Unique Challenges of Trans Sex Workers – An Interview With Velvet Steele, a Post-op Transsexual Dominatrix

Siren: Hi Velvet! Thanks so much meeting me today to discuss the unique challenges of trans sex workers. To get us started, will you please share with me a little on your background as a trans sex worker? What services have you offered? What are your favourite forms of sex work?

Velvet: Hi doll! Well it all started off with a childhood spent in Denmark. I loved my summers spent there, between Copenhagen and the countryside of Jutland. My mother was from Copenhagen, and my father from the small town of Fladstrup. I loved my time there. It was so free and beautiful: the countryside, the cities, the people. Everything about it. 

One aspect that completely intrigued me was the trips we’d take to the red light district of Copenhagen. Everyone went – young, old, all genders. It was alive! It was so exciting to see those women under the red lights in the windows. I was enthralled by all of it. It was so thrilling, I remember thinking to myself, “I want to be one of those women.” And still do to this day. The beauty, the glamour, the control, the power! One could say it became ingrained. Fast forward to my career start. It was something I always wanted to do. I consider the discrimination I faced in my early years of my life and transition. Not having employment because I literally couldn’t get a job to save my life. Folks wouldn’t hire me if I didn’t sleep with the boss or manager. Or, I’d get fired for the same reasons! I couldn’t get a job at McDonalds – for fuck’s sake – because I, “intimidated the staff.” I knew what that actually meant.

But, what else was there? The proverbial careers for a “transsexual woman” are model, make-up artist, hairstylist, and sex worker… So, I took up all four. The first three careers were easy. But, as a sex worker, there was a little bit more of a challenge. I wasn’t going to provide the services of “straight” with the genitals I had. I wasn’t in alignment. So, offering fetish services seemed the perfect fit.

I wasn’t offering intercourse. But, in providing fetish, I could learn about the human psyche while learning more about myself. Engage in intricate fantasies and wear fabulous clothes. A great fit! I offered fetish, leg worship, feminization, bondage, domination, S/M, roleplay, and storytelling. And still do to a small group of primaries. But to say there is one service I particularly enjoyed over the others: as long as a good session is had, I enjoy them all.

Siren: What made you choose sex work as a career?

Velvet: I loved it, I wanted to, and like I said before, it was – and is – a great way to learn about oneself and what makes others tick, so to speak. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t for the money. It is. But, I could also have a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back, afford medical and dental, and enjoy life. Just like everyone else.

Yeah, it does take a certain kind of mindset to do this work. It’s hard and challenging. And yes, it does play havoc at times with your outlook on life, love, and happiness.

Siren: I agree. Having the right mindset as a sex worker is key because it is such an emotionally demanding line of work. Now, let’s clarify terms. Tell me, what do the words trans, transsexual, and transgender mean?

Velvet: Trans simply means, “on or to the other side.” How I say this to folks is simple. You have “trans” as the prefix to these words. Remove them, and what are you left with? Sexual and gender: sexual of the body, gender of the mind. 

For me it’s a given I’m a transgender woman, as a transsexuals’ woman. I’ve aligned myself by getting the necessary surgery to physically match my mental self. My gender “construct” matches with my physical self to that of a physical woman.  We now are being forced to use words like “cisgender”  – a word I vehemently hate. I prefer the term “bio woman”. Both mean being born in the gender you present.

Siren: Bio woman. I like that! So, according to the above definitions, how do you define yourself as a “trans sex worker?”

Velvet: In my early years there were the medical terms of pre-op and post-op transsexual. In advertising, I presented myself as pre-operative transsexual woman, with the caveat that there was no genital contact. It played havoc with me not having a pussy. And to fetishize myself like many people already did? I just wasn’t going to do that.

After my corrective procedures, I billed myself as a post-operative transsexual woman. Mostly out of safety reasons. I know my personal history and I’m not trying to hide it. I just don’t see it as a topic of daily conversation. Honestly, it gets a little tiring, invasive, and boring. So now, I just tell people I’m a woman with a transsexual medical history and leave it that. Most folks get it. 

Siren: How is being a trans sex worker different from being a female or a male sex worker?

Velvet: Honestly? I don’t see it as being that different.  It just depends on what services you are offering, and what body parts are on the table. I feel it has gone from a glamourized situation to an over saturated aspect for the almighty dollar. It’s certainly not the same as it was in my early days.  We had words like “shemale” and now everyone is on the bandwagon misusing the terms and giving clients and prospects a lot of confusion. Thus, the wrong provider. People are abusing words like “transgender” and “transsexual.” That’s not just inaccurate. It’s dangerous.

Providers need to be forthcoming in how they write their ads and photograph themselves. We need to be transparent with our clients and stop all this confusion. Unfortunately, many trans sex workers are still lying in their ads, and presenting unsafe situations for themselves. I know enough folks who aren’t on this plane of existence anymore for doing so. Truly, it has been a detriment lumping everyone under the same umbrella. We aren’t the same.

Siren: Thank you for that insight, Velvet.  What are some of the unique challenges of being a trans sex worker?

Velvet: One big challenge is keeping up appearances. Looking gorgeous costs money. From hair, nails, wardrobe, make-up, and regular medical aesthetic services, I re-invest 15-20% of my earnings back into my beauty. Another thing that’s important is staying true to yourself and your service provisions. The world of sex work is vast, and there are all kinds of services you can provide. That’s why it’s important to get clear on who you are and what you are willing to do. Find your niche and build a local reputation for being the best.

Something else that is difficult is when clients pressure you to do things you don’t offer or want to. There’s always a segment of clients who try to push our boundaries to offer services beyond our menu because they get off on the power trip. Never ever give in to that bullshit. Walk out if you have to. I mean, you’ve already collected payment, so there’s nothing to lose. One more challenge is societal, friend and family discrimination. Sex work is heavily stigmatized, making it difficult for sex workers to feel included in society. It is isolating to hide the truth about our line of work, and it is painful to be the target of discrimination when we live our truths openly. No matter how you handle it, it’s not easy.

Siren: Thanks so much for sharing that, Velvet. What is one thing you wished more people knew about trans sex workers?

Velvet: They are all people just like everyone else on the planet with feelings and emotions, and worthy of respect and love.

Siren: Do you have any words of advice for other trans sex workers?

Velvet: Stay true to yourself. I recently wrote an article on the subject for the Naked Post. It truly is a challenge to be clear and directed and stay on a path that is true to oneself. Strength, for most, is developed and learned, and like anyone on the planet, emotions can run high and meltdowns do happen.
Siren: Thanks so much for sharing your time and perspective with me today Velvet.

Velvet: You are most welcome, doll!