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How Christy sees sex work as an easy, albeit temporary, way to make a living

Meet 21-year-old transgender woman Christy, who started sex work when she was 18 or 19. “It was fun,” she said, “because after that, I earned money.” She knows this is temporary, though for now, “I am happy with what I earn from this. Money is money.”

PHOTOS USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSE ONLY; ALL IMAGES BY GIORGIO TROVATO FROM UNSPLASH.COM

This is part of #KaraniwangLGBTQIA, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBTQIA people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”

Christy, 21, was maybe 18 or 19 when she started doing sex work. “Gi-invite ra ko sa akong friend. Naa siyay ka-meet-up ba unya iya pa kong giuban (I afriend invited me. She was meeting someone and she invited me to join her).”

She recalled being nervous at that time. “Hadlok. Kay first time. Wala kay idea ana pa. Nahadlok ko kay stranger man gud (Afraid. Because that was my first time. I didn’t have any idea what I was supposed to do. It was also scary because I’d deal with a stranger).”

The fear vanished, however, when all was done and she got paid. “Pero happy. Kay after ana, kuwarta. Kadtong first time, ang kuwarta ₱3,000 (It was fun. Because after that, I earned money. For my first time, I earned ₱3,000).”

Now, even if that friend who initiated her intro into the sex industry has already moved to “greener pastures” in Metro Manila, Christy chose to continue doing sex work for “easy money”, she said. “Katuon na jud ko sa industry, so ₱5,000 up na ang kita (I have mastered everything in this industry, so I now earn ₱3,000 or more).”

GROWING UP TRANS

Christy was 15 years old when she knew she’s transgender. “Kabawo na ko kay akong mga kuyog mga ig-agaw nako mga babaye na, mga babaye na binuhatan namo ba, magduwa-duwa, ing-ana (I knew because I preferred the company of my female cousins, and we did stuff girls did, like playing, things like that).”

The youngest of three kids, her parents knew “nga trans ko. Wala man silay sulti kay ang igsoon sa akong papa, akong uncle ba, kay gay pud… ay, bisexual diay (my parents knew I’m trans. They had nothing to say about this because my dad’s brother is gay… oh, I mean bisexual).”

“Bisan temporary lang ni siya, happy man ta sa ginakita nato. Kuwarta is kuwarta.”

LIFE IN THE STREETS

While working in the streets, Christy’s main concern is the possibility of getting infected with HIV. And so “condom, of course. Watch out sa kagaw (To deal with diseases).”

Her peers may prefer only getting free safer sex tools from health centers, but Christy said she doesn’t mind spending for her supplies. “All for safety.”

LOOKING FORWARD

These days, “taga-lakaw nako, sige kasab-an sa akong mama (every time I leave the house, my mom reprimands me),” she said.

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The thing is, her family still doesn’t know she’s a street-based sex worker. Instead, her mother – as an example – only believes Christy is only doing online sex work, with men she meets online sending her money after chatting with her. “Sponsor-sponsor, ana. Wa jud siya kabawo nga ingon-ani jud (She thinks they just sponsor me. She doesn’t know what I really do). 

Not that she’s in a hurry to tell them the truth.

Because, Christy said, it could trigger them to stop her from engaging in this line of work. And this she isn’t considering yet. Because, she said, “bisan temporary lang ni siya, happy man ta sa ginakita nato. Kuwarta is kuwarta (even if this is just temporary, I am happy with what I earn from this. Money is money).”

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. He grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City), but he "really came out in Sydney" so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing, and a developed world". Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).

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