‘No Humans Involved:’ Violence Against Queer and Transgender Sex Workers

Updated: Today the Gay City News, which is the most widely circulated gay weekly in the United States, published this editorial entitled “No Humans Involved’: End Violence Against Queer and Transgender Sex Workers.” I’m linking it here, because I didn’t just write it for the ‘gaystream.’ I also wrote it for the sex worker movement, which produced some very nontrans ‘woman’-centric statements for the Day to End Violence. The fact is that queer and transgender sex workers, especially people of color, low-income folks, and homeless persons, have long been targets of cops and serial killers. In response to some of the comments this post has already generated; acknowledging this fact does not in any way ‘fragment’ the movement and it doesn’t ‘blame’ or ‘scare off’ some ‘invisible majority’ of sex workers that would somehow tip the scales of public opinion in our favor.

In any case, if acknowledging that racism and homophobia and transphobia are all tied up in the policing of sex work is frightening your ‘majority’ off, that’s because of racism, homophobia, transphobia and internalized whorephobia itself. It’s absolutely criminal that you are accusing people organizing around their identities, and this editorial itself, of being ‘fragmenting’ for the movement. Read it yourself. Tell me again why I should shut up and let the ‘majority’ keep flapping their gums about this supposedly universal ‘good girl’ whore. Tell me again why you need this rotten ‘respectability’ in order to lure the straights and the Republican strippers and the property owning madames who would sooner take her 50 percent than give a damn.

What’s more, acknowledging our differences can strengthen our alliances with other movements. The fact that this editorial was published in a major ‘gay’ publication speaks to this possibility. This is a small step in the direction of remembering and reclaiming the names of those who have died but who have been ignored by us: like the young hustlers who faced death alone in the cold arms of heartless killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy, Jr., but also those of us who have been raped by the police, kicked out of our homes, incarcerated, and abandoned by our families.

‘No Humans Involved’: Ending Violence Against Queer and Transgender Sex Workers

To mourn the victims of murder, incarceration, and intimate partner violence in their midst, this past December 17, sex workers, clients, and allies filled New York City’s Metropolitan Community Church and marked the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. The Day was honored by more than 27 cities this year, from Nairobi to Hong Kong. Here in New York, the high-ceiling room of the church reverberated with the names of the dead.

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In Solidarity: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

A serious health issue prohibited me from taking part in any IDEVASW events this year but much love, solidarity and support to all those taking part in this really important day worldwide.    As someone who survived some of the very violence from which this day takes it’s meaning, with some very close calls to not surviving, I am truly honored by everyone’s dedication to fighting violence against sex workers.  All of you are awesome activists and people for doing this.  With much love and affection

Jill Brenneman

Project Coordinator

Sex Workers Without Borders

 

Bad Rehab!

In solidarity with our friends at APNSW and Sex Workers around the world we share: “Bad Rehab”

 

Possible Serial Killer in New York

Gosh, I wonder how many sex workers are being arrested while a possible serial killer remains on the loose: http://www.aolnews.com/2010/12/14/ny-police-we-could-have-a-serial-killer// .

Community Forum for Adult Film/Web Porn Performers

St. James Infirmary is hosting a community forum for Adult Film/Web Porn Performers of all genders/orientations to discuss the recent closure of Adult Industry Medical (AIM), re-regulation of CA Occupational Health and Safety laws relating to the Adult Film Industry and next steps to promoting a rights-based approach for Porn Performers. All performers are welcome to join us. Please RSVP to communications@StJamesInfirmary.org if you’re able to join us.
Who: Adult Film Performers
What: Community Forum on Health Regulations
When: Thursday December 16th, 2010 5:30-7:30pm
Where: St. James Infirmary, 1372 Mission St @ 10th, San Francisco
If you can’t join us: Please send an email to Communications@StJamesInfirmary.org or leave a message at (415) 554-9633 to receive notes from the forum.
Background: The California Occupational Health and Safety board have been reviewing studio practices based on complaints made to them, some from performers, some anonymous. The Aids Healthcare Foundation has been lobbying hard with limited input from people who actually work in the industry. In June of 2010 AIM applied for a community clinic license and on December 9th they received a cease and desist order after that application was denied.
We’re concerned that performers are being under- and mis-represented in these discussions and that it is critical for a diverse range of workers to come together to establish a unified voice to advocate for a rights-based approach to regulation.
Of course, our ultimate goal is for all performers to be as healthy and prosperous as possible! Please join us and share how you think these issues can best be approached. Please spread this message far and wide.

