Sunday, December 14, 2008

6th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Please spread the word far and wide!

6th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Candlelit Vigil
850 Bryant St. (Hall of Justice)
San Francisco
5pm, December 17th, 2008

We will process together to a Memorial hosted by Annie Sprinkle
For our sister and brother sex workers lost to violence
6:30pm, Center for Sex and Culture
1519 Mission Street (at 11th)
www.sexandculture. org

Vigil Co-sponsored by St. James Infirmary (stjamesinfirmary. org)
and Sex Workers' Outreach Project (

Bring a Red Umbrella in Solidarity
with Sex Workers & Our Human Rights

Tenderloin Webcams and the Growing Threat of Surveillance Culture in San Francisco

Recently, there has been a buzz in San Francisco about the guy who set up his two video cameras to film a span of Tenderloin street downstairs from his apartment. Complete with microphone to record the audio of "street sounds", Adam Jackson created a website,, which aired the 24 hour live streams of Taylor St. captured from these cameras, as well as message boards where people could discuss what they saw.

Due to the controversy and harassment that Jackson faced as a result, he has since stepped away from this little project, but a fire has been set under Big Brother's ass.

You can read about it here.

So, this white guy moves into the Tenderloin - a neighborhood historically notorious for its seedy reputation and high population of homeless - and decides that he will use his video camera and computer to create a website with the intention of making "his" neighborhood quieter and safer. He, and all the other self-appointed "guardians of the streets", use the footage to narc on other people in the neighborhood with a self-righteous vengeance.

This strategy of neighborhood watch is dangerously divisive (not to mention rude and invasive), especially in a volatile neighborhood such as the Tenderloin, where poverty and crime are magnified due to a more visible presence of poor people on the streets. The fact that the police are in support of Adam Jackson and his idea should be of great concern to anyone who is against the invasive techniques of surveillance culture.

The conditions of the Tenderloin itself are a striking testimony to the oppressive, ineffective ways that many urban cities deals with issues rooted in poverty, such as homelessness, substance use, and sex work. Similar to the situation I observed in Skid Row when I lived in downtown Los Angeles, the Tenderloin is where San Francisco's
'undesirables' are given just a little bit more wiggle room to get away with certain crimes of survival. It is the city's way of keeping above-ground poverty in a more centralized location, so that the rest of the city (the nicer neighborhoods) will be less burdened with its eye-sore. It is a consequence of criminalizing and perpetuating poverty, and only addressing the needs of the poor through band-aid, quick-fix legislations while funding for vital social services continue to get hacked.

The arguments in support of these neighborhood cameras are the same arguments that our government uses to justify this war on terror. And even if this surveillance system is initially in the hands of independent citizens, you can bet that the city, state, even federal government, will unfailingly stick its dirty paws into it when they decide the time is right.

According to the article in the SF Gate, "Jackson said at least three other sites have sprung up independently, and there has been interest in linking all of them together through It is possible that neighborhoods all over the city will have 24-hour cameras. That was Jackson's idea all along."

With the continued demonization of homeless people, "thugs" (which, to white people, often translates to: black or brown person wearing baggy pants and a hoodie. and if there's more than one of them walking together at night, you can bet this white person is about to shit themselves), sex workers, people who buy/sell/use substances, etc., the privilege of using and accessing surveillance cameras in the Tenderloin will only increase the race and class divide. The possibility of 24 hour cameras in neighborhoods all over the city hits too close to Orwellian to bode well.

Since Jackson stepped back and was taken down, this url now takes you to what may soon be Their goal is to serve as the hub for a global network of neighborhood watch webcams, stating, "We are running this in an effort to make a difference in the world." I will leave you with a disturbing excerpt from its message boards:

11:45 jen__luv: I am sorry to hear about everthing you went through.People are pathetic.
3:42 towahead: keep in going and the losers off the streets
3:45 towahead: why did you wimp out dudet
3:46 towahead: too many losers of color on there


Monday, December 8, 2008

Tools for White Guys Working for Social Change (and other people socialized in a society based on domination)

Here is one more reading where Chris Crass outlines some practical strategies for minimizing everyday patterns of domination. And while these exercises are especially important for white guys, these are useful practices we all can utilize in our daily lives towards undermining hierarchies of domination which create and perpetuate cycles of oppression!

And yes, I've been both busy and lazy lately, hence the cutnpaste posts of late. This is the last one of these for now though, so expect less lists, and more rambling ranting coming soon!


1. Practice noticing who's in the room at meetings - how many men, how many women, how many white people, how many people of color, is it majority heterosexual, are there out queers, what are people's class backgrounds. Don't assume to know people, but also work at being more aware.

2a. Count how many times you speak and keep track of how long you speak.
2b. Count how many times other people speak and keep track of how long they speak.

3. Be conscious of how often you are actively listening to what other people are saying as opposed to just waiting your turn and/or thinking about what you'll say next.

4. Practice going to meetings focused on listening and learning; go to some meetings and do not speak at all.

5a. Count how many times you put ideas out to the group.
5b. Count how many times you support other people's ideas for the group.

6. Practice supporting people by asking them to expand on ideas and get more in-depth, before you decide to support the idea or not.

7a. Think about whose work and contribution to the group gets recognized.
7b. Practice recognizing more people for the work they do and try to do it more often.

8. Practice asking more people what they think about meetings, ideas, actions, strategy and vision. White guys tend to talk amongst themselves and develop strong bonds that manifest in organizing. This creates an internal organizing culture that is alienating for most people. Developing respect and solidarity across race, class, gender and sexuality is complex and difficult, but absolutely critical - and liberating.

9. Be aware of how often you ask people to do something as opposed to asking other people "what needs to be done".

10. Think about and struggle with the saying, "you will be needed in the movement when you realize that you are not needed in the movement".

