Reaching out and connecting with outdoor (street-based) sex workers.

Hi everyone, myself and a few friends of mine that have a bunch of outdoor (street-based) sex work experience decided to do some training for all of you that are interested in the street-based economy, and how to offer support.

Specifically we drafted two documents, How to be an ally to outdoor(street based) sex workers and how to outreach to outdoor (street based) sex workers, the short version.

My favorite is the how to be an ally document, and it’s short, so I’ll repost that here below.  This is not intended to replace the more general version sex workers put together earlier, but to augment it:

  1. Don’t push yourself on me in the name of help if I don’t want or need it. I have the ability to make decisions for myself. Honor my decisions even if you don’t agree with them.
  2. We have lots of people offering us “help,” but most are NOT actually meeting our needs. Meet my needs, not your desires. If you don’t know what my needs are, it is ok to ask.
  3. If you offer help and I accept, follow through on your promises. Do not lie to us or give us a false sense of hope. Be real about how much you can and will help.
  4. If you offer help, I want it to address my immediate needs! Not something that will help me 5 years from now. For instance, if I don’t have food, a place to sleep or my fix, then scholarships for school have very little relevance in my life.
  5. Some people are happy in this life. Thinking I require help OUT of this life is bad thinking on YOUR part.
  6. Don’t assume I’m strung out and need help kicking. Maybe I’m not strung out or maybe I have no desire to quit.
  7. Don’t pity me or feel sorry for me. Remember, anyone can end up in a rough place in life. When someone pities you, it makes you feel “less than” or ashamed of your lack of ability to get yourself out of the rough situation you found yourself in. Remember, it could be you standing here working next to me later!
  8. If you want to help, make yourself available and perhaps offer options. Let me choose the type of help I want/need, not what you think I need.
  9. Don’t judge me! If you are judging me, you are not in a position to help me.
  10. Don’t tokenize me. Street-based workers come from all different races, genders, religions, socio-economical backgrounds and education levels. Don’t assume that just because “Pretty Women” is your favorite movie, you know me.
  11. Be patient if I need help. Chances are I’m in survival mode, and you need to respect where I am, not where you want me to be.
  12. Respect me. Don’t be afraid to look me in the eye.

‘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.

Continue reading

Sex Work Issues — SE Asia and China

Here are two videos I found today via Facebook. Compare and contrast:

http://www.lauraagustin.com/migrant-sex-workers-in-china-massage-parlours-hair-salons-hotel-rooms (though this one is from 2007, the scene is still the same)

Outdoor “street” work question answered.

I get asked a lot about street work, or as I like to call it Outdoor work.  These are my experiences and understanding, and may not be the same as someone else’s.

Briefly my experiences:  I’ve worked outdoors for a while, once while homeless, and more recently I’ve worked in front of grocery stores and the like.  I have done the ‘stroll’ type work, but only in small cities and towns, never in larger cities like LA or SF.

Experiences in larger cities, I can only speculate on, or share from friends/family that have done that type of work.  Also, I’m trans* not cisgendered, and that makes a difference in experiences as well.  I’m not trying to say these conclusions or thoughts below are always correct, but that from my perspective at this time, they seem correct.  My goal is only to help people realize that:

1) Not all outdoor work is unsafe (and that you can do any work safely)

2) It’s not like the stereotypical 3am drug addicted street walker who spends their entire career trying to avoid rape and get high, while avoiding physical abuse from their pimp, like in the movies.

YAY! On to the show and tell then:

