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The Working Transsexual Woman

 


A transsexual model on the cover of a slimming magazine - acceptance rather than stealth

Two things more than anything deter transsexual women from transitioning - money and the reaction of their family (parents, wife, children, partner ...). 

Sadly, money does matter, and there is no doubt that the careers and income of many transsexual women suffer badly from the moment they transition.  Whilst a few successfully transition in the same job, most either change jobs when they transition, or will do so soon afterwards.  Unfortunately, the new job is rarely an improvement or step upwards compared with their old job as a man, and thus income is often reduced at a time when outgoings have often increased greatly (medical bills, cost of a new wardrobe, probably setting up a new home, possibly having to start paying alimony, ...).  

A bitter reality is that is often necessary to down-grade one's career aspirations and this income after transition - and this must be considered when deciding whether to transition.

 

Well I'm a lesbian, single parent, transgender woman.  Surely that will meet all your diversity targets for the year!


Transsexual women often have to deal with insincere support from other women in the workplace.

When transitioning, five options exist from a work perspective:

  1. Transition in your current job

  2. Seek a new job in the same career area, but do not hide being transgender

  3. Seek a new job in the same career but hide being transsexual  (i.e. go stealth)

  4. Make a radical break and start a new career whilst hiding being transsexual (most commonly associated with deep stealth)

  5. For young and passable transwomen there is a final option: 

  6. Move to a job where transwomen are quite common and accepted, e.g. the sex industry and modelling

 


Journalist and writer Jan/James Morris

Transitioning in Your Old Job
Some transsexual women bravely continue in their old and perhaps very successful jobs and careers, occasionally in a blaze of publicity - the wonderful British journalist, writer and historian Jan (formerly James) Morris (left) being an early ground breaker. 

Transwomen who choose this route always claim to do so with their eyes wide open, but the reality is that their expectations is almost always wrong.  Optimists believe that they can take hormones for a year, take a couple of weeks off for surgery in Thailand, and then arrive back at the work wearing a skirt and lipstick, to be accepted as a woman.
 


Carla (formerly David) Lewis was dismissed from her a job as a barmaid at a Butlin's holiday camp when her employer discovered that she was a pre-operative transsexual.

The reality is that this approach is rarely successful.  Whilst work colleagues may do their best to accept as a woman someone they previously knew as a man, it seems to be a nearly insurmountable obstacle to mentally overcome.  For the transwoman too many days' end in a mixture of tears and anger - while work social events where drink loosens tongues are can be traumatic.


You as well! Are there any showgirls in Los Vegas that didn't use to be a guy?

 

Transitioning and a New Job
Seeking a new job immediately after transitioning offers the huge advantage in that it is far easier to be accepted as a woman by strangers who know that you are transsexual but have only ever seen you ever dressed as woman and only know you by your female name.

The temptation is to go even further and try to hide that you are transgender.  But this is really hard to get away with.  Going stealth without a lot of prior preparation and practice means you are likely to be quickly out'ed as sadly VERY few transwomen are totally convincing and passable right from the day that they transition full time. 


Six transwomen who work as hostesses and showgirls in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The local TG Group extraordinarily has over 300 transwomen members!


Modelling is a favoured career option for many young transwomen - but success can lead to serious worries if stealth.

The Past is Hard to Hide
Even if you are totally "passable" as a woman and have name changed as many key documents as is possible, applying for a senior position that requires references, background checks, verification of claimed qualifications, etc., makes it nearly impossible to hide one's past. 


Jahna Steele (left), age 46.  She was outed after winning the Las Vegas "Showgirl of the Year 1992" title.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of identity related items that need to be tackled in the months around transition - with varying probability of success.  For example, in the UK it is possible with some effort to get formal academic qualifications (i.e. ranging from GCSE Certificates to PhD Scroll's) changed over in to a new name, but it can often be impossible to get vocational qualifications and training course certificates changed - sometimes the only solution is to take the course again, or at least re-sit the exam(s).  Even if you think you have done a thorough job on the name changes, it is all too easy to be quickly caught out by say: a background check for a security clearance, the need to provide an old P.60 (a UK tax certificate), your old (male) NI Number on a document, a problem with a reference who didn't immediately recall your new name, an enquiry about your pension plan, an unexpected encounter with an old colleague who knew you as a man, etc, etc.  However, the kind of positions that don't involve a danger of being "outed" are not likely to pay well - and may not met your financial needs.  And this is before we consider the issues of discrimination (intentional or unintentional) against transsexuals, and the fact that women are often simply paid less than men in similar jobs.


