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What I Learned as a Trans Dominatrix

trans dominatrix sex sex work

How I learned to survive as a trans woman and sex worker.

Any names mentioned in this piece have been changed to preserve anonymity.


I knew before I came out and began my transition that I would most likely have to do some form of sex work in order to survive. I had to resolve myself to the fact that this would probably be part of my future as a trans woman, because it might be difficult to be gainfully employed if my identity didn’t match with what people perceived when we met. This is unfortunately common among the people in my community.

Beginning a life in sex work wasn’t even the hard part.  I had tried for so many years to alleviate my depression and dysphoria through random sex, I had lost track of how many partners I’ve had. I also tried to escape my dysphoria through cocaine abusea serious addiction that alienated friends for years. I managed to quit using cocaineas well as ecstasy, acid, mushrooms, and marijuanaand have been clean since January of 2015.

My main experience with sex work was as a professional dominatrix, so that will be the primary focus of this story. I infrequently performed on-camera sex work with another trans woman, and prostituted myself once or twice, but I will leave those things to someone who may know that life more intimately.

 

Lizpic1-242x300 What I Learned as a Trans DominatrixFlexibility is essential. Whatever “rules” you have are probably going to be broken at some point, or at least severely bent. For example, I would never meet a client until the House sub, Nettle (sort of a secretary/assistant/ plaything/demonstration tool), had gone over the rules of the Dungeon, discussed safety measures, obtained informed consent from the client (consent I would also obtain before beginning a session), and collected payment (or tribute, as we liked to call it.). There were occasions when a potential client was wary and needed extra reassurance. Michael was a man who had never visited a dominatrix before; and though he was interested, he was nervous. He wasn’t experiencing anxiety just about safety and whether or not I would hurt him, but was also nervous about anonymity. So I dropped the dominatrix persona (having a persona, almost like a stage character, really helps especially in BDSM) and sat down with him to speak one-on-one so that he could see that I was a real person rather than a whip-wielding maniac.

Everyone is looking for something they think might fill a hole in their lives. The majority of the men who booked sessions with me requested “CD” (or crossdressing) services. For them, that meant fishnets, panties, and a bra in which they would perform tasks like massaging my feet, cleaning the Dungeon, or touching my body and making out with me. For me, it meant acceptance from older men stemming from my terrible, sometimes physically/mentally abusive, relationship with my father. Most men who visited me were older and had the disposable income to use on luxuries such as a visit to a dominatrix,

Whatever it is that people are looking for, most are too afraid to chase it. This is usually out of the fear of the unknown, or that of looking stupid. I don’t regret working as a dominatrix, at all. Sometimes I can’t believe I did, but it was what I had to do in order to survive and I enjoyed it at the time. Ultimately, I decided to stop, because I wasn’t okay. While I had no problem facilitating men’s fantasies of being tied up (tying knots is something else I’ve learned as a dominatrix; who needs the Boy Scouts?), being beaten, having hot wax poured on them, or watching them ejaculate just from looking at me, I still wasn’t okay with being fetishized.

I knew that my clients were coming to see me because they found the idea of a woman with a penis to be supremely erotic, even (or especially) if they would never be allowed to see or touch my penis; the idea of its existence, tucked out of sight, was what made them drip on my carpet. But in the end, I wasn’t okay with my transness being fetishized, or promoting the fetishization of trans women.

To be clear, for trans women who do perform sex work, I have no judgement, because we as trans women do what we must to live and survive. I refuse to shame or judge anyone for their sexual lives, as long as these activities only involve consenting adults. And since I am a white trans woman, I had the access and perceived respectability to be a dominatrix, to be “in charge.” Yes, I worried about being murdered by a strange man (which is why I kept a gun hidden but easily accessible), or being arrested, but there are many challenges which trans women of color face as sex workers which I was able to avoid.

The shame lies not in sex work, nor in doing what needs to be done in order to live. The true shame lies in a cisgender world that continues to marginalize trans people, look down on us for being marginalized, and then using the only currency, the only thing of value left to us to survive. The shame lies in a society created and controlled by white people who desire the bodies of people of color, but don’t value their ideas, contributions, or culture. The shame lies in a patriarchy that only sees women as fuck toys. One day, if trans and cis, queer and straight, people of color and white, women, men, and non-binary people work together to end this fucked up system, sex work can become something into which people enter not because they have to, but maybe because they just like to fuck.