11. Struggle with and work with the model of group leadership that says that the responsibility of leaders is to help develop more leaders, and think about what this means to you.

12. Remember that social change is a process, and that our individual transformation and individual liberation is intimately interconnected with social transformation and social liberation. Life is profoundly complex and there are many contradictions. Remember that the path we travel is guided by love, dignity and respect - even when it is bumpy and difficult to navigate.

13. This list is not limited to white guys, nor is it intended to reduce all white guys into one category. This list is intended to disrupt patterns of domination which hurt our movement and hurt each other. White guys have a lot of work to do, but it is the kind of work that makes life worth living.

14. Day-to-day patterns of domination are the glue that maintain systems of domination. The struggle against capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism and the state, is also the struggle towards collective liberation.

15. No one is free until all of us are free.

Thanks and love to my comrades in the Bay Area gender privileged men's group of the Ruckus Society and the men's group (biological and transgendered men) of the Challenging White Supremacy Collective.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Intersex List of Demands

Here is one of two separate lists that some gender variant folks developed in Atlanta. It was initially written because they found other lists in regards to sexism to be good, but incomplete and lacking in experiences of gender variant individuals.

* Don't assume you know someone's sex based on how you perceive them or their gender.

* Don't assume all women have a vagina, uterus, etc.

* Don't assume all men have a penis, testes, etc.

* Don't fetishize our bodies.

* Don't use the word hermaphrodite to describe us unless we identify that way and give permission.

* Don't feel sorry for us.

* Respect our sex identification.

* Don't exploit our existence to discredit biological determinism or other academic ideologies.

* Know the difference between sex and gender.

* Know the difference between intersexed and transgendered.

* Don't ask us or try to picture what our genitals look like.

* Don't ask us if we have sexual sensations.

* Don't assume you have the right to know intimate details of our bodies. We have the right to privacy and safety like all other people.

* Realize we have historically been mutilated, fetishized, and made into freak shows. Understand how this affects us and our safety.

* Don't say "cool" or "weird" or treat us differently when we tell you we are intersexed.

* Educate yourself!!! Read books on intersex.

* Girl, woman, female; boy, man, male are not always interchangeable.

* Don't assume all intersex people are queer.

* Realize that not all people with intersex condition are out.

* Realize that not all people with intersex conditions even know that they are intersexed.

* Remember that we are 1 in 100, and that is not rare at all!!!

* Don't call our conditions "disorders," "retardations," "abnormalities," etc.

* Realize that bodies come in all different shapes, sizes and with different parts.

* Realize how fucking strong we are to speak up about the medical abuse and victimization we have been through and that we deserve mad props.

* Don't write us off as rare and unimportant. Don't put off educating yourself for other "more important" issues.

* In situations such as gender caucuses, keep in mind that not all the people who identify as women have similar genitalia, etc. Understand that we have been taught that our bodies are "wrong" and "ugly" and that it reinforces this when people say they love being women because of their vagina, uterus, etc., this reinforces those feelings. Woman does not necessarily = female. Man does not necessarily = male.

April, 2004

Monday, December 1, 2008

How To Be A Good Trans/Gender Ally - A List

Here is one of two separate lists that some gender variant folks developed in Atlanta. It was initially written because they found other lists in regards to sexism to be good, but incomplete and lacking in experiences of gender variant individuals.

This "list of demands" for good trans allys are lacking in MTF voices. This list comes out of their community [of mostly FTMs]. I have edited some of the list, and added a few points of my own as well. The list is far from complete, but is a good starting point for further discussions around these issues.

Stay tuned for "How to Be A Good Intersex Ally", and enjoy!


* Don't assume someone's gender identity.

* Don't constantly reference someone's gender identity in an attempt to seem OK with it. Likewise, don't think we care if you're OK with us or not. No one asked for your approval.

* Don't trip up on pronouns - if you fuck up, simply correct yourself and go on.

* Don't glamorize someone's gender identity or think it's "cool" or say that you're "into it."

* Read trans/gender theory. Know the difference between: transgender, transsexual, gender fucking, gender blending/bending, gender vs. sex, binary gender, passing, transitioning, binding, tucking, packing/stuffing, third genders, drag queens/kings, androgyny, butch, femme, crossdressing, boi, MtF, FtM, tranny boys, tranny dykes, boydykes, transfags, etc., etc., etc.!!!

* Know the difference between intersex and transgender. Think about how you would really feel if someone you loved transitioned. Think about your fears and why you have them.

* Recognize your own transphobia.

* Familiarize yourself with the processes of transitioning and surgery and hormones.

* Don't just name yourself a "trans ally" one day.

* Realize that some of us have struggled with our gender identity for a long time. Don't think that we just woke up one day and decided that we would identify as transgendered. So when we finally find a space that we're comfortable in (even if temporarily), don't co-opt that space or try to make it yours too

* Even if you think fucking with gender is hot, don't talk about it in an objectifying way.

* Realize that it can be hard existing in in-between spaces and really know that trans oppression and transphobia exist. Think about the fear of not being able to determine when you pass, the fear of being arrested/strip searched/thrown in the wrong holding cell, the threat of violence, the annoyance of having to "come out" about your gender identity constantly, etc.

* Recognize and understand the privilege of feeling at home in your body, using a public bathroom, knowing which M/F box to check, having people assume your gender identity and them being right, etc.

* Realize that there is a gender community and that the validation we receive from that community can be incomparable to what you could ever offer us, and let us seek refuge there.

* Recognize how class and race fit into these equations.

* Recognize and respect someone's gender identity regardless of whether or not they choose to have surgery or take hormones. Similarly, don't judge someone for transitioning or not wanting to identify as "transgendered."

