YnotbU is excited to announce the successful conclusion of negotiations with Annie Parker Photography, which sees them join our @TransMakeupandBeautyAdvice brand.
Commenting on the acquisition, Annie Parker stated “I can’t say enough how thrilled we are at this next stage of our business development. We’re excited to be working with the YNotbU team and the opportunities being part of the @TransMakeupandBeautyAdvice brand presents us. Now we have secured this deal for our agency, we can’t wait to get started on our shared vision, and the coming years projects. I also wanted to thank Joanna personally for making us feel so welcome and helping us make this such an easy decision.”
Echoing Annie’s sentiment, Joanna Darrell stated “It’s a real privilege to be able to welcome Annie Parker Photography to our family. Annie’s energy has already created a powerful buzz in the team and we’re thrilled at the possibilities it brings. I’ve long admired the creative vision in Annie’s work and have been lucky enough to call her a personal friend for a number of years. We’re so honoured that they have chosen to become part of our @TransMakeupandBeautyAdvice brand, where we know they are going to do great things !”
For more information, please contact YNotbU and Annie Parker Photography via our usual communication channels.
When I formed YNotbU, one of the things I was keen to share was my passion for speaking up for the minorities within our community. I wanted to change the message from just being about transition, because these were already covered by numerous organisations and maybe even well understood. In particular two that were very close to my heart. Transgender prisoners and Transgender Sex Workers.
Earlier this year, I spoke to three women about their experience as sex workers and the post gained quite a bit of interest, so much so in fact, that I decided to follow up with the women to do a more in depth question and answer session with each of them. So, with that in mind, lets meet Claire*
Joanna :- For anyone that didn’t read the original post, how did you get into sex work and how long have you been doing it for ?
Claire :- I was working as a massage therapist in Cambridge at the start of my transition and came to realise that a number of girls were also working as escorts for clients in order to earn some extra money. Although I wasn’t desperate for money, I was really keen to explore my sexuality and thought escort work would be a good way to do it. It was as simple as that really.
Joanna :- How long did you do it for ?
Claire :- A little over six years, between early 93 and 99.
Joanna :- So, tell me about your experience
Claire :- Well, to start off with, I didn’t really realise what escort work was. But came to realise that it was just companionship for men and women on dinner dates, or meetings, which wasn’t really what I was looking for. So I spoke to the Studio owner (Mandy) and told her what I was thinking of doing.
Joanna :- And what did she say ?
Claire :- She was really good about it. She told me to go away and think about it and to try escorting for a little while longer and if I still felt how I did, she would help me out, but there would have to be some strict ground rules in place before hand.
Joanna :- Sounds curious, what were they ?
Claire :- (laughing) it wasn’t anything really, just my playlist, alt.com profile and also agreeing to regular GUM tests.
Joanna :- Playlist ?
Claire :- Yes, its a BDSM pre-requisite, which lists all the things you’re happy to do, safewords, that sort of thing. The by-word of BDSM is safe sane and consensual and the playlist helps keep things that way. The strange thing is that it isn’t really needed between people “on the scene” as there is a mutual trust and understanding between them. Its really for people on the fringe to try to establish consensual limits in light of police operations like operation spanner in the late 80s.
Joanna :- Operation Spanner ?
Claire :- Yes, In the UK the police successfully prosecuted a number of gay men for actual bodily harm which had been inflicted consensually during sex. Despite a number of appeals to the house of lords and the ECHR, the convictions were upheld, But the associated debate and activism led to Organisations like the spanner trust and even S&M pride.
Joanna :- Ok, so what was on your list ?
Claire :- It doesn’t really work like that. The list is all list of all S&M and sexual activities, with you indicating your willingness to do the activity, You then sign it and it’s stored for your agent (in my case Mandy) to refer to if people ask for particular things.
Joanna :- Ok, so what were your preferences ?
Claire :- I was wiling to do everything on the list, which included things like piercing, protection, knife play, threat, fluid sharing, asphyxiation, toilet play, drugs, bondage, humiliation that sort of thing. Later on, I even agreed to waive my safe word for a husband and wife for a scene they wanted to try over a weekend.
