Science Hooker is entirely funded by your kindness.
Where do you live?
I live in North Glasgow, Scotland.
What do you do?
Since August 2018 I have returned to escorting. I worked as an escort for 5 years in Edinburgh prior to my PhD, but stopped while studying when that study was funded. I briefly lectured in astrobiology at St Andrews university and taught robotics at Glasgow university after the PhD, both on short term contracts. I'm currently writing a book chapter on mineral carbon sequestration for a textbook on carbon dioxide utilisation. I spend much of my time when not escorting, writing, reading and thinking. It's nice to think again, there was not much real open thinking during the PhD.
What was your PhD on? I researched the process of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the ancient Mars atmosphere being sequestered into stable mineral carbonate. Such carbonate minerals have been observed by satellite, rovers, landers and in meteorites from Mars that have landed on Earth. I examined these sources and attempted to resolve the mineralogy and reaction pathways involved. There was a lot of advanced microscope work of Mars fragments, which I loved. I also conducted laboratory experiments in pressure vessels that mimic early Mars hydrothermal systems. But why is it important?
Because we can utilise the same reactions in rock formations on Earth to store atmospheric carbon dioxide as minerals. A method much more stable than other current carbon capture and storage methods. I also worked with Engineers in Space Glasgow to build a new prototype rover tool that uses ultrasonic grinding to expose a smooth rock surface, so that rock reactions can be observed more clearly.
How did you get to this job (education etc.)?
I studied part time with the Open University, who allowed me to overlap my undergraduate final year in geology with the first year of a masters in Earth Science. I was an escort during this time in Edinburgh. Unemployment is disproportionately high in the trans community. People do not want to employ early stage trans people as we can look like strange unicorns, thus many turn to sex work to survive, as I did. Initially from a mouldy damp basement flat in Leith and later in a beautiful flat in Abbeyhill. Upon finishing the BSc and halfway through the MSc I saw a fantastic PhD post funded by the UK Space Agency studying Mars and decided to send an enquiry to see what grades I would need for such work. I was encouraged to apply anyway and was lucky enough to be offered the PhD. If you are fascinated by a subject, or see a dream job, it is always worth sending that introductory email, just because you never know what wonderful places it might lead.
Did the start your transition and the start of your escorting not coincide as a result of kink?
No. The stigma of transition led to unemployment which led to poverty, food and housing insecurity. Money for rent and food and bills was why I started to escort. I think it is often assumed that trans escorts are in it for the thrill. This is not true in my case.
Do you enjoy escorting?
Sometimes. I enjoy it more now than I used to, but that is because many privileges have conspired to provide me with good clients in good working conditions. I like the opera or a fine dinner as much as the next person. Often, usually, I would rather not be escorting, I would rather be sat reading and writing with a cat on my lap. The key point is - on the question of sex work rights, it is irrelevant if I enjoy my work. Many jobs can be unhappy affairs. Likewise, most people enjoy their job sometimes, not enjoy it sometimes, and would rather not need to work. A worker does not need to enjoy their job to demand rights and safety.
What are your plans for the future?
Oh, I don't know any more. I would ultimately love a cottage by the water somewhere beautiful, with maybe goats and some chickens. Alternatively a house boat on the water and a garden of flower pots sounds good. Science does not define me, I love writing fiction and poetry too, walking mountains and exploring remote places. Life is wide and beautiful, I don’t like the idea of being fenced into career paths, rigid structures, or fixed things to aim for.
I am very aware of my privilege within escorting. I have a platform, I'm openly out to everyone, I have legal status in the UK, good education, a whole tool box of power privileges. If there is a particular thing I need to do in my adult life, then trying to care for and support the sex work community is probably it.
Do you have any role models?
The very wonderful Ani DiFranco has been a life long role model, as has Arundhati Roy, Utah Phillips, Alan Watts and Noam Chomsky. Google them, they are jewels of human beings and may change your life.
Tell us more about being trans.
What to say here? There appears fashionable at the moment that society is becoming all accepting and kind towards trans people. The incidents below were in early transition, and yes, I do not have them anymore, but it deeply taught me that the only reason that I do not receive a barrage of daily hate now is because I ‘pass’, not because society and people are accepting. I would get spat at and called a tranny while going to get bread and milk in the shop. People would laugh at me on the streets and public transport. People in power, behind counters (and in the university workplace) would insist on calling me Sir. These things may sound petty. What does it matter if someone laughs or stares? But when it is on every street, all day, everyday, it produces an effect on the individual far greater than the isolated acts. I used to hate having to leave my flat, and when I absolutely had to would scuttle along the streets like a mouse trying to avoid people.
I understand why trans people kill themselves (~50% in the UK consider suicide), the public seem very keen on vocally telling us we should die, that we are abominations, that we are disgusting or dangerous, fake, deluded. Even if one pretends to have a thick skin and not care, it trickles in.
However, I do not align with many trans orthodoxies in modern culture. I think it is essential that people have a right to think and speak critically and independently. Otherwise dark realities can be created, even with the best of intentions. For example, I am a trans woman, I identify as a woman and that is how the world treats me now, mostly. But if someone disagrees that a person can transition from male to female, sure it hurts me and I would rather they share my view of a gender spectrum, yet I do not think they should be punished for expressing their disagreement. They should not be charged with hate speech for misgendering me. What is needed is sustained and polite dialogue, which usually leads to respect, if not agreement. One should not force the world to accept and agree with you. On the other hand, when it comes to questions of healthcare and safety, I feel there is no room for discussion. Every human deserves this. Education, respect, gentleness, dialogue are the keys to positive change.
It is important to never feel sorry for oneself.
Be fierce fire. Blaze competently.
And never, ever, give in.