This is our truth, tell us yours
I have recently had a huge education in the reality of racism, or as much as any white person can. For those who don’t know I was the oldest admin for the @whorephobia project, and one of the main tweeters. As the project grew the idea became far more of a collective one, people could attend events under the whorephobia umbrella (red of course) and the original goal, of being for all and any sex workers was becoming realised.
So when two women of colour used the whorephobia name to give weight to a fundraiser to bury two murdered teenage sex workers it seemed exactly the sort of thing we should be doing. Ignorant as I was I even questioned, to myself, the necessity of it. Just reading about the deaths of Angelia Mangum and Tjhisha Ball made me want to help, and whilst I understood that their race and occupation meant the mainstream ignored them, I was sure the sex work community would be different. Hadn’t we all seen the fundraisers for Eden and Christy raise thousands in hours, with the entire sex work community writing, tweeting, donating? I thought to myself that the Everyday Whorephobia name would make very little difference, I was around as wrong as I could be.
The fundraiser has crept up, slowly, painfully, rarely mentioned by people who flooded their timelines for white privileged sex workers. I started to understand why Peech and Meli had needed Everyday Whorephobia, and its reach, it’s very whiteness, for the default assumption is that an activist project will be white unless it is associated with specific race issues. What I was not expecting was a deliberate attack on both the women behind the fundraiser and Everyday Whorephobia, no longer seen as white but intimately associated with women of colour. Through the life of the project we had been called pimps, pedophile apologists, a danger to feminism, teenage boys and a hundred other insults hurled by the antis. What we had never been called was deceptive or thieves, con men with ulterior motives. It became very clear that whilst the project had white figureheads the motives were deemed to be good, once it was associated with blackness it became acceptable to assume that it could not be selfless, that the people involved must only be out for themselves.
Compare this to the other fundraisers I mentioned, using the same platforms, did anyone say Eden was collecting names to dox sex workers, did anyone claim that Chrsity was a fake and encourage others not to donate? Of course not, they were white, and it was assumed that they meant what they said, they could be trusted, their motives and the motives of those around them were pure.
This post is not just about history though. For the past couple of days I have been tweeting about the murder of Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck, a trans, Filipino sex worker, brutally murdered by a US marine. I have mentioned @sex_workers before, a group of Filipino sex workers fighting for their rights with few resources and little support. Reading of the murder of Jennifer I was struck by how I had not heard about it, how just as with Tjhisha and Angelia I was only aware because women of colour I follow were in mourning, again. It’s not as if the story has not made the news this time, it is in mainstream gay publications and all over the news in the Philippines. However across social media, where Jasmine had thousands demonstrating, where Christy had national UK and US publications writing, there has been silence. Educated by recent events I paid especial attention to my tweets about Jennifer’s’ murder, and requests that people go look at what @sex_workers were saying. Surely all the sex workers who tweeted #stigmakills and #JusticeforJasmine would care about #JusticeforJennifer?
Of course trans sex workers lie at the intersections of a number of oppressions. All sex workers are used to being blamed for violence against them. Trans people are well aware of the trans panic defence and the danger of being seen to be deceptive. The deaths of women of colour are routinely ignored, especially by those organisations who claim to fight against violence against women and girls. Although of course they are happy to use the murder of a sex worker to push the line that sex work is so inherently dangerous it must be criminalized for our own good. The murder of Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck stands at the intersection of all three, and thus is ignored, just another dead whore, just another dead woman of colour, just another dead trans woman.
The fundraiser for Angelia and Tjhisha is till open, please share and/or donate http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/help-angelia-and-tjhisha-s-family/238511
Should there be any requests for support from @sex_workers I will add them, time difference and the fact they cannot get online regularly is a huge issue here