Emily De Salvo (formerly Stephano) has transitioned but not yet had SRS.  She won a place at the prestigious Tito Schipa Conservatory at age 29, after spending three years stretching her voice from male baritone to female soprano. (Italy)
Even with option 2 (openness about being transgender), there are many factors to consider related to the type of job you are applying to.  Some are sexist and it may be illegal for potential employers to consider them, but the fact is that they do.  There is no doubt that whether or not you admit to being transgender, the chance of being employed once you get an interview depends upon factors such as:

  • Your voice (a clearly female sounding voice is hugely advantageous)

  • How physically beautiful you are

  • Appropriate but attractive dress, hair, make-up

  • Feminine mannerisms

  • Your qualifications and experience

  • Your answers to the interviewer's questions (at last!)


Born Edouard Frans Verba in January 1948, Romy Haag transitioned age 13, became a cabaret dancer when 16 and had SRS age 19.  In 1976 she became famous as the girlfriend of popstar David Bowie.  (Netherlands)
These factors apply to all women, not just transsexuals, studies have shown that "beautiful" women earn more and marry better than their less attractive sister's.  Numerous books and internet websites provide advice for job seekers that is specifically tailored to women.

 

Career Stereotyping
The 21st century has undoubtedly seen huge advances in gender equality in the workplace.  Nevertheless a 2008 survey by the USA Department of Labor shows how woman still dominate certain jobs:

Occupation % Women Workers
Secretary 96.1%
Receptionist 93.6%
Nurse 91.7%
Teacher 81.2%
Waiter/Waitress 73.2%

For a few girls outside the sex industry, being a transsexual can actually help their career:


The Korean transsexual  band Lady and  .... 


... their Thai rivals Venus Flytrap

Many transsexual women, particularly younger women, are very socially stereotyped in the type of job that they want to apply for, these often being traditionally female job such as: secretary, hairdresser, nurse ...  An American report presented in 1996 documents the occupation of 51 transgender women as being:

Occupation Number Occupation Number
Office Worker 10 Nurse/Companion 2
Show Business (Actress) 10 Domestic 1
Hairdresser 6 Musician 1
Housewife 5 Office Manager 1
Store Proprietor 3 Photographer 1
Prostitute 3 Retired 1
Salesperson 3 Stockbroker 1
Teacher 2 Unknown 1

The occupation "Show Business (Actress)" is stretched to include jobs such as a night club pole dancer!  

A slightly more recent report from 2002 isn't really very different, listing the occupations of 32 transgender women as being:

Occupation Number Occupation Number
Office, clerical, etc 6 Medical Assistant 1
Hairdresser/Beautician 5 Retired 1
Student 3 Salesperson 1
Counsellor 3 Stockbroker 1
Actress/Musician 2 Survey Researcher 1
Administrator 1 Technician 1
Artist 1 Telephone Operator 1
Engineer 1 Waitress 1
Insurance Agent 1 Writer 1


Andrea Blackburn was sacked when her employer discovered that she had had a sex-change

The occupations "Office Worker" and "Office, clerical, etc." undoubtedly include Secretary and Receptionists, whilst "Store Proprietor" and "Salesperson" probably include Shop Assistants in UK parlance.

The old but still interesting book "Man & Woman - Boy & Girl" by John Money & Anke A. Ehrhardt (1972), shows a similar employment picture for transsexual women to that given above.  Janice Raymond in her notorious book the "The Transsexual Empire" (1979) also points out, and indeed emphasises, the fact that many transsexual women want to be housewives and not work, she quotes a one small study by Kando in which almost all the participants had "stereotypical feminine jobs: secretaries (three), waitress (one), dancers (four), hairdressers or beauticians (two), actresses (two), university-affiliated research scientist (one)."


Claudia Charriez in America's Next Top Model
Many decades later it is safe to say that the diversity of careers followed by transwomen has greatly expanded.  For what little it is worth, a brief survey of the internet in 2019 quickly reveals transgender women who are working in jobs as diverse as a model, actress, hostess, receptionist, companion, nurse, singer, secretary, politician, engineer, software developer, pilot, surgeon, soldier ... but I believe there is still with a strong bias towards the earlier occupations. 

Many young pre-SRS/GCS transwomen venture in to the sex trade.  High financial rewards but high risks.

In 2016 I interviewed a 20-something transwoman working in health care who very strongly and eloquently expressed the view that women and transwomen lacked the rights and employment opportunities of men, and that their physical appearance was far too important.  I would have taken her arguments a bit more seriously if a previous quick check of her social media accounts hadn't brought up so many scantily clad photos of her, and the claim that she was a model.

 

Air Hostess and Cabin Crew

From the 1930's to the 1960's, one of the most glamorous jobs that a young woman could obtain was that of an Air Hostess with a major airline such as Pan-Am or BOAC.


