retiring

(Photo by Flickr user Patrick Harris)

This is a hard piece for me to write, because everything I’m about to describe is still very fresh.

Two years ago, the all-over body pain and extreme exhaustion I’d been dealing with began to become more common. But I was still only using my cane sporadically, allowing me to work the stroll and occasionally go on outcalls from Backpage.

The doctors had confirmed fibromyalgia, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome. At the time, these diagnoses felt validating. The body pain, the spasming tendons and odd stabbing pains that I could name—this one felt like a rusty railroad spike going up through my foot, another like a piece of rebar traversing my torso diagonally, another like needles being shoved under my fingernails—were not my imagination, nor was the exhaustion that kept me sleeping for 19-plus hours a day, often for weeks at a time.

I was still occasionally able to make it out without my cane at this point. It had become a comfort and it provided a sense of security, a way to signal a request for patience when I was unable to move as quickly as others, and it allowed relief from the pains that shot like lightning up the bones of both my legs. But I knew that as a fat, tattooed, (although cis passing) trans woman, the cane would work against me on the stroll. Though I was 47 at the time, I easily passed as closer to 30 (the “Trans Fountain of Youth”?). But sex work is mean. Anything that detracted from cis-hetero-able-bodied standards of beauty meant lost income, so I leaned a lot. I’d stop by the church gates and rest, half-hoping I’d go unnoticed so I could regain a bit of my strength, half-hoping I’d be noticeable enough to catch a car date without having to move to more lucrative stretches of the stroll.

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Content warning: This post contains discussion and accounts of trafficking, debt bondage, and exploitation, both in the context of sex trafficking and trafficking in another industry. There are also brief references to experiences of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, custody loss, structural violence from criminalization, and violence against sex workers.

In the last four months, I have been in the most unusual employment circumstances of my life. I am kept in a small box with no access to even basic human needs like hot meals and showers. I am forced to stay there until my employers are ready to use me again. I am only permitted to shower when my employers are not using me. Up to a week in between showers has passed.

I am not paid for all of the work that I have performed. I am forced to share my small box with strange men when my employers demand it. These men have become aggressive and verbally abusive toward me. I am not allowed to know if the men have been violent to others before I work with them. I have been harassed sexually by my employer and I’m viewed as a sexual object by an overwhelming number of the men that surround me.

I am paid less than minimum wage for the hours that I work. I am kept apart from my family and do not see my home for months at a time. In fact, since taking this job I have not seen my home once, though I was promised I’d be brought home every three to four weeks.

I do not have access to healthcare despite having been the victim of a violent physical assault by one of the people they had living with me in my box. I’ve asked repeatedly to go home to see a doctor, but my employers keep me in my box. They keep moving my box around the nation so that I am too far away to escape and return home. I suspect they keep my pay minimal so that I cannot afford to escape.

I first saw the signs from Truckers Against Trafficking at truck stops around the nation. They were your basic public awareness flyers with signs about how to recognize human trafficking. Then at the port of entry in Wyoming, I saw a different poster from Polaris asking, “Do you want out of the life?”.  I thought for a moment and realized that I do feel as if I am being trafficked and I do want out of “the life”.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I should call Polaris for help, but I can’t. Because I am no longer a sex worker.

This all began after I left sex work.

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wrt

Image from LasVegasLawBlog

Dear Tits and Sass,

I have been a sex worker for about nine years now, in a variety of capacities.  The past three years I’ve lived and worked as an upscale independent escort in a several different cities. I have regulars in three cities, a website, and a mailing list with about 800 people on it. This fall I’m starting school, working towards a professional degree (in a city where I have never worked). I am trying to come up with the best plan for resigning from the business, while keeping the door open to work again if I need to or want to. The risk-benefit analysis favors very heavily on the side of completely quitting and trying as much as possible to erase all evidence of ever having existed (taking down my website, delisting off TER, deleting my gmail account, etc.). In fact, I have become even more paranoid than I used to be about screening, because if something negative should happen now I would likely lose my ability to pursue the professional degree I’m after and have to keep doing sex work (I’m feeling burnt out and ready to move on) until I came up with another plan. But part of me fears losing this business I spent so much time building, in case I should need it (with an already established good reputation) in the future. I also wish to keep the ability to call on my regulars, so as to work without advertising (if I want to)—and I don’t want them to know where I’m going to school or even what city I’m moving to. And, to some extent most relevantly, I want to make as absolutely much money as possible before I retire my online presence (as much as possible, given the number of “stolen” ads of mine that are floating out there) in August. What are the best tips and tricks for getting the most cash out of retirement, and then disappearing off the face of the internet, without burning all my bridges?
Sincerely,
Goodbye To All That [READ MORE]

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