* Don't assume that a person's transgender identity is "political."

* Don't partner with us out of some weird transitioning or coming out process for you.

* Don't ask us how we fuck.

* Question your own gender! (But don't then tell me, "You know, I've never felt like a 'real man'/'real woman' either." What this means is - don't assume our experiences are the same.

* Don't ask questions about someone to try to determine their "real gender."

* Don't think that FtM are dealing with some kind of internalized sexism.

* Don't assume our gender identity, render it invisible, or think it doesn't matter because of who we choose to partner with.

* Don't label our gender or sexual identity for us. Recognize the difference between the two!

* Don't think of our experiences and identities as monolithic.

* Don't think we are a "recent emergence" that somehow came out of gender/queer theory and academia.

* Realize that there are a variety of trans/gender expressions. Don't assume that people should express their gender similarly just because they both identify as transgendered. Likewise, don't judge someone because you think that their trans identity and gender expression conflict.

* Think about the language you use to differentiate between trans and non-trans people and if it's even necessary to differentiate.

* Don't assume trans people have a "shared experience" with people assigned the same gender.

* Don't assume FtMs are "better" than other men, or MtFs are not "as good" as other women (especially in terms of sexism).

* When doing introductions at a meeting, say the pronoun you prefer for that space along with your name, etc. (Facilitators should make sure this is done.)

* Be sensitive to pronouns you use for someone when dealing with authority, police. Keep in mind that people's pronouns/gender identity may not always match up with their I.D.

* Don't include us in your process of learning about intersex or trans issues unless we ask you about it.

* Take it upon yourself to educate yourself about issues relevant to the experiences of gender variant individuals, and don't assume that everyone's experiences are reflected in what you've read either.

* Take it easy on yourself - yes, there's a lot to know, so take it one step at a time, and don't get discouraged if you fuck up. We all make mistakes, but learn from them, and keep moving forward.

April, 2004

Sunday, November 30, 2008

25 Ways to Tokenize or Alienate a Non-White Person Around You

(or, 25 Examples of the Racism We Witness on a Regular Basis)
by basil, billie, qwo-li, jenn and colin from Colours of Resistance

1. Walk up to that black girl you barely know in the co-op and say, "What do you think of the new (insert hip-hop artist here) album?"

2. Ask one of the only Arabs in your community to write the article for your newspaper on the situation in Palestine.
a) Then, after they write it, take their research, re-write the article and sign your name to it.

3. In a big group of many activists, say, "How can we bring more people of color into our struggle?"

4. In a big group of many activists, say, "Black people don't have the time to care about trees.”

5. Go up to the Makah woman at the Unlearning Racism workshop and say, "I saw a program about Crazy Horse on PBS, he did a lot for your people."

6. Act like the only people of non-white ancestry in your community are the ones visible to you.
a) Assume that light skinned people around you are white without ever knowing their ancestry.

7. Talk about race as if the only groups are black and white.
a) Talk about race as if the only groups are black, white and hispanic.
b) Talk about race as if the only groups are black, white, hispanic and asian.
c) Talk about race as if the only groups are black, white, hispanic, asian and native american.

8. Picture a violent, irrational Arab every time the word "terrorist" is mentioned. Ignore the Arabs who do not fit into this stereotype.

9. Look to a non-white person in the room every time racism is brought up.
a) Make sure they have the last and most defining word on the subject.
b) Sympathetically and silently agree with everything they say.
c) Thank them profusely.

10. Fearfully avoid assertive non-white people in your community.

11. Ask a native person, "Do you make your own jewelry?"

12. Use the identity of white anti-racist as a shield against accusations of racism.

13. Ask an Arab you don't know what they think about the war in Iraq.

14. After a non-white person in your predominantly white workplace points out racism, ask "What are some of the positives of working here?"

15. Get a [racist] white person to facilitate a panel on racism featuring non-white queer people for a predominately white audience.

16. Pit light-skinned non-white people against each other based on how they identify racially and what you think is most correct.

17. Say "I noticed a lot of Black, Filipino, and Korean people who own grocery stores sell a lot of liquor."

18. When a multiracial native person tells you their heritages, say "What a magical mix."

19. Tell a racially mixed black person, "You don't act black."

20. When you find out that someone is Mizrachi, say:
a) "You're an Arab Jew? That's fucked up."
b) "What are you talking about? I've never heard of Sephardi/Mizrachi jews. What makes you think you're a person of color?"
c) "Jews are from Europe."
d) "There are no Palestinian Jews."
e) all of the above.

21. At the last minute, get two non-white people to facilitate a workshop on racism at your skill share and make sure none of the white folks from your organization attend the workshop. Profoundly, deeply thank the facilitators.

22. If a non-white person wants to organize a workshop at your conference specific to their ethnic community, before you "let" them, ask them "How many do you need?"

23. Organize a conference with an all white organizing committee.
a) When non-white people organize at the conference and want to speak for themselves, accuse them of "hijicking" the event.
b) Tell them you will publish their written statement on your website, and wait two years to do so.

24. If you see a black man speak about racism, say, "He was so angry - but very articulate."

25. If you're white and confronted on your racism, cry.

Have you witnessed any racism lately? If so, please feel free to add your story to this list!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Workshopping for Anti-Oppression-framed Activism

This past weekend, I put together and co-facilitated an Anti-Oppression workshop as part of the intensive training course for Points of Distribution.

Points of Distribution is a direct action outreach collective based in Oakland that provides safer injection supplies, and HIV rapid testing and results to street-based injection drug users (IDUs) in both the East and West Bay.