BA's Catherine Burton

The first known instance of a transgender 'Air Hostess' is when in 1982 British Airways allowed a male cabin steward (Peter Ball) to transition and report to work as a female stewardess (Victoria).  Since then, British Airways has received many kudos for its transgender support, and in 2019 its senior pilot is a transwoman - Catherine Burton.

Whilst the glamour had definitely faded by the 1990's, there were still some kudos associated with being offered a position as a Air Hostess (aka Cabin Crew, Flight Attendant and other politically correct titles these days).  For example, after transitioning and having SRS, a 20 year-old British transwoman applied in 1994 "just as a bit of fun" for a position as female cabin crew with a Middle Eastern airline.  To her surprise she was selected and after passing her Wings course she then spent three years doing everything from cleaning up sick in the toilets to partying on luxury yachts.  She had to pass in often intimate circumstances (e.g. sharing a hotel room) as she quickly realised that she would be abused and sacked if there was any hint that she was transgender.    


Transgender flight attendant Phuntakarn Sringern onboard a Thai PC Air flight.

In the late 1990's the Dutch airline KLM admitted that it employed transsexual women as female Flight Attendants but did not provide any details. 


Air France steward Bruno Colliaux (inset) became at age 35 year, air hostess Andréa Colliaux

In 2001 Air France agreed to one its stewards (Bruno Colliaux) becoming an air hostess (Andréa) after two years on hormones and SRS.  A condition of this was a test of her passability, which found that Andrea was perceived as a woman by all passengers. 

In 2011, Thailand based airline PC Air gained extensive press coverage when it announced that it had recruited four male-to-female transsexuals as cabin crew - with opinion highly split as to whether this was exploitation or a positive development for transgender equality.  Unsurprisingly the new employees were very positive; Phuntakarn Sringern saying “I like a job where I can show my ability and I love to wear beautiful suits”.

In early 2020's, it only needs a quick Google to reveal transwomen who's social media accounts list their occupation as being cabin crew, e.g. Kayleigh Scott (United Airlines), Jacqueline Angliss-Gillies (Virgin Australia) and Eleonora Mazza (Ryan Air).


When Scott (left) finished High School in 2018 he successfully applied for a job as a Flight Attendant at United Airlines, knowing that they had a very progressive LGBT+ policy.  A discussion with HR in early 2019 resulted in her being issued with a female uniform when she transitioned to Kayleigh.  In 2020 she featured extensively in the airline's adverts and inclusivity materials.  Tragically, Kayleigh committed suicide in March 2023.

Gender Bias

The first part of this article seems to show that transwomen are very likely to choose feminine image jobs, indeed it's perhaps more likely than for genetic women.

The number of Shop Assistant's is probably vastly underestimated - this a minimum wages job that any almost any transwoman can obtain regardless of her age and passability.


Michaela works as a PA, traditionally a female job
Unsurprisingly secretarial, receptionist and other office jobs top the list in the two surveys described above, being the occupation of about 19% of the participants.  These are jobs that still require minimal qualifications. 

The number of hairdressers and beauticians is also high at 13%.  Obtaining a job in these areas does require some training and certifications, so clearly a substantial number of transwomen have the motivation to seek these.


Leslie Townsend (above) managed to make a living as a model, while Teri Toye (below) became a phenomenon in 1980's New York.

"Nurse" comes surprisingly low in the ranking (at most 4% of participants), but there are big obstacles to this career for a transgender woman, unless it was already begun as a man.  In the UK, a Registered Nurse undertakes long and expensive professional training.  State (i.e. NHS) supported hospitals and universities take most trainee nurses straight from school or college, age 17-19.  There is no formal upper age limit on entry, but in practice 29 seems to the absolute limit - which is less than the median age (30 in 2020, albeit significantly lower than 35 in 2020) of a British transsexual woman at the time of her transition. 

The surveys completely omit the category "Human Resources" (aka HR), a career path which many transwomen seem to choose.  "Receptionist "is also oddly not mentioned, an easy to enter job that is availed for a few years by many young transwomen.  My personal impression is that they also significantly underestimate the size of the categories "Housewife" and "Teacher" (or child minder), and the extent of participation in the sex trade industry and prostitution is not honestly represented.

It's impossible to ignore that many transwomen are working in - and many more are actively seeking - jobs that largely rely on youth and physical beauty for initial success: model, showgirl, actress, ... even prostitute.  For every transsexual woman that manages to make a viable living as say a photographic model, far many more will be disappointed.  The reality is that most transsexual women are at a disadvantage when competing for these jobs with often younger and prettier and just as determined to succeed genetic "girl-girls".  However, it easy to over-emphasise the situation in the manner of Ms Raymond.  It is perhaps essential to point out that many transwomen are very realistic about their career and work prospects, and also that youngest and thus most passable 'transgirls' seem to follow career paths as diverse as 'XY' CIS-girls.


