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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 many transsexual women from transitioning - their family (parents, wife, children, partner ...) and their career.  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.  While 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 after transition - and this must be considered when deciding whether to transition.


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

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

  5. Move to a job where transwomen are common and accepted (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

Transsexual women often have to deal with insincere support from other women

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 an 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.

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.

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 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. 


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 transtioned age 13 when working as a circus clown!  Age 16 she became  cabaret dancer and had SRS when 19.  She opened her own nightclub whilst becoming a successful  singer and actress. In 1976 she became 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%

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:

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

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

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.

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

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)."

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.  In 2016 I interviewed a 20-something transwoman working in health care who very strongly and eloquently expressed the view that woman [and transwomen] lacked the rights and employment opportunities of men.  I would have taken her arguments more seriously if a quick check of her social media accounts hadn't revealed that she claimed to be a model.


Air Hostess

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 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 (American 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 resulted in her being issued with female uniforms for her transition to Kayleigh in early 2019.  She has since featured extensively in the airline's adverts and inclusivity materials.

Gender Bias

Hilda transitioned at age 20.  Shown age 24, she  works six days a week at a Hair Salon, but saves for her surgery by 'dating' paying men.

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.

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 women, 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 typical age (30 something) of a British transsexual women at the time of her transition. 

The surveys completely omit the category "Human Resources" (aka HR), a career path which many transwomen now seem to choose.  My personal impression is also that they significantly underestimate the size of the categories "Housewife" and "Teacher" (or child minder), also 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, show-girl, 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.


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

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.

Claudia Charriez in America's Next Top 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. 

Angela Ponce is well known as being transgender in Spain, but interestingly there is no hint of that in these American magazines.

For many, their career as a female model was generally irredeemably compromised, and they joined an acknowledged "sex change" celebrities such as Roberta Close 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 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 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.

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 buff's 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.  She was completely passable in the role and the producers renewed her contract for Season 2.

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 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 earned over $100k a year from DVD films alone.

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 

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

The motive for going into the sex trade is usually financial.  For many pre-operative woman 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' went stealth and became a high-class female prostitute after having GCS.  Whilst she was evently "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.  The final series closed with her trying to move on into a career as a musician.



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


Interestingly one avenue of employment that until now been effectively closed to transsexual women is professional sports.  Transsexual women are certainly not competitive in men's events, but until recently have been 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.  There is no doubt that some 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 while still in her 20's (or later), to then make a good living as a top ranked professional sportswoman has been proven by the examples of Renee Richards and - more recently - Mianne Bagger.

Three 'shemale' pre-GCS friends socialising in 2015.  From the left Isabelle Coimbra, Marcela Ohio and Roberta Holanda. They have won many beauty contests but are effectively barred from entering major pageants.

Beauty Pageants
There are also potential developments in terms of the beauty pageant circuit, which can briefly offer a young girl a living and form the platform for her later move in to acting, promotion work, PR, and other [female orientated] careers where glamour is required and a 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.

Currently most beauty pageants (including the 'Big 4') and similar contests effectively bar transsexual women by vaguely requiring that their entrant's are "natural born women".  The entrants signature on the entry form confirms that they are such.  Unsurprisingly, very few women who are not genetically XX and born with female genitalia are willing to risk entering contests under such conditions.

However, the ever increasing legal recognition around the world of transsexual women as ... women, has made the current situation problematic.  In addition, most competitions have given up on disbarring contestants if they've had cosmetic surgery as detecting and enforcing this has proved to be impossible.  Even defining cosmetic surgery is problematic - is it a nose procedure, breast augmentation, or the creation of a vulva?

Threatened by legal challenges, the organisers of the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants have both accepted transwoman as contestants.

My 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 just after New Year 2001, and for the first time I was living, working and socialising as a woman 24 hours as a day.  It was a start, but my contract was for only three months and slightly unexpectedly it was not renewed.  In early April I took a substantial pay cut and joined a computer company in Ireland as an Account Administrator, but unfortunately business was badly hit by the tragic events of 11th September and in November I was made redundant.  At both these organisations my CV, qualifications and references had clearly revealed my background and despite promises that "aspects" would remain confidential, perhaps inevitably it soon became widely known that I was a transsexual.  This caused a few problems, particularly in the early days at the bank when I was still far from confident as Annie, but it also ensured that I was well known!

In mid-December 2001, my boyfriend suggested that I move in with him and I agreed - even though it meant yet another move.  I then 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 felt that I wanted to work with children, but the timing was poor due to laser treatment that I was having to prevent beard growth.  The other staff quickly realised that I was a transsexual and reacted rather badly to that, upsetting me a lot.  In February I left, after just 6 weeks.

Many transwomen face serious financial problems after transition.  It then becomes hard to ignore the money on offer from prostitution.  

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.  Unfortunately this also reduced my "value" on the job market and it took several months of job hunting before I was finally offered a reasonably paying (although less than a third of what I had been earning only a year before) administrative position at a local college.  I started work in May 2002 and for the first time had no problems integrating in to the nearly all female office environment - my ability to "pass" had vastly improved compared with when I first transitioned, perhaps helped by a recent orchidectomy.  But 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 shop.  Over the next five years I slowly worked myself up to Assistant Store Manager. 

Looking back, there is no doubt that without the financial support of my boyfriend (now husband), my standard of living would have declined enormously after my transition.


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 qualification's 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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Copyright (c) 2012, Annie Richards

Last updated: 13 November, 2012