I was recently asked to join this collective, and as a prerequisite to going on outreach shifts, we must first go through an eight week training course which covers topics such as Drugs 101, History of Drugs & the War on Drugs, STIs, HIV, Hep. A, B, C, Anti-Oppression, Civil Liberties, Homelessness & Homeless Health, Sex Work, Mental Health & Suicide, DOPE Project Training, Soft Tissue Infections, etc.

The training is *intense*, but informative and useful for getting people from different backgrounds, politics, and privileges, closer to the same page. Because of the positive feedback we received about the Anti-Oppression workshop, and the amazing conversations that were inspired from the group, I've decided to put up some of the reading materials here on the blog throughout the next few days.

The following posts are some food for thought, in hopes that the issues brought up will lubricate those anti-oppression gears in yer mind towards a society based in collective consensus rather than domination and hierarchy.

Stay tuned, and enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fuck Globally, Think Locally

This excerpt from Ara Manoogian's groundbreaking investigation on the Armenian sex trade to Dubai has a 20-second introduction to the city of Dubai itself pulled from Discovery Channel's "Really Big Things." Ara's documentary originally aired on

Work what you got, girl. This video is straight up.

"Of the six women in the group, two were tricked to come to Dubai, the other four came voluntarily."

Another example of how trafficking sometimes results in a beneficial economic exchange between city, [client/tourist], and worker. Now if only there was a way to successfully address safety and health issues to keep people from bad situations. But in examining different cities around the world, it becomes clear that the circumstances around sex trafficking and human trafficking differ uniquely depending on the socio-economic status of the city and its place within the global market. Each context needs to be deeply examined before any productive strategic plan can be implemented to address the deeper issues that create unsafe working environments that harm its workers. And a response to coerced trafficking in one city may not work for another city with another set of circumstances.

(And no, the heading of this post is not meant to be a Gogol Bordello reference, but the idea fits just the same.)

Anti-Oppression Work Is Ongoing, Even If We Are In San Fran-fucking-cisco

Lately, I've been extra-sensitive and frustrated about the fact that so many radical activist circles that I work with are predominantly white - and I've been noticing quite a bit of cultural insensitivity within these spaces. As a person of color, a queerdo-genderqueer-tranny-faggot, sex worker anarcho-feminist, my identities are constantly being pulled in multiple directions in search of safe, supportive community. It is both a motivation for creation and energetically draining.

For example, to be in a sex-worker-positive space means to be in a predominantly white privileged environment. Same with most anarchist scenes, with the addition of a whopping side of patriarchy and sexism. But to be in a place where I can relate with others over the social etiquettes and struggles as a queer person of color? It means that I often have to keep sex work on the down low. Anarchism is a less common frame of reference. And sometimes, I'm not even out as queer, let alone as genderqueer. I feel perpetually caught in the middle, floating, searching, but always leaving some vital part of me neglected in the end.

I've been ranting about it to friends more than usual, and my ranting about these privileged-yet-unaware activist spaces is probably starting to make me sound like I think all white people are racist - because, well, yes, I'm going to come right out and say it - White people who have grown up in our current society are socialized to be inherently racist. Period. Of course I know that there are good people doing good work, and who happen to be white. Some of my close friends come to mind. And there are some People of Color that are the worst about sensitivity and non-judgement. And I have no illusions that POC folks can't also be racist just because they are POC. But lately, I have been getting hit on all sides with general cultural insensitivity, and its fucking frustrating.

I have come to the conclusion that it is because ironically, we are in San Francisco - the land of forward politics, green culture, and radical activists! And thats just the thing - everyone is a 'lefty' activist here. Its 'cool' to be a lefty activist here. And though there is nothing wrong with that, it seems to me that at some point, the dogma surrounding anti-oppression has become more common buzz word and less critical self-reflection. Just because a person is an activist doesn't mean that they automatically get anti-oppression cred. It's not like when someone 'turns activist', they suddenly have an epiphany about what privilege means, and they become not sexist or racist etc. forever.

It seems like 'SF activist' has developed into an identity all in itself which dangerously assumes that this means said activist must already be aware of privilege, class, race, and gender issues. This assumption leads to laziness, and all of a sudden, I am finding myself in spaces where people (but especially white people) aren't self-reflecting on these issues, and how it may affect the people and social environments around them.

It is important, not only to acknowledge one's privilege, but also to ask oneself, How does this privilege frame my experience, and how do my actions affect the people and places around me?

And what are you going to do with your answers?

Anti-oppression work is an ongoing lifetime process, both within ourselves, and the world at large. These types of conversations need to happen regularly - its like activist mental maintenance to keep that anti-oppression lense clean! People have gotten comfortable in our radical sf activist bubble, and take for granted the language that has been developed to talk about __(insert political buzz word here)__, but let's see people consistently putting action to their words, please!

hah yeah. maybe my head would explode.
i drank too much coffee and i'm gonna go off.
i can feel it.
yes. i am a fucking asshole and i have high expectations towards people who call themselves activists.
no. i don't give a fuck. we are all accountable.
im pissed off and impatient.
my cynicism bleeds from repetitive lacerations of an optimistic heart.
picking and choosing battles, i know how to compromise in the face of this reality,
but it doesn't mean i will.

Thank you for the reminders that there is still hope. Ultimately, I am thankful for the freedom of expressions that San Francisco allows. Sometimes, I do get lost. Sometimes, it just feels good to vent to an understanding, listening friend.

Then we pick it back up, and do it again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trafficking is a Labor Issue

Human trafficking in Thailand - 14 Apr 2008

Trafficking is a labor issue, an immigration issue, as well as a sex work issue. In all these cases, it is always a migration of an individual away from an impoverished situation in search of a chance to work and more opportunity.

