“I have to confess that for me, sex work is not just a job – it’s an escape,” said Jara Krys, 22. “It’s not my job to worry about their relationship status or their sanity. It’s my job to give them a feeling of understanding and mutual respect: The people who see me are seeing me for similar reasons – for an escape.”
But do not call Krys, who said she does not find her profession to be “oppressive,” a prostitute.
“I’m an entrepreneur,” she declared. “I take full control of my body, my sexuality and my business. Receiving a Wharton education has taught me how to better market and operate my brand.”
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She works both days and nights, offering her services to clients (typically married, white, male local business owners that are between 40 and 50) either by phone or in person. Jara is up-front about her transgender identity in advance and has yet to have any dangerous situations with a john as a result.
She charges for her time — by the hour — and not solely on a particular sexual act alone. Due to her “increasing desirability” since her transition, her starting rate has jumped from $200 per hour to now $500. A full overnight stay with her can cost a client $2,000 flat.
Today, she goes by Jara Krys with a state ID now verifying her as female. She is taking a break from Penn to have a comfortable gender transition while also becoming a “high-end escort.”
She was born Christian Jaramillo and grew up poor near Las Vegas. By age 18, she had already lost both of her parents and became financially independent. Navigating her gender identity and sexual orientation growing up would be difficult for the remaining family members she had to interact with.
“It was a challenge, not because of who he was and who he is and what he’s like. He had an argument on everything. He loved to debate,” Jara’s estranged sister, Erendira Feuntes, told The Daily Pennsylvanian last year.
Feuntes, who goes by Erin, has chosen to still refer to Jara with male pronouns. The siblings are currently not on speaking terms, by Jara’s decision. “It’s hard because he never appreciated us,” Erin said.
It was also during this young age that Krys started to privately resorted to sex work to pay for the pricey, competitive extracurricular activities and resources that helped earn her a full financial aid enrollment into the prestigious Huntsman Program (an accelerated international dual degree program) at the University of Pennsylvania.
Money made from her escort work heavily funds her expensive transition, which she estimates will cost around $50,000 by year’s end, including laser hair removal, Botox, facial feminization surgery, ear-reductions and a recent breast augmentation.
But those are not the only costs associated with her taboo profession.
“I haven’t had sex outside of my profession in nearly a year — I’m a demi-sexual. I personally seek love and intimacy through relationships only,” Krys admitted.
Though Krys spoiled past lovers with “expensive steak dinners” and other enticements to make them at ease with the nature of her work, her partners could not fully come to terms with it.
But some of her friends also have their reservations as well
“I try to be supportive because I feel like not enough people will be supportive,” Jake Heagy told The Daily Pennsylvanian.
While attending the University of Maryland in Baltimore County in 2013, he met Jara on the dating site OKCupid — but they only developed a friendship. “I feel like she’s a better person than the job…and to me it feels demeaning,” he added.
“At the end of the day, I’m a businesswoman first,” Jara explained. “Don’t f— with my money and ambitions.”
But one recent incident could have abruptly set them back.
While traveling out of state, she was busted by an undercover cop. Although she was confident that the evidence would not hold up in court, Krys still feared for her safety while being handled by what she considered to be transphobic officers.
“They said, ‘as long as you were born with a [penis] you will always be a man,’” Jara said of the officers who had her in custody. “After being indirectly threatened with theft and rape, I had a panic attack.”
After enduring constant misgendering and transphobic remarks while in custody, she was eventually released with the financial backing of her closest clients who covered the fees associated. The charges that were later dropped.
“This experience compelled me to get an attorney and file a complaint on police misconduct,” Krys said. “I pray that it changes the police department’s handling of transgender people and puts scrutiny on their actions.”
It was in this moment that she truly realizes her “actions can further create change.”
“I’m no longer that scared transgender woman who feels she doesn’t deserve to be respected as a woman. I am now a transwoman who demands it,” Jara declared. “And as a sex worker, my advocacy is vital. My fellow transwomen don’t have the privileges I do — to be an Ivy-league student with invaluable connections.”
And despite her initial thoughts on only doing sex work to help pay for her transitioning, she now feels “fully shameless” of the occupation and plans to eventually take it international while “fighting for the rights of others less privileged along the way.”
But for now, Jara plans to return back to Penn next year and put her energy into Wharton’s entrepreneurial program. She has ambitions of becoming a transgender “icon” through continuous advocacy and an upcoming self-produced YouTube channel showcasing it.
“I also potentially plan on running for student government … having a transgender individual in Penn’s Student Government would be monumental,” Jara said. “It would be a great opportunity to raise visibility and education about not only the trans-community, but the student community as a whole.”
Overall, her journey has allowed her to see the bigger picture.
“Breaking gender norms gives freedom to everyone to feel safe to express themselves as authentically as possible – this movement is beyond the trans-community,” Jara declared. “This movement is about human rights.”