Trans About Town: Roxanne Hutchins

roxanne hutchins houston trans about town transgender drag queen

Roxanne Hutchins is a 50-year-old trans woman from Whistleville, Georgia who has been working with trans women of color for the better part of three years. In addition to being a local drag legend, she has made it her mission to increase visibility for the community as a whole. She is a quiet, private woman offstage, but a force to be reckoned with when she’s out. She has been medically transitioning since 1996, and considers this a lifetime commitment.

Roxanne1-220x300 Trans About Town: Roxanne HutchinsI’m not sure about you, but I would consider you pretty famous in this town! To what would you attribute your familiarity in the Houston transgender community?

Commitment. Once I knew that I was trans and made that commitment to be my genuine self, it made me walk and act with consciousness. This allowed me to identify to people. I was never treated like a “drag queen”, but always like a lady in the gay community. Many people recognized me for who I was before I even admitted it to myself. Once you commit to that life, and you walk the walk and talk the talk, people will see and respect that.

Tell us a bit about the work that you do with trans women of color.

I’ve always been like a big sister to people in the community. I have plans to start a “big brother, big sister” program soon to mentor people just coming to find themselves. I’ve taken a step back temporarily to take care of myself, but when I return that’s definitely a plan I have going forward. We also have plans to start a fundraising campaign to grant scholarships to get surgeries and things done.

In the past I’ve volunteered with an organization called MSociety, and we developed a program for black trans women called SOS, Save our Sisters. We are going on our third year. It’s a place for black trans women to meet and mentor each other. We talk about our lives and help each other with issues that we have. We have also been helping other people get their name and gender marker changes done, with the help of some people here in Houston. We want to do so many more.

I also think it’s important to know that the things I want to start will be open to all trans people. We cannot segregate ourselves, because if we keep seeing ourselves as different, then all we will see is the differences.

Roxanne2-300x300 Trans About Town: Roxanne HutchinsWhat do you feel is the more rewarding part about that work, and why are black trans women particularly in need of visibility in leadership?

After my attorney helped me change my legal information and we set up a clinic, we were able to get several groups of women’s name and gender changes done as well. That was so rewarding, it changed their lives. This was almost a year ago. To know that you had that kind of impact, and in some instances might have even saved some lives, that was big. I really felt very proud of that. I want to do that again, I want to do more.

For the second part of the question, I feel like visibility in leadership is so important because people need to be able to see themselves in their representation. We have such strong leaders, but some may not know that. They don’t see people in those roles that they can look up to. It’s difficult to build people up if they don’t see people that look like them in leadership. But being trans doesn’t have to be all that you are. We shouldn’t marginalize ourselves. The struggle of transgender women is the struggle of all women. When we see women in positions of power we should identify with them, no matter what color their skin is or if they are LGBT or not.

What do you feel are the biggest issues that trans women of color face in society right now?

Safety. When I’m out in the world, people don’t see me as anything other than a black woman. But when I come home, I’m alone. It’s when I’m the most trans. Sometimes I ride the bus, and the walk from the stop to my house is the longest walk for me, because I don’t feel safe. I’ve been followed and catcalled. I found it odd. It could have turned ugly or even fatal real fast. I can’t speak to white trans people, but black trans women are really a fetish. That can be dangerous, and it affects our dignity and self-respect.

Roxanne3-297x300 Trans About Town: Roxanne HutchinsWhat are the biggest differences between your generation and those that are just now coming to light? How have trans women your age paved the way for younger women?

The journey is so different now. The destination has changed. When I was young we simply set out to be women. We set out to live our best lives, whatever that looked like to us individually. Sally didn’t do it like Betty, but they both did it. Now it seems there is a recipe. There are understood ways that you transition. That’s because people are sharing their transition stories more openly now. We didn’t share experiences we just shared resources. This is good hormone doctor, this is where I get x, y, or z. That was, if you were asked. And now it’s okay if you never have bottom surgery or even top surgery for that matter. Trans is so different today, so different. It is exciting I have to admit, to see what happens next for our people.

I don’t feel that we’ve paved the way for anyone in some ways. We paved the road, but the grass has grown over it because people aren’t walking that path anymore. The way that trans people are taking now is nothing that we have made for them. That’s okay. It’s a good thing. It’s just different.

Roxanne4-300x261 Trans About Town: Roxanne HutchinsTell us about how the terminology has changed since you were coming up. What words do you use that some now may find triggering?

When it comes to triggering it really drives me crazy when people tell others what they can be sensitive about. Tranny isn’t so much a trigger as just downright insulting to me personally. In my day, a tranny was a prostitute. I have never been a hooker. The word tranzy was a term of endearment amongst “us girls”. That word seems to have disappeared from the lingo. My sisters from that generation still use it, and that makes me smile.

