Tag Archives: prostitution

October 2017 Trans Talk on KKFI

On the October Trans Talk edition of The Tenth Voice, we will open the show by listening to an interview that Fiona and I conducted with the directors and one of the cast of the local production of Casa Valentina. This is a play exploring the struggle for acceptance by cross-dressing men in the 1960’s, which is based upon a real event in the history of gender non-conformity. Then we are going to talk to a special guest in the studio with us today, a transgender woman of color who has faced many terrible obstacles in her life journey, leading to her entering sex work and being the victim of violence right here in Kansas City. She has a powerful story that I believe will speak to all of us.

We will have Una’s News Rant, a round up of some of the LGBT news this week, and we will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, October 28th at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org, or via various apps on your phone.

Transphobia on the New X-Files?

XFiles-01
Like many who followed the first X-Files series, I’ve welcomed the return of the series for its mini-season, even though the episodes thus far have contained more than a bit of camp. And so starts the third episode of this series, which is titled “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” The episode is your basic “monster” episode, outside the overall plot arc for the series (which still remains to be made clear), and normally these “monster” episodes are an opportunity to have a bit of scary with a bit of fun.

This episode, however, starts to go bad within 6 minutes of the start. The overall plot has Mulder and Scully investigating murders (or animal attacks) in Oregon, and very quickly we are treated to a scene of a prostitute at a truck stop soliciting sex, who encounters the “monster of the week” and promptly wallops it with her purse. The prostitute is played by D.J. Pierce, a drag performer whose acting credits include “This is Drag” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” And as Mulder and Scully interview her as a witness, she outs herself as a crack-addicted transgender prostitute in an incredibly cringe-worthy scene. You can see a clip below (forgive the crudeness; I lack mad video skills and I didn’t want to pirate directly from the episode).



Later on, Mulder has a conversation with the “monster,” now in man form as “Guy Mann,” wherein he stumbles embarrassingly through a discussion of the meaning of transgender and transsexual.

Mann: “Man, she hit like a man!”

Mulder: “That’s because she used to be… she once… she’s transgender.”

Mann: “What? You can’t transform into a different sex! That’s nuts!”

Mulder: “It’s not nuts, it’s actually a very common medical procedure. You don’t need the surgery, technically, to—”

Mann: “Maybe that’s what I could do! It’s a cure! I’ll do the surgery!”

Mulder: “No, completely different.”

Mann: “Tell me how much it costs, I’ll do it.”

Mulder: “They cut off your genitals.”

Mann: “No, leave it. That’s a step too far, isn’t it. Well, anyway, I think she gave me a concussion.”

“That’s a step too far, isn’t it?” Right.

Will I stop watching the new series because of this? No. But the X-Files missed a moment to actually show a just a little bit of sympathy towards transgender persons.

“Tangerine”: A Stunning and Unusual Film About Transgender Prostitutes

tangerine

Shot on tricked out iPhone 5s’s along the streets of L.A., Sean Baker’s no-budget revenge odyssey ‘Tangerine’ is not only a staggering achievement, but a brilliant film.

The plight of transgender prostitutes is one I know very well, having served for a time on the board of directors of a charity which provided needed assistance to prostitutes on the streets of Kansas City, a very large number of which were transgender women of color. And there really isn’t anything positive at all about the conditions in which transgender prostitutes must work and live, the violence and degradation they endure, drug and alcohol addiction, the lack of basic services – let alone health care. In short, there really isn’t anything humorous at all about the world of sexual exploitation.

But art finds humor even where it seems impossibly irreverent. And so long as the characters are treated with respect and allowed their own dignity, even a portrayal of transgender prostitution could have artistic merit without being offensive.

Enter the indie film Tangerine, scripted by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch and turning heads after a splash debut at the Sundance film festival. Set in the strip of Santa Monica Boulevard, a common venue for transgender prostitutes bordered by the trendy gay mecca of WeHo and the working-class ethnic enclaves of East Hollywood, the story of Tangerine revolves around Sin-Dee (Kitana “Kiki” Rodriguez) and her quest to punish her man (James Ransone) who was unfaithful with one of his cisgender prostitutes while she was serving a month in jail. This naturally sets Sin-Dee’s into a furious rampage across Hollywood one Christmas Eve, with her best friend, fellow prostitute Alexandra (Mya Taylor) accompanying her.

There is a preview of the film below; it is most definitely not work-safe, with a lot of profanity. What has many talking about Tangerine is not the subject matter, but the fact that the entire film was shot on a shoestring budget using three iPhone 5s smartphones. Yes, that’s right, filmed by smartphones.

There is more detail about the film at the two links below the YouTube video. It’s difficult to get a clear impression of the film from a 2-minute preview, I’m going to give the film a chance and see it or buy the DVD as soon as it is released. I confess that even though I tried not to, given the gravity of the overarching topic, I actually laughed out loud at the back-and-forth witty dialogue between Sin-Dee and Alexandra.

‘Tangerine’: How One of the Most Stunning Movies of the Year Was Shot on an iPhone – The Daily Beast

The Plight of the Transgender Prostitute – The Daily Beast

The Transgender Women of Cuba in Living Color

Cover
I recently purchased a wonderful photographic book titled “TransCuba” by New York-based photographer Mariette Patty Allen. The book contains 80 photographs of transgender women and men and the spaces they live and work in within Cuba, and brings to focus in sharp, living color a tiny window into their lives.