A marketing event in Taiwan.  The models are transwomen.


Brazilian transwoman Patricia Araujo has moved from being a shemale porn star to a top fashion model.

Modelling
Modelling is a common career choice for young transgender girls - it's glamorous, sexy, apparently fun, and can pay well.  They also usually have two significant physical advantages compared to genetic girls - greater height and longer legs.  Breast implants, plastic surgery and make-up can deal with most other physical disadvantages.  As for large feet and hands - most supermodel's (e.g. Cyndi Crawford) wear at least a size 8 (UK), and a size 10 is common (e.g. Ellie McPerherson).  The Elite model agency lists 5% of its models as having a shoe size 11 (USA, 10 UK) or greater.


Stefanie makes her living as a plus size female model.
Transgender models try to live in stealth, but this is very hard to achieve, particularly if they start to become famous.  From the late 1960's through to the early 2000's a stream of transsexual models have been out'ed, including: April Ashley, Amanda Lear, Terri ToyeCaroline Cossey, Lauren Foster, Daniella Love, Larissa Summers, Jenny Hiloudaki, Claudia Charriez and Alicia Liu.  Geena Rocera is adamant that she was only had success as a young female model because she went stealth when she moved from the Philipines to the USA in 2000, age 17. She went to great lengths to work undetected as a transwoman, e.g. surgical scars were explained as being botched bikini waxes and she carried tampons in her bag.  It was only 14 years later, age 31, and a long established top model that she felt able to reveal that she was transgender.


Angela Ponce is a famous transwomen in Spain, but there is no hint of that in these photos of her in two American magazines.  Suitable photos at a reasonable price, and some awkard aspects will be ignored! 

For some models who out themselves, their career as a female model is irredeemably compromised, and they join the list of acknowledged "sex change" celebrities such as Roberta Close, Caroline Cossey and Amanda LePore.  Claudia Charriez was perhaps was the last to suffer this fate when in 2006 she disqualified from the reality TV contest America's Next Top Model at the semi-final stage when the producer's discovered that she was "not born biologically female".  The resulting negative publicity was undoubtedly a factor that influenced the producer's decision to allow transgender woman Isis King to participate in the 2008 series.  However, when Alicia Liu was out'ed in 2010 her modelling career continued, she said seven months later: "To go public with my sex change was more of a help for me than hindrance, and it had not affected my life".

 
This 2015 Louis Vuitton photo shoot received huge press coverage because it featured Jaden Smith (far right, son of Will and Jada Smith) in a skirt.  There was almost no mention that the other three models were MTF transgender.

An important development in the early 2010's has been the emergence of openly transsexual models, and the acceptance of these by fashion houses and photographers.  Agencies such as Models UK suggest that "designers are no longer required to hire female models for womenswear and male models for menswear as the definition of gender is being challenged.  ... It is an exciting time where gender roles are challenged and freedom is welcomed!".  According to Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler: “The distinction between man and woman is disappearing, aesthetically at least. This is a big facet of our culture right now.”

The early 2010's has seen an explosion of highly rated transgender models - led by Lea T and Andreja Pejic -whose XY genes has not obviously hampered their modelling career.  Adriana Mazzarini, Valentijn de Hingh, Stefania Visconti, Vicky Eriksson, Stav Strashko and Michalina Manios are other examples in Europe.  In addition, a flow of androgynous male models from Eastern to Western Europe has led to complaints on social media from local female models that they are being undercut on rates and can't compete on physical characteristics such as height and leg length. 

Lea TLea T (left) was born in Brazil in 1981 as Leandro Cerezo. 

She transitioned at age 25 after being told by a friend: "We treat you like a girl, and everybody treats you like a girl. Maybe you should have to go to a doctor or something because we see you like a girlfriend. We don't see you like a guy".  Lea T says she was devastated to hear this: "At that point I cried a lot. For three days I was closed in my house, but that was the point I made this decision." 

In 2010 she became known as the 'Muse of Givenchy' when she featured in their photo shoots.  She had sex reassignment surgery in March 2011, and after photo shoots in Vogue Paris, Hercules Magazine, Interview Magazine, Cover Magazine and Love Magazine was rated as a Top 50 female model by the influential model.com website.

 

"Jessica" Liu Shi Han shot to fame in China when she was out'ed, she apparently had SRS age 19.
 

