Today (September 10th) is Suicide Prevention Day.

My first friend that committed suicide was when I was in my early teens. He was an amazing person, and at the time I knew nothing of suicide prevention, I didn’t know how rough of a time he was going through; he was a few years older than I was, and he had family issues like so many of us do.  His dad went out that night to get beer for them, he laid down one of those blue tarps in the living room, put a shotgun in his mouth and waited for his dad to come home.  Dad walks in the door says”Fuck you, dad” and pulls the trigger, never to be heard from again.
Since then more of my friends and loved ones have gone the short route in their lives, and it hurts worse every time.
My first friend that committed suicide wasn’t a sex worker, but we probably all know a sex worker that has at least thought about it.  I know several, some very near and dear to my heart.  Sometimes all it takes to prevent someone is LISTEN, more on how to listen here. You don’t even have to hear to listen.  Sometimes a HUG, an I love you, or a phone call can make all the difference in the world.
If you are interested in learning more about suicide, and how you may be able to prevent it both in yourself and in others, TALK ABOUT IT!  Don’t be afraid to talk loudly and proudly about suicide.  Whenever an opportunity comes up. Be not afraid!  Learn about some of the warning signs to suicide, and things you can do to help.
Resources:
If you’ve been through a suicide in your life, I recommend the Survivors of Suicide Project in Second life.
Also of course,  you can call one of the many sex worker hotlines, such as SWOP-USA’s at 877-776-2004, they are not trained suicide prevention operators but can help direct you to suicide prevention resources.

National US health care plan, what does ‘public option’ mean?

Thank you to Melora from SWOP-Boston for putting this all together.

Primary Source: TIME magazine
Secondary Sources: wikipedia.org, healthreform.gov, nytimes.com, various google searches (checking search lists for irregularities, will only site every source used upon request)

Note:

If you do not fall under one of the categories below, you will experience no change in coverage or costs. For the purposes of the following, Medicare means both Medicare, and Medicaid.

Have questions? Ask!

Have opinions? Dare to debate.

Effective 2010:

  • Uninsured with pre-existing condition receive immediate coverage (though i have not yet put together HOW – it depends on a plethora of factors that vary from one individual to another including income, employment, and geographic.
  • Uninsured and age 26 or younger are now approved to be covered by their parents’ insurance
  • Insurers no longer allowed to deny care to a patient who becomes sick (currently private companies are able to suspend coverage of individuals who develop certain illnesses, despite having paid their premiums)
  • Insurers no longer allowed to end coverage after a patient reaches a certain age (many companies will not cover you if you live past 80, for example)
  • Insurers no longer allowed to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions
  • Employers of small businesses to receive tax credits if they purchase insurance plans for their employees.
  • Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries receive $250 as a stipend when they hit the doughnut hole.
  • What is the doughnut hole? A rule in medicare part D prescription drug coverage that states that once Medicare has paid $2,700 in prescription drug coverage for an individual, they are then on their own to cover the full cost of prescription medications until they have reached $6,154 in prescription drug expenses.

Effective 2011:

  • Insurers required to spend 80% of premiums collected on medical services.
  • Medicare Prescription Drug Beneficiaries receive 50% the cost of prescriptions while in the doughnut hole.

Effective 2013:

  • Medicare taxes on unearned income increase for individuals earning $200,000+/yr or families earning $250,000+

Effective 2014:

  • Everyone must either be insured or pay a fine, whichever is less expensive. (the way the government will know whether you are insured is by making demonstrating proof of coverage a part of filing taxes.)
  • Families earning less than four times the federal poverty level ($22,000 x 4 = $88,000) receive subsidies to help them cover the cost of insurance
  • Public healthcare options provided by states (similar to the insurance already available in Massachusetts) become available to anyone in the country who does not have insurance coverage via either their parents, their employer, or medicare.
  • Insurers officially banned from denying anyone with a pre-existing condition
  • Insurers limited in their abilities to price coverage based on pre-existing conditions
  • Employers of 50 or more people must provide coverage to their employees or pay a fine, whichever is less expensive.