Do you have any closing thoughts?

Part of me feels some kind of way using trans in general. Why can’t I just be me, not trans this or trans that? I don’t identify as gay or trans or anything, just me. If we took some time to be the same, instead of just different, then we might get a lot farther. But at the end of the day, your journey is your journey and we have to respect that. Whether you’re trans or cis, it’s ok cause we’re just women. Some people drive a Maserati, some drive a Pinto. They’re still cars. And we are all just people.

We are stronger together than we are apart.

By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Pronouns,

How would it make you feel?

Let’s get a few things straight: we’re not worried about someone’s sensitivity. We’re worried about human decency. And a part of being a decent human being is understanding that pronouns are important to people – especially trans and nonbinary people.

More often than not, young children are raised under the impression that there is a gender binary. There are two genders: male and female. Males are supposed to like sports, and cars, and superheroes. They’re supposed to run for president and be doctors. Females are supposed to shoot for the stars, too. In fact, their role models are usually princesses from fairy tales who either inherited or married into money.

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, that’s what.

There are two real issues with this. The first of these is that we’re still associating character traits with gender and sex. That school of thought isn’t just antiquated … it’s stupid. The second issue here is that just weeks out from the year 2018, we’re still looking at gender in the binary, or as having only two parts (male and female). The idea of there being a third, non-binary gender is nothing new. This year, California became the first state to recognize a third, non-binary gender. But centuries ago, many Native American tribes (or as I like to call them, the OGs of the continent) recognized as many as four separate genders (though this also could prove problematic, as they still dealt with masculine-feminine stereotypes).

Look, the fact of the matter is that (especially so in our community) there is a large chunk of people who identify as non-binary (meaning neither female nor male) or identify as male or female and just so happen to possess qualities that seem more masculine or feminine than what is considered to be the “norm.” Even I, a cis-gender, gay male who has chin-length hair, a feminine personality, and who sometimes wears makeup, am often referred to by strangers using the she/her/hers pronouns. And the truth of the matter is that it can be a little embarrassing, just like it can be for trans people and nonbinary people. And why? Because in spite of the fact that I am the most colorful fruit in the produce department at the Montrose Kroger, I am a cisgender male and identify as such.

Now let’s think about how that must feel for trans/non-binary folks. These are people who have struggled most of (if not all of) their lives with the gender they were assigned at birth. No matter how long they’ve been out as trans, or if they even are, a superfluity of emotions can stir inside a person when they’re called by the wrong pronoun.

I posed this question on my Facebook, where some of my friends chimed in.  

Screen-Shot-2017-11-20-at-8.03.05-PM-1-300x130 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

The responses came in quickly.

Cis and mildly passive-aggressive:

Screen-Shot-2017-11-20-at-8.03.58-PM-300x46 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene LeakesScreen-Shot-2017-11-20-at-8.04.16-PM By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Non-binary:

Screen-Shot-2017-11-20-at-8.04.30-PM-300x35 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Trans:

Screen-Shot-2017-11-20-at-8.04.43-PM-300x81 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Cis and honestly trying to correlate: 

Screen-Shot-2017-11-20-at-8.04.53-PM-300x49 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Cis and understanding:

Screen-Shot-2017-11-20-at-8.05.02-PM-300x63 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

So what does that mean you should do? 

 

giphy By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

ASSSSSSKKKKKKK!

It’s perfectly okay to ask. In fact, most people (whether they be trans, cis, or nonbinary) would prefer that you ask. I mean, you wouldn’t want someone walking around calling you a chef if you weren’t a chef. Would you? You wouldn’t want someone walking around calling you an octopus if you weren’t an octopus. Would you? Why would a trans man want you walking around calling him a woman?

He wouldn’t.

So, ask what your newfound friend’s pronouns are! It’s okay. And it will save you some embarrassment. Maybe you’ll feel more comfortable asking this person to the side or away from a large group of people. That’s okay, too. Ask and don’t be uncomfortable about it, and don’t put people on display.

OH, BUT HOLD UP! Here’s something you should never ask: 


tumblr_maexk83Cx61rgvqepo1_500-300x124 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

NEVER ask a person about their genitalia that you are not having a consensual, sexual relationship with. Why?

BECAUSE IT’S NOT ANY OF YO DAMN BITNESS.

So, here to explain to me some of the responses you might get when you ask these questions is our good friend Nene Leakes.

