Once a month I will be interviewing someone I view as a personal hero to the Transgender and Transsexual Community. Trendsetters, noisemakers and groundbreakers will all share their lives, what keeps them focused and offer words of advice for others. I’m kicking off the series with one of my new pals that I truly admire, Becca Benz. Becca is new to the Adult Industry but is already making quite the splash. Now, I admire her prowess on screen, but I also admire her determination and perseverance. Becca is living proof that it’s never too late to life the life you want to roadblocks be damned!
Becca, you’re a newbie to our Industry, you’ve only been an Adult actress for about 6 months, what has the experience been like so far?
I came into the industry not having any idea about how it worked or what to expect, but these past six months have been amazing and beyond anything I could have imagined. I have been overwhelmed by how friendly and welcoming everyone has been and their willingness to help me by sharing their experiences and knowledge with me. I feel like I have found a new family, and I couldn’t be happier. I have met so many genuinely good people, both in the industry and among my fans, and developed close friendships with many of them. No matter where my career takes me, the one thing I will always treasure is the friendships I have made.
The whole Transgender Erotica Awards experience was just mind-blowing, but the best part was finally getting the chance to meet so many friends in person. Those moments when you recognize someone and then you’re hugging them for dear life, never wanting to let go, those were special moments. And walking the red carpet doing interviews while cameras are clicking and flashes are going off was just very surreal. Never could I have imagined that I would get to experience that.
Lastly, this whole experience has given me so much self-confidence and allowed me to grow as a person in so many ways. Six months ago I came up with a crazy idea and a plan, and I worked my ass off to make it happen, and I’m pretty damn proud of myself for not only thinking outside the box and stepping outside my comfort zone, but actually making this work. I’m now a happy and confident person, and that is nothing short of miraculous.
What are your favorite scenes to shoot?
Personally, I prefer to do shoots which are more artistic and creative and give me the chance to be sensual and seductive. I’ve always been a creative person and have been taking photos since I was a kid, so I have definite ideas about what I like and what appeals to me. But the bottom line is that this is a business and I have to provide a product which will appeal to the customer and be profitable. I feel like I’ve found my niche and I’ve built up a decent size fan base and part of my appeal is that I am more mature and I have a certain elegance and class that comes with age. And I feel like I can have a
successful career providing a product which reflects both who I am and what my fans want. In some ways I can’t compete with models who are half my age, but to be honest I think my age actually works for me in that it makes me somewhat unique and gives me the opportunity to fill a niche which has a lot of potential.
What was shooting for Grooby’s “TSRocks” series like?
It was a great experience and I felt honored that Tempest wanted to do a shoot with me! That was my first hard-core shoot so I will admit to being a little nervous, but Tempest was wonderful to work with and she helped me relax and once we started shooting there was a nice chemistry between us and the scene went really well. She is a consummate professional and I learned so much from her, and look forward to hopefully working with her again. And now that I have my first hard-core shoot under my belt I can’t wait to dive in and start doing a lot more shoots!
I see you’ve recently moved to Portland, Oregon. A lot of people don’t realize that Portland has more strip and sex clubs than any other major US city. Was that what drew you there?
I see you’ve done your homework, too! And I actually went to my first stripper karaoke last week, better known as ‘Stripparaoke’ and had an absolute blast! Who knew!
To answer your question, the reason I moved to Portland is because it’s a more liberal and open-mind area and there are a lot more social and employment opportunities here. I felt that given my experience working at a university for eleven years that I would have a fairly good chance of finding a job here in Portland since there are so many colleges and universities in this area. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case and I feel like I’m still having to deal with people’s fears and prejudices. But I’m closer to getting to where I want to be, and I love Portland and am happy here, so it has been a good decision to move here. And it has definitely helped me develop a social life, which was one of my goals when I moved here.
Prior to transition you lived a typical male American life. You were married with children and even coached baseball. That’s certainly a big life change midstream. What made you finally make the decision to transition in your thirties?
I just tried to live the life that was expected of a male, and tried to make the best of it. I think like so many of us I hoped the dysphoria would eventually go away, but it never did. For most of my life I thought I was just a crossdresser, but as I gained access to more information and started to make sense of the gender issues I occasionally wondered if maybe I could be transsexual, but since I was a husband and father and I was not willing to do anything which would damage those relationships I just avoided dealing with it. Then after the divorce I was raising my sons by myself and just pushed the gender stuff even further back because I had to focus on my kids. It wasn’t until my youngest son was entering his senior year of high school that I started thinking about my wants and needs and what I wanted out of life when the boys were grown and out of the house. I finally let myself think about the gender stuff and I realized I had to deal with it if I had any hope of ever finding peace of mind and happiness. So I did a lot of thinking and a lot of research online, and found a local therapist who had experience with trans people, and that was the beginning of my transition.
Were gender issues always present in your life?
