Lessons from a Non-Binary Sex Worker with Alex Xand
Like any workplace, navigating effective communication through branding, client interactions and setting expectations can be a bit of a tango, except no one has practiced and you’re wearing clown shoes. If you are new to sex work or new to your non-binary, gender fluid, or otherwise big trans umbrella identity - welcome, good luck, and enjoy the dance!
My work name is Alexxx Atlas, you can find me on Rent Men, Hunqz, or Twitter as @Alexxx_Atlas. I began full service escorting in 2017 back in the golden era of Backpage. I was getting bored with being told I was giving people five star performance while feeling my needs were being underserved or otherwise being dissatisfied with the sexual advances I was receiving at the time. I figured if I’m not getting my rocks off with mediocre hookups I may as well be paid for it - and it was the best decision in self worth I’ve ever made. I’ve done cam work, full service, professional domination and rough trading, with a sprinkle of sugar here and there. I was at a house party when I met one of the head brains behind Drip, and was asked to write about /something/ after regaling them with my cheeky beat pig experiences - seemed like a fun project! We had a meatball sandwich and brainstormed what part of my sexual experience might be useful for the drip audience to read, so here we are! Welcome to a little peak into my experience of being a non-binary, gender non-conforming sex worker.
Before you even think about sex work, my sibling, have you considered?
Let’s keep it chronological (or at least somewhat linear) with some preconscious thoughts I didn’t realise were very important to consider before I hopped on the hooker train.
The first thing about my identity I learned was to expect to be misinterpreted. Who I am as a composition of my actions, my aspirations, and how I am perceived in context vary greatly, and knowing that the latter does not define who I am entirely, but is part of who I am, was very important for me to learn.
When receiving advice from veterans, remember their context. I’ve made many a mistake in applying advice from workers with different identities, work environments, and bodies to my practice. Remember that there are no absolutes and no one piece of advice is universally viable.
The story can be more exciting than the correct response. One of my enduring favourite clients was a veteran whose partner died a decade ago. On arrival he’d make a fresh cordial and tell me stories of his youth. He hired me because I look like his first lover, and so in this scene, identity is irrelevant while the purpose is providing a gateway to nostalgia. Dancing through gender perception was a given; secondary to hearing the humanity of my client. In doing so, I know the power I hold in providing my services, the narrative I enable, and the healing I facilitate. This is what a lot of my escort experience has been, space holding, facilitation, care.
Clients and identity? Balancing your needs
Learning to decentralise my experience of identity from external perception can take time, particularly in a new work setting. If there is anything I wish I knew as I first decided to enter the world of sex work, it’s that a client’s experience is framed by their ecology and will be unlikely to align with my reality - the same as any working relationship. I’ve had clients call me all kinds of insults for simple things like not sharing my legal name. I’ve played every role from “dom Arab top” to “daddy’s secret little girl” based on what my clients have needed at the time. It’s important to weigh up feelings of dysphoria, need for external validation, safety and support networks for any given work day, especially where identity and perception of self may be feeling tender.
Tips on becoming an epic client
If you’re thinking about booking a sex worker for the first time, or if you’d like to be a top tier legend, you might not have much framework or guidance. Clients who are honest about their experience, communicate what they want to explore, and are able to plan ahead if need be are always very appreciated. I realised recently that most of my favourite clients to plan with have military experience, and are efficient in planning and communicating. Starting the conversation as though you’re booking an appointment with a medical professional is a simple way to reflect on how effective you’re communicating. We can see very quickly when someone is just having a chat, trying to get free sexual encounters, or isn’t ready to book - it’s called screening. This process begins immediately upon making contact and continues until the closure of the first booking. Screening is unfortunately a necessary physical and mental safeguard due to the stigma and violence clients can direct at sex workers. You can avoid being screened out by thinking “would I say this to my dentist?” before you say it to a sex worker.
If you’re keen to engage with sex work, a bonus challenge for you is removing gendered language entirely! Now that you know trans, gender diverse, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and gender fluid workers exist, you might also realise that there are limited existing platforms to advertise on. What this means is that on sites and directories that are gendered or branded a certain way, not everyone who uses that site necessarily conforms to that image. Establishing norms around what you call a worker or their body parts is part of the booking process and can be done when preparing for a confirmed booking or during the first moments of contact in said booking. This is a really easy and uncomplicated way to keep it hot throughout your time with a sex professional and keep it feeling easy for everyone involved.
Practices to maintain!
The key to any growth is reflection, so for workers and clients alike - especially if you’re new. Debrief at every chance you can! Think about what worked well and what didn’t, what you’d like to learn next time, and what you might do differently. I’ve had a number of clients cancel bookings out of fear of being scammed, but ironically, I’ve been stood up and had money withheld more times than I can count. These moments can be really hard, so reflecting with a friend, in a journal, however works for you, can be really useful for moving the icky feelings.
Sexwork experiences are often moving, healing, and in some cases very profound for both client and worker, for this reason when miscommunications happen, or when unexpectedly difficult moments come up, I find the opportunity to reflect really important for maintaining my mental health. Allowing oneself to be moved and grow through engaging with sex work is a great way to get to know ourselves better.
You can find Alex Xand on Instagram here.