Battle Scars

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I have been a sex worker on and off for 5 years. I have presented as female for 6. For as long as I can remember I have known myself as a female. I can't describe to you the pain and bullying and the discomfort in my own body throughout my teenage years. I can only say that deciding to be brave and come out to my friends and family and starting the long process of transitioning on the NHS was the most terrifying journey I ever started, but it was that or nothing. I couldn't live a life where I didn't even recognise myself in the mirror. When no one knew who I really was. When I couldn't let anyone in or form any meaningful relationships because I was constantly living a lie about my fundamental being. The depression. Three suicide attempts. I spent a few weeks before deciding to come out where I didn't leave my house, I didn't eat and I barely drank water. I wanted to waste myself away. This body meant nothing to me and I wanted it to be over. I didn't relate to myself. I didn't want this version of myself to exist. One friend stuck by me after I came out. One friend. She came with me to my first appointment. She held my hand when she saw me shaking afterwards and she didn't make me talk about it ( she knows how much I hate showing my emotions in public) She showed me how to do makeup...when I was 19 and didn't act as though I was stupid and didn't wait for me to ask.

She held me all night while I cried to her (I never cry) and talked me out of hurting myself after I left my parents house. They didn't know who I was anymore. My mother could only cry for her own loss of her son. She couldn't accept her daughter. They were furious with me for ruining their picture perfect family photos I guess.

She was and still is my lifeline. She is always on the phone whenever I need her, and I try and do the same for her. She is a sex worker.

She was a dancer and a professional submissive. I never even questioned her line of work because she was so matter of fact about it. it is a part of who she is. Unashamed, unapolagetic and proud of who she is. Pretty much the opposite of how I felt most of the time.

I had been out of work for at least 10 months when I saw my first client. While it saved me from topping myself - expressing externally who I am on the inside didn't do me any favours in helping me get a job.

Customer service seemed out of the question, employment offices saw me and put "closed for the day" signs on their windows. I was on the dole and attending multiple patronising seminars in order to be allowed to be paid a pittance every week, and having conversations with people who misgendered me and asked me if I had ever tried searching on gumtree for jobs.

My first client treated me as though I was exotic. And contrary to how I would have assumed I would feel, I liked it. I was already gawped at regularly by people in the street - at least this was admiring gawping and i was being paid more in a few hours than I had made in one month of working cleaning dishes, hating myself and pretending to be a boy. I felt safe as my best friend was on call, knew where I was and was waiting for my call at the end of the booking to check I was okay.

Despite the fact that I have the battle scars from trying to end my life, my family still don't speak to me, I have only had one sexual/loving relationship outside of my job - I am one of the lucky ones. I am so thankful that I can survive, I can stay true to myself and I can pay the rent. I am so thankful to my best friend. I am so thankful for sex work being the only line of work that actually accepts me for who I am. Others are not as lucky. The ones who everyone turns their back on. The ones who have no way of finding work and are homeless. The ones who lost their wars with themselves. The ones who don't have support. The ones who the law doesn't protect. Spare a thought for them tonight.

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Photo: Top Right, 'Hug' by Manu Valcarce
'Rosalind' violin/rose image by Vera Rodriguez
for other credits click here.
© Experimental Experience 2024 Photo of our cast hugging from the 2014 teaser performance at Bar Wotever at the Vauxhall Tavern