Connecting with your opponents

There are many organizations out there focused on prostitution, human trafficking or both. Their views differ quite a lot. Some are fully pro sex workers rights, while others want to abolish prostitution entirely. Some of my coworkers are surprised when I say that I want to be in touch with all of these organizations. If someone asks me: “Even those really horrible ones?” I’ll say: yes, even those ones.

Frequently I end up talking with someone who thinks prostitution should be illegal, or at least visiting sex workers. I still remember some chats I had with the people who think that sex work is just as any other job, but also with those who thinks I shouldn’t have the right to do my job. In some cases it can be quite challenging to not become defensive. Especially when the other person does become defensive him- or herself.

In all the conversations I did try to look for someone’s motive. Why does he or she cares? Is their any pain? Is there any (religious) core belief? Or any related personal experiences? Trying to figure out anything which may affect someone’s view and beliefs on prostitution. When succeeding, especially when we respect each other, I have the most interesting conversations. It keeps me critical on my own views, but I also find out what we both have in common. Usually both me and the other person are quite passionate about our goals. And for the people I see more often, I would lie if I say I wouldn’t love anyone of them – despite their different views.

To the people who wants to see prostitution to be abolished I ask: what do you think you would achieve by doing so? For the group sex workers who likes this job it doesn’t seems to be a good idea at all. But let’s focus on a different group: those who rather do a different kind of job. Perhaps they have a long history of abuse and neglect or a history of sex trafficking. Or they may have a transgender background and therefore some of them don’t get accepted by society. What would abolition of sex work do any good to them? Yes, it may give a moral sign -that we wouldn’t want this in our country- if that’s your goal. But I’m afraid that many prostitutes would end up much worse. Maybe they become homeless, without a job or a job they dislike even more. And if they have better alternatives, why wouldn’t they make use of that now already?

As a prostitute myself, I don’t really love my job. I sometimes do have fun moments with my clients, but most of the days are not that much of fun. But at the other hand, it’s by far not the most worse job I can imagine. So I never got convinced that abolition of prostitution would be helpful to me or my coworkers. However, I’m always willing to listen to new arguments. And I hope other people will do that as well.

Update: HVO-Querido rectified their article

Recently I wrote about an article of HVO-Querido and with the request to rectify it. They did so with this article:

img_0470

Translation: “Recently we posted a message on our website of HVO-Querido in which we used the wrong term for a group that is attending a boat during the Canal Parade in Amsterdam. In the message we called them man sex workers and transgenders.

On August 5th, there will be men sex workers and also transmen and gender queers. We have changed this in our news article on our website.

Our apologies.”

Thank you HVO-Querido for your courage and integrity in solving this issue.

Transphobia is affecting Holland as well

Update: HVO-Querido rectified their article as requested. This rectification can be found by clicking here. This means that the information below is outdated and is still available for educational purposes only.

After the stigmatizing name of Boys Project in Belgium, I received a message that in Holland there is happening a familier thing. Again, a health organization HVO-Querido (including P&G292) is abusing the stigma of transsexuals to fight for a different stigma. As you can read in Dutch here.

screenshot_hvo_2017_001

Therefore I sent this letter below in response to that. I will keep you updated on this if there changes anything.

hvo-klacht-2017-nr2

Translation:

Through a connection of mine I was notified about your online article called “Sekswerkers op Canal Parade” of February 17, 2017.

After reading this article I noticed that you stigmatize transgenders and also abuse (possibly unknowingly) the stigma on transgender to fight your own stigma. That’s the reason I file this complaint to your health organization and I would like to explain this below.

Since a long time transgenders (people of whom their physical gender didn’t match their inner gender at birth) are being stigmatized. Very often their gender identity is not being recognized or are seen as a ‘third gender’, instead of being a women or men.

During my work experiences on one of the locations I work, there are frequently tours offered to tourists in a red light district. Very frequently the tour guides hear from these tourists don’t see the sexworkers with a transgender background are not seen as women – while they actually really are women.