Here, the Thai government has acknowledged their awareness of trafficking, yet little is done to address the horrific conditions and abusive exploitations of trafficked individuals. It is in their favor to pass the buck, because ultimately, their very economy actually thrives off of the cheap labor that trafficking brings.

And along the same lines, sex tourism is a big industry that brings in substantial profit for many big cities around the world. As long as governments maintain the *illusion* that they are morally upstanding - such as criminalizing prostitution or saying "We don't like it, but we need evidence" - the legislations that keep people hungry also keeps them vulnerable and open to the exploits of the rich and powerful.

Why would they want to change a thing?

Human Trafficking in Cambodia
Everywoman - Human Trafficking - 21 Sep 07 - Part 1

Dr. Bridget Anderson brings up a good point. She doesn't like the emphasis on the UN definition of "human trafficking", where its about moving, using force, coersion, or abuse for the purposes of exploitation. But we need to ask ourselves some really important questions:

What does exploitation mean?
What does force and coersion mean?
Why does movement matter?

A great informative video touching on the complicated issues of sex trafficking, making connections with the videos above regarding global human trafficking, and the steep prices people will pay in search of a better life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Please Don't Shoot the President (Yet)

Obama won, and I felt like I should have been more excited than I could actually muster. The whole thing felt so anti-climatic. We all stood in the gallery staring at the election count projected on the wall, getting more and more tipsy on the wine, making small talk about political art. And watching the clock.

At the strike of midnight, the count was in for the west coast. The screen flashed subtle - California, Oregon, Washington turned blue.


And it was over. Obama surpassed the needed 270 electoral votes to win, and it was over.

People had been chatting and mingling, too spaced out or engrossed to realize the gravity of what had just silently flickered on the wall.

Oh, Obama won, I announced, a little more deadpan than I intended.

What? What happened?! What?! I watched as the room slowly spun crescendo into a confused flurry as people began to realize that the elections were over.

Yeah, its over. Obama just won. He got California, Oregon, and Washington for 270 electoral votes, so he's president now, I sigh, detached from why I felt so detached at this momentous occassion.

Screaming ensues.

Oh my God, Obama won! We have a black president! Obama won! Fuck yeah!

My friends hug me, hug each other, and scream some more while I stand, forcing a smile, mumbling yeah and its awesome. Everyone was so excited, I didn't want to rain on their parade.

In my head, I couldn't turn off my cynicism. At this point, democrats and republicans might as well be the same party to me. Ultimately, they will all look out for number one, upholding the wealth within an unequal capitalist economy, and it's all about the bottom line, baby. At least Republicans are honest about their intentions and discriminations, even if it is totally effed up.

So will Obama be any different?..

In my head, I couldn't turn off the shock. And as excited as I am that a person of color is finally sitting in that oval office, we have learned, through examples such as our darling Condaleeza, that just because your skin is brown does not necessarily mean you will advocate for other brown skinned people once you hold power that has historically been equated with whiteness, colonization, and slavery. Though it is definitely a good strategic angle to market yourself to the public vote..

I am keeping my skepticism about Obama's claims at bay with the faith that things will get better. I want to see action backing up his words. His acceptance speech was inspiring and made me feel better about the future, but I still left the party early that night.

The Obama family are the new Kennedys in the White House, and I wonder, what change will we see?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Street Survivor - 2006/DV/21 mins

Director : Lin Jing Jie, Music : Lim Giong
2006/ DV / 21mins, Taiwan

Street Survivor is the portrait of a Taiwanese street worker and the cop who arrests her.

Election Day 2008,

This is how I voted:

State Propositions:

1A - High-speed rail bond - YES
2 - Farm Animal Protections - YES
3 - Childrens hospital bonds - NO (public money for private hospitals=bad)
4 - Parental notification of abortion - NO
5 - Treatment instead of jail - YES
6 - Prison spending - NO
7 - Strangely written renewable energy generation - NO
8 - Same Sex Marriage bans - NO
9 - Restrictions on parole - NO
10 - Alternative fuel vehicles bond - NO
11 - Redistricting commission - no vote
12 - Veterans bond act - no vote

City Propositions:

A - SF General Hospital Bonds - YES
B - Affordable Housing Fund - YES
C - Ban City Employees from commission - NO
D - Finance Pier 70 waterfront district - no vote
E - Recall reform - NO
F - Mayoral Elections in even-numbered years - NO
G - Retirement credit for parental leave - YES
H - SF Clean Energy Act - YES
I - Independent ratepayer advocate - no vote
J - Historic Preservation Commission - no vote
K - Decriminalize sex work - YES
L - Fund the community justice center - NO
M - Tenants' Rights - YES
N - Real Estate transfer tax - YES
O - Emergency response fee - YES
P - Transportation authority changes - NO
Q - Payroll Tax Modification - YES
R - Rename sewage plant George W. Bush - YES
S - Budget set-aside policies - NO
T - Substance abuse treatment on demand - YES
U - Defund Iraq War - YES
V - Bring bank JROTC - NO

Monday, November 3, 2008


This is a song that my friend D emailed to me. D is a sex worker ally, advocate, friend, client, and long-time volunteer with the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters (COSWAS) in Taipei, Taiwan.

"This song was written for a close friend of COSWAS that chose to end her life jumping off a cliff into the sea. She was the first sex worker that wasn't afraid of exposing herself to the media during and after the struggle for re-legalization of sex work ten years ago.

i don't know if you could understand the lyrics. they're in Taiwanese

I translated the lyrics of "happiness" to english. the lyrics in chinese is more poetic, I sort of ruined it, but better than nothing. Hope you like it."


If you ask me what is happiness, what should i tell you?
If I was born in a wealthy family, happiness would be much more easier to achieve

If you ask me what is life, what I should tell you?
I come from a poor family. tell me where could i find happiness.

