In the lead up to the election, I was fairly certain that two outcomes were probable: Hillary Clinton would be elected president, and Prop 60—the California “condoms in porn” ballot initiative decried by adult industry members as anti-porn zealotry masquerading as concern for worker safety—would pass. The morning after the election, I woke up to find I’d been wrong on both counts. And that, somehow, a world where California had rejected Prop 60 but elected President Trump felt much, much worse than the reverse.

But wait, you’re probably saying to yourself right now, how can Trump be bad for porn? This is, after all, a man who was featured in a softcore porn video and appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine; a man who happens to be married to a former nude model. Surely those aren’t the actions of someone hellbent on cracking down on the adult industry, right?

Throughout Trump’s campaign, as he was signing anti-porn pledges and representing a party with a national platform declaring porn to be a “public health crisis,” commentators suggested he was probably just pandering to his base rather than expressing a deeply-held belief. Even in the wake of the election, an experienced adult industry attorney assured me there was no way a Trump administration would come after America’s pornographers.

But given Trump’s demonstrated unpredictability and willingness to cast aside previously stated convictions, relying on his past actions to predict his administration’s stance on the adult industry probably isn’t the best strategy. Whatever Trump’s personal opinions on the porn industry might be, personal opinions aren’t the same as policy. And the people he’s brought on to shape his administration’s policy are sending a very terrifying message to Porn Valley.

Most notable is Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who’s also heading up Trump’s transition team. In addition to being an evangelical with highly regressive stances on women’s bodily autonomy, Pence attempted to crack down on porn during his stint in Congress, proposing an amendment to 2257 records keeping regulations that would have extended all the way into Hollywood, requiring anyone shooting a simulated sex scene to maintain the same stringent records as pornograpers.

And Pence is just the tip of the iceberg. Other transition team members include Edwin Meese of the infamous Meese Report, the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell, and, of course, Rudy Giuliani, who spent his tenure as mayor cleaning up Times Square (i.e. driving out all the porn theaters). “Take anybody who’s been named to the transition team or has been floated as a [cabinet member] and [search for] their name with pornography,” said Michael Stabile, the Communications Director for adult industry advocacy group the Free Speech Coalition. The results aren’t pretty.

So, yeah, it’s not looking great. Which leads to another question: if Team Trump does want to crack down on porn, how are they likely to go about it?

Well, it probably won’t be through the workplace safety regulations and OSHA involvement that have been the strategy employed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (the group behind Prop 60). Attacking porn by positioning it as an exploitative industry, or an issue of protecting vulnerable workers, tends to be a tactic used by anti-porn liberals. Trump’s conservative cronies are more likely to approach curbing porn from a censorship angle.

During the Bush era, censorship-driven porn regulation meant requiring pornographers to keep extensive, precisely-ordered records (the aforementioned 2257 regulations, which—despite recent legal challenges—are still very much in effect) and slapping obscenity charges on boundary-pushing pornographers like Max Hardcore, Extreme Associates, and Evil Angel.

“Prop 60 was a really energizing and empowering battle. It has left us in a stronger position.”

Given Pence’s established affinity for 2257 regulations, pornographers should definitely make sure they’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s on performer paperwork. Obscenity trials seem slightly less likely, though. Now that porn’s primarily distributed online, it’s a bit harder to establish the “community standards” required by the Miller test, though that doesn’t mean the Trump Administration won’t try—and if they do, Stabile thinks fetish, BDSM, trans, and gay content would be the most vulnerable to attack.

And there are also a whole host of other censorship strategies that weren’t available to conservatives of the Bush era. Some other possible avenues for anti-porn attack that the adult industry is readying itself for? The government requiring all adult sites to operate under the .XXX domain, a regulation that would make it much, much easier for smut to be identified and banned or blocked en masse. Team Trump might also take a page from across the pond and require ISPs to block all pornography unless users specifically opt-in (because who doesn’t want to call up Verizon to say, “Hiya, please turn my porn back on”?).

We could also see the return of something like the Communications Decency Act, which could further isolate porn by putting pressure on sites like Twitter and Tumblr to purge any XXX material. And there’s always the chance that the administration might employ an Operation Choke Point type strategy, forcing adult companies out of business by cutting off access to essential business infrastructure like banks.

But as terrifying as those possibilities are, there is at least a little bit of good news. Thanks in part to Prop 60, which rallied the adult industry and inspired many members to get political, the porn community is much more organized than it was during the Bush years, with many more allies outside the industry—allies whose support may be crucial in the coming years.

“Prop 60 was a really energizing and empowering battle. It has left us in a stronger position,” Stabile told me.

And for that, we should all be grateful. Because these kinds of attacks on the porn industry aren’t just about losing near instant access to jerkoff material. Pornographers are, fundamentally, on the front lines in the government’s attacks on free speech. Tactics used to squelch pornographers set precedents that can enable overzealous censors to go after artists, educators, libraries, and anyone else they consider inflammatory or obscene. By protecting the rights of porngraphers, we protect free speech for everyone. As Stabile put it, “This is beyond just business decisions and worker safety. This is really an important First Amendment fight. We really are the Free Speech Coalition for a reason [and] we’re ready to engage again.”

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