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By Jennifer Snook @Sirjid

The first time I saw a naked woman I was about ten.

I was at a friend’s birthday party. There were fourteen or fifteen of us, all boys, including the host, and we were sleeping over in the downstairs living room.

As we were settling in for the night with the host’s parents safely asleep upstairs, one of the guests, my best friend, announced he had something to show us. He stood, picked up the remote, and turned on the television — muted, of course.

The rest of us watched with interest as he flipped the channels all the way down before landing on a most peculiar image.

It was a wet, naked woman with large breasts standing alone on the beach of a small island while staring seductively at the camera.

I was utterly confused. I glanced around at my compatriots, only to find all of them with eyes glued to the set (except for the host and my friend, who were wrestling for control of the remote).

Trying to find out what they thought was so intriguing, I examined the image closer and came to one conclusion: There’s no way those are real.

It wasn’t long after that that sex became a common theme among my schoolmates.

I still had no idea what all the fuss was about. So like any intelligent, curious, young person, I Googled it.

Porn was fascinating. It still is.

The notion of Rule 34 – an internet “rule” that states “there’s porn of everything” — exists for a reason. The sheer extent of what people can find arousing is staggering. You can find anything at all on the internet, for better or for worse.

A lot of my time was spent simply looking at all the images and videos on display, wondering if enough people really indulged in that particular fetish to make it worth producing art for.

And there was. Porn is a great equalizer. Everything is thrown into the mix. Every type of person: every race, gender, class, language, orientation and, of course, fetish has a trove of options that seem catered specifically to one person.

Not only does it provide a momentary reprieve from reality, but it’s also a fundamental reminder that no one is alone. Hundreds of thousands of people want exactly what you do.

It’s where I first encountered trans women. They were there, among everything else, and I was quickly fascinated. Because of this discovery, I started researching trans people, and ultimately discovered that I was trans.

I’m not going to claim that everyone has life-altering revelations from porn. Far from it. But it can still be important, even for those of us who don’t want sex. There’s something for everybody.

It’s such an obvious and extreme escapism that anyone can enjoy it. It allows us to indulge in fantasies that we would likely never have the chance for in reality.

Sex is still often seen as the ultimate expression of love. And when we see someone like ourselves on the screen, engaging in that expression, it sends a powerful message.

Everyone can be loved.

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