Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Hi folks did you miss me? That's OK if you didn't! I forgive you!!

A friend of mine the lovely adult actress Marika just sent to me a post regarding a documentary being shot in Hawaii. The subject is Hawaiian Transsexuals working in the sex trade. The documentary is being shot for HBO.

As is the usual case, those helping to assist sex workers exit the trade are crying foul over the making of the documentary. They claim that it will glamorize the sex trade and hence are opposed to those actually working in the trade, from telling their real life stories (in this case being filmed in their work environment and interactions with customers).

Hmmmmmmmm. It seems to me these 'helpers' as we pro activists call them--are--if you scratch below the surface--quite prostiphobic. Similar to our local organization Rape Relief.

Their analysis is so misguided and homogeneous. Some even claim to be former sex workers. Of course they continually parrot how demoralizing the sex trade is to their 'clients', whose lives they miraculously repair after being broken. Their philosophical outlook isn't much different from those religious crusaders who want to help us, IE: save us.

Talk about lost souls. These 'helpers' I mean. What they don't tell anyone is that those they come into contact with, usually, through their social service agencies are trauma victims who haven't coped well with matters which occurred far to early in their lives. These occurances took place long before engaging in prostitution. The reasons are varied but can be sexual abuse, poverty, loss of culture and identity, rape, drug addiction or feelings of inadequacy.

Those who arrive at the 'helpers' doors are according to research--one percent of the actual sex worker population. Their stories are very real and so sad. Not much different though from many others in society who choose not to tell our stories and who go on to lead productive lives. But of course, these 'helpers' need the one- percenters to justify their funding or raise their own self-esteem or worth.

But please spare me the drama folks. While I appreciate the work you do for those who need assistance, will you stop championing that you represent sex workers. Because you don't! 99 percent of those working in the sex trade do Not access your services. So please stop trying to misappropriate our cultural identity. Yes the sex trade movement has a long, vibrant and culturally rich history. We are not going to allow you 'helpers' to stall our movement.

We have contributed enormously, socially, culturally and economically to society and our nations. We will never retreat out of shame or misguided public opinion.

We have worth, we are strong, we are educated, we are proud, we are not afraid and we are unapologetic. Most importantly, we have staying power, after all, there is good reason why we are referred to as the world's oldest profession.

So my dear readers I have posted for you below the announcement which came out of Hawaii. You be the judge. Are these 'helpers' doing more harm than good? I challenge you with this thought because the persuasive attitude out there is that these 'helpers' are saving us. Are they as I postulate setting our movement back? De-criminalization and treating the sex trade as a labour issue must prevail if we are ever going to obtain some measure of Equality for Sex Workers. With Equality comes Justice.

And for those poor unfortunate souls whose lives are broken. Yes, let us all contribute and assist them with their basic needs. Prostitution should never be about being a last choice for them. We should never accept this argument put forward by the 'helping agencies'. These individuals should never engage in something which will re-traumatize them.

And to you--the helpers--please get out of our bedrooms. We want no condescending saviors to lead us to the judgment halls!

Jamie Lee Hamilton

""Downtown Girls: The Hookers of Honolulu," directed by Brent Owens and
scheduled to air Aug. 27, examines the life of transgender prostitutes in the
downtown and Waikiki areas. . . .

"But agencies that work with prostitutes are worried that this 53-minute
documentary may glamorize an industry that is by no means glamorous."