Woman – She, Her, Hers

fjbacatxchtmtrajszf6-300x169 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene LeakesA woman is any person who identifies as a woman. This can mean that maybe they were born in a male or female body, but now in their life identify as a woman. Use the she/her/hers pronouns here.

Man – He, Him, His

nene-leakes-58a6df187aa07c3c1b40a4ae-g-1-300x169 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Same goes for men. This is any person who was assigned a certain sex at birth, but now identifies as a man. Use the he/him/his pronouns in this case.

Non-binary – They, Them, Their

tumblr_neuifocf9y1ql5yr7o1_500-300x168 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Some people are assigned a female or male gender at birth (or maybe they aren’t) and grow up to realize that they’re not … well … either. Some people (despite the body they were born in) don’t feel like a boy or a girl. They just want to be a person. And that’s equally okay. For them, we use the they/them/their pronouns.

See? It’s that easy! Just ask. It’s just like asking any other question. Like what their sexual orientation is:

nene-leakes-gif-16-1-300x169 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Or what they do for a living: 

giphy-1-300x185 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

But remember that it is a sensitive topic, so be respectful. Kind of like asking what size someone wears:

 ZanyBogusCrocodileskink-max-1mb By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

Or what their beliefs are:

8807e9e269d215b3cda4cd97364051c7-300x169 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

And like all other things, everyone has the right not to answer your questions if they aren’t comfortable doing so.


DefinitiveScalyDungenesscrab-max-1mb-300x169 By Any Other Pronoun ft. Nene Leakes

So what have we learned?

It’s okay to ask about pronouns! Just be respectful, and let the person know that you’re only asking because you care about their feelings. And remember: treat others the way you want to be treated. Oh, and that Nene Leakes is still a #kween.

We’re a community, and we have to love each other.

 

Trans About Town: Adriana LaRue

Adriana LaRue Trans Drag Queen Houston Trans About Town

Adriana LaRue is a local celebrity in the drag community of Houston. A regularly-featured performer at Hamburger Mary’s and JR’s, winner of the thirteenth season of Dessie’s Drag Race, and  current reigning Miss So You Think You Can Drag, she is a force to be reckoned with and has made a name for herself with her high energy performances, amazing dancing abilities, and a personality that can only be described as infectious. For the latest edition of our column Trans About Town, we sat down and talked to the queen herself. 


Ian Townsley: How long have you been performing.

Adriana LaRue: September 9th was my three year anniversary — so three years and counting.

What has been your favorite performance thus far?

My second performance ever, which was at Meteor, when I did “Break Free” by Ariana Grande. That was the night I actually realized that this is what I wanted to do. Three years later, I’m still doing it and I’ve never looked back. Every time I perform that song, that same feeling I had that night is with me. In my finale performance for season 13 of Dessie’s Drag Race, I left my heart on that stage with the same song. It paid off, too, and I was chosen as the winner. 

Adriana1-1-e1541511650729 Trans About Town: Adriana LaRueHow do you classify yourself and why (drag queen, female entertainer, etc.)?

I don’t care for a label to be honest, because a label should not identify us. I’m simply an entertainer. But, in this community, people care so much about labels. They can classify me however they want!

Do you think being a trans female drag queen is easier/harder and why?

For myself in particular, I think it’s an in-between. I can get away with just looking pretty and not having to wear so much, such as pads and all those pantyhose, because my body is naturally curvy. In another way, it’s hard being that I am plus-sized. Lots of people have that mentality of, “Oh, she’s big so she can’t dance,” or “She can’t do anything but walk around and be boring.” I have to set the bar high for myself to exceed people’s expectations of what a big girl like myself can do!

What made you choose to be “out”?

The LGBTQ+ community, my friends, the encouragement I’ve received, and honestly self-love! A couple of years before I started performing, I actually wouldn’t tell people that I was trans because I was scared of not being accepted in the “straight world”. But coming into the community, it was a whole different situation. I would tell people that I was trans and they would be like, “Oh my god! I’m so happy for you! That’s amazing that you’re living out your truth and you’re being your true self!”

What advice would you have for new or up-and-coming trans female entertainers?

My advice to up-and-coming trans female entertainers is: Sister, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what these queens have been doing for years! You are just as equal as any of us! If no one is giving you an opportunity, make opportunities for yourself. Be heard! Be an active member of the community; spread love; be positive’ and don’t give words powers that they don’t have!


Follow Adriana LaRue:

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Adriana2-1 Trans About Town: Adriana LaRue


To be featured or to nominate someone to be featured in a “Trans About Town” interview, please send a suggestion to ian@about-online.com.