19 year old Valentina Sampaio on the cover (above) of
ELLE Brazil’s November 2016 issue, and Vogue France's March 2017 issue (below) 

Looking outside Europe, just a small sample of other transsexual models who have enjoyed some success in early 2010's includes: Hari Nef, Patrícia Araújo, Fabiana Oliveira Melo, Carmen Carrera, Ana Carolina Marra, Non Poy, Geena Rocero, Kayoh Sato, Florencia de la Vega, Carol Marra, Valentina Sampaio and Liu Shi Han. 

Caveat - Many female models take liberties with important facts such as their age.  Transgender models often take this a stage further.  Amanda Lear is perhaps the best case of where it is impossible to reconcile all the claims and records.   

Transgender Supermodel - Andrej Pejić became by far the most famous transsexual model in the world when in July 2014, she announced that she had a sex change, and had changed her name to Andreja.  Three years earlier, she - still physically a "he" - had been ranked no. 98 in FHM magazine's '100 Sexiest Women in the World 2011'. 

Andreja and Lea T laid the ground for meteoric rise in 2016 of transgender model Valentina Sampaio.  Five years younger than both, by 2017 Valentina already had a collection of Elle and Vogue front covers that any super-model would be proud of. 

The Non-Earthquake - Teddy Quinlivan
An interesting contrast to Andreja Pejic, Lea T and even Valentina Sampaio is Teddy Quinlivan.  It was barely mentioned by mainstream media - or even transgender news blogs - but one of the most extra-ordinary TG/TS events of 2017 was 23-year-old Teddy Quinlivan unexpectedly outing herself on CNN as being transgender.  At the time she was working as a top 100 female model, arguably as deep stealth as it is possible to be. 

Born in 1994, Teddy transitioned age 16 and then went to what she calls "extraordinary lengths to appear CIS [female]".  This includes starting to take estrogen hormones age 17. 

Age 21 Teddy was "discovered" as a model in 2015 by the Creative Director at Louis Vuitton.  She hadn't yet had SRS and recollects the horrendous problems that she faced in her first photo shoots:

"I remember being on the shoot and I was taped because I hadn’t had surgery and [a stylist] pulled down my underwear. I showed up and had no idea it was supposed to be a nude shoot so I get on set and they tell me to take off my clothes and put on this tiny piece of underwear. So, I’m in my tape and he comes up to me and literally without asking me anything, he looked in my eyes, breathed down my neck, got on his knees, and ripped down my underwear. I was clinging on to it with a finger.


Teddy's limited breast development drew no attention in the fashion world, indeed she was used a body model for mannequins.

Just a year later, age 22 and now post-SRS, she soared to a top 20 ranking by Model.com.  Leading designers and fashion houses such as Monse, Gucci, Valentino, Dior, Caroline Herrera, Jason Wu, Jeremy Scott, Maison Margiela, Giambattista Valli and Marc Jacobs all competed to use the newcomer to model their collections. 


A photo that Teddy posted on social media after her breast augmentation.

In her early modelling shots, 180 cm (5ft 11 in) tall Teddy (right) has minimal breast development - her overall appearance is that of a rather lanky and skinny teenage girl, i.e. the perfect clothes horse.  She later (left) had small breast implants of perhaps 150 cc.  

When Teddy outed herself as transgender after two years continuously as a top-100 model, she admitted that this may have harmed her career, and that she now expected to be "referred to as a transgender model, instead of simply a model".  However, the modelling world seems to have taken to and protected Teddy in way that few, if any, other transgender models had previously achieved.  She later recollected in an interview that for a few weeks photographers and show directors would congratulate her on coming out, but in the very next sentence they would still rush her off to make-up! 

There is also the possibility that transgender models are simply no longer big news, and that the industry has become accustomed to the fact that a substantial number of its top "female" models are transgender or intersex, but would prefer not to advertise this too much.


Six "female" models who are openly transgender.  From left to right:  Lea T, Hari Nef, Andreja Pejic, Geena Rocero, Valentina Sampaio, Branca Bacci-Brunelli.  Hari Nef is the shortest at just 177cm / 5 ft 9.5in, the others are at least 183 cm / 6 ft tall.  In the UK, just 0.2% of genetically XX women are over 6 feet tall.


Aleska Lundburg, age 29.  She was born in 1982, transitioned when 17 and had SRS the following year.

