As far as we know, there has never been a sex work community meet up during Creating Change before this conference. It’s disturbing to think why when so much of the LGBTQ community trades sex out of choice, necessity and survival. Having a sex work caucus now doesn’t mean there weren’t sex workers at Creating Change before nor that we weren’t organized. In the realities that we know to experience, our experiences as sex workers have historically been erased and whitewashed from LGBTQ history and we call on the wider community to correct this and create space for us. The deafening silence during this conference about the closure of the advertising space on backpage.com, a website where many trans women and men of color advertised, spoke volumes to many of us. As a community we say no more.
The excitement of having our sex work caucus quickly faded when the full schedule was made available just days before the conference started. To our dismay, there were two meeting spaces that specifically addressed sex work— the sex work caucus and the “Policy Counsel and Litigators Round Table on Sex Work Decriminalization”— and they were both scheduled at exactly the same time. Although the decriminalization round table will have community involvement through selected panelists, conference participants who are sex workers are put in a situation where they have to decide between organizing with their fellow workers and having their voice heard among policy makers. Shame on Creating Change for putting us in that situation.
Yes, when we brought this to the attention of Creating Change we got an apology and they gave us the option to move to another time slot. As organizers we considered many factors and decided to keep the time slot, but we felt we needed to make our experiences public. We need accountability from organizations that benefit from our oppression.
With that, we have developed as a community some changes that we would like to see from Creating Change as a way to include us better in the process. Specifically:
Waiting for solidarity,
The Sex Work Caucus, Creating Change 2017