TransEthics: When did you first come out as transgender?
Erin Fernandes: About 13 years ago, but I was just cross-dressing at the time and my wife caught me. I almost ended up in a divorce. My father in law researched transgender and explained it to my wife, saving my marriage for the time being. But it was just a family secret for years. Very few knew, just my wife, and in-laws. It’s only been about a year that I have been me in public.
TE: How did the rest of your family react to you coming out?
EF: Most didn’t accept it. My mother still has a hard time with it. I had to help educate her on the subject. And she’s got a doctorates degree — go figure (laughs). Lots of tension between my brother-in-law and I still, but he’s coming around, not that I care. The way I see it is, if you can’t accept me for who I am, why should I accept them? But all in all its been a pretty easy transformation for me. My wife has been my biggest support through everything.
TE: How does your wife feel about your modeling and sex work?
EF: Out of respect for her and my children I waited until we were separated. She was quite pissed at first, mainly because she worries about what everyone else will think. But now she does some of my photo shoots for me, and wants to see me make it. It’s actually kind of amazing, she’s become my best friend over the past year.
TE: What attracted you to the sex industry?
EF: Well, I’m not really sure if I joined the industry yet. I just kind of have my feelers out. I realize that there’s no money in it and I can’t really give up what I do for a living now and expect that to take its place. I’m kinda just doing my own thing. And will eventually have my own website and release a DVD or two and see how it goes. I know as long as I have a handful of fans, I’ll never let them down.
TE: What is it that you do now, aside from your modeling?
EF: I own a specialty construction company and mainly deal with elite clients.
TE: Since going full-time, have you noticed any decline in business?
EF: Oh most definitely, I went bankrupt with my original business. No one wanted a “freak” on a job site. I started a new company and with the help of some great friends got in with the clients I have now. I also only work by referral now to avoid the mainstream bullshit of the uneducated.
TE: So sorry to hear that. Would you consider the fact that your original business went under to be an example of the loss of male privilege, or would it be more of a typical societal reaction to trans women?
EF: I would have to say both. I never understood why some men feel that a woman should not be on a construction site. I’ve seen this for years, they say it’s a distraction. Just because they can’t keep it in their pants for 8 hours (laughs). As far as going from what I was to trans woman, I was not even given a chance. Most would just turn their backs to me and complained behind my back.
TE: That’s awful! How do you respond to people who say being trans is a “choice”, given your experiences?
EF: Being transgender is just as much of a choice as eating is… you don’t eat you die. I hid it for years and it fuckin’ killed me. I tried everything to bury it and became a monster who hated everyone and everything. I lifted weights 6-7 hrs a day on steroids for years to bury the anger inside. I took pleasure in fighting, and hated myself even more. I got myself in a lot of trouble through the years and all I had to do was just be me. But I was too weak mentally and didn’t know that there is help.
TE: Now that you’ve become you, and are being true to yourself, how has your life changed?
EF: Oh my… everything has changed. I have no more anger — I basically don’t get mad anymore. I’m able to enjoy everything. I have a carefree attitude about what others think about me as opposed to trying to fit in as a man. The hardest part was letting go of the one I love. My heart is still her’s and I’ll love her forever, but there’s no sexual attraction between us. She wants to be with a man and so do I. So we check ’em out together now.
TE: Shifting gears a bit, how do you respond to those who would say that sex work isn’t ethical?
EF: (Bursts out laughing) You mean [like] the closet porn watchers? “I tried marijuana, but didn’t inhale”? It’s like the Catholic priests molesting kids. A bunch of hypocrites. Welcome to reality. Everyone fucks or gets off. We provide a service just like everyone else, but at least we don’t criticize and hide behind fake B.S.
TE: One last question: What advice do you have for people who may be questioning their gender identity?
EF: Go with your heart and don’t try to hide it. I know that the world is a really cold and cruel place. But it’s also a wonderful place. We’ve come so far and there are so many organizations that help in so many ways. So many people who want to help, and have the strength to help you through and become strong yourself. You are not alone in any way, we are stronger than ever and getting stronger everyday.
TE: Thank you Erin.
EF: Thank you, sweetie.
Follow Erin on Twitter.