Outdoor or (street) work is a very WIDE and BROAD subject, just like indoor work is.  People just assume the worst whenever I speak of outdoor work.
First, while 3AM walking the street in the worst neighborhoods does happen, it’s not as common in street or ‘outdoor’ work as one might think. (it’s much more common in BIG cities), but in smaller cities and towns it’s much less common.  (I’ve only worked in smaller towns and cities).
So, in outdoor work, there is homeless work, where you are always working, and your clientele is of the lower income variety.  (I’ve done this work), it’s mostly a lot of trade for sex work, and not a lot of actual cash.
Another type of work is opportunity work, i.e. someone hits on you while you are out doing your normal routine.  Most every woman has had the beginnings of this experience but few turn it into an opportunity to make money.
Another type is daytime work.  This can be waiting where people tend to congregate. Malls, grocery stores, big chain stores, stuff like that.  (I like grocery stores myself).  Obviously this is only valid during the day, and evening.  Trying to work from these places at 3AM is pointless as there is no foot traffic.
Hopefully this gives you a better idea of the varied outdoor work environments.
As for safety, some types of outdoor work can be unsafe, especially if you don’t know your fellow workers.  But to last out there you form relationships with as many as you can, and try to create a safe situation for yourself and others. Also the other difference is you get to look the client in the eyes, well before you agree to anything.  (unlike with indoor work)  All types of work require a ‘screening’ as we call it. Where we check the client over and get a feel for them as a person.  Some people do this better in person, and may be better situated for outdoor work, vs people doing this via email or telephone.  So
I wouldn’t say that it’s a LOT less safe, I would just say it’s a different type of safety.
For me, I love being outside, and would spend time out there anyway, so if there is an easy way to make a few dollars while hanging out outside, why shouldn’t I take the opportunity?

I’ll just wrap up and say one more thing about outdoor work (but also important in any work), boundaries are crazy important.  Think about and set hard firm boundaries of what you are willing and not willing to do.  Your boundaries WILL get tested, and you WILL get asked crazy ridiculous things.   Will you do Anal? Will  you do blowjobs? Condoms? Fluid Barriers for blowjobs or facials? These questions are the tip of the iceberg.

If you have experience (directly or indirectly) I’d love your thoughts and comments on what outdoor work is like for you.  I think the better we can share our experiences, the more people will come to think of street or outdoor work as not something ‘BAD’, but just different.

Desiree Conference 2010!!

Desiree Alliance

In conjunction with BAYSWAN, Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP), Center for Sex and Culture (CSC), International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education (ISWFACE), St. James Infirmary, SWOP USA, SWOP Tucson, SWOP LV, SWOP Chicago, SWOP NorCal, SWOP Santa Cruz, Harm Reduction Coalition, Sex Work Awareness, and $pread Magazine

Presents

Working Sex: Power, Practice, and Politics

July 25 thru 30, 2010 in Sunny Las Vegas, NV!!

Join us for the Academic and Policy track. Network with established and developing scholars who are engaged with research, theory, and methods that impact the formation of policy and applied practices concerning sex work and sex workers. Academics have the opportunity to give back to the communities they study and create careers upon by participating in this dynamic space of diverse sex work scholar colleagues and diverse sex workers. Sex workers will have opportunities to interact with scholars who concern themselves with our issues while also sharing your own—and needed—perspective regarding where sex work scholarship has been and where it should be going.

We understand that within the Activism and Advocacy of Sex Work, there is such a huge range, from organizing national marches, decriminalization propositions, to organizing you and one other Sex Worker to come together and talk about your rights and safety. All are forms of activism. Coming out to a friend, meeting a fellow Sex Worker and being able to talk about your work can be a HUGE form of activism for some that have been hiding in the closet so long! Join other activists in a safe space to discuss and learn about activism and activist leadership in the sex work community!

Arts, Entertainment, and Media: From beautiful burlesque, to majestic music, to powerful poetry, various art forms have been important parts of sex worker justice advocacy, and art is also a great way to highlight the diversity of talents so many sex workers have. Sex worker artists have in fact had a vibrant face on this movement and have been a unifying element in resistance campaigns across the globe. Join us at the Desiree Alliance 2010 Conference to explore, learn about, experience, and create sex worker art, media, and entertainment!

Business Development: Increase your confidence and your bottom line by attending workshops taught by people who excel in their fields! Learn new techniques for increasing your earnings, using the tools of your trade, and improving your business model. You will find valuable tips to improve your business regardless of the area you work! From workshops on web design, advertising, and networking to health and safety, and tax-saving tips especially relevant to cash-based earners just like you, this conference will be an opportunity for you to improve your business and your cash flow!