Joanna :- You agreed to waive your safe word ? Isn’t that the point of safe sane and consensual ?
Claire :- Yes, but its more about trust. I did it because I had known the couple for a while and had sex with both of them separately, so felt confident with them, although I agreed to not knowing what the scene they had planned was.
Joanna :- Ok, we’ll come back to that later, but what was your first experience like ?
Claire :- It was a really vanilla intro for me. He wanted me to turn up in a corset, fishnets, thong and high heel stilletos. Once there, I had oral sex with him twice and he used a dildo on me. An hour later, I had £40 in my purse and was driving onto my next client.
Joanna :- You had two clients on your first day ? What would have happened if you decided you didn’t want to do it ?
Claire :- (Laughing) yeh, that wasn’t going to happen ! Remember, I knew what I wanted to do from the start of things, so, these early introductions to things were just a stepping stone for me.
Joanna :- But, didn’t you feel that you were just fulfilling a fetish for these guys and devaluing women to just sex, underwear and high heel fetishes ?
Claire :- No, I didn’t. At the time, I just saw it as me expressing and exploring myself sexually. I wasn’t speaking for a cause, judging people or their choices. I was just giving myself the opportunity to be me.
Joanna :- And looking back at it now ?
Claire :- It’s behind me now, I’ve learnt about myself and my preferences. I don’t need to go back to that time and having lived it, I can say that I understand some of the issues it raises and wouldn’t judge anyone for choosing to live that life.
Joanna :- Best and worst experiences ?
Claire:- Best experience was undoubtedly the women I met and worked with. They were incredible, supportive, understanding and completely there for me. Worst experience was one of the last scenes I did. I blacked out and woke up 4 days lated in just my underwear in a different city to where it started with no clear memory of what had happened. It made me realise I needed a way out though, rather than the next thrill, which I had become hooked on. So,I guess even that was a positive.
Joanna :- What do you mean ?
Claire :- When I first started, I hadn’t realised that S&M experiences could be like a ratchet. Every new experience would set a new bar for the level of thrill. In particular when it came to pain thresholds. I got myself into a loop where experiences needed to become more and more extreme in order for me to “feel” them,
Joanna :- Does that ever leave you ?
Claire :- I think so, but it takes time to appreciate a different intimacy experience. You have to recondition yourself and de-sensitize. I also had some “witness marks” which I had to cover with tattoos, which wouldn’t have been my first choice for myself normally, but marked a new me and a new start. So why not ?
Joanna :- What advice would you give a transgender woman looking to get into sex work now ?
Claire :- I’m not sure any advice I could give would be relevant now. In this age of social media, the rules have changed, everything is so visible now and women have to be so much more careful now about putting themselves out there and the choices they make. Maybe the best things I could say would be what I was told when I first started. “Be safe”, “Learn about headspace, which is important for separation between real and fantasy” and it really helps if you “treat it like a lollipop”.
I’m grateful for Claire for sharing what she did with me, it gave me lots of things to think about and something that I’ll definitely be coming back to with her in later posts and workshops, but in the meantime, I’d love to know what your experiences are from this scene, or even if you have been tempted yourself !
After 2018, I knew I had to make some fundamental changes to my life if it was going to change for the better. But change is hard, particularly personal change.
I probably know that better than anyone. We all resist change everyday, making excuses or rationalising events as injustices, which prevent us getting what we feel we deserve.
But, often the reality is different. Mine has certainly been so this year, I’ve recommitted to my faith in god, but instead of prayer and serving others, I’ve started taking time in 2019 to practice self love. Practicing self love in 2019 has given me a way to even out the highs and lows of events as they unfold, sometimes even before they unfold.
Self love gives me a way to improve my mental health without medication and therapy. And the best part ? It’s really easy ! Losing myself in simple everyday things helps me manage my anxieties, sadness or anger, allowing me to regain control of the moment and protect myself. But it hasn’t always been easy, so I thought I would share my top three tips for practicing which have helped bring me this far in my recovery.
