Being a Queer Sex Worker

Being a Queer Sex Worker


Being a Queer Sex Worker

Being a Queer Sex Worker


TW: Mention of Biphobia, Transphobia 

When most people think of sex workers, they envision a woman in tall heels, scantily dressed either in red or covered in glitter or both, ready to pounce on any man with money. Unsurprisingly, that is not how the average sex worker portrays themselves on a day-to-day basis. It’s a shocker to most that many of us don’t usually dress like how we are portrayed in the media. It’s even more of a shocker that women aren’t the only ones who do sex work.

Take Titus Low, for instance. He was all Singaporeans could talk about ever since his appearance on a YouTube video that discussed his life as an OnlyFans creator. It was a bold and a questionable move on his part. He essentially outed himself as a sex worker in conservative Singapore where sex work is not necessarily legal. There was a lot of chatter on him being in OnlyFans as a male individual, shaming him for not getting a “real job”.  When he got married to a woman, there was an even bigger buzz surrounding his sexuality where many had assumed he was gay as his content was already geared towards men. Bisexual and pansexual erasure aside, sadly, if you’re a sex worker, it’s a common assumption that you’re attracted to men by default– as if we’re not just really good actors who need their debts paid off. Oftentimes, when I tell my clients that I have a girlfriend, they would be shell-shocked.

“But you were so wet for me! Did I make you straight?!” Some would question and pat themselves on the back as if I did not inject lube into myself in the bathroom.

Girlfriend? Don’t you mean boy?” Others would try to correct it.

The average clients that sex workers meet have a limited understanding of bisexuality where they seem to think that if you’re bisexual, you either “choose” to like men or women at a given moment but never at the same time.

Another common stereotype that sex workers face is that as long as you’re femme-presenting, your client will assume you’re a transgender woman. This stereotype also comes from the movies and TV shows where transgender women are often portrayed to be sex workers, amongst other horrible things that dehumanises both transgender women and sex workers. There are many instances where I’ve had men asking me if I’m a transwoman myself because of my broad shoulders or large feet or whatever body part they can scrutinise because they think women can only look a certain way. It makes me chuckle to myself because, in a way, I am trans, just not in the way they will ever comprehend. 

The idea of having to explain to my close-minded and horny clients about me being a trans-masculine non-binary person, I feel, would make their heads hurt. After all, porn only has a category called “trannies” and that’s as far as where their knowledge will take them. Explaining to the clients of my queer identity is not at all appealing to me; the emotional labour that I have to put in would have to be at least three times what they paid me for a regular service. In an ideal world, clients don’t always assume that femme-presenting people who are sex workers are all transgender women. In an ideal world, people understand that queerness exists and encompasses all, and job industries do not prevent our existence. In this world, I also wish for those to never assume anyone’s gender identity or sexuality nor should it be a big issue for them.

As a queer sex worker in Singapore, my experiences can never be compared to another queer sex worker. Nor can it be compared to a cisgender female sex worker. Our experiences in this industry will always be unique and complex; just like our identities. But we possess a common desire: safety. And lots of money.

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Vanessa Ho

Executive Director | [email protected]

Executive Director
[email protected]

Vanessa has been full-time with Project X since 2011, and as a result, has had many opportunities to meet and connect with sex workers in Singapore and around the world. Under her leadership, the organisation has grown from a small group of volunteers to one where there are three paid staff and a team of over 60 volunteers. Correspondingly, she has increased the annual operating budget of the organization five times, and is now recognized as the leading organization that empowers and assists women in the sex industry.

Vanessa has written and spoken extensively about sex work, human trafficking, rape culture, and LGBTQ rights in Singapore. She believes that if people can speak about sex, gender and sexuality in open and in non-judgmental ways, society will become a safer place for everyone.

Vanessa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Warwick, and a Masters Degree in Gender, Society and Representation from University College London.