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.

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  1. Hi, and THANK YOU!! – You hit the nail bang on the head with this article, I currently Reside in Australia (and always have so far…) and all these points you made are absolutely applicable to my situation over here. I’ve not been able to find employment during the last two and a half years of my transition, and from what I’ve heard from elsewhere on the planet, this is a universal issue. – actually wanted to learn some writing tips off an old friend recently – who I thought was LGBTIQQ friendly, but when he saw that I was a trans woman, he simply said: “Deals off.” – and then became abusive when I tried to explain that I need to be honest with myself, to my friends, employers and everyone.

    – I can’t easily hide how apparent my transition is, but I also find it a constant burden to hide uncomfortable tells that I didn’t make the choice to have. So discrimination ends up becoming a constant risk in public. Avoiding that danger is part of the reason I have become so introverted, leaving me in a state of enclosement that makes it very hard to follow my passions, let alone make enough to live off of.

    – However, the internet has become more and more of a creative bastion for me over the last nearly three years, and I’m finally beginning to emerge from my nervous shell. Allowing for the time it takes to care for my Mother and Little Sister, get the shopping done, keep the house from falling apart and other such tasks of import, leaves me with only just enough time to take a quick stab at my passions, which the internet medium is becoming increasingly good for, as I take the time to learn it…

    – All that including the ridiculous cost of transitioning that you mentioned above, (the hormone costs alone destroy my bank account every month, which is really frustrating, when there are so many lovely creators on Patreon that I want to be able to lend my full support to…) Just make me reaffirm my driving determination to start writing, drawing, proofreading (overly obsessed with words and spelling, sorry) and music composition/performance work on the internet, because I can’t find it anywhere else – especially not out here in the sticks.

    I really need to give this a shot, as a trans woman unable to find a job otherwise, I start each day worried for my young Sister and our fibromyalgia-immobilized Mum, where their meals are going to come from, and I know, with further and further clarity, that if I don’t try working on the internet on the off chance that I’ll be able to find some employment, self-made or otherwise, I’m not going to be able to support anyone, least of all myself.

    – And this is one of the main reasons why trans people end up having to seek alternative funding, as I’ve just exemplified firsthand, it may sound like begging or desperation, but I say to anyone still on the fence as to why this is: Imagine yourself, or any human being, for that matter, slowly being squeezed dry of any extra funds they used to have, to the point of not being able to afford legitimate and basic needs, with limited to no recourse made available to take – basically a slow and steady decline into poverty, or further – homelessness, that they have to face because of societally induced unemployment. THAT seems a legitimate reason to try an alternate way to stay afloat, rather than let oneself sink, no?

    -Anyway, thanks Laura, you really got me thinking again with this one. MASSIVE credit to you for that! (Black Milk and all) And here’s a sending of best wishes too!! –Lyssa Claire : )

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