Ah.... I'm a long blossoming wild flower in the fields
Happiness is like a candle in the wind
We have to cherish and protect it with our hands

Ah.... We are long blossoming wild flowers in the fields
Life is like the lights in the dark which leads us forward

Even though we are discriminated walking down this path
We feed our families like anyone else, It is not shameful at all
Red lights, cross roads, and narrow alleys, we walk silently and alone
I-Yo, in order to provide our family with food shelter and clothes
That's my life

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Human Trafficking is Not Always a Crime

"In the first place, a persistent problem in combating trafficking is the lack of willingness of victims to report the crime. One of the reasons is the fear to be prosecuted themselves for prostitution."
(Wijers, M.,

As we come to the eves of election day, there have been more and more discussions within the online sex worker activist community regarding sex trafficking. Perhaps it is the accumulated frustrations I feel towards problematic patterns of discourse that I've noticed in this movement. Perhaps I'm just extra grumpy today.

But today, I am offended by this statement.

Now, I am not denying the fact that huge numbers of trafficked people have fallen victim to horrible violence, rape, extortion, coersion, and worse. And somethings needs to be done. Decriminalizing prostitution will remove another invasive law legislating the choices we make with our bodies, and provide another avenue of empowerment for women in trafficked situations. Hooray for that! But let's be real here - decriminalizing prostitution will not save trafficked individuals.

And anyway, who said that they all wanted to be "saved"? What if the reason human trafficking is so hard to pin down is because some of the so-called "victims" *want* to be there?

Does anyone else find this sentence offensive? The word "victim" makes me cringe in its self-righteousness. And the predictable "blame the victim" explanation to defend years of ineffective, non-productive scapegoat legislations and wasted tax dollars. Maybe the author is right - maybe it is a "lack of willingness".

And maybe that shouldn't be the problem.

The truth of the matter is that human trafficking is not always directly violent contract between trafficker and traffickee, but the fact that it is illegal makes it harder to consistently maintain a standard of safety, just like one of our arguments for Proposition K.

If you think about it, a person making the choice to be trafficked is also a person engaging in sex work. And a comrade to this struggle.

Thus, I am wary of the language we use to discuss human trafficking, for fear that it could perpetuate more stereotypical generalizations about an issue layered within the complexities of poverty, need, immigration, and consent. I feel it is especially important for sex worker activists to be conscious of these issues - as well as be able to acknowledge that our perspectives on trafficking come from a much more privileged place - when speaking about human trafficking. Because this community is, in some ways, seen as an authority at the forefront of sex workers' rights, and each of our perspectives can hold powerful influence.

With the Prop K campaign, we are experiencing first hand how difficult it is to re-differentiate the various definitions - (ie. voluntary sex work vs. coerced sex trafficking) - once they have been misguidedly clumped into one broadly overgeneralized wad of moral turpitude - Prostitution! And just like not all prostitution is bad, not all human trafficking is bad either.

And it is important to make this distinction in order to prevent the further marginalization of people (usually poor and from the 'global south'..) who choose to engage themselves in a trafficking trade when all other options for survival are no longer available to them.

Vote YES on Proposition K!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Dress Like Yr Going to A Funeral..."

... is what P told me on the phone. When I asked her what kind of event this was, what to expect, she said,

It's more of a... *formal*.. event. Like dressing up. I mean, like fancy. Well, you don't have to wear a prom dress or anything. Or, er, a tuxedo, but um.. well, you know, its more *formal*..

Very cute. It made me laugh.

Shoot, you mean I *shouldn't* wear my prom dress then?, I smiled.

What she could have just said was, Can you dress less crusty, and please behave yrself tonight.

Because last night, I went to a Democratic Fundraiser dinner! In solidarity with our Proposition K campaign, nine of us wined and dined it with a couple hundred people that I have less and less patience for. Yes, that's right, a $150-a-seat, all-American whitebread Dem experience! But hey, we're in SF, so there were definitely a few black and brown people too. Yay for diversity!

But, you know me, I'll rarely turn down free food and the opportunity for a new experience! I knew it would probably happen, but I wanted to shoot myself in the head after about 2 minutes of arriving. Give me a goddamn glass of wine, and stand next to the other person in the room who looked as if she felt as awkward as I did at that moment. She's a 17 year old college student interning for Nancy Pelosi, and I'm a 27 year androgynous hooker anarchist, and yet we found solace in our common ground:

These people give me the creeps.

So I stand there, tactfully stiff, and smile, secretly feeling like my very presence there is a fraud, and the ruse seeping through the clenched grin of my teeth must be giving me away. I don't belong here. I really don't. But for the sake of the game, I pretend that I do.

The hour and a half of 'democratic' hot air from speakers that ensued had my eyeballs falling out my head in loathe boredom. There is something about the monotonous drone of a politician's voice.. And that bitch Kamala Harris had the gall to stand at that podium, look directly at our table, and tell the entire room to vote No on Proposition K.

The proponents of Proposition K are saying that decriminalizing prostitution in San Francisco will create a safer environment - and that is simply not true. So I urge you all in this room to please, vote no on Proposition K.

Some bullshit like that. What a fucking jip. This wasn't a goddamn debate, and she took advantage of the situation to take a malicious and slanderous dig at us to our faces that left us defenseless to respond. R almost flipped her shit, but it was a comfort to know that there were other people in the room who hissed at her in our defense, and that this scene probably won us some points in the end.

But its funny to note that our hooker table paid twice as much - $1500! - to attend an event that we were not even invited to, and they sat us in the far back corner of the room.

It's so the filthy prostitutes won't contaminate the rest of the room
, I heard a neighboring ally joke with a smirk.

