Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Attacking The 'All Transwomen Are Sex Workers' Meme

Monica JonesNow that Monica Jones has been found guilty of 'Walking While Black Trans' in Phoenix, the question that comes to my inquiring mind is what are we going to do about getting the word out about this injustice being aimed at her and frankly, all trans women of color at times?

Yes, it's easy for all of us to say that we stand with Monica Jones when this obvious injustice is being aimed at her.

But I just feel we need to do more.  I think we can start with a national, coordinated 'Walking While Trans' protest events next month before the May 28 sentencing date of Ms. Jones.  

Photo: I DO!We could have walks that lead to rallies decrying what happened to Ms Jones.  Put together a coordinated campaign that calls for an end to the 'Walking While Trans' profiling.

Since trans human rights issues are suddenly getting national and international media attention, let's use this moment to do more education about our trans lives. 

I believe we have been given another opportunity to attack and destroy another meme deployed against us that feeds into the unjust treatment being aimed at us.

It's the 'all transwomen are sex workers' meme.   

And before I get accused of pushing 'respectability politics' or attacking sex workers, let me make crystal clear that's not where I'm going with this post.  I am already quite aware of the fact that some of my trans sisters engaged in or still do engage in sex work to pay the bills.   I'm also quite aware that transphobia, racism and gender policing also play debatable levels of a role into the 'Walking While Trans' issue

What I'm focusing on in this post is attacking is the 'all transwomen are sex workers' meme that feeds into the 'Walking While Trans' harassment and arrests that are far too often aimed at transwomen of color.

In New York, the NYPD stop and frisk shenanigans were disproportionately aimed at Black and Latina trans women because in the cops minds, 'we're all potential prostitutes'    

In New Orleans trans women who are just minding their own business are routinely arrested and harassed by the city's police force on prostitution related charges.. 

The 'transwomen are sex workers' meme is also front and center in the ATL 'Queen of Mean' Peggy Denby's efforts to get a draconian law passed that would permanently banish persons convicted of a second prostitution arrest from Atlanta.  

That meme was on a drunk Kenneth Furr's mind when he propositioned a transwoman in a northwest Washington DC CVS store.  It led to an ugly incident in which he ended up firing shots from his police  service pistol at the vehicle the trans women were traveling in. 

There's also a  2012 study by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) that found transgender people across the United States experience three times as much police violence as cisgender individuals.  Not surprisingly to moi, those numbers are even higher for transgender people of color.  

Even when transgender people were the victims of hate crimes, 48 percent reported receiving mistreatment from the police when they went for help.

So in order to confront the Walking While Trans issue plaguing the community, we will have to attack the superstitions and myths that undergird it. 

One of the major ones buttressing it that needs to be destroyed is the 'all transwomen are sex workers' meme.

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