Transgender sex workers are in high demand in the Middle East but the risks might not be worth the payout.

In interviews with Foreign Policy, several such workers said their services are in big demand.

“The men there love me,” said Mya, who is Thai-Chinese and currently working in San Francisco. “When I walk in the street or in the mall, boys are all over me.”

“The ratio of money you can make is times 10, if you are able to maintain just one regular client,” said Diana, a Filipina transgender woman. “If you have a working relationship with a guy, you can practically become a millionaire.”

The sex trade in the Middle East, the magazine reported, is thriving, especially in Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Bahrain. Islamic law in these Gulf countries forbids gay sex and gay foreigners are barred from entering the countries.

As a result, transgender women working in the sex trade are literally risking their lives for a paycheck.

Mya said she was arrested for 3 months in 2010.

“They really treated me like a dog or an animal,” she said. “There are a lot of big criminals – drug dealers, things like that. Those big criminals were allowed to pay to come to my cell. The guard would open the gate and let them enter my cell and rape me whenever they wanted.”

Diana was arrested in the course of a sting operation which netted several transgender sex workers. She said their handlers forced them to disrobe and took pictures as they verbally abused them. She was taken to the head of the police, who raped her.

Mya said the guards placed a hanging rope in her cell.

“If I wanted to, I could just hang myself,” she said. “Nobody would care. But I told myself I never would. My life is too beautiful and too exciting to die in a jail cell.”