Considering the interviews I have done so far, it’s clear that most humans are highly sexual creatures. The problem is over the centuries we have been told to repress these feelings, and that they are “wrong” — largely due to what many would claim are archaic monotheistic beliefs. In many ways, the repression of our sexual nature as humans is similar to repressing ones’ feelings when it comes to being transgender.
Society looks at trans people through very strict gender stereotypes: a binary male/female. Anyone having feelings that don’t coincide with one’s assigned birth gender is categorized as a “misfit”, a “freak”, or even in some extreme cases, an “abomination”. So a lot of trans women repress these feelings, often for self-preservation. But just like repressing the sexual nature of humans, it only works for so long.
In the 21st Century, there has been a revolution surrounding transgender people. And like the Trans Women of Color who started the Stonewall Riots, trans people are giving society the finger and being who they truly are. This has not occurred without pushback, however. Trans people are still excluded from equal rights laws and protections that are given to other minorities simply because our gender does not coincide with what society would push onto us.
Trans women are often rejected by their families when they come out. There are people who paint us in an extremely negative light, and even lie about us to perpetuate fear and the idea that “something is wrong” with us. The media then frequently sensationalizes us for a profit. The reality is that hormones are not cheap. Neither are the surgeries some (if not many) of us desire. The stigma of being trans is so much larger than the stigma surrounding sex, and by extension sex work.
It is important to mention that not all trans women have done sex work. However as Janet Mock pointed out in her book Redefining Realness it is an option many trans women turn to in order to afford the costs of transition, if for no other reason than the discrimination and stigma that surrounds being a trans woman makes it difficult to find employment.
Coupled with the stigma behind being transgender, and the perpetuation of negative imagery coming from both the Christian right and radical feminists, many trans women are unable to find employment outside the sex work industry. As Ada Black pointed out in her recent interview, there are trans women who turn to sex work just to be able to afford the basic necessities of life, stating that that it is “heartbreaking”.
So how can we destigmatize sex work? There has been and will always be a demand for it, with humans being sexual creatures. Since sex sells, what’s wrong with buying it? Isn’t supply and demand a fundamental economic factor? If you’re fulfilling a need that can’t be met elsewhere, isn’t that ethical? And as long as capitalism is forcing trans women to pay through the nose for hormones and surgeries, why shouldn’t we use the sex industry as a source for the money we will need? That’s ethical. Isn’t it?