Acting
Moving on to acting is logical follow on to modelling.  Recent years have seen a huge increase in the number of transgender characters appearing in films and television.  Unfortunately many of the best MTF roles have been played by genetically female cis-actresses, for example:  Julie Hesmondhalgh played transgendered Hayley Cropper for many years in the British television soap opera, Coronation Street; Chloë Sevigny stared as a pre-operative transgender woman, Mia, in the TV series Hit & Miss; Raquel Welch was the lead in the film Myra Breckinridge (1970); Famke Janssen played Ava Moore in the American television drama series Nip/Tuck; Rebecca Romijn played Alexis Meade in Ugly Betty; and Vanessa Redgrave played Renée Richards in the TV film Second Serve

One rare exception is male actor Eddie Redmayne who unexpectedly appeared in the lead role in the film The Danish Girl - the story of the world's first post-SRS transsexual, Lili Elbe.  Actress Nichole Kidman was previously expected to have the lead role.  A gem for trivia buffs is that a female nurse was played by transgender actress Rebecca Root.


Model, actress and politician Pascale Ourbih  (born Mohand Ourbih) transitioned when she moved to Paris, age 18, and had SRS soon after. She has never hidden the fact that she is a transwoman. (Algeria/France)

Transwomen who have achieved some success as an actress include: Italian born Eva Robin's in films such as Belle al Bar (1994); Candis Cayne in several roles - most notably as the transwoman Carmelita in the television series Dirty Sexy Money; Pascale Ourbih in films such as Thelma; Aleksa Lundberg in several Swedish television series; whilst Spanish director Pedro Almadovar has frequently used transsexual actresses in his films, including Bibiana Fernández and Antonia San Juan - who emerged to fame thanks to her role as Agrado in Todo sobre mi madre. (All About my Mother).


Josie as cheerleader Lexie. 

Despite the complaints about cis women acting the role of a transwoman, there does seem to be an increasing prevalence of transgender actresses winning cis women roles. For example, Josie Totah as Lexie in Saved by the Bell, Hari Nef as Bex in Assassination Nation, and Jamie Clayton as Tess in The L Word: Generation Q.

Singing and Musicians
Singing has been an unexpectedly successful path for many transsexual women.  Successes include: Amanda Lear, Dana International (Israeli winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998), Marie-France, Harisu, Foxy Lady, Turkish singer Bulent Ersoy, and Jayne County - formerly known as Wayne County. 
 

An important part of Asian weddings is the celebratory music and dancing.  In Pakistan the most sought-after professional dancer is Rimal Ali - who happens to be a pre-GCS transwoman.

By far the most commercially successful is German born Kim Petras, who had GCS age 16.  In 2017 (age 25) she moved to the USA and was soon being called "the new Princess of Pop" by American magazines.  Whilst she has a huge LGBT+ fan base, it's also certain that the vast majority of listeners to her songs (Clarity, Broken Glass, Villian, ...) aren't aware that she is a transwoman.


Barbie Woods transitioned age 23 and for the next ten years worked as a prostitute and shemale porn star.  She allegedly still earns over $100k from royalties.

The Sex Trade
In confidential circumstances an extraordinary number of transsexual women admit to having sex with a man in order to gain something in return - money, job, promotion, a favour paid for 'in kind', etc. 

Studies regularly show that about one third (33%) of all TS women are, or have been, prostitutes - and this is particularly difficult to refute in the 18-35 age group.  However, a study published in 2007 found that 17% of American cis women admit to having received money for sex at least once, e.g. from an admirer in a night club.  So, the difference between cis- and trans- women in this regard may be huge 


Hilda transitioned at age 20 and is shown age 24.  She  works six days a week at a Hair Salon, but this only covers her living costs.  In order to save for her GCS she 'dates' paying men.
The motive for going into the sex trade is usually financial.  For many pre-operative women advertising themselves online, in the small ads or on the street becomes a reluctant but very lucrative option - particularly at a time when their normal day-time career maybe faltering and medical costs and other outgoings are soaring.  It also allows savings to be quickly accumulated for expensive feminisation surgery such as breast augmentation, facial feminisation and gender confirmation surgery.  Because of the financial attractions of the trade, and the potential loss of earnings after GCS, surgery is often deferred.  Indeed, in Europe it is uncertain how many of the thousands of "shemales" from Africa and South America that ply this trade can really be regarded as transsexual, many revert to leading a "gay" but clearly male lifestyle as age catches up them.

An analysis of sex trade workers by the New Zealand police force.  The 30% transgender for 'Street Workers' is extraordinary, it probably includes a large influx of 'shemales' from other parts of Asia.


'Ella' from Brazil went stealth after having GCS.and became a high-class female prostitute in Italy   Whilst she was eventually "outed", it's unlikely many clients were aware of her past. 