Effective 2018:

  • Insurers that bill individuals $10,200+ or families $27,500+ annually are subject to a 40% excise tax

Effective 2020:

  • The doughnut hole is eliminated.

A small bit about forcing people to have insurance:

  • The costs will be low (in MA current costs are about $25/month), and you get help if your family makes less than $88,000/yr.
  • This process does effectively ensure that public option healthcare can remain affordable and available to those of us who are dying and need it, and helps support emergency care, which is the most expensive and the most used by the uninsured who wait until they’re on their death beds to seek medical assistance.
  • You’ll be impressed how affordable it is for people as poor as us.

public option health insurance will bill on a scale according to income, not health status. private insurers will not be allowed to base prices on a patient’s medical status either. that was the main reason sited for why they pushed this bill so fast: so many people right now are sick and dying because they can’t afford health care.
however, there’s no way to know now what the exact numbers are yet, and this makes people uneasy. when it comes to costs, it’s still a couple years before the public option will be available, and each state will have its own variables that it has to grapple with in constructing their public option. While MA’s successful and extremely affordable public option healthcare (which began in 2006) will likely be a model for other states, it’s impossible to predict whether other states will be as generous with their benefits as MA.
this is an exact quote from TIME, which I take at face value based on the fact that the magazine is right wing and therefore has no motives to make the healthcare bill look good. the sources cited for the article from which i quote directly are the Congressional Budget Office, US Census Beaureau, Kaisser Family Foundation, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and Commonwealth Fund:

if you [have a pre-existing condition and] plan to buy your own coverage, you will be able to get it from any insurer selling in your area, and you will pay the same as anyone else in your age group. insurers won’t be able to place annual or lifetime limits on your coverage, and regulations will limit your out of pocket spending. 36% of Americans were turned down or charged higher premiums because of pre-existing conditions in 2007.

Again, thank you to Melora of SWOP Boston for putting this all together for us, and for helping make it easily digestable, and for Time Magazine for being such a great source of information.

So, what are your thoughts, now that we can understand it?  For or against, call or email your congressman and senators and let them know!  Personally I’m for it now.  I think it could go a lot farther, but this is way better than what we currently have!!

update (3/29/10 8:20PM PST): fixed up the bit about forcing people to have insurance and costs, the original was by me (Tara) and this new update is by Melora, because she’s so much smarter then I am about this stuff!

update (3/3/10 2:20PM PST): Some of this may be incorrect, we are working on resolving these issues.. sorry! a 2,000+ page document boiled down to something someone can understand is hard!!!

update (3/30/10 5:48PM PST): Ok, apparently nobody knows what’s up with the above $$ part, so take all of the stuff like this with a grain of salt, a HUGE grain of salt.  If and when congress/senate ever make up their minds, then we’ll know.  Right now that’s the big debate they are fighting over, so if  you feel it should be one way or another, now is the time to contact our congress and senate.  The rest of the article stands as fact for now.

My door and SW coming out day.

When I discussed my becoming a Sex Worker with my mom, last week, she got up and walked outside and smoked a cigarette or several…

Hours later sex work in general gets brought up by my activism (I had just received a call about some sex work activism stuff), and we had a really, really good conversation about how sex work IS work, and how it’s no different. I could tell she kept having some issues around sex work, and I kept asking, so what is your issue? debunking them, and telling her how it really is (from my perspective of course)…

After what seemed like hours of this..” The real reason is I don’t like it when it’s not a conscious choice someone makes.”

