She walks into my dungeon. The lights are on high and the walls, traditionally adorned with toys and mirrors, are covered with curtains. The Saint Andrew's Cross still occupies it's space in the center, and the exam table is still in the corner, but the spanking bench is hidden away and a lounging area is set up under a TV. My naturally curly blonde hair is tied back in pigtails, and I'm wearing a t-shirt and black skirt. The scene is a stark contrast to the PVC clad dominatrix centered in a den of cruelty that most of my clients know.
I greet her with a hug, and she pushes herself against me. I kiss her on the cheek, and her mouth tries to find mine. She's starving for touch. I don't know when the last time she's been held or told she's beautiful. Perhaps it was our last session two months ago. She lingers close as I pull away and smile, her hands on my hips, refusing to let go. She's in a desert and she's just found her oasis.
This is the emotional labour that trans women have been doing for each other for decades. I say decades because it's only been decades since we've been able to organize in this way. This work satisfies the thirst for human contact we often lack, or can only find in the arms of a man who views us as a fetish. It's work that we invest in each other to remind each other that we're beautiful and worthy of love. It's critical work that we've refined and honed, intergenerationally, and passed down to those who are a few years younger than us, for them to learn, refine, and pass down to trans women a few years younger than them.
The first time a trans woman did this work for me, it was after a few drinks and started with a bit of playful wrestling on the sofa. She grabbed my foot and began massaging it. I purred, "that's nice," then added, "careful or you'll be calling me Mistress."
She laughed then nibbled a bit on my ankle. She looked up at me mischievously and I grinned. I pointed to my lower leg and commanded, "kiss me here."
She complied, slowly kissing up my leg until see reached my thigh, at which point I grabbed the hair on the back of her head and slowly brought it up to my face. I put my hand on her chin and smiled. She had very light, almost indistinguishable stubble. I hadn't started hair removal at the time and it felt so familiar. She leaned in and kissed me, her mouth felt a bit different from a cis womans, a bit larger, and as I inched my hand down her check and slowly wrapped it around her neck, I felt the bump of her trachea.
This experience was revolutionary. She had the same insecurities as me, the same sources of dysphoria. Nothing about her was unusual to me and everything about her was beautiful, and that made me feel beautiful.
We never became lovers, we stayed friends. I gave her touch sometimes when she needed it, and she did the same for me, until we both found other sources for that touch and didn't need to touch each other anymore.
This is part of my experience. This is part of my culture as a trans woman and it's work that I do for other trans women, sometimes for free because we're at the right place at the right time, and sometimes for a fee. It's therapeutic and should be considered as such. There's no shame in seeing a surrogate to satiate these feelings or help your confidence, just as there's no shame in seeing a counsellor to talk over feelings and experiences that you can't talk to your friends about.
When you pay to see me, you're paying for a piece of my experience as a sex positive trans woman. You're buying access to a window into the way I live my life, the art I create, and the passion I bring into the world. Whether it's just to be touched and held, or to be spanked. It's all work that I choose to do, and work that brings me joy. In the case of intimacy for trans people, I love that I can heal with my touch.
I have considered taking courses in sex surrogacy to expand my toolkit in this field. The fact is that a part of me feels those courses have taken the work that trans women have done for each other, generation to generation, analyzed it, and packaged it in a way that cis women can consume it, and become an authority on it. The restrictions placed on entering this type of advanced sexual education are often set up in a way that discriminates on members of marginalized communities. Transgender touch surrogacy is such a niche market that I would be unlikely to get the steady clientele required for the practicum. Even if I had that clientele, I don't have the white collar connections required for a reference check to make sure I'm, "legit;" legit to be a trans woman doing the work trans women have been doing, without a classroom education, since before I was born.
Don't get me wrong, I feel like this education can be incredibly helpful, and it's important that surrogates are doing this work. I also feel that many trans women who wish to assimilate could benefit from having a trained cisgender surrogate, and it might be a better environment for them. That said, most trans women can't jump through the hoops to see a sexologist then be referred to a sex surrogate, so they end up getting that work done in the community, by women like me.
I feel that this work is vital, and if you're a trans woman, doing this work, and you have the ability to access education to further develop your toolkit, then by all means take it, just understand that the training you recieve in the classroom is supplementary to the training you've recieved in the community, with other trans women. No cis woman with a piece of paper is more qualified to do this work than you, because your lived experience trumps her diploma.
If you're a transgender person who is curious about services that can help you with touch starvation, or help you feel beautiful or bring you into your head when you make love or masturbate, or you just want to be close, touch, and share a beautiful experience, please feel free to contact me through my booking form. Indicate what your situation is and what you are looking for from the session. If you can't afford my rates, indicate that as well and explain why, you may qualify for financial relief.
Note: This writing was first published under the title, "The Gentrification of trans women's work." I changed the title because I didn't want to water down or misapply the term gentrification, which is a specific form of oppression where housing and neighbourhoods are destroyed. I also felt the new title better reflects the feeling I was trying to capture with the article. It takes a while for thumbnails and previews to populate through my website provider, so you may have accessed this article through a link with the old title.