Someone posed a question in a search engine that brought them to my blog. It was about “why so many transgenders become hookers.”
I can’t speak for the numbers of trans people who become prostitutes. I don’t know if there are more trans prostitutes per capita than born-female prostitutes per capita. But I have been doing some research on the question, and two reasons stand out: Gender discrimination, and financial needs related to the expensive costs of transitioning.
I’ve been reading a thesis called A Comparative Study of Adult Transgender and Female Prostitution, by Elizabeth Schepel, from May 2011.
On Page 12 of her paper, Elizabeth says this:
While transsexual behavior exists on a spectrum (ranging from occasional cross-dressing to attempting to pass in public through cross dressing, name changes, and surgeries or hormone injections) Boles & Elifson (1994) indicated that fully committed transsexuals often turn to prostitution for economic survival when unable to locate or maintain employment due to gender discrimination. Others are led into prostitution for the financial incentives, because maintaining a feminine appearance through hormone injections and plastic surgeries is expensive (Howe et al., 2008, Leichtentritt and Davidson-Arad, 2004; Sausa et al., 2007).”
Taking this to a personal level: Elizabeth also points to the need of some trans people to be desired as women, which I can relate to. I went through a stage when I very much wanted men to desire me, putting myself in some risky situations. No, not prostitution, though men have offered me money for sex — which I declined. I confess, though, that I considered prostitution both as a means to fulfill my need to be desired and for financial reasons. But I do have a good job in an environment where I face next-to-no gender discrimination. (To digress for a moment: The kindness and acceptance of my colleagues has saved me in more ways than one, yes? Moral of the story: The ripple effects of kindness are myriad.)
Having said this, I know a lot of trans people, and only one of them reported that she engaged in prostitution once upon a time. Many, though, including me, have met lots of guys through online dating sites. There is no lack of men interested in trans people — but, sadly, few of them are thinking in terms of true love. Many men see trans women as exotic sex objects, particularly pre-op (or non-op) trans women. The guys like that “something extra.”
In my journeys, I discovered something else: it pays more and is safer to be a dominatrix. (No, to answer your first question, I have never been a pro domina.) Most dominas do not engage in sexual relations with their clients. It’s, umm, strictly role-playing . . .