So I start talking about some of my completely socially acceptable past, where I started down a job I didn’t really want, didn’t really think about, and didn’t really ‘choose’, but I didn’t really NOT choose either. I was pushed a little maybe, without doing it I would not have gotten a good grade in school. But never was I forced into that job.I remember her comment went something like this “Had I known I would have beat your teacher up!” Except it was just in front of me. Seemingly fairly easy to get into, and maybe interesting. Sure the bad grade thing, but it was never said “do this or bad grade for you”.. it was “So what are we going to do about your grade.. <insert boring teacher language here>.. Have you thought about this?” Not forced mom! She calms down a little.

This and many grey areas like this happen all the time in other work, it and every other reason definitely happens in Sex Work as well. The point mom, all reasons for getting into some ‘regular’ work are all valid reasons for people to get into Sex Work as well. Coercion and Forced are grey areas, for individual people involved in being forced or coerced into choosing as being forced. Some are clearly forced, some less clear. Regardless, definitely non-consensual anything is BAD (and illegal, without needing to make sex work illegal), whether it’s sex work or not. I’m definitely a very consciously aware type when it comes to sex work as a job. Why Sex Work as a job? Not because I need a job, but because I want extra income to pay for my Sex Work activism.

She definitely got my point. We didn’t talk of it the rest of my trip. She seems to be more ok with me being a SW than my transgender status. She can’t get my name right, won’t use the right pronoun, etc. She does let me wear my regular clothing though.

So, back to the closet door!! Mine would be purple, it would have video screens in/on it, and would show all the amazing footage, video, scrolling awesomeness that is BnG, and all the other blogs, video, podcasts, etc that give SW’s a voice to talk and say what needs to be said.

Thanks to Jessica, Karly, Kitten, Debauchette and all others coming out to your mom to start this great discussion! I wonder if perhaps April 20th should become Sex Worker Coming Out Day?

Love to all from a newbie, who is still confused as to how she is able to post amongst all this greatness!

More on Moms

I told my mom I am a sex worker. It went something like this:

(scene) Eating sushi downtown on a Tuesday night

Me: I got the check

Mom: No, honey, you aren’t working right now…

Me: Actually, I am.

Mom: (long silence) Are you doing THAT again?

Me: Yeah.

Another long silence

Mom: I am worried about your safety.

Me: Don’t Mom. My clients aren’t crackheads or misogynists. Some own multi-million dollar corporations and serve on the boards of museums and the symphony.

Mom: Oh. (heads to the bathroom for like, ten minutes)

Half hour later, some idle gossip about family members at Starbucks, and then left field….

Mom: Is what you do illegal?

Me: Only if I don’t pay taxes.

Mom: I just love this mocha latte. (sip)

Ten minutes later after talk of Christmas plans….

Mom: I better get a top notch nursing home.

Me: Sure, mom, you will.

Mom: Let’s go shopping.

Me: Let’s.

So there you have it folks. I LOVE YOU MOM!!!

Insanely Sane Conversation With Mom

So, I’ve been navigating through the world of helping my mother really come to terms with my work. A post over at Debauchette has led me to reconsider the importance of having a sincere heart to heart with my mother, on the phone, from 2,000 miles away.

My relationship with my mom is incredibly ordinary I suspect, based on stories shared with women my age about their mothers who are my mother’s age. The bottom-line is: our generation enjoys an extreme degree of sexual privilege over women of our mother’s generation. For that generation, dealing with a super-intelligent and highly accomplished daughter who peddles sex and debauchery for pay is very complicated and very personal.

It may come as a surprise to some, but many of my colleagues are out with their parents about their sex work. My friends have had varying degrees of success. One of my favorite stories from a friend who came out to her mother as a professional Domina goes like this: “Mom, I want you to know that I am working as a Dominatrix. You’re welcome to ask me questions about it, but I’m going to answer honestly, so don’t ask if you don’t really want to know.”

Smart. Sensible. Simple. Conscious of how this is going to have both an emotional and social impact on our family and that they need to be able to set their own boundaries. And TRUST. Honesty is a luxury that family relationships so often deprive us of.