Apart from that I also hear my own clients often ask me ‘what I am’. When I ask to be more specific they usually answer ask of I’m a women or a man, or something like that. Clients often say that transgenders are not women or at least not entirely. They often also behave like they have the right to know whether a sexworker has a transgender background. Often it seems to be rude or inappropiate to ask if a (cis) women had for example a breast surgery or had their womb removed. However, when it comes to a transgender history then “it is OK” and “normal” to ask these questions and to know that. Even if they can’t see or notice it in any other way.

Knowing the situation and facts, it´s inappropiate and wrong to call transgenders and men under one term – without (cis) women. This strongly suggests that transgender are not (entirely) women. Of course it’s fine to have a boat just for men (possibly with transvestites), but without transgenders. Or to have a boat for everyone, including women.

I hope your organization will rectify your article and will no langer stigmatize transgenders. Thank you.

‘Legalized pimping’

Not rarely people ask me whether I have a pimp. Usually I ask them their definition of a pimp before I answer that question – and I think that’s really important question.

One of the Google results of the definition of pimping/trafficking describes it as follow: “…the facilitation or provision of a prostitute or sex worker in the arrangement of a sex act with a customer.”

Some people and laws say that human trafficking in the context of prostitution is any help, support or promoting sexwork. It really depends on whom you ask.

Of course there are serious human trafficking issues – most of us know the horrible stories. The obvious cases where there is a violent pimp. Thankfully most countries (if not all) treats these cases as a severe crime. There is no discussion going on about that.
But the question remains: where is the line between human trafficking and free will?

Many coworkers choose for this profession, because the other options they have don’t pay enough for their families. Or they can’t find any other job, because they don’t have working permit in the country. It also happens that some transgender women get rejected by society and that they have found this job instead. Some say they didn’t had a choice. But if that’s true, will that also be a form of human trafficking or at least a form of abuse? Some say also yes to that question.

Next situation: at the moment I ask a person to help me to find some clients in exchange of money. Is that human trafficking? Even if I can end that business relationship without any trouble? Many countries considers this as human trafficking. But why? Technically it’s not different then a business partner in a different industry.

And what about the pornography industry or being a camgirl? I can legally work as a camgirl without any of this issue. Even people and companies are allowed to promote this, assist and help you becoming a camgirl. All legal and is (as far as I know) never considered as human trafficking by itself. So what makes this different?

What about those who are not financially needing this job, but still choice for this job merely for the excitement? We don’t need to forget this group either.

And what about the Dutch IRS…? They collect almost half of the earnings of prostitutes.

I guess the views, laws and regulations on prostitution and human trafficking are based on morals. Which would mean that society makes a distinction on the definition of human trafficking, whether or not sex is involved. So, what do you think? What are your morals and views on human trafficking and prostitution?
And to get back to the question whether I have a pimp, my answer would be: it depends on your definition of a pimp.

Transphobic beliefs at health organizations

At one day when I was in the office of my activism work, I was shocked to find some cards of Boysproject. It’s one of the organizations which claims to help men and transgender sexworkers. You may wonder what is wrong about it, but their ‘help’ to transgender prostitutes is highly stigmatizing.

If you don’t know what transgenders are: transgenders are people who have from inside the experience and feelings (gender identity) of being a different gender then their physical gender at birth. They often choose to dress accordingly to their gender identity and many take medical treatments as well to correct their bodies to their gender identity.

During their life time transgenders usually suffer great rejection, abuse and discrimination. At homes, schools and not rarely even health organizations. If you do a Google search on transgenders, it is not hard to find these stories. Therefore it usually takes a lot of courage to reveal your true self to others.

However some of these women choose to start working in prostitution. One of the common reasons is to earn enough money for their transition, but also because they experienced too much discrimination and rejection within other jobs. Or they are dealing with so much rejection and abuse that they are craving for acceptance of their gender identity and their bodies. All these reasons may attract them into any form of sexwork.

So, how are health organizations or health professionals aiming at men and transgenders supposed to help that group? We’re not talking about cross-dressing men here, but about women with a transgender background. As a matter of fact they stigmatize and (indirectly) deny their gender identity again, the exact same reason why they started with sexwork in the first place.

So if you are a health professional, please only focus on transgenders if you don’t work with men or if you’re also working with women. It’s not that hard to understand. Transgenders are just as women as other women.