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I’ve never been able to fit neatly into a box: I’m bisexual, polyamorous, disabled, a sex worker — and recently I came out as nonbinary, after realizing that the negative feelings I had been having toward my body were gender dysphoria.

For most of my life, I was thin ― which fit the androgynous style I had been subconsciously expressing. In my 20’s I gained weight and felt very uncomfortable. Due to my large breasts I was unable to choose what clothes.

They were foreign parts that I had to have removed, and not something I loved. My breasts were part of a uniform men liked as a sex worker. They were covered with lingerie, just as the other sex employees I observed.

As an escort, I had been using femininity as a way to attract clients for years ― and before that, I had been using it to attract partners.

As a child, I tried to play snowball with my brothers, but they refused. As society put more pressure on me, I started dressing and acting in a more feminine manner. Whenever I had a date with a man or met a partner’s mother, I would put on a dress and speak in a higher pitch.

These are stereotypes of course ― you Don’t have to doAnything to Please beA woman. But, at an early age I recognized that I was not like everyone else and decided to adapt to my surroundings.

But, being too self-conscious can be a burden. Slowly, over the years, I’ve been experimenting with things that made me feel more comfortable and authentic. In all my relationships, I’ve borrowed my boyfriends’ T-shirts. But in my last one, I started borrowing my boyfriend’s boxers. He would comment that he preferred women’s underwear and that maybe I was trans ― and although he ended up being right, it goes to show just how gendered our society is when a woman can’t even wear comfortable underwear without being interrogated.

After realizing I was notbinary, it was a time when I began to isolate myself during the pandemic. My partner was far away from me and I began to doubt everything I did under the male gaze. I took a break in sexwork, but was now long distance from him.

Now that there was only me, how did I express my gender? I stopped wearing makeup and started shopping in the men’s section. I became angry because I hadn’t had pockets in my entire life.

Machine Gun Kelly and other men I saw on YouTube made me feel envious.

After I was vaccinated, and I was ready to return to escorting duties, this feeling of dread began to creep in. Now, I felt completely different. I couldn’t go back to dresses, heels and lingerie.

When I was finally reunited with my partner I found it difficult to have sex. It wasn’t that I wasn’t attracted to him ― it was that I didn’t know how to have sex with him without performing femininity. I didn’t want to perform femininity for Anybody Again Even if that meant I would have to stop doing sex and go broke.

Recently I’ve been taking some time to explore my gender. My long hair was cut and I immediately felt free to breathe. I went to a gender-neutral hair salon and specifically asked for a “men’s haircut.” When I went to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror, I finally understood what gender euphoria felt like.

Later that day, I bought large sweaters to hide my chest and men’s joggers to hide my hips. It was the first time I had stopped shaving my legs since childhood. I found that I really love it. When I get dressed up and brush my hair, it feels like a relief.

It is essential to be authentic. As I’ve grown older, the idea of pretending to be someone I’m not in order to feed myself makes me increasingly unhappy. I know that a lot of trans people can’t transition, and that it’s a privilege to be able to be yourself ― especially when you don’t fit within the binary.

I was scared to wear my baseball cap with long hair earlier this year because it would make me appear too masculine. Even though it sounds irrational, that’s how scared I was to be myself. Now, I’m welcoming a journey of self discovery, playing around with my appearance and looking for a gender therapist.

And even though I’m not doing sex work right now, I’m still using my sex work Twitter to explore who I am. My name was changed to Forrest, which feels more like me.

Every so often, when I scroll through Twitter, I find more and more nonbinary and trans masculine sex workers I didn’t know existed. Because it was the most suitable option at that time for me, as disabled person, I chose to become a sex worker. It was a great feeling to know that others found me attractive, even though I was disabled. It’s nice to know that if I wanted to go back to sex work, there would still be clients for me.

Even though I don’t feel comfortable going back to work right now, it gives me hope ― that maybe I can be myself in a job I loved, and learn to love it again.

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