This is huge, I guess maybe the most important thing. When I say small, what I mean is to start with something in proportion to helping you progress from where you are. For example, when I started, I was in such a funk that I wasn’t able to get out of bed, so, it didn’t make sense setting my goal as running a marathon. So instead, I focussed on the simple things that I needed to do. In my case, getting up and getting dressed. Simple, positive and achievable. And when you do achieve them, it really helps with your self esteem and valuing yourself. Believe me !
Create your routine and stick to it
Although I’ve been clean for a while now, one of the most important lessons from that period of my life was regularity. When my mood swings became more extreme or unpredictable, setting a routine and publishing it on a wall chart really helped to take the pressure of day to day organisation off me. I knew where and when I had to be, it was easy.
Better than that, by setting regular rewards for myself through the week in response to targets that I set helped me maintain my motivation. And once a week, I made sure I checked in with my counsellor to keep me honest. If it helps, I make sure that my goals are either achievement, pleasure or relaxation oriented. I even colour them in to make them look pretty !!
Keep a mood diary
Once I’ve set my routine, not only do I make sure I stick to it, but I also keep track of how the day is going. I write a whole load of gook in there, mostly about feelings and what has happened to make me feel like that. I also write down the things I eat, exercise, all sorts.
I’ve found looking back at this diary with my counsellor really reassuring. It helps me track improvements and trends which we can dissect to give insights as to triggers which lead to coping strategies, which empower wellness.
Remember though, although self love can help to improve your mood and maintain a positive life balance, if you still feel depressed and you are really unwell, it is important to seek professional help.
Anyone that knows me knows that I have had my demons in the past and made bad decisions which have affected those who were close to me. I’m not proud of that, but with the promises I’ve made to myself for 2019, I’m working to make sure they don’t happen again. (or happen less, I am human after all)
Reminiscing this weekend, I was thinking about my brief time as a sex worker and found myself asking if this was something I regretted or not. More than that, I came to realise that a lot of my trans friends have all been sex workers, so I thought I’d ask three of my closest friends about their feelings and experiences from that time.
Speaking to Rae* she remembers her time with mixed feelings. “It was a means to an end for me. I can’t really say much more about it than that” she says. “Unemployed, without access to health insurance, I couldn’t afford the HRT I was desperate for, so something had to change and that something was me”. “Looking back on it, I think it was a case of two wrongs making a right. Nature gave me the wrong body, which I had to correct through the wrong of sex work to become the right me”. Curious, I ask her how long she did it for and how she rationalised doing it. “I only did it for 4 years, to get myself through college and to the point of surgery. I then moved and put it all behind me.” Rationalising it was easy. Each months HRT was either so many BJs, or a mix of HJs, Anal and pumping or any other combination. Rent was the same, but after my HRT which was always my first priority. Anything above that went into my escape fund for my new life.” Now in a better place, I ask her “Do you regret it ?” to which she replies, “that’s a complicated question to answer. I don’t regret becoming me, overall I am in a much better place. But I do regret how I had to make it happen. With so much negative judgement about being a sex worker, I try to keep the fact that I did it to myself which can make me anxious sometimes or bring about a panic attack anticipating that someone has found out. I sometime hear co-workers in the kitchen complaining about the routine of their jobs, or how much they hate it. Well guess what buttercup, there’s always someone worse off than you who would trade lives in an instant, I know I did, so how about some gratitude ?”
Krissy* is a little different. “At university, my cocaine addiction ran up a $70k debt which my dealer eventually called in. First it was him, then his friends and eventually anyone and everyone. His girlfriend was the worst, she didn’t mind spending his money, just as long as she had me to degrade myself with him and his friends. She kinda used me as a shield. Whatever I ended up doing, it didn’t really add to the emotional pain that I was suffering from my dysphoria. The only thing that took it away was the cocaine.” So what got you out ? I ask. “Well, I’m not really out of it, I still work as a cam girl, posting videos of myself and doing live videos for paying clients. I’ve kind of swapped one addiction for another. Attention. Its almost like I need the adoration to validate me as a woman. I realise that sounds crap and will offend feminists and probably even some Trans people, but for me and lots of other CIS women doing it, that’s our fucked up truth and I’m not ashamed to own it. For now at least. I realise there will come a time where I will become too old for my vanity, but the way I figure it, I’ll be able to look back at the pictures with no regrets, knowing that I (eventually) managed to build the kinda life for myself that all those self help sites promise and promote. I just got there a different way. So what ?”
