Life as a Transsexual Porn Star: Yasmin Lee

Yasmin Lee was dangling in midair, dressed from head to fin in mermaid apparel, wiggling around trying to look like she was swimming upstream, when her pornography shoot was cancelled. Despite the shoot’s failure, it still left it’s mark – harness burns all over her midsection. Though she had been working as a BDSM transsexual porn actress for a while, these were her first burn marks.

As a child, Yasmin Lee moved around refugee camps in war-torn Cambodia with her family. At a young age, the United States sponsored her and her family to come to America. They were so grateful to the U.S. government that by the time she reached fifth grade, she and several of her brothers were determined to pay back the country for its help. “We feel like everybody should contribute to the country some way or somehow,” said Lee. Although she does not believe in war, Lee enlisted in the U.S. Navy when she turned 18.

While in the Navy, Lee struggled with her sexual identity. “Back then, I said I was gay, because I didn’t know what my sexuality was, I just knew I was attracted to men.” With Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell still in place, Lee kept her sexuality under wraps, but somehow another recruit found out and started verbally abusing her. “He called me all kinds of derogatory names, and instead of just sitting there and taking it I decided to challenge him on it.” She reported him, but he was never punished and Lee refused to retract her statements, so she was allowed to leave with an honorable discharge.

Only 19 years old but with a much better understanding of who she was and who she wanted to be, Lee moved to Los Angeles. She found work as a drag performer and a makeup artist for The Pussycat Dolls, living as a man during the day and a woman at night. Once she turned 21, Lee decided to make the full transition, so she left her job to avoid further harassment.

Now living as a transsexual woman, Lee started working in porn, first as an assistant then later as a casting director. She was catapulted into the spotlight and onto film one day when a woman she had cast for a scene never showed up, so Lee stepped in and acted the part. When she found that this experience was both exciting and paid the bills, Lee pursued a career in porn. Although she is a sole contractor, meaning she can work for any studio she wants, Lee is frequently found at TS Seduction, which, according to its website, is “the premiere bondage sex destination where straight men experience hot tgirls and TS cock for the first time.” After only seven years working in porn, Lee has appeared in 86 films.

Porn is “really about pushing your limits,” explained Lee. As her popularity has grown, she has also encountered some of society’s limits. “I was actually the first transsexual to be released in Japan, and there were so many restrictions. There are dominant and submissive roles, and I’m more of a dominant … but they weren’t allowed to show the guy being submissive.”

For her work in transsexual porn, Lee has twice been nominated for the Adult Video News, the “Oscars of porn,” Transsexual Performer of the Year award. She is also the first transsexual woman to be nominated for AVN’s Breakout Star into mainstream.

Lee found mainstream fame for her role as a succubus, a female demon who has sex with sleeping men, in the 2011 film “Red Ice.” Her role in this film caught the attention of the casting director for “The Hangover Part II,” who got in touch with her and asked her to audition. “I realized they were flying people in from all over the world to audition … so I didn’t really think I was gonna get it,” reminisced Lee. Ultimately, Lee found out she landed the role of Kimmy, a Thai “ladyboy” who has sex with Stu (played by Ed Helms). Although the actual sex scene was not shown, she did show full-frontal nudity during the film. Lee made film history by being the first transsexual woman to show full-frontal nudity in theater.

Lee started work on the set soon after being cast and it was such an open and welcoming environment that it felt like home. “I went in there being professional and expecting the same from them, and they all were. They were the sweetest, all the actors I was hanging out with. I was hanging out with everybody, and they were sweet and open-minded and nice,” she said.

Many transsexual activists have criticized the film for Lee’s role as a Thai sex worker, accusing the film of portraying transsexuals in an unflattering light. Nonetheless, Lee believes her role was beneficial. “Any exposure at all is a platform for conversation. [The film] definitely brought a lot of light to the transsexual community, not the 100 percent positive light that we all hope for in an Oprah interview, but it reached millions and millions of people that now either know about transsexuals or questions what’s going on and ask,” said Lee. “That’s the platform you want to create to educate people.”

This article originally ran in the Winter 2012 issue of Fem. Image courtesy of Yasmin Lee.

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4 comments

  1. tony pinzone

    you are the sexiest women i have ever seen i am a straight guy but u have converted me i would let you have your way with me i think u are beautiful

  2. Dino

    I had seen you in a couple videos on the web and had no idea who you were until now, I must agree with tony that you are beautiful

  3. Dominick

    I’ve been a long time fan of Yasmin Lee. Saw her many video’s and as a straight guy I think she is in the top 3 most beautiful women I’ve ever seen! I saw her in Hangover II, because of her, I bought the DVD! If ever she is in NYC I’d be happy to take her to scene parties where I know she’ll be at home with some of the hottest in the fetish community!!! Love you Babe!!

  4. john

    you are really very beautiful Yasmin. am absolutely straight but you are the one i really love. take care sweetheart.