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Photo courtesy of Julia Laite at notchesblog

First posted on my Facebook feed.

I know this will be controversial with some folks who follow me, but: Today is Sex Worker Rights day. This is NOT about the approx. 22% of all human trafficking victims who are trafficked for sex work. (The majority of trafficking victims are for the agriculture, garment, and construction industries.) No. This is about people–men, women, and trans folks–who for whatever reason choose sex work in which to make money. By choice. I just want to be clear.

I absolutely, unequivocally support sex worker’s rights, their right to have their work treated as work rather than stigma; their right to have their industry decriminalized; their right to be safe in their work; their rights in general. Sex workers–particularly those who are people of color or transgender (or both)–deserve respect and safety, rather than being subjected to harassment, assault, and stings by police whose primary motivation is (this is true, I promise) money.

Look: I’m not stupid. I know we live in a fairly Puritan/Napoleonic Code-based social framework, which looks askance (to put it mildly) at anything of a sexual nature. But I ask you to look beyond that and realize that sex workers (for the most part) are just doing a job. “How can you do a job so demeaning?” 1) It doesn’t have to be demeaning just because it’s sexual, and 2) There are plenty of other jobs that are plenty demeaning that aren’t sex work. I have laid sod and landscaped hillsides during a heatwave; worked graveyard shift as a security guard; cleaned restaurant toilets and floors as a janitor after hours; and plenty others. These were demeaning.

And I’d like you to consider the positive aspects of sex work you might not have thought of, or dismissed as silly or absurd. What if you are a man with some kind of mental disability who has never had sex before because your disability makes you unattractive to potential partners? What if you are physically disabled and your partner can’t deal and needs help? What if your partner simply lose interest in sex but you don’t? What if what excites you changes completely over time but doesn’t for your partner? These and many other areas are places where sex workers help, not only individuals but entire relationships.

Sex work is work. They deserve respect. Please give it to them.