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My Work: Sex Work

*Content warning: sexual violence, police violence*

I walked out of the bathroom and put my clothes back on. My arms and body chafed from the ropes he tied me with, and I was bit worried someone would see the marks when I walked outside. I’d never done bondage before, but I was willing to if—

“Here’s a small gift.” He placed the $200 in my hands and hastily walked off. At last, my first payment.

***

Sex work was nothing new to me, but I had only started doing it until last summer.

For over a year I wrestled with the idea. Where do I go? A bathhouse? K Street? 14th Street? A gay bar? Craigslist? Seeking Arrangement? I knew the strolls, I knew the locations. The real question was “So when then?”

I may do my work as a “man,” but I do it because I am transgender. Transition is expensive. There was no way I could pay for the therapy or medical treatments, but I didn’t even have enough to buy makeup or my next outfit. Sex work guaranteed a quick buck.

But why sex work? Because that’s trans women and femmes of color do. That’s how we make our living and survive in a transmisogynist racist world. That’s how we shape and mold our bodies. That’s how we realize our true selves.

***

I peered into the cars lining K Street. The light from their phones exposed their hungry faces – but not for “men” like me.

During the act, I hated it when they stared at me. Holding my head in their hands, mouth agape, their eyes would fill with lust – or was it envy? – as their hands slid down my bare back. Always hungry they were, for young flesh like mine.

Returning their gaze, my eyes gleamed back with fascination, wonder, pleasure, innocence. I wonder if they ever saw through my performance.

***