Whilst there's much heated academic debate about the topic, the reality is that there are many instances of non-transsexual gay men living as a pre-GCS 'shemale', often working in the sex trade.  Some such men eventually decide to go all-the-way and have GCS (often but not always eventually regretted), while others stop taking female hormones when they reach a certain age, get any breast implants removed and transition back to living as a man.  A further uncomfortable reality for academics is that some post-SRS transsexual women actively seek and enjoy a life as a female prostitute, it combines sexual pleasure as a woman with financial reward.

In 1998-2000 the BBC real-life documentary Paddington Green featured post-GCS transsexual Jackie McAuliffe (left) who was working the streets as a female prostitute.  Born Jason, he was sadly abandoned by his parents aged 5, and raised by two teachers.  He left their home in 1993, age 17, to live as Jackie.  She had SRS in 1995, age 20.  The final series of Paddington Green closes with her trying to move on to a new career as a musician.  She recorded an album of piano music, Forgotten Dreams, which was released in November 1999 and whilst it went to number 14 in the UK charts, it netted her just £8,000.  By 2001 she was again penniless and a BBC special called Jackie's Story showed her unable to afford a £400 sofa, which previously she could have purchased after just a few hours work.  She says " "Everyone thinks I've got it made after being on TV, but I'm on the dole and broke ... Sometimes I'm tempted to be a hooker again".


37-year old transsexual Mianne Bagger gained her card for the Ladies European Golf Tour in November 2004.

Sport

One avenue of employment that until recently was effectively closed to transsexual women is professional sports.  Transsexual women are not competitive in men's events, but were barred from women's sports due to sex tests. 

However, in May 2004 the International Olympic Committee decided to allow transsexuals to compete in their re-assigned sex, and governing sports bodies around the world have since been busy changing their rules to conform to this.  Many Olympic events (e.g. running, wrestling, shot-put and martial arts) and professional or semi-professional women's sports such as tennis, golf, football (soccer), basketball and cycling now face a gradual influx of top-ranking women who are transsexual, although their transsexuality may not be public. 

The potential for an amateur sportsman who has a sex change operation in her 20's or even 50's to then make a good living as a professional sportswoman has been proven by the examples of Fallon Fox (martial arts),  Mianne Bagger (golf) and Alicia Rowley (tennis).

 


Three friends socialising in 2015.  From the left Isabelle Coimbra, Marcela Ohio and Roberta Holanda. They have won many minor beauty contests but are pre-GCS, so haven't attempted to any major pageants.

Beauty Pageants
Suucess on the beauty pageant circuit is both flattering, and briefly offers a young woman a living.  More importantly, it forms a platform for her to move in to acting, promotion work, PR, and other [female orientated] careers where glamour is required and an even a minor title such as Miss Deluxe Soap 2003 on the CV can help considerably. 

Rumours that Miss France 2001 - Elodie Gossuin - was a transsexual woman were unfounded.  However there is an increasing expectation that before long the winner of a major beauty pageant will be a transsexual woman - if it hasn't actually already happened.


"Thanks for the wonderful chat-up, but I really must head over to the Miss Trans competition - I'm due on stage in 30 minutes."
 
Until recently, most beauty pageants, including the 'Big 4', effectively barred transsexual women from competing by requiring that all entrants were "natural born women".  The entrant's signature on the entry form was a legal confirmation that they complied with this condition.  Unsurprisingly, very few women who were not genetically XX and born with female genitalia are willing to risk entering a contest under such conditions.

However, the ever increasing legal recognition around the world of transgender women as ... women, has made it difficult to enforce a "natural woman" rule .  Most competitions have already given up on disbarring contestants if they've had cosmetic surgery as detecting and enforcing this has proven to be impossible.  Even defining cosmetic surgery is problematic - where do you draw the line when faced with everything from a minor nose procedure to major surgery to create a vulva.

Threatened by legal challenges, in 2012 the organisers of the Miss Universe and Miss World pageant began accepting transwoman as contestants.

  

Housewife

"Housewife" is not technically a paid job, but traditionally associated with a woman whose main occupation is caring for her family and managing household affairs, whilst her husband or partner goes out to work.

I once made the huge mistake of suggesting - based on my life after marriage - that "housewife" was a rather boring and repetitive role, and unfortunately implied that it was not a real job.  In return I received a barage of criticism from many women, one pointedly stating that "I am not just a housewife, I am an accountant, nurse, negotiator, cook, and driver".  Another married responder who had previously worked as a very stressed social worker told me that "transitioning and becoming 'just' a housewife saved me, I've never been happier".

 

My Employment Experience
I was working as a fairly well paid professional when in late 2000 I made the "definitely this time" decision to transition.  I sent my CV with my forename name changed to "Annie" to several job agencies.  Just a few days later I was contacted by a London based bank and arranged to meet a representative in connection with a short-term contract.  The interview was awful - I was terribly nervous and having to tell him that I was a transsexual woman nearly had me in tears with stress and worry, but I got the job! 