The photographs tell a tale of an incredibly strong people, who not only must survive in the third-world conditions of Cuba, but must also survive as transgender people. Unfortunately, most of the subjects happen to be prostitutes, as the discrimination which they face denies them most other occupations. And even in the “Socialist paradise” of Cuba, one must work to have any kind of life over a bare sustenance level, especially if they are supporting a family.

The photographs are reminiscent of those of Christer Strömholm and his photographs of French transwomen prostitutes from the 1950’s and 1960’s, but where in that case the black and white media gave a sense of unreality to the photographs, in this case the bold color of the images does the opposite. I’ve included some samples of the photographs from the book so you can get a feel for the scope and detail of Ms. Allen’s work. You can see them at the link below.

Mariette Pathy Allen – The Transwomen of Cuba

How Phoenix Convicted A Transgender Woman For Walking Down The Street

This has been reported on in several places for a couple of weeks, and I finally did some investigation into the reports. This linked news story seems to present the best and most accurate summary of the situation. And it’s something which should scare any transperson living in or thinking of going to Phoenix, Arizona.

Phoenix, in a ham-fisted attempt to stop the rampant prostitution which exists in the city (and if you ever visit Phoenix and drive the main streets at night, the prostitutes are EVERYWHERE, and very obvious), has devised a “solicitation” law which seems blatantly un-Constitutionally vague. The defendant in this case, Monica Jones, is a transsexual woman who was caught up in this by the act of accepting a ride home from a bar.

What happens to women who are swept up in this giant net is even more disturbing – they are taken in handcuffs to Bethany Bible Church, where they are forced to participate in a diversion program. While taken against their will they are not allowed to call an attorney or anyone for help, creating a terrifying situation similar to those detained under the PATRIOT Act.

In all fairness we must note that in the case of Jones a prior conviction for prostitution meant she was ineligible for diversion, so instead she was arrested and given a court date. While waiting for her day in court,

JONES: “Walking while trans” is a saying we use in the trans community to refer to the excessive harassment and targeting that we as trans people experience on a daily basis. “Walking while trans” is a way to talk about the overlapping biases against trans people — trans women specifically — and against sex workers. It’s a known experience in our community of being routinely and regularly harassed and facing the threat of violence or arrest because we are trans and therefore often assumed to be sex workers.

I have been harassed by police four times since my initial arrest last May. The police have stopped me for no real reason when I have been walking to the grocery store, to the local bar, or visiting with a friend on the sidewalk. The police have even threatened me with ‘manifestation with intent to prostitute’ charge, while I was just walking to my local bar!

As a result, she was convicted and sentenced to 30 days – in a men’s prison. Her appeal is pending, and I hope very much she can succeed.

How Phoenix Convicted A Transgender Woman For Walking Down The Street | ThinkProgress.

Meet Claudette, An Intersex Sex Worker From Switzerland

Every week or so I read a really powerful story on the web, or offline, which I simply must highlight. In this case my friend Elle pointed me to such a story, which is highly unusual and may be a little disturbing to some of my readers.

The story in question is a photo essay on the Huffington Post about Claudette, a 77 year-old intersex prostitute from Switzerland. The story is incredible for several reasons:

  • The fact that she is honestly intersex of course is the primary reason. Few intersex persons will open up so much about their lives as she has in this short photo essay.
  • The fact that she has willingly chosen sex work as a profession, something which is vanishingly rare among intersex persons.
  • The fact that she is 77 years old. All mention of her being intersex aside, you rarely come across stories of elderly sex workers in any context.

From the article:

To fully play with the possibilities and ramifications of gender roles, Claudette turns to prostitution. “Prostitution becomes a source of self confidence,” Claudette explained, “for people who see in prostitutes the ultimate femininity and who assume this role with happiness and a sense of relief.”

Though her unconventional gender identity and choice of profession are commonly associated with trauma and shame, Claudette wears both aspects of her life with pride and joy. Refusing to be pitied for what other people may be uncomfortable with, Claudette displays the immense power that accompanies a deep love for oneself. With honesty and bravery, she creates a life for herself on her own terms — a life that, despite the more unconventional details of her existence, is made up of the universal components of work, family, memories and love.

“Claudette unnerves some people because she lives a happy and coherent life while denying a fundamental moral precept,” Delrieu[the reporter] said.

Her story at the link below is short, and I would really love to read an autobiography. There are a few photographs which are NOT work safe, so be careful about clicking the link.

Meet Claudette, An Intersex Sex Worker From Switzerland (NSFW).

Mexican Transgender Women Deported to Life of Peril

Undocumented Immigrants: Faces Of The DisplacedRegardless of what you feel about the necessity of illegal immigration to escape violence, the story of Deborah Alvarez is heartbreaking. I knew Mexico was essentially a hellhole if you’re transgender, but I don’t think that is just because it’s Mexico – most of Central and northern South America is highly unfriendly to LGBT persons. Even Brazil, which has a very large population of travesti women, is a very violent place to be a transgender woman.

Mexican Transgender Women Deported to Life of Peril.

iHookers? ‘Transgender Sex Workers’ May Really Love the Meatpacking Apple Store

 

An incredibly biased article in the New York Observer, focusing on alleged transgender alleged sex workers allegedly using free WiFi etc. at an Apple store. The article is very subtly nasty, and an example of how an “innocent” news article can do a lot of harm.

iHookers? ‘Transgender Sex Workers’ May Really Love the Meatpacking Apple Store | Observer.