We want to ‘protect’ our mothers/fathers/siblings/partners’ families/etc from the painful reality that they’re related to a <em>whore</em>. Not because we are ashamed of what we do, but because it is complex and difficult and we owe the people that we love some patience and support, even when that means we have to face some criticism and doubt. We’re also giving our families an opportunity to demonstrate how sincerely they love us, trust us and want us to be safe and happy.

So we’ve brushed up against this a few times. My parents have seen my television interviews (I’m not sure how many or which ones.) i have the slight advantage of a family that is not very tech-savvy. I’m not concerned that my folks are out googling every incarnation of my name that they can dream up. However, I suspect that my friends families and my partners’ friends and families do. (Dealing with family of a partner warrants its own entire post, coming soon!)

So my mom has called me early in the morning and said “Was that you on that program about prostitution?” I lied. Yes, I know this will actually be a surprise to those who know me. But the first time that I was put on the spot by my mother, I lied. I lied for no good reason. I was afraid. It was also a point in my life where I had been abused by the media in so many ways, I was having my own shame and guilt about it. It’s bad enough that you risk your personal safety and professional livelihood when trying to speak about the ‘other side’ of sex work that the MSM always ignores. On top of that, other sex workers will ridicule and criticize you, especially those who don’t have the huevos to speak out themselves.

So when Mom asked about one particular piece that I did, I froze. I was scared. Not because she’s the sort to lash out and say mean things to me, she really wouldn’t. I’m not sure why i froze up, or even worse, why I lied to her. But i knew that she knew I was lying. Thus, we entered into a mutual state of denial together. That was two years ago. Since then I have tried to talk to her about this on a few occasions. Telling her about specific instances that I thought would make it simple for her. She knew that I had been an exotic dancer, so this really wasn’t such a big leap for her. But the denial was strong. Without actually spelling out ‘I fuck for money’ she just wasn’t hearing me. So I let her sit with it for a while.

A couple months ago my cousin called. My cousin is the first family member I came out to, In fact, she attended a media appearance with me a few years ago, behind the scenes. When the program manager was asking me questions in preparation for the segment and asked “Does your family know?” My cousin cut in and said “Her family is here supporting her.” Yeah, I’m a lucky girl, in many ways. So my cousin called and said, “I just talked to your mom. She said she thinks you’re a prostitute. I told her that whatever you’re doing is not nearly as bad as she perceives it to be. You need to talk to her.”

So I’ve been putting it off. Mostly because I haven’t had the time and resources to fly home and do it in person. And because I’m dealing with lots of other stuff. Which would explain the text I got from my former partner last night: “Ur mom is trying to get a hold of u. U didn’t tell her we broke up?”

Shit. I knew there was something I had forgotten to tell my mom. She’s going to be so disappointed, she was all excited that my partner was male, and white and you know, acceptable. Which wasn’t why I liked him, he’s fantastic in all kinds of ways, he just happened to also be born white and with a penis.

So anyway, I had to call my mom today, and I was newly motivated after reading Debauchette’s post. I think sex worker activism and the real change that it brings happens on a personal lever. The work that Debauchette did on 20/20, my work on other programs, the handful of other brave sw’s who have taken on the media while still in the biz, we are some brave people who deserve support from our community, even when we fuck up. But the positive changes that came from these appearances are not necessarily the ‘public image’ that we present, because frankly, we won’t be seen any different as interview subjects, we’re just fodder for sweeps week.

But the personal conversations that we as individuals end up having as a result of these shows, and maybe the boost in confidence and pride that seeing us on the screen gives to other sex workers that leads to them having meaningful personal conversations, I think that is where we make the most impact.

So I called my cousin first. “Okay, so we all agree that my mom is totally in denial right?” She said yes, and that I should just let it stay that way until my mom is ready to ask questions. And my cousin was sure that my mom knew about the break up, and the call to my ex was a sly mom way of getting more info from a different source. Right on mom, you’ve always been sly like that!