Claire* has a similar story. “I wanted to explore my sexuality and a number of women at the massage studio were working as escorts in London, so I thought why not me ? I was already exploring my gender and sexuality seemed a natural progression.” So it was just a one off for you ? I ask. “Oh no, I did about 6 years, maybe a little longer if you count the odd times I did it after I stopped working at the studio.”
Curious, I ask why. “It was strange, each time I did it, the sensation was like a ratchet, the next time had to be more extreme, more painful, more degrading, whatever. I wanted to explore my limits and the people I did it with were just tools to help me do it.” When I ask if she considers herself kinky, she straight out laughs at me. “Sweety, people like me don’t call ourselves kinky, that’s a label for the slap and tickle for couples who shop at Ann Summers !!!” So what then ? What do you call yourself ? “I guess a professional. I had my playlist of what constituted safe, sane and consensual. Safewords and more. Like a contract, so maybe I should call myself self-employed !” What made you stop I ask ? “Two things, I had a regular who used to cut and brand me in our scenes, which although I’ve managed to cover up with tattoo’s since, have left me with an anxiety complex and having to cut myself as a kind of replacement for intimacy.” And the second ? “I went for a no limits weekend scene with a couple in Sunderland and came round 4 days later in a hotel room in Middlesbrough not really knowing what had happened. “ Those two things made me realise I needed a way out.
Thanks to regression therapy and flashbacks I’ve managed to piece a lot of it back together which has helped me get better, or at least mentally more able to manage my anxiety, but without that “oh shit” moment” I don’t know what would have happened.”
Given that, I’m surprised when I ask her about what she has learned about that weekend that she just tells me, in a matter of fact style that absolutely scares the hell out of me, so instead, I ask her if she has any regrets. “None at all about doing it.” she says. “Or even what I did”. “Maybe just the trust that I put in other people, but even then I learnt a lot about human nature”
I’m grateful to all three women (I’ve changed their names) for sharing their experiences with me, which are different to mine. My reason for doing it was simple. Money. We all have to live in the material world after all and like Madonna says, I am a material girl. As for regrets, absolutely. I wish I had never come anywhere near that life, because society doesn’t need another reason to judge me unfavourably.
I just wish society would show sex workers the same kind of respect and equality they deserve. More than that, I guess as a former sex worker myself, I would say that if you’re thinking about doing it, have some respect for yourself and think carefully about it. In these days of social media, it can stay with you forever, in a very different, more public and personal way than it did in my day. All of which make the mental recovery harder.
We love hearing from you girls, either when you come into the salon, or via email. So we were thrilled when friend of the store Erin got in touch recently, saying she was having trouble with her foundation. Although I’ve blogged before about the importance of primer – in this post, I just wanted to concentrate on the top five mistakes we see trans women making when they’re applying foundation.
1. Choosing the wrong nuance
All makeup artists are of the opinion that foundation should be in the same tone as your natural complexion. To determine the perfect tone for your skin apply a line of each of the 3 or 4 colors that seem closest to your complexion to your jawline and choose the one that blends most invisibly.
2. Applying foundation with force
If you enforce too much pressure on your sponge or applicator you will not get a better coverage. All you will accomplish by rubbing too hard is reddening of the skin and an uneven distribution of the foundation. For a better effect use your fingertips and apply the foundation with light circular motions.
3. Applying foundation with insufficient light
If the room is too bright or too dark you will not be able to see properly and cover all of your face evenly. When you go outside, the daylight will make your mistakes visible. Our advice is to create your makeup in the same light in which you will be wearing it.
