Friday, June 20, 2008

Just Because The Po-Po's Charge You With Prostitution Doesn't Make You One

One of the things that's maddening to us as African-Americans is that not only is our community judged by the worst we produce and not our best, we are also tarred and feathered with stereotypical assertions.

Just as articulate and smart African-American women such as Michelle Obama are called 'angry' for candidly saying what's on their minds that runs counter to Euro-American groupthink, one of the irritating ones that African-American transpersons constantly have to battle is that 'we're all prostitutes.'

That assertion (along with many others) reared their pointy-capped heads in the wake of the release of the nasty video 48 hours ago of transwoman Duanna Johnson being brutally attacked by a Memphis police office in the booking area of the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center back on February 12.

As I said in a Bilerico post on this issue, do not assume that Ms. Johnson is a sex worker. Far too many times transwomen of color are profiled as sex workers by police even if they aren't.

As one Los Angeles Native American transwoman interviewed for the AI 'Stonewalled' reports stated,

The police are not here to serve; they are here to get served...Every night I'm taken into an alley and given the choice between having sex or going to jail.

She was taken in for prostitution by the Memphis PD but the charges were dropped. There's no evidence that has been produced yet and no reason to presume that Ms. Johnson is a sex worker.

But try telling that to the unwashed sheeple who are not only painting her with the 'prostitute' brush, but because she's 6'5", are disrespectfully referring to her as a 'man' and assert that the officer was justified in his actions.

Gee, if that isn't bad enough, now we have the 'scary, black predator' shade being thrown by the 'Po-Po's are always right' peeps.

Contrary to the faith-based non-scientific opinions of the Religious Reich and their non-science book reading acolytes, gender and gender identity is not the cut and dried binary world that you people want to desperately make it out to be.

One of the points I'm making is that too many times, and recent Amnesty International reports will back me up on this, police (and others) profile African-American transwomen (and other transwomen of color) as prostitutes even if we're minding our own business.

I've experienced it firsthand. A few years ago I was hanging out in a Montrose club watching two friends of mine performing in a drag show and one of the Euro-American patrons of the club walked up to me as I was sitting at the bar enjoying the show and disrespectfully asked 'How much?'

While there are some of my sisters who partake in sex work to pay their bills, the vast majority of us don't. I'm tired of the prostitution angle being brought up in the discussion when it comes to African-American transpeople.

Much of the reason this myth persists is because some media outlets and some GLBT civil rights groups are too lazy, indifferent or genuinely don't care to find African-American transpeople who are not only gainfully employed, but who would make excellent spokespeople for the community.


Not Just Your Average Womanist said...

This was great. I should have a better comment but I don't. I honestly believe that people won't change their long held stereotypes because they would rather stay in ignorance.

Monica Roberts said...

I'm just glad you commented on it ;)

sexy said...