So next I call my mom. Yes, everything is fine, the new place is great, I’m stable and happy. So many great things happening in life that I just haven’t had time to call and check in. Yeah, I’m still a little sad about the break up and had the first pangs of missing him this week. But really, it was a peaceful split, it’s best for us both, we’ll have no problem staying friends. And then she asks: “Are you working?”

“Of course I am.”

“Well, what are you doing?”

“Same stuff.”

“And that is?”

“I’m an escort and Dominatrix.”

“Oh that weird stuff…”

“It’s not that weird, it’s actually pretty common.”

“Okay, well be careful.”

And then onto discussing how beautiful my cousin will look at her wedding, all the plans, bridal showers, etc that I will be missing. And a sincere “I love you” from both of us at the end.

It was easier than I’d imagined, but she had a couple years of priming and I’m fortunate to have my cousin on my team. I’m relieved, things are fine with Mom and therefor will be fine with everybody else in the family. I’m not dreading family weddings anymore. Not that it’s appropriate for me to announce during a wedding reception what I do, but at least my mom will be able to say what she wants to close family members and I can follow her lead, and to everybody else, I’m still just a student. 😉

So I’m going to encourage my mom to start reading BnG. When I visited her a few months ago I was at this site a lot. I guess when I’m not working (I never do in my home town) this is a site where I can come to be close to my people. She told my cousin, in the same phone call when she expressed her suspicions that I’m a ‘prostitute’- “She was on some website the whole weekend about gags and bondage, she’s into some strange stuff.” It will be funny to send her some specific posts and see what she thinks.

Thanks mom, I love you!!!

Kristen’s Mom

kristins-mom.jpg

…she wasn’t worried about her daughter after news erupted that she was the prostitute Spitzer slept with, causing his fall from power. “She is a very bright girl who can handle someone like the governor,” she said.

NY Post 

Has anybody been able to find interviews with Spitzer’s parents?

Sadistic Silda?

Well, if Eliot Spitzer wasnt already into humiliation and taking it up the ass (I mean, really, what governor isn’t?) he’s going to have to learn to like it now!

NYTimes  (via gawker) is reporting that Spitzer’s wife has ‘urged him to stay on.’

State government remained paralyzed on Tuesday as Gov. Eliot Spitzer, reeling from revelations that he had been a client of a prostitution ring, was engaged in an intense legal and family debate about whether to resign or, as aides said his wife was urging, to stay on.

Ouch! Holding his feet to the flames for just a few more savory seconds?

Everybody has talked about how sad it is that she had to stand there next to him while he addressed the public… I think she relished it.

They’ve probably been stowed away in their 5th Ave. penthouse playing “You got caught bitch!” with lots of heavy corporal. Bet they haven’t had sex this hot in decades.

We Can Do Better Than This

Ummmm…. so, I’m hearing that some of my trans friends are having trouble connecting into both formal and informal safety networks!?!?!?!

WTF???

I’ve been hearing (second-hand, of course) that people are saying: “We don’t have the same kind of clients that you see” or “If you were born a man you are not welcome here.”

So what, now we’re following suit with the feminists? “You are not us, so you have to fight for yourself.” Uh-uh, nope. I’m not down with that strategy.

In a conversation with a dear friend tonight we discussed how violence translates into individual’s lives in relation to their gender and we concluded that we, as in us, ALL of us, are on the same team here. Does anybody actually think that they can keep themselves safer by engaging in the very same gender discrimination that violates female born (whatever fucking difference that makes when it comes to SAFETY) sex workers??? I mean really, can somebody make a case to me as to why it’s alright to exclude our trans sisters in the name of our own safety? I’m really not buying it.

Maybe this conversation doesn’t need to happen in-depth here at this blog- but this does need to be discussed further- somewhere, I’m open to suggestions. I know that the vast majority of people actually engaged here at BnG are of many different genders and are already in solidarity with trans workers. So I wanted to post this here and invite some positive input. I really do think that this is an issue that can be addressed and resolved among us with education and awareness.

