Rachel’s Story, by Kerri Cull

It’s the first Saturday after the first heavy snow fall and Pippy Park is blocked with kids and crazy carpets and parents warming their hands around Tim’s cups.

I am heading to a coffee shop to meet a woman who goes by the name of Rachel. All I know about her is that she is in the sex trade and she has agreed to talk to me. She sits with her back straight and has a small spiral notebook in front of her on the table. It is filled with cursive notes in blue ink. She leans in and shakes my hand as I sit down. We begin by talking about her childhood, one that needs no telling as it was “very regular.” No abuse. No neglect. No dirty secrets.

She tells me she deals with a “fairly specific group of people.” She doesn’t stroll the streets nor rely on anyone else to do what she does. They come to her house. She screens them before she sets an appointment and she charges $250/hr.

Before she got into the business she was working a regular job and making decent money. She saved up enough to survive for a couple of months in case this change proved fruitless. Months later that savings remains in her bank account.

She is a transgender woman whose clients are all men: some have wives and children, some are single men in their twenties, some are regulars. They range from late twenties to early sixties, and “are all very normal and wealthy.”

Rachel has been transitioning for a number of years and looks like a stereotypical woman. She has long hair, wears make-up and has feminine gestures. She does not, however, have the money she needs to complete the medical procedures she wants, procedures that are not covered by MCP or insurance. Generally, some of the surgeries trans women want are electrolyses, top surgery, bottom surgery, tracheal shave, and others. While Rachel doesn’t necessarily know that she wants all of these procedures, the ones she does want cost thousands of dollars.

The big draw for this industry is the money. And Rachel can pretty much name her price and people will pay. It’s hard to know if she would be doing this if not for the money. Many men come to her for a first-time experience – they are nervous and kind – and while many workers have not been as fortunate, she has never felt victimized nor threatened. She deems it empowering because fulfilling fantasies for men who cannot share those fantasies with anyone else is like a gift. One that she is happy to give.

Kerri Cull is seeking participants to tell their stories about the sex trade in St. John’s. If you have something to share – the good, the bad, the ugly– email kerrijanewriter@gmail.com. The opinions in this article are not necessarily those of the author or publication.