I’m a 30-year-old female in my last year of medical school. I’ve been a full service sex worker for the last three years to support myself through school. I’m out to all my friends and family, and they're all supportive, but I’m not out to anyone at the hospital or who could have any influence on my future job opportunities. I’ve been single this whole time or had casual FWBs who didn’t care that I was a sex worker.

I’ve recently started seeing someone I like and could see myself being with long term. I haven’t been in a proper relationship for a while and it’s nice to finally find someone I feel this way about. I haven’t told him about work. He’s also a doctor at the hospital so he’s not in the category of people I can just tell and then if they don’t like it then too bad for them, since I don’t want people at the hospital to know. We are in our early days and we haven’t discussed being monogamous yet but I know that’s what he wants. I’ve been "kicking the can down the road," as you say, to avoid saying "Yes, we’re monogamously boyfriend and girlfriend!’ and then by extension be cheating on him every time I accept a booking.

I'll be a doctor in less than a year and already planned to stop doing sex work after that. So should I tell him about the sex work and risk the consequences? He might not have a problem with it but more likely he will have a problem with it and then there will be a doctor at my hospital who knows. Or should I stop working and be with him? That option would involve moving house and getting some probably more stressful and time consuming job in my final year of med school. Or should I lie to him for another year about the one booking I accept a week or should I stop doing full service and do massage or something else instead and get tested regularly and always use condoms with him and every client?

All of these seem like shitty options to me. Can you think of another?

What Do You Think?

One other option comes to mind: tell the nice doctor you're in medical school — presumably you'd be telling him something he already knew — and ask him if he remembers how stressful medical school was, how crushing the workload was, and how little time medical school left for the having boyfriends or girlfriends or enbyfriends. Then tell him you want to put things on hold and focus on your studies for the next twelve months, WDYT, twelve months (and 52 bookings) that will surely fly by. Graduate, get licensed, get your first doctor job, get out of sex work, get tested for everything, and then get back in touch with Dr. McDreamyButInconvenientTiming. If he's still single, you can ask him out then.

Zooming out for a second: I believe that there's nothing wrong with consenting adults doing sex work or consenting adults hiring sex workers and that consensual sex work should be decriminalized and that the prohibition of consensual sex work — it's illegality — either creates or exacerbates the problems that anti-sex-work activists point to when arguing against decriminalization. But I also believe that the partners of sex workers have a right to know because I'm a big fan of informed consent — recognizing, of course, that there may be women (and some men) out there doing sex work to survive and not all of them able to share that information with partners who may be controlling, abusive, violent, or all of the above.

That said, WDYT, if you never want anyone working in medicine to learn how you put yourself through med school... you won't be able to date this guy a year from now or anyone else connected to medicine. Since all of your friends and all of your family know about the sex work (and they're all supportive, which means you won the friends-and-family lottery), any future boyfriends and/or husbands will find out sooner or later. It's not a secret that keeps — and someone who's a friend now could be a bitter, estranged friend five years from now, only too happy to send your then-husband (or then-employer) an anonymous email outing you. So if you want to up the chances of keeping your pre-doctoring professional life forever walled off from your professional medical career, WDYT, you'll want to exclusively date people who don't work in or near medicine.


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