Average Age of Entry

We’ve all heard the popular prohibitionist claim that the “average age of entry into prostitution is 13”.  And though we all know that’s rubbish, we’ve never had any kind of figures on what the REAL average age of entry might be…until now.

A friend of mine who is still a working escort recently conducted a poll of 100 escorts who frequent a message board of which she is a member.  She asked at what age they started the trade, and her results were as follows:

Younger than 15: 3%
15-17: 11%
18-20: 13%
21-23: 18%
24-26: 16%
27-29: 10%
30-32: 10%
Older than 32: 19%

She polled the “older than 32” respondents separately and the average age for that category was 42; she estimated the average for the “under 15” category at 13.  Given these figures, the average age of entry into prostitution for American escorts is 26.46.

It’s difficult to know what percentage of all American prostitutes are escorts, but I would suspect 60% is a good guesstimate; the National Taskforce on Prostitution estimates about 15% are streetwalkers, so that allows 25% in brothels and massage parlors.  Estimating the average age of streetwalkers is tricky; I’m going to be really generous and pretend that HALF of all streetwalkers are underage.  Now, by all reasonable estimates that’s much higher than the reality but I want to err on the side of caution.  Let’s presume adult streetwalkers enter at roughly the same times as escorts (average 26); what’s the average for underage girls?  Well, guess what; it still isn’t 13 even for them.  As explained in this analysis, it’s about 16.  If we average the two figures (26 for adult streetwalkers and 16 for underage) we arrive at an average streetwalker entry age of 21, a far cry from 13 even if we assume HALF of streetwalkers are underage!  We have no stats on brothel or massage girls, so again I’m going to be incredibly generous to the liars and fanatics and estimate that the average for that group is the same as among streetwalkers, namely 21.

So let’s crunch the numbers:  if 60% start at an average age of 26 and 40% at an average age of 21, the average age at which American prostitutes enter the profession is 24, which I think everyone can agree is safely into the adult range.   Obviously, this is a rough estimate, but it’s a lot closer to reality than that ridiculous “13” figure; maybe if we all start spreading these figures around we can combat some of the misinformation, at least in the minds of those who are willing to listen.

Support for a sex worker kidnapped, held and tortured for 10 days.

A colleague forwarded this to me.  Similarities are eerie only she was able to escape.  My hope is that despite societies treatment of sex workers she can get justice against this man and that she has the support of the sex worker community in her fight for justice.

Hamilton man with ties to Aryan Nation charged; Victim, a prostitute, said he told her he was hired to sell her into sex slavery

HAMILTON – Held captive in a closet for 10 days and raped 18 times, a young woman says two things kept her alive: complying with “Wild Bill’s” strange demands – and thinking about seeing her two small children again.

“He would let me out only when he wanted to talk to me, rape me, feed me or bathe me,” the 22-year-old woman told The Enquirer on Monday, after city police announced they had arrested William Hobert Manis, 44, on 18 rape charges and a kidnapping count.

A friend of Manis, Mike Hamilton of Milford, says supporters are trying to post his $200,000 bond – and they don’t believe the accusations.

“There is no way he could’ve held anybody hostage without us knowing,” Hamilton said. He and others visited Manis’ Campbell Avenue repeatedly throughout the 10-day period of the alleged crimes, he said.

But authorities say evidence backs up the woman’s account of her bizarre confinement – and she described how Manis kept it secret.

As he hung out with friends, Manis kept her bound, gagged and under orders not to shift her position at all – or face consequences.

“He would hog-tie me, and tell me not to move. When he came back, if he saw I had changed position at all, he would strip me naked and put me in the attic – and it was as cold in there as it was outside,” she said. “That was my punishment.”

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