I don’t think this is a whole-heartedly evil discriminatory thing. NO disrespect is acceptable and ignorance is not an excuse. However, I do think that as trans allies we have to reach out to other workers to inform them that ‘yes, we do share the same clients with trans workers’ (and it’s often fun when we are literally sharing them 😉 and ‘one’s gender when born does NOT exclude them from the right to BE SAFE’ C’mon women, we do get that don’t we?

All the best,

Karly

Nothing But a Whore

January 6, 2008

by veronicamonet

monetnoseart.jpgMy dad use to veto my thoughts and feelings with these words: “I make the money around here and when you start supporting this family you can have a say in how things are run.  Until then, keep your mouth shut and do what you are told.”

 

As a teenager, I often dreamed about making money so I could have an opinion. 

 

I got married in my early 30’s and my income rose dramatically from a level which barely kept the lights on to a very healthy six figure income.  It wasn’t my job that changed.  I had been an escort for a couple years before I got married.  But once I said “I do,” I did do my best to be a financial knight in shining armor.  Whatever my husband and stepchildren wanted or needed, I went out of my way to make the money to purchase it.  It felt like a self-sacrificing role but of course it was more of a manipulative maneuver given my training around money and power.

 

Despite or maybe because of MY overbearing assertions about being the one in charge because of MY income, I eventually grew tired of being the primary breadwinner in my marriage.  The more money I made the lonelier I felt and the more tired I became.  My husband didn’t express much appreciation for my money and yet he became accustomed to all that it could buy.  Making twice the money he earned never meant being respected as a good provider or a hard worker.  And though he rarely said so, he didn’t like what I did to make my money. 

 

When you are a whore, your family takes your money as penance for your sins – not a gift of your labor.

Full post here 

Of Brains and Breasts

This is a conversation between one whore and her mother…

Mother: “What have you been doing?”

Whore: “Finishing up a grant that is due this week.”

Mother: “You are so smart, why can’t you get paid more for doing that sort of stuff?”

Whore: “Mom, I make plenty of money.”

Mother: “But I thought the organization only pays for your travel expenses.”

(Yeah right, travel reimbursement, what’s that?)

Whore: “Mom, I work, I am self-employed, I’m making money.”

Mother: “Yeah, but I mean why can’t you get paid to use your brain?”

Whore: (With absolute resolve) “I do use my brain. You have no idea.”

Mother: “Oh whatever.”

This story only subtly outlines this theme that I’ve been running into lately- well, I’ve run into it throughout my entire life, but lately I’ve been thinking about it more…

Why is it commonly assumed that if one engages in physical labor involving the body, then obviously that person doesn’t use their brain or employ intelligence in their work? Yes, I use my body and sexuality to pay the bills, but do people actually believe that it doesn’t require a lot of thought and presence to do this work.

Do people actually believe that we just lie in bed all day waiting for a hard cock to come around and leave an envelope on the end table? Do you have any idea what it actually takes to be in this business? Even more so, do people have any concept of what it takes to have the conscience to dedicate your life to making changes in this business?

I’m guessing probably not.

It is far easier to default to the dumb bimbo assumptions- that doesn’t require too much thinking. The irony of it all is that this ignorance demonstrates how very little those who stand in judgment of us are using their brains!

This story also illustrates the woman-against-woman mentality that fuels the whore stigma and perpetuates violence committed against us. Everything is about putting somebody else down in order to validate one’s own position in the world. The mother in this story- she’s a housewife. She doesn’t have to think about making money to pay bills, somebody else does that for her. With so much free time on her hands, you’d think she’d be out doing something with her brain. No, that’s not where her interests lie. Why should she have to use her brain for survival when she can just get married? I mean, it’s not like marriage could be considered sex work or anything.