4. You are applying more than is needed
If you are trying to cover up some defect, you should know that masking it over with foundation has the reverse effect. Spread the foundation in an even layer over your whole face; do not pile it in one area, because this will attract attention to this area. Your skin needs air, so in this case “the less, the better” is the rule to go by. Otherwise you may be mistaken for a clown.
5.You have not prepared the skin before applying foundation
Primer is so important – so so important !! YOU HAVE TO PREP YOUR SKIN ladies !!. Then you have to hydrate it with a moisturizing lotion. You can begin applying foundation once the moisturizer is completely absorbed.
Would love to know what your top tips are for foundation – do you have a favourite ? Or maybe a brush you like to use for a flawless finish – why not pop me a line ?
When I was asked this myself recently, I had to admit the question made me stop and think. Really think. Being Transgender you might expect my answer to reflect my dysphoria, but as a woman I know my femininity is worth more than that. I don’t think I could sum it up in a single word or an expression.
Being Transgender doesn’t invalidate my answer to the question. Sure, there are TERFs who may disagree, but so what ? Sometimes, shock horror, society (and the law) disagrees with them too and you don’t see many of them beating themselves up over it, or changing their opinion.
So what does being a woman, a Transgender woman mean to me ?
It means I know that I am more than just my gender. I’m aware of the obstacles life is going to throw my way and prejudices people will have about me. I can trust my own ability to overcome these too, even if I don’t immediately know how to. I don’t need to do it all on my own either, because I have the confidence and self-awareness to know when to ask for help.
I’m not afraid to show my feelings either, because, hey, we all have them and I’m not afraid to be true to mine. They’re my truths, which reflect my kindness, generosity, compassion, integrity, a willingness to be vulnerable, and authenticity. They help ground me and be true to myself.
As a woman, I know that my strength and value is built on these feelings which give me a kind of confident humility in all that I do. Backed up by my faith in God and passion for loving and helping others, this confident humility means I stay centred, without being arrogant.
Being a Transgender woman, I know that femininity is more than a biological or social construct. It’s about being human and recognizing the complexity of diversity that comes with being human. As a Transgender woman, I’ve had to take responsibility for my life, what I want for my life and how society will see me in a far more fundamental way than most others. I have gone beyond any fears or prejudices to define my own womanhood.
I enjoy being a woman, and I enjoy being the woman I am becoming. I especially enjoy challenging the notion that I can be put in a box. I am training to be a hair stylist and an activist for my community. I want to be married and have many children, all the while maintaining my identities as child of God, a daughter, a sister, and a good friend. But I don’t think that any of this makes me a more special kind of woman or better than any other woman; it’s just MY womanhood. And though it may need some work, for the most part, and until further notice, I love it.
Every year, a monk who lived high in the mountains in an isolated retreat would come down to a nearby village and barter with the villagers for supplies to sustain him until his next visit.
Each year, he would bet the villagers that he could guess what any of them was holding in their hands. The villager would wager some food and the monk would wager the gift of a blessing in case he couldn’t guess. But he never did, and when he returned to this retreat, the villagers were left to wonder as to how he did it while thinking of new ways to catch him out so they could receive his blessing.
One year, a teenage boy came up with a cunning plan to gain the monks blessing. He would hold a live bird in his hands and invite the monk to guess. If the monk didn’t guess, he would receive his blessing, but if he did manage to guess, the teenage boy would ask “is it alive or dead though ?”
If the monk guessed dead, then the boy would open his hands in front of the monk, the bird would fly away and the boy would receive his blessing. If the monk guessed alive though, the boy would clasp the bird tightly, killing it and again, he would receive his blessing.
Pleased with his plan, the boy waited until the Autumn when the monk came to the village. Patiently, he waited and then asked the monk “what have I got in my hands ?” when it was his turn.
The monk, looked at the boys hand and smiled “You have a bird in your hand” he said. “BUT” shouted the boy, his trap set “Is it alive or dead ?”
The monk thought for a while, for he was a very wise man and understood immediately what the trap was. In time, he smiled again at the boy and said “You have the gift of life in your hands, what you choose to do with it is up to you”.
Beaten, the boy opened his hands and the bird flew free.
Remember, Every single one of us has the gift of life within our own hands.