But i don't want to be a hater, and i really do appreciate the opportunity to have experienced this $150-a-seat event for free, even if its not my thing. It was good to sit at a table with my comrades. Its a strange feeling to be working for something that i feel so strongly about within a system that i completely disagree with. The shady realist and the cynical idealist in me are at contradictory odds, and i have to concentrate to keep my anger in check.

My life and my mind live so far outside this system of socio-political values.. I know full well how to work within it, and I will when I have to. But no sir, I don't like it.

Taking the Pledge

Taking the Pledge is a 13-minute film featuring sex workers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Thailand and more! They describe the problems created by the 'anti-prostitution pledge' required to receive USAID and PEPFAR funds.

In English, Khmer, Thai, French, Portuguese and Bengali, with English subtitles. Watch in full-screen mode to read the subtitles.

Produced by the Network of Sex Work Projects.

Erin Siegal shot the interviews and edited the film.

Thanks to W for sharing it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Only Skimming the Surface of Human Trafficking and Decriminalization

I have been thinking a lot about the complexities within human trafficking itself. I feel that much of the Prop K campaign comes from a place of sf empowered sex worker privilege - 'the right to choose an occupation, and the right to be able to do it in safer conditions without fear of arrest etc - and oh, of course we are against human trafficking.'

The way that its addressed often seems to imply that all human trafficking is coerced, when in fact, its not always the case. There are people who voluntarily allow themselves to be trafficked - especially in poorer parts of the world - because it's the only opportunity that presents itself towards fighting their shitty situations in life. So it becomes a consequence and a reaction to poverty, but a choice - which - because it remains criminalized, persecuted, and pushed underground - carries much higher risk of violence, rape, coercion, extortion, battery, arrest, and deportation. Getting 'shipped back' to their personal hells, or leaving a black mark on their record that permanently affects their ability to get a 'straight' job for the rest of their lives. Or fill in some other catch-22 here that keeps people 'in their place' rather than providing services to address the actual conditions of their needs.

In the bigger picture, the coercion seems to stem more from the unjust systems that allow these kinds of trades to flourish and remain a desirable option. And yes, the trafficker is a shameless opportunist - and probably also a big asshole.

So whats a ho to do? Sometimes, simply treading water on the daily is a full time job that leaves little time or resources for anything else. And the extreme incongruities within the legal, legislative, economic, health, and education systems (and our faux-dem/rep capitalist big business government spreading its global parasitic disease as a whole) maintain the social homeostasis in the distribution of wealth, power, and righteous morality that are killing us all.

Yeah, the first step to untangling this colossal mess is to decriminalize, but I am afraid that if Prop. K passes, people will feel contented with the immediate gratification of this victory, and disappear back into the woodwork. Which could potentially fuck everyone over since it would be the most precarious and impressionable time that could potentially define the direction that this movement will head next. And what exactly is that direction?

Desiree Alliance really brought to my attention how difficult it is to build bridges between all the different communities of sex workers, but also how completely necessary it is to do it. Because this is a conversation that we all need to have together to figure out a strategy that works for everyone. Not just privileged, idealistic sex workers like me.

A Tickle in My Throat

My throat has been feeling funny, and I can't tell if it is because I am fighting germs, or if my voice is starting to drop. Its been kinda scratchy and low all day, and I feel like I need to talk more quietly to avoid my voice from cracking.

Its exciting, and perplexing to think about where this ride will end up. Like the surprise in the Crackerjack box, I wonder what gifts that I've been wishing for will be granted through the tip of that 23 gauge. My little brother's voice is really low now, but my dad is a tenor in his chinese community choir. Its partly genetics, and its partly lifestyle, and I've sure as hell smoked loads, and downed many a flask of whiskey in my time.

I feel I may not be able to hide my inner crossdressing queer boy faggotry much longer (physically, anyway - i mean, who am i trying to kid?). The thought of it scares me a little, and I still haven't made sense of how I'm going to explain this to my family and 'straight' job co-workers. Will I still be able to pay my rent once I start doing sex work as a FTM boy? I'm really good at procrastinating about things I don't want to deal with. But like any good procrastinator, I've learned to land on my feet when it matters the most, full force, when things come crashing to the ground.

Waiting for change to come. And I don't fucking mean Obama.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vote for Obama Because McCain Sucks More

This is how I follow the campaign. Get crunk, booty!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sex Work and Sex Trafficking Are Not the Same

As you all may have already heard, Prop. K would decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco - but what needs to be talked about more is how decriminalizing prostitution will affect immigrant communities, and communities of color!

The opposition to Proposition K claims that by decriminalizing prostitution, it will allow sexual slavery and human trafficking to flourish unchecked in San Francisco. The reality is that decriminalizing prostitution is the first step towards developing a clearer, less discriminatory, and more effective anti-trafficking strategy than the one we currently have.

In the current state of sex work, there is no distinction in the eyes of the law between 1) sex work between two consenting adults, and 2) the forced abuses of sexual slavery and human trafficking. This is a fundamental problem that misleads people about sex work and prevents the development of an effective strategy of fighting sex trafficking - by criminalizing prostitution, it makes it easier for sex traffickers to hide behind the arrests of sex workers working by choice. And it allows the police to use prostitution as a scapegoat for their racist agendas.

Voluntary sex workers are arrested and prosecuted for prostitution, even though it is a consensual choice, and sometimes the only way to make ends meet. Victims of sexual slavery are threatened into silence and isolation, while their traffickers remain at large. Immigrants who are not sex workers are raided under the guise of a sex trafficking sting operation, and deported for being “illegal”. Voluntary sex workers who cross state lines are arrested for “trafficking” themselves, a felony punishable by 16-20 years in prison.

