make money off of them. Instead of just giving away the tools that his free webinars apparently give people, allowing ALL trans* people to access them and benefiting from the magical knowledge they instill, he is forcing people to buy into his scheme with their own time and product. Instead of providing the products to sell, he is taking them from the desperate trans* people and reselling them to pad his own pockets under the guise of help. Why not give the trans* people to do this themselves?
If Buck were to give these amazing tools he apparently possesses to the community, for free, at large, he would be doing his own paying it forward. He would not be limiting his scope to 7 possible people, nor would he only be limiting it to ‘marketable’ trans* people. Everyone, according to him, could benefit from this. So why is he limiting these resources? If he truly believes in paying it forward and helping his community, why is he not giving them the resources they need, knowing many of them are in poverty?
This is a man with a prolific porn career and while he may not be rich, he is in no way struggling to make ends meet. This project should not be about making a living for himself if he truly wishes to help the community. While a vocal coach may sell DVDs at a discounted rate to trans* people, that is her living. She needs the profits from those DVDs in order to continue her livelihood. Buck does not need the profits from Transgasm to keep his livelihood.
All in all, Transgasm is a pyramid scheme. Trans* people buy in with their own products so that Buck and Jody can profit from it and put only 25% of the sales to the actual surgeries. They never explain how the surgeries would be funded (cheapest first, or what), where the 25% they kept went, or even what the webinars people had to watch entailed. People were expected to buy into this with their hopes, dreams, wishes, and the glimmer that they would be able to get the surgeries they need. Transgasm was funded on the idea that if you wished hard enough, it would come true. Transgasm was meant to be that shooting star for people to wish upon.
Hate to break it to you, Buck and Jody, simply wishing hard enough doesn’t make things happen. Simply acting positive, or my bad, #positive, does not make things better. It does not erase the very real barriers towards acquiring the surgeries trans* people need. What about the senseless gatekeeping trans* people need to go through? How about the denial of services to non-binary trans* people? Being positive and smiling does not erase these hurdles, nor does the campaign. You wanted a campaign to help people gain access to the surgeries they needed and people criticized your narrow-minded approach. Instead of taking it to heart, you shut it down. How about you open it up, to all trans* people, regardless of what resources they have? Give access to these apparently life changing materials for all trans* people. Advocate for gatekeeping to be abolished, and all places function on the basis of informed consent? If you truly want to work for ALL trans* people, you take criticism to heart and change, and adapt. You don’t shut down, throw a tantrum, insult people, then threaten legal action for libel. Come on Buck, you’re a grown man. Act like one.