Harm Reduction and Outreach: Whether your expertise is the street corner, the classroom, or the clinic we are looking for you to show us what’s wrong, what’s right, and what can come to be the future of Harm Reduction and Outreach Services for Sex Workers. Come share your innovative ideas or learn how to provide outreach services. Be a part of an event that will inspire and pioneer a fresh perspective on how harm reduction and outreach services can be fine tuned to the ones that need it the most. Enjoy workshops and presentations from the best and brightest giving their unique take on harm reduction and outreach services to sex workers.

Registration is open!
We are accepting Proposals for Presentations! Hurry- deadline for submissions is March 1st.

To get involved, go to http://www.DesireeAlliance.org/conference.htm or email: Desiree2010@desireealliance.org

We’ll See You in Sin City!!

Sex Workers and Unpersons.

I haven’t written here in a while.  I spent the last few months in a wheelchair, and then healing from being in the wheelchair, and now being sick the past month and finally getting treated for pneumonia.  But I’m coming out of that now, and I’m moving forward.  These experiences has given me so much to be thankful for!

I’m thankful that I’ve had the privilege of making more friends that do disability activism, so that I can learn from their community, and their amazing strengths.  I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to really experience being in a wheelchair, however briefly, and how much I truly loved being an non-person, versus being less than a person. I’m thankful that I had the experience of being violated from their good intentions and grabbing my wheelchair and pushing me across the street without my permission or desire.

But really, I’m thankful for the huge amounts of self growth and new relationships I’ve been able to form.  And I’m so so so very glad I got to watch this video:

The video is all about being an unperson.  I was amazed at the similarities that Sex Workers share with Amanda Baggs’ experience of being an unperson.  Some of the quotes I really resonated with:

“Being an unperson means being at the mercy of the theories other people have about you”.

“An unperson can’t tell about beatings, rape, torture and murder, if  she does, she will not be believed”

“An unperson knows that the law will never come to his aid, not the way it does for real people”.

But, for all the similarities that we have, we have some very strong differences, one is that we can be selectively “unpersons”.  We have the choice of being in the closet about our Sex Work, and when in the closet, we don’t have to face being an unperson.  (Unless you get arrested by the police and they paste your picture all over town, or put you on TV like they have been known to do.)

I’m thankful for learning about my fellow brothers and sisters who are struggling for basic human rights.  Our struggles are different (and sometimes vastly different), but we have similarities and I hope that all of us can come together around the things we have in common, and respect each other’s differences.

Help get tranny-alert.com taken down!

Via gudbuytjane.livejournal.com, reposted from feministing

Call for action: www.tranny-alert.com
From http://www.tranny-alert.com . This is not just appropriative or transphobic, it directly threatens the safety and privacy of trans women:

Our site cannot survive without your submissions!
Spot a tranny or suspected tranny around town? See a hot tranny mess? Observe a guidette in New Jersey with tranny style? Notice trannies on TV/Radio/Billboards? Find yourself at a Lady Gaga concert? WE WANT TO KNOW!

Remember, if you spot a tranny: snap your fingers, snap a pic, and e-mail those photos to: mayday@tranny-alert.com !

In light of the murders of trans women such as Gwen Araujo, Angie Zapata and others, it is indefensible to run a website that requests readers submit photos of trans women (or people they’ve read as trans women) without their consent and publicly out them. This site threatens the safety of every person they post a photo of. Please spread the word and take action.

Please contact http://www.tranny-alert.com and let them know this is NOT okay.
The site appears to be hosted via Blogger, so please enter a complaint against their hate speech and endangerment of the lives of trans women.
Please Twitter about it with the #trannyalertfail hash tag.
Please send complaints about their Facebook page .

ETA: To enter a complaint at Blogger, follow this link: http://help.blogger.com/bin/request.py?contact_type=hate_speech&blog_URL=http://trannyalert.blogspot.com/ (Thanks queersubversion!)

ETA2: TrannyAlert’s response on Twitter : “Wow people really need to get a fucking sense of humor.”

ETA3: If you have access please post about this on LJ trans communities, as this account isn’t a member of any of them (and will have to wait for approval to post, etc.).

– gudbuytjane

You can go here, http://tinyurl.com/n34flk

to file a direct complaint to Blogger against this blog, you can also do it as many times as you like so please try to do it as much as you can so as to draw attention! Thanks!