Oh, God. I'm letting out a long and sad breath.
I spent my morning researching names of murdered sex workers for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Melissa Gira Grant from Sex Workers Outreach Project sent me a list of 50 names to add to. I gathered 21 new names, with deaths dating from 1996-2008. I'm not even done with all my research yet.
A disproportionately high number of the people on the list were trans women and MTF-spectrum gender-non-conforming people. As a queer, femme, genderqueer cissexual woman who builds my life, chosen family, and community -- and especially my sex worker and sex worker ally community -- with trans women, that fact just breaks my heart so bad.
In my last post about Day to End Violence, I talked about sex workers generally being portrayed in the mainstream media as cisgender women -- which I realize is an inaccurate description of the stereotypes I'm trying to talk about.
The stereotype of sex workers is that we are predominately cis women, who are either The Downtrodden Streetwalkers or the Happy Hookers. But the stereotype of trans women is that all trans women are sex workers, and that all of those trans women sex workers are Downtrodden Streetwalkers.
There is (clearly) absolute wrong-headedness, stupidity, and bigotry in all of those stereotypes. That said, it is true that, because of the ways transphobia, sexism, and transmisogyny operate in our world, a disproportionate number of trans women (as compared to cis women) are homeless, impoverished, and/or involved in street economies -- including but not limited to street sex work. And that makes trans women who work the streets much more likely to be the targets of violence at the hands of people who hate women, and trans and gender-non-conforming people, and sex workers.
I believe that working to end all of these intersecting oppressions is a place where cis and trans women -- those who work in the sex industry, and those who don't -- can work together to fight the injustices and violence that we all face. This is a place where I very, very strongly believe that cis women and trans women can be allies, support, sisters, lovers, and fighters for each other.
As for now -- I'm still just letting out that breath. And saying one long prayer for the people who've been lost.