Trans-Identifying Male Academic Who Claimed Porn Motivated His Transition Awarded Pulitzer Prize

A male academic who identifies as a transgender woman has been awarded a Pulitzer prize for literary criticism, prompting outcry on social media as users draw attention to his history of disturbing comments about how pornography influenced his transition.

Andrea Long Chu, born Andrew, is a 2014 graduate from Duke University and a current doctoral student in comparative literature at New York University. In 2021, he was appointed to the role of book critic by New York Magazine, where his writing has now been granted a 2023 Pulitzer.

In a press release announcing his appointment to the position at the time, New York culture editor Gazelle Emami said, “Andrea has long been one of our favorite writers and thinkers, and we’re so excited to publish her incisive criticism in the pages of New York and on Vulture more regularly.”

The announcement was not received well on some parts of social media, where women’s rights advocates condemned the decision and pointed to Chu’s lengthy history of equating womanhood with pornography addiction.

In 2019, Chu’s first book, Females, was published by Verso Press. The thesis of the 94-page screed was that anyone can become female, and that being penetrated during sex defines womanhood.

“Getting fucked makes you female because fucked is what a female is,” Chu writes in the short book, describing himself as once being “a sad, pretentious boy, furious about rape, hopelessly addicted to pornography.”

Chu claims that it was his obsession with pornography that led him to begin identifying as transgender.

“Almost every night, for at least a year before I transitioned, I would wait till my girlfriend had fallen asleep and slip out of bed for the bathroom with my phone. I was going on Tumblr to look at something called sissy porn. I’d discovered it by accident one night, scrolling lazily down a pornographic rabbit hole,” he writes.

Sissy porn is an abbreviated form of sissification pornography, in which a male actor is ostensibly forced – but is in reality a willing participant – in his transformation to a “sissy,” or a feminized male. As a genre of transsexual or transgender pornography, this is typically accomplished through the use of feminine attire, such as lingerie and makeup, but may also include depictions of estrogen administration. The man involved is often made to perform degrading acts of a sexual nature which are presented as assisting in his feminization.

“Pornography is what it feels like when you think you have an object, but really the object has you. It is therefore a quintessential expression of femaleness,” writes Chu. “Sissy porn did make me trans … At the center of sissy porn lies the asshole, a kind of universal vagina through which femaleness can always be accessed.”

His book, Chu says, was intended as “an extended annotation of a lost play by Valerie Solanas,” a controversial feminist with a troubled history of sexual abuse who acerbically called for women to “eliminate the male sex” in her most well-known work, the SCUM Manifesto.

“While I was finishing this book, a friend alerted me to the existence of a pornographic video in which a female teacher uses a quotation from the SCUM Manifesto to seduce two female students, turning them into lesbians. This made instant, perfect sense. It’s what Valerie did to me,” Chu writes.

Speaking with Vogue in 2019, Chu said that part of his motivation for writing Females was “to get a rise out of people.” He also noted that he had received multiple emails from male readers who began taking estrogen after discovering his work. The book would go on to be named as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Nonfiction. The awards are funded with the financial backing of trans activist organization Stonewall.

The year prior, Chu had tested out his strategy for “get[ting] a rise out of people” in an essay titled “On Liking Women” published by N+1 magazine. In it, Chu name-drops and criticizes several prominent feminist writers and describes, as a formative experience, having a high school crush on a girl who confessed to him that she has realized she is a lesbian.

“The truth is, I have never been able to differentiate liking women from wanting to be like them,” he says. “I transitioned for gossip and compliments, lipstick and mascara, for crying at the movies, for being someone’s girlfriend… for sex toys, for feeling hot, for getting hit on by butches, for that secret knowledge of which dykes to watch out for, for Daisy Dukes, bikini tops, and all the dresses, and, my god, for the breasts.”

“On Liking Women” effectively jump-started Chu’s pursuit of academic writing on the topic of gender identity. That year, he was invited to speak at several reputable universities, where he presented a talk titled, “Did Sissy Porn Make Me Trans?

According to his CV, Chu presented his views at Columbia, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Vassar College, the latter having historically been a women-only institution. At Yale University, Chu was invited to read his article “On Liking Women.” On his website, Chu boasts that the essay “has become essential reading in gender studies classes across the country.”

By the end of the year, Chu had an op-ed published by The New York Times about his genitals. Titled “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy,” he argues that “surgeries of all kinds” are “as much a human right as universal health care, or food,” and contests that evidence of a body dysmorphic disorder should not be required to access them.

He was also involved as a peer reviewer for the academic publication released by Duke University, his alma mater, Transgender Studies Quarterly.

During this period, Chu would repeatedly reference the influence of pornography on his desire to take female hormones, and even to undergo surgery. In 2018, he told the NYC Trans Oral History Project “my porn addiction had all along been waiting for something like sissy porn… It demands you to imagine your experience of porn as something that’s turning you into a woman. Not just that you’re looking at people being turned into a woman, but that the act of looking turns you into a woman.”

Andrew Long Chu began speaking and writing under the feminine name ‘Andrea’ in approximately 2016. Source: Facebook

However, prior to his venture into writing on pornography and transgenderism, Chu had similarly written sexual diatribes on racist fetishism.

In 2013, under his birth name Andy Chu, he wrote an article titled “I am a Racist” for the Duke University’s student newspaper, The Chronicle.

In it, he confesses to racial fetishization, and states that he uses the “Chinese qualities” of his girlfriend to “massage my own colonial sense of multiculturalism.”

Under his birth name, Chu wrote: “I relish the notion of having mixed-race children but I remind myself that I would never raise them with a backward Chinese notion of family. I objectify her. I exoticize her. I see her race and her gender before I see her.”

Chu is not the only prominent trans activist who has claimed pornography impacted his perception of women and desire to transition.

The sexologist credited with coining the term ‘gender identity’ had himself recommended showing pornography to children in order to develop their internal sense of ‘gender.’ John Money conducted experiments on children to this end, both by photographing them mimicking sex acts and exposing minors to pornography from an early age.

Another trans activist who was celebrated in mainstream media during the early 2000’s, Dana Rivers, made a similar statement.

“Porn helped me understand my gender deviant mindfreak is healthy, sane, and delightfully irrational,” he tweeted in 2010. Rivers, born David Chester Warfield, was last year found guilty of the 2016 triple homicide of a lesbian couple and their son.

Prior to his career as an activist, Rivers had been a notable participant in Camp Trans, an organization which was created in protest of a women-only event, Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF), colloquially known as MichFest, which Rivers’ victims were frequent attendees of. The aim of Camp Trans was to pressure the event organizers into allowing men to attend.

While expressing admiration for the Camp Trans protesters, Chu remarked, “Had I ever been so fortunate as to attend the legendarily clothing-optional Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival before its demise at the hands of trans activists in 2015, you can bet your Birkenstocks it wouldn’t have been for the music.”


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Genevieve Gluck

Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.

Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.
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