I started my job just after New Year 2001, and for the first time I was living, working and socialising as a woman 24 hours as a day.  However, whilst I knew that I was doing a good job workwise, it was also obvious that I was not passing.  My voice was an immediate give-away and I became afraid to speak, whilst the skin of my face and neck became just a large rash from excessive close shaves.  Compliance with the female dress code also involved tucking my penis for 12 hours, using a padded bra with adhesive tape to prevent it riding up during the day, and wearing shoes that were agony to walk in by lunchtime.  It also took me two hours (including a workout) to get ready for work, so I was having to get up at 5:30 am in order to be there by 9:00 am.  I was also half starved as I tried to keep my 5ft 9in frame to the ideal 140lbs weight recommended by magazines.  If I was lucky I would be back to my flat by 7:30 pm.  Then a low-cal dinner, perhaps some TV or all too often work, before preparing my outfit for the next day.  In bed by 10:00 pm.  It was a nightmare life - but I didn't have the time or energy to think about that!


Many transwomen face serious financial problems after transition.  It then becomes hard to ignore the money on offer from engaging with men in sexually provacative activities, even if there is no initimate physical contact.  

My probation contract was for only three months and d
espite all the problems it was a surprise and a major disappointment when it was not renewed.  I have no doubt that it was because I was still learning how to pass as a woman, and a few years later I would probably have had a strong case for unfair dismissal.

In early April 2001 I took a substantial pay cut and joined a computer company in Ireland as an Account Administrator.  I was still far from confident as Annie, and it soon became obvious that it was widely known by other staff that I was transgender.  Unfortunately, business was badly hit by the tragic events of 11th September 2001 (aka 9/11) and in November I was again made redundant. 

At both the bank and the computer company my CV, qualifications and references had clearly revealed my background and despite promises that "aspects" would remain confidential, I wasn't sure that the promise had been kept. Unemployed yet again, I completely revamped my CV, cutting it down and removing from it details and references that would bring out my former male past, and instead emphasising employment by several companies which handily no longer existed, and post-transition references that I knew to be safe.  Whilst my CV was now consistently female, my "value" on the job market was greatly reduced.

I next had a short and disastrous period as a Teacher's Assistant at a small Nursery School.  It seemed a good idea at the time as I wanted to work with children, but the timing was poor due to the laser treatment that I was having to prevent beard growth.  The other staff yet again quickly realised that I was a transwoman and reacted rather badly to that, indeed their comments and remarks upset me a lot.  I left after just six weeks.

It then took several months of job hunting before I was finally offered a reasonably paid administrative position at a local college.  I started work in May 2002 and to my amazement I had no problem integrating in to the nearly all female office environment.  After over two years of brutal experiences, my passability (helped physically by an orchidectomy, laser hair removal and hormones) was astronomically better than when I first transitioned.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend was told by his company that he would be relocated in early 2003, and in December I resigned from my new job and moved yet again.  A few months later I began a part-time job as a Sales Assistant at a large shop.  Over the next years I worked myself up to gidy heights of Assistant Store Manager, before retiring very early for health and family reasons. 

Looking back, there is no doubt that my income declined dramatically as result of my transition.  At one point it was less than a third of what I had earned in my final year living as a man, and excluding inflation it probably never rose to much over a half.  Without the financial support of my boyfriend (now husband), my standard of living would have declined enormously.

_____________________

UK Vocational Qualifications
In the UK, transwomen intending to apply for a job as a secretary, hairdresser, beautician, etc., usually need to hold a relevant qualification.  For example, an equivalent to at least the Level 1 NVQ in "Beauty Therapy" or "Hairdressing" is required by many salons for even a trainee or junior position.  Similarly, when applying for a secretary position, RSA Stage 1 qualifications are important, although if acquiring these is too demanding, just being able to show a "Using Microsoft Word" certificate obtained after a few weeks at night school may still be decisive in obtaining a job.

Many Colleges of Further Education, Adult Education Centres, and commercially run education institutes offer part-time (including night-school), full-time or intensive "fast-track" courses in a huge variety of subjects which lead to recognised exams and qualifications.

Try to start obtaining these qualifications before you transition full-time - thus potentially avoiding months unemployed.  Post-transition, the college or education centre will reissue the certificate in your new name if you have a Gender Recognition Certificate.

(P.S. this is a case of do so as I say, not do as I did!).

 

If you have any questions, or perhaps just want to know more about me,
please feel free to email me.


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Last updated: 13 November, 2020