Transgender escorts make money by providing sexual services to men. They are generally’versatile,’ meaning that they can be dominant or submissive in their interactions with clients. They can also guide their clients to romantic spots that will leave them relaxed.
Many of the men who seek out these sex workers are young and have a lot of sex fantasy to explore. For some sex workers, this is fun and exciting. Others, however, do sex work because they need the money and want to escape the daily misery of loneliness and discrimination. Regardless of their motivations, all transgender sex workers face serious risks. They are prone to high rates of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. They also risk being arrested and having a record that will affect their future opportunities, including employment and personal relationships.
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This article uses a multi-sited discourse analysis of online advertising to examine how trans women escorts describe themselves and their sexual practices in Portugal and the UK. It finds that when trans escorts advertise their bodies as ‘beautiful’ in online ads, they are making claims for legibility. They discover that the capacity to attract men’s desire gives them power, and that recognition in this way affirms their sense of self-worth and security. However, this recognition is finite and will disappear when they stop working and go back to the realities of sex work in a society that devalues them. This article therefore suggests that it is important to understand the sex industry of transgender escorts through an intersectional framework, to consider how social/racial categories like gender, race and ethnicity shape their discursive and bodily representations in the sex work market.