It's not often that the pleasure industry sees a true first-of-its-kind sex toy. It's even less likely that a new pleasure device has the power to change lives. Then again, the adult film business seems even lower on the totem pole of potentially pioneering a life-changing movement. Buck Angel has managed to hit all three achievements throughout his head-turning career, and he intends to take the entire pleasure industry with him for the ride.
The Buck-Off, a product created by Angel, a trans activist, and launched by LGBTQ-focused Perfect Fit Brand, is a masturbation sleeve with a higher purpose. Angel's debut product was designed to give female-to-male transgender individuals a more macho approach to self-pleasure. “Lots of trans guys feel uncomfortable touching themselves and the Buck-Off gives them a way to jack-off in a more masculine way,” says Angel.
As a previously unserved and even ignored market, female-to-male transgender people had to awkwardly alter existing toys.
Angel's road to production was a bumpy journey. Appropriately enough, Perfect Fit lived up to its name and matched Angel's entrepreneurial attitude. “Buck had approached many companies before us to pitch his idea, and no one showed interest,” says Perfect Fit CEO Steve Callow. “I think maybe they couldn’t see past their concerns about profitability to see the importance of sexual wellness for FTM people.” Callow and Angel still harbored a bit of nervous energy over the product's release, but were quickly justified in their cause. “Of course Buck and I were nervous about the response we would get from the trans community, given that we were breaking new ground,” recalls Callow. “It was humbling to receive so much positive, constructive feedback.”
Transitioning encompasses a person's entire state of being. The sex organs may seem only a fraction of the process, but they play a large role in the mental health of trans individuals. The hormones involved in physically transitioning alter the genitals, which is already a challenge for trans people as they adjust to their changing bodies. The mental aspect of the change is a beast in and of itself. Buying sex toys is essentially a combination of all the struggles trans people face on a daily basis, and can turn the search for simple pleasure into a nightmare. “The Buck-Off was created specifically for transgender men who have growth in the genitals from the use of testosterone,” says Angel. “There was nothing like the Buck-Off on the market, in shops or anywhere you bought sex toys. It was upsetting for me to see this.”
As a previously unserved and even ignored market, female-to-male transgender people had to awkwardly alter existing toys. Already at odds with their bodies, buying cisgender sex toys is an uncomfortable, disassociating experience. “There is no validation of your own identity if you have to buy products that were designed for another gender identity to fulfill your needs,” says Callow. “Even without this sense of validation, at least gay men could buy products off the shelf that worked just fine. This was not case for the FTM community.”
The difficulties trans individuals face have only recently become visible, and like anyone struggling for acceptance, trans people haven't always been heard. The trans community has always existed, albeit in the background. Activists like Angel have reminded us that there is indeed a “T” in LGBTQ. Buck's prominence as an adult performer, educator and product developer has helped create a space for transgender persons, especially trans men, to address their unique sexual needs. “From conversations with Buck, I began to understand that the trans community now was much like the gay male community 30 years ago,”remarks Callow. “That was when I’d begun experimenting with sex toys. The products were marketed for straight people and I felt nervous, embarrassed, even ‘freakish,’ buying them.” What Callow and Angel have created is more than a sex toy. The Buck-Off is the answer to the body disphoria faced by transgender people when confronting their new sexual identity. “Maybe this sounds obvious now, but it really makes a difference when you know that products are made for you, and available to you with no stigma attached,” says Callow.
Angel and Callow won't be alone for long in the trans-positive manufacturing space. LA Pump co-owner Chris Kalev regularly encountered frustrated trans customers in the retail space. “We heard from a few retailers that they were selling our clitoris cylinders to trans men. Our clitoris cylinders differ from our penis cylinders,” remarks Kalev. “We felt we needed to create a product for trans men that was for them.” Kalev, as a cisgender male, was unique in immediately spotting the emotions involved for trans consumers. “It seemed odd to me for a trans man to go into a store, say they are looking for a penis cylinder, and get offered a clitoris cylinder,” says Kalev. “How emasculating is that? So we made a cylinder that was appropriate for their size.”
Contrary to media portrayal, undergoing genital surgery isn't always a part of the transition process. Angel's mission for the Buck-Off was to reach this common but often inaccurately represented portion of the trans community. “I get so many positive emails from trans men telling me, ‘Thank you for helping me understand that if my choice is not to get bottom surgery that is OK, and if I choose to that is OK too,’” says Angel.
The pleasure product industry seems the perfect place to spotlight transgender visibility. Though being transgender is so much more than what's between your legs, it's often the least comfortable and most uncertain part of a person's transition. “The Buck-Off and Perfect Fit Brand are a part of creating this space of talking about our bodies and our sexual desires just like everyone else,” says Angel. Buck's efforts are beginning to normalize not only trans people, but the choices they make in changing their bodies and establishing their new identities. “It has been such a long road, but I finally see trans men feeling confident to be out about their sexuality,” remarks Angel. “I see them on apps like Scruff looking to hook up. I see guys talking about their vaginas and that is mind-blowing for me, too.”
The achievements of the Buck-Off have proven what Angel already knew to be true: the trans market is out there, and though they may be shy at first, Buck is giving them the courage to come out. “With the success of the Buck-Off we are producing a line of Buck Angel Toys,” says Angel. “I believe that with the creation of our toy line we are really giving guys permission to explore, play and learn self-love in a way they never have before. I am so grateful for the future!”