So, as a trans woman whose primary income source is crowd funded financial support for a self employed job in tech, I often get asked the same question about how I fit into a percieved pattern. The phrasing might be different, but the core question is the same.
“Why do the trans women I see on my timeline always have no money?”
“Why do so many trans women try and get free hand outs online and pity money for being trans?”
“Why do so few trans people go out and get normal jobs like the rest of us?”
“Why, when you have some work stability, do you still need handouts? I know you have X job, you don’t need financial support!”
These questions come in many forms, some politer than others, but at their core they are curious about the seeming correlation between being transgender and working self employed online requiring Patreon or similar support.
The short answer, because it’s really hard for us to find reliable work, and when we do we often have to accept lower pay than our collegues.
So, the obvious part of this. A lot of people today still do not like the idea of supporting or interacting with transgender people. It might be a fear that hiring us will bring unecessary hassle and issues into the workplace, or outright discrimination which is impossible to prove unless they idiotically state it out lout. The rate of unemployment for trans people is stupidly high, because a lot of arseholes don’t want the “hassle” that might come with hiring us.
Don’t believe this is a thing? I held down a 40 hour per week retail job for four years with not a single complaint about my performance. Three weeks after I transitioned, an anonymous outlandish complaint was made and I was fired without a proper explaination or chance to explain myself. I don’t believe the timing compared to my transition is a coincidence, but I was never able to outright prove it.
These events are common.
Secondly, salaries and rates paid for employment.
I know that legally, in the UK, I cannot be paid less than my collegues for the same work. I also know I will work for less than my collegues. Why? Because salaried, consistent, reliable income is so hard to find, that any stable baseline is better than no stable baseline. This is why you will see trans women take on paid, salaried roles, yet still run a patreon or other financial income method. We’re probably earning a lot less than you expect for the work we are doing.
Also, because self employment is flexible enough to accomodate changing life circumstances. Need to take time off for doctors appointments, councelling, supporting family or dealing with the miriad of shitty things that can come along with being trans, you can make that time and space.
If I get hassled on the high street, I can avoid having to go outside for a few days.
Get hassled by a customer in a store you’re working in, you have to keep it together and face them.
Also, transition is a very obvious, slow and tough process. Not one you want to go through working with the public, or transphobic staff members.
Also, the costs of transition are insanely high. Meds and surgery done privately are through the roof, with waiting lists for NHS help going into multiple years.
So yeah, I hope this kind of sheds some light on why so many trans women are self employed or unemployed. I for one run a Patreon, as well as operate a Paypal Tip Jar, so if you want to support my work those are the best ways to do so. Paypal donate me some grocery money or something, running a house of trans and diabled folk isn’t always easy and financial support helps a lot.