I knew when I was three or four that I wanted to be a girl. I didn’t understand why I felt that way or what it meant, I just knew the feelings were there and I didn’t know how to deal with them or what to think since there was a total lack of information about gender issues back then. I quickly learned that what I felt was not acceptable and to keep it to myself, so I grew up feeling very uncomfortable with myself, which would have far reaching consequences throughout my life. But I adapted and learned to do what was expected of a male, and got to be very good at playing that role. But the dysphoria was always there, never far from my thoughts. Being able to cross-dress when I had the opportunity helped, but it was only temporary. Basically, I just dealt with it the best I could for as long as I could. But it was always there. I think a good example which sums it up was that when I was with male friends and we’d see a pretty woman, my friends would all want to “get in her pants” while I just wanted to wear her pants. I’ve always appreciated the beauty and femininity of women, but having to see it constantly and know how much I wanted that for myself, yet being helpless to do anything to make that happen was extremely difficult and painful to deal with.
You raised your two sons as a single parent. How have they handled your transition?
I have been truly blessed to have two amazing sons who have been totally supportive and accepting of me as Rebecca. We have always been very close as a family, and I think the fact that it was just the three of us made that bond even stronger. I knew they would always love me no matter what, but there was still some fear in the back of my mind as I prepared to come out to them, only because I know so many people who have been disowned by their families once they came out.
Since I express myself better in writing and I knew I’d be really nervous and have a difficult time keeping my train of thought, I wrote them each a letter explaining the basics about gender identity and about my life and how I reached this point where I needed to transition. I was sitting on the couch next to my oldest son and after he’d been reading for a few minutes he reached over and held my hand, which started the tears flowing because I knew everything was going to be okay. Both my sons love me and just want me to be happy. They have been my biggest source of support and my motivation to get me through the difficult times. I would not be here today with their love and support.
Having lived a great portion of your life as a biological male and now, of course, experiencing the world as a MTF Transsexual, you surely must be being treated differently by people in general. What has been the most challenging issue for you societally?
When I first transitioned I was extremely sensitive to how people reacted to me, and anytime I got stared at or called sir or got negative comments it was crushing to my already low self-esteem. But eventually I learned to just tune people out and go about my business so I didn’t notice the stares or comments. And then I grew more comfortable with myself and reached the point where I didn’t care about what anyone else thought; the people who love and care about me accept me and that’s what is important. Interestingly enough, the most profound change in how people treat me resulted from my new-found self-esteem and confidence after I moved to Portland and developed a social life. I had always been very shy and introverted, but moving to Portland helped me grow out of my shell and embrace who I was, which resulted in me being a much happier person. It’s been quite a revelation as I’ve become such a social person and actually found I enjoyed all the attention, and it would not be much of a stretch to say that I’m a bit of an exhibitionist! And it’s so true that confidence is sexy!
You previously worked in the University corporate sector, do you see unemployment as a major issue for the TS community?
I think unemployment is one of the biggest issues we face. It’s difficult to move forward in life, let alone in transitioning, when you’re unable to find a decent job and have to struggle with the basic necessities such as shelter, safety, and feeding yourself. It’s one of those recurring themes that comes up time after time when you talk with other transgender people. I hate to use being trans as an excuse for not being able to find a job, but when there are so many trans people who had good steady jobs prior to transitioning, but then find themselves out of a job post-transition and unable to find work, that indicates to me that there is a serious problem. And while there has been a lot of progress made within the past few years such as corporations implementing anti-discrimination policies which include gender orientation, it does no good if the person doing the interviewing is not comfortable with trans people or doesn’t agree with policy. It’s all well and good to pass all these policies and legislation, but those things only help so much because it’s difficult to overcome people’s hate and fear of us. Progress is being made, but when you’re the one dealing with unemployment and the subtle discrimination which is impossible to prove, it can be difficult to feel like things actually are improving.
I like to use this column to empower other Trans people on their journey. What is the best advice you can give to someone in transition who is struggling?
I think the best piece of advice I could give would be to never give up, no matter how difficult or hopeless things may seem. Transitioning comes with a price, and it’s not an easy process, but it is so worth it to be able to reach the point where you can live life as the person you really are. Just keep pushing through all the mindless bureaucracy and the frustration and pain and hopelessness and never lose sight of the goal. And never stop believing that you will get there.
And don’t try to do this alone. There are a lot of resources available, and so many good people who are there for you and want to help. We as a community do a great job of supporting one another and that is such an important thing. So reach out and take advantage of all the resources and support which is available.
A message from Becca to her fans:
I’m excited to announce that my personal website is now up and running at www.beccabenz.com! This is where I can blog and post pictures that I’ve taken, and to be able to show a different side of myself. I’m most excited about the blog because I love to write and this gives me the opportunity to do that.
I’ve already posted three blog entries, one about how the blog came to be, and the other two about how I actually got into modeling. You can read all about how I managed to learn about Steven and Grooby Productions and how I eventually became a proud member of Grooby Girls.
Please note there will be no adult content posted on this website; that can be found on other sites. And hopefully I will have some news regarding an adult content site in the near future!
So, I would appreciate it if you could take a moment and check out my website and let me know what you think. And I would especially love to read your comments about the blog posts!