a creeping realization
August 28, 2014
i recently had occassion to revisit the vancouver public library”s [VPL] not too distant support of vancouver rape relief [VRR] hosting janice raymond at a talk they held in one of the VPL”s spaces (space that can be booked by any member of the public). the vpl made a pretty strong statement that they weren”t going to stop the event bc of free speech and bc vrr assured them they would not be engaging in any activities that run counter to the bc human rights code.
i remember this vividly bc a lot of trans women in vancouver were pretty upset that janice would be speaking. not a surprising turn of events given that vrr has a ‘woman-born-woman” policy.
on reflecting about what happened and the rhetoric about it, i realized that in the trans community outcry against this event, and in the trans ~community~ outcry against many other recent radfem events there is something significant missing…
the voices of sex workers. esp. the voices of sex workers of colour. of trans women of colour sex workers. etc. and so on.
the thing is. the thing IS.
is that janice, on this occassion, spoke against sex workers. the title of her talk “Prostitution: Not a Job, not a Choice”. but then you see letters like this written to the vpl which focuses entirley on the transmisogyny of raymond and vrr. with nary a single fucking word about sex workers.
i find this troubling. not in least because the overlap of trans women of colour and sex workers is HUGE, given how many twoc do sex work (for whatever reason). but also troubling bc a lot of cis women of colour and/or Indigenous women are likewise invovled in sex work.
it is troubling bc, in recent years, at least, a lot more radfem activism has been very much focused on sex work. more so than on trans women1.
i very much also note that the recent battles between white trans women and radfems has very much neglected to mention sex workers (or really involve them in any significant way)
so let it be known: i fucking SEE what ur doing here. and i”m not happy about it. i”m also not happy about my own complicity in leaving sex workers out of my consideratison whenever i think about and engage radfemininsm.
look. LOOK. when i see a letter like the above, which points to raymond”s words on trans women like 20+ years ago but fails to mention the shit she is saying about sex workers RIGHT NOW and making connections for what she is saying to how this impacts the real lives of sex workers right now as well. the letter does mention a bit of this when it notes that vrr”s no.1 agenda is the elimination of sex work(ers).
note: vrr = vancouver rape relief. they are an organization that is nominally supposed to support victims of rape. yes. they very much will not help trans women. but they also aren”t helping sex workers. BOTH OF THESE THINGS MATTER.
twoc sex workers are literally amongst the most vulnerable ppl in teh ~community~ and if u (we) find it sooo fucking easy to just forget about them whenever we discuss groups/ideologies that directly target them, we are directly contributing to their oppression. end. of. story.
and, yeah, this includes cis sex workers. the trans ppl who aren”t sex workers should VERY much be willing to stand in solidarity with cis sex workers. period. but esp. when it comes to deal with radfeminism. sex workers and trans women are the two groups of women that radfems very much wish would cease to exist. acting like radfem discourse about sex workers has nothing to do with us is very much throwing sex workers under the bus. and it needs to stop.