Sex Work Is About Finding Your Niche, and Upselling
"I’m a non-binary takatāpui transsexual, and I like being feminine, and I want a dick, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t."
Stevie’s story is an excerpt from 'My Body, My Business: New Zealand Sex Workers in an Era of Change' by Caren Wilton, published by Otago University Press.
When I started to physically transition, I was fairly involved in trans communities and I had stopped dating cisgender people. I didn’t want to take hormones, but to be allowed to get surgery I had to take hormones. I talked to surgeons overseas and they said, you can’t get a penis unless you have hormones and top surgery first. But I don’t want to be a masculine man, I’m not a man or a woman. Western frameworks for gender are so far behind they think they’re first. I’m a non-binary takatāpui transsexual, and I like being feminine, and I want a dick, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t.
You don’t have to be a guy to have a dick—half of my closest friends and lovers are women who have a dick, and some of my friends are guys who don’t. There needs to be a shift in the way we categorize people and their body parts as gendered. Unfortunately at the moment, though, our health-care system is a mess in terms of trans health-care, and if a trans person says something that providers don’t understand, then it’s very hard to get the medical care they need.
When I went to the endocrinologist, I shaved off all my pink hair and I wore a rugby jersey and a binder. I’d heard that a lot of trans guys had gone in there and that particular endo had said, "No, you’re such a pretty girl, why would you want to become a boy? You’ll get hairy and bald, and end up being an ugly old man." He would try and discourage them, then put them on pills that don’t do very much. So I butched up and went in there, and said the A-plus answers. I said, "Yep, I always felt like a boy. I always liked girls. I always knew I should be a boy, I just want my body to reflect how I feel on the inside."
I was really lucky, I got onto a pretty decent dose of T—testosterone—pretty quickly. So my body started changing really quickly, especially my smell. I kept thinking there were boys in my room. Oh, it’s me. OK. I didn’t really like smelling like a boy, and I didn’t like getting hairy. And I’ve always been able to deal with heaps of people’s emotional stuff, but when I was on a lot of T I couldn’t deal with as much. I couldn’t just read people any more. It was really, really hard. That was the thing that I wasn’t expecting. But I did get new junk! Hormones often make dicks more like clits over time, and clits more like dicks. It’s all the same thing really.
Watch: What It’s Really Like to Be a Sex Worker
So I started working as a trans boy. It was interesting, because my clients didn’t know what to expect. Most of them hadn’t ever been with someone who was transmasculine before. Some of them had been with trans girls, some hadn’t been with anyone who was trans. I started advertising in the paper and online, and clients would come see me, and they wouldn’t really know what to expect. Sometimes they’d be like, "Oh, awesome, you’re quite boyish," or sometimes, "Awesome, quite girly." There was one guy I’d talked to on the phone, and when he came round, he was like, ‘Oh, I really liked your boy voice better.’ And I was like [deep voice], ‘Ah, right,’ because my voice changes a lot.
Some of them usually saw trans women and were like, "You’re like a trans woman, and that’s what I’m into, but also you’ve got a vagina, so that’s different." And others were like, "I usually see boys, and you’re kind of like a boy, but you’ve got a vagina, so that’s different." Others were like, "I usually see girls, but I’ve always been a bit curious about seeing a guy. But I’m not gay!" I was like, "Mmm hmm, that’s cool, you be whatever you want."
The sex industry is beautifully sex-positive and practical.
I also started doing lots of doubles with trans girls. From a sex-worker perspective, whatever your niche is, you want to upsell. And also, my friends are all broke—everyone’s in a similar basket. So I’m like, ‘Do you know what would be really hot? Have you ever had sex with a trans woman? You should book me for a double with my friend.’
Out in the world, many people are too chicken-shit to admit they’re attracted to trans women, but in the world of sex work it’s a lot more OK to just say what you want. The sex industry is beautifully sex-positive and practical in ways that very few other spaces are.
So I started doing lots of doubles, and that worked really well for me. Probably half the work I do now is doubles with trans girls. It’s nice being able to get other people work, and it’s also a drawcard in that not many people do that. It’s fun working with friends too—you get to have a giggle about the booking afterwards, and it’s not boring, sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.
When I worked before as a girl, lots of the clients were just coming along to have a sexy time with a girl. They know what they’re after, and they know the general kind of experience they’re going to get. They’re imagining they’re going to have a similar experience to what they’ve had before. Whereas when they come to me now as a client, especially if they’re coming to have a double booking, they’ve got an idea in their mind of what they want to do, sort of, but usually it’s based on porn, and it’s probably not something they’ve ever done before.
A couple of weeks ago me and my friend had a half-hour booking. The hilariousness of this guy—he’s got like eight different complicated positions that he wants us to try and do in half an hour. I’m thinking, ‘Dude, maybe you get two.’ You’ve got to factor in having two showers, and getting dressed at the end, so you’ve probably got at the most 20 minutes of interactive time, and they think they’re going to do eight or nine high-impact porn positions. It’s pretty funny. Honestly, you get halfway through doing the first thing, and they’re ready to come, and you have to try really hard to stretch it out for a bit longer.
For me it’s heaps more comfortable and productive working independently, and as trans. I think the biggest thing is that I can do my own marketing. If I work in a brothel, the receptionist might say on the phone, "She’s pretty, but she’s very alternative." That doesn’t sell. You want to be like, "She’s a hot suicide girl", or however you want to sell it. But you don’t want to be like, "She’s unusual."
So now I have my own website, and I do all my business through that. So by the time they make a booking with me, they’ve been to my website and they’ve seen my photos. I have a frequently asked questions page, so they can go on there and it answers all their questions. There are links to people like me doing porn, and doing porn with trans women, so I’m like, ‘This is the kind of thing. You want to get in the middle of that? Hit me up.’
My work persona is very down to earth—I’m not into overperformance. I think it’s unnecessary to be Super Hooker, and I really don’t need to prove anything. So I like to be like, ‘The experience you get from me is that I’m casual and genuine and I give amazing head.’ I keep my personal life private, but they do get a pretty authentic experience.
This is an edited excerpt. For Stevie’s full story and more personal histories of sex work in New Zealand read 'My Body, My Business' by Caren Wilton.
This article originally appeared on VICE NZ.