So far, there have still been no reported convictions of actual sex traffickers in San Francisco – yet statistics show that it is a flourishing $8 billion dollar international industry, with San Francisco as one of its major commercial centers. And there are continuous raids, sting operations, immigrant deportations, and racial profiling-based police harassment of voluntary sex workers and communities of color– all in the name of “saving victims of sex trafficking”. The current system is ineffective and discriminatory – and why are we arresting the people that we are claiming to help?

Immigrants, poor people, radical freaks, and communities of color have gotten caught in this perpetual cycle of systematic oppression and persecution. And again, the rich stay rich, the poor stay poor (and in prisons) - and the privileged few (white people) continue to impose their colonial values on diversity while telling us that we should be goddamn ashamed of ourselves.

Decriminalizing consensual sex work is the first step towards effectively fighting sex trafficking because it would allow for an open dialogue that distinguishes between this important difference between voluntary sex work and coerced human trafficking. It would narrow down the usual suspects to the places where sex trafficking is actually happening - therefore allowing law enforcement to focus in on finding real victims of sexual slavery and stopping their perpetrators.

It goes so much deeper than you or me or this proposition, and we need all the help we can get to get this to pass. It can be a crucial move towards untangling the chokehold of multiple oppressions and violence against sex workers and marginalized immigrant communities. Ultimately, I actually don't believe in the real effectiveness of the voting system, but in this case, I feel it's a necessary first step towards something better - at least for now until a new way of life.

And there will still be a long, long way to go, after this is said and done.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Proposition K: Decriminalize Prostitution On November's Ballot

Proposition K is an initiative that will be on San Francisco's ballot this upcoming November 4th. If it passes, Prop. K would decriminalize prostitution in the city, creating possibilities for safer and better working conditions for sex workers by bringing sex work above ground. It would improve public health for workers and their clients by allowing for open, honest dialogue with healthcare providers, as well as with one another, about what is really going on.

Sex workers would be able to unionize, or otherwise work together, to protect themselves from STIs, violence, and more. They would be able to report incidents of coersion and rape without fear of arrest. It would reallocate funding towards more productive resources such as health care, social services, and vocational training, and take emphasis away from incarceration and persecution.

It would be a historical victory for sex workers everywhere, because it would set a landmark precedence, and send the message that - hey, finally sex work is being acknowledge as a legitimate form of work!

More to come.

For more information, please check out

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gettin' Fresh and Sexy in Chicago

For the past week, I've been in Chicago attending the Desiree Conference. In its third year, the Desiree Conference is a gathering of sex worker activists and their allies, from all over the world.

"The Desiree Alliance is a diverse, volunteer-based, sex worker-led network of organizations, communities and individuals across the US working in harm reduction, direct services, political advocacy, and health services for sex workers. We provide leadership development and create space for sex workers and supporters to come together to advocate for human, labor, and civil rights for all workers in the sex industry."

The conference was amazing, and the people were even more so. Check it out at:

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bang Bang, Yer Dead

This morning again, the sound of gunshots were the neighborhood alarm call. The sunlight from my curtainless window pierces the thin membrane coating my hangover, and I throw the blankets over my head to keep the day at bay.

A glass of water and another hour
, I tell myself. Or two.

The puppy roots her face through the sea of blankets and plops her lanky ass into the curve of my body. She's such a good spooner.

The gangs here have been busier than usual shooting people lately. This is the third day I've been woken to the sound of gunfire and it gets worse at night. Four nights earlier, two black men were shot two houses down the street from my flat.

Oh dammit. What the hell is going on?

What? What happened?
I could practically hear the immediate lines of worry furrow my cousin Laura's forehead over the phone.

There are tons of cops outside my house. Some shit must have gone down. We hang up the phone. Cop cars had blocked off half the street, and the neighborhood residents watch on the sidewalks in front of their stoops. Kids gawk at the big men with guns in uniform, and adults stand grouped together in evening gowns and bathrobes discussing the scene as the event unfolds. Mijo, hey! Don't go over there. Stay on the sidewalk! I manuever my soccer dad mini-van towards my flat and pulled up next to one of the cops.

Excuse me, officer, what's going on?

Two guys were shot. He casually gestures at the street and sidewalk with his thumb.

Fucking great.

Are they okay? What are you doing about it?

Yeah, they'll probably be fine. The ambulance took them to the hospital, but we haven't caught anyone yet.

Well, I live here. Is it okay to go home? The cop nods and directs my vehicle right through the middle of the crime scene. So much for preserving the evidence.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just in Time for the Homo Holidays..

I thought I'd be dead by now, but it turns out, I'd just been living a half life.

Pupils blown and mind in outer space, the word future melts into the primordial sludge that undulates dimensions bigger than all of us. Or maybe just me. It's hard to tell anymore what's real - and what's "normal" - when all you've really got is yerself.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****
We sprawl out in the living room. Three people dogpile, half-falling, from the ratty couch. Drawing pictures. Fidgeting with gadgets. Music plays in the background, but it's drowned out by the humming in my head. I'm bundled in a sleeping bag on the floor next to my girlfriend S in nothing but my underwear. She lays her head is in my lap, laughing, staring. Laughing. Staring. It slowly occurs to me that we are all doing that. And I think we've been doing that for the past two hours. Someone giggles in the hallway. Oh.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****

This is a good time to give yerself a good, sturdy kick in the pants, the voices tell me. I head for the hills and spend time alone amongst the trees and dogs.

And then days, into weeks, into months, into a year, and I want to believe that, Yes, hallelujah! I am healed! Hah! Mind blown and eyes narrowed cynicism, the word hope melts into the primordial sludge of flight or fight, and in my manic state, I opt for the latter.

I wonder how long it will last this time, and I prepare myself for the end.