March 8th: International Working Women + Femmes Day!

From our dear comrade Caty Simon of Whose Corner Is It Anyway:

This International Women’s Day, please donate to the 150 + low-income sex working, drug-using, housing insecure, Boricua, Dominican, Black, Native, and white cis and trans women of Whose Corner and all our organizing and mutual aid on each other’s behalf. Please help Whose Corner, our org by/for low-income/street/survival #sexworkers using opioids/stimulants or experiencing housing insecurity, reach Weds’ 2 K goal. We just served 113 members at our supply pickup and co-launched #decrimMA with Black and Pink Massachusetts. I will detail all our million and one projects, but we have been going through monies like no one’s business and could really use your support this cycle!

So, besides, you know, making MA history with the launch of #decrimMA , we have had a busy couple of weeks! During these last few cold nights, we launched a successful pilot of a program we wanna scale up next winter, providing emergency overnight shelter for some of our most vulnerable houseless members during snow/hail storms and below 10/15 degree weather. Many thanks to organizers Ivaneliz, Shae M, and M’s teamwork on that one.Our harm reduction advisor is now running more organized harm reduction/reproductive health supply access during our weekly drop-in hours, and helping our organizer Ivaneliz make plans for consistent outreach efforts to our community. We are now serving 10 people with syringe and safer crack kit access services during our weekly drop-in hours, and about 60 people–about half of the total number of members we see—during our monthly supply pickups.

Another one of our organizers, Vanessa, has been prepping a presentation on barriers to healthcare access for opioid using sex workers and how we provide healthcare options to each other as a community for a class of Umass nursing students. She’ll discuss bad overdose responses by EMTs; redflagged files &the perception of “drug-seeking”; lack of adequate opioid maintenance in in-patient care; verbal abuse; neglect of patient health in in-patient drug treatment; barriers to methadone access; difficulty acquiring prescribed antibios for abscesses; problems w/harm reduction based care; sexual exploitation of sex working, drug-using women(or drug-using women perceived to be sex worker) by clinic security guards and MART drivers; why drug-using sex workers rarely disclose sw in healthcare settings, and more.“ I told my family–’the next time I overdose, just let me fucking die,’ ” Vanessa commented in reference to the verbal abuse she encountered from small town EMTS responding to her last overdose.Our subcommittee member Shae McQuade, an ex-financial advisor before she became a survival sw, is now being consulted to do ongoing, specialized financial research for an exciting project soon to be launched by our allies nationally.

Finally, our bureaucratic midwifery/weekly drop-in hours team created a list of the referral skills we’d like to develop more, as well as beginning a fledgling resource list, collecting commentary from members on how each service provider treats us.

After March 14th, when Pandemic Unemployment Assistance stops taking new claimants, our drop-in hours team will start keeping the site open for 5 hours instead of 7 hours weekly, and then spend two hours in trainings each week designed to give us new skills providing resources.But you all wanna hear about #DecrimMA!Again, in coalition with Black and Pink Massachusetts, we launched the #DecrimMA campaign on 3/2, consisting of decriminalization of sex work legislation, HD 2200, An Act To Promote The Health And Safety Of People In The Sex Trade, our decrim subcommittee wrote in the MA House, sponsored by Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa ( ), and a bill in the MA Senate sponsored by Julian Cyr, SD 2226, which would at least strike common nightwalking from MA General Law, something Whose Corner has been aiming for a while.

( A version of Julian Cyr’s bill–an Act to Stop Profiling Transgender People And Low-Income Women—has also been introduced to the MA House by Liz Miranda:…I have been bursting with pride but unable to tell you all about the hours of work weekly our decrim sub—composed of Ivaneliz, Madeline, Jaylanee, Kela, and my co-organizer Naomi Lauren—has been doing for months on this project! Our organizers partnered with mentors from the national community to learn how to create soundbytes and present their stories to journalists and legislators in a way which protects them from the retraumatizing process of having their lives turned to trauma porn. This is something us older sex worker organizers had to learn the hard way so many times, so now we at WCIIA hope to stop this cycle of fumbling autodidactism so that organizers on our decrim subc can learn how to frame their lives for the telling more intentionally.

Our organizer Jaylanee has been working with her mentor, Lorelei Lee. Jaylanee, always a strong voice in our organizing whether working on the crack kit, skeleton, or syringe access subcommittees, wrote about the racism she endured at low-wage work like Mcdonald’s, and experiencing sex work as a partial refuge from such racism. She also recounts the structural violence of being arrested when a client attacked *her*.“Ever since I got arrested, it’s been a living hell—the cops harass me and profile me as a sex worker forever because I once got arrested for it. In this way, the criminalization of sex work allows for discriminatory policing. Racism will never end…[sex workers of color] know that decriminalizing sw is the only path forward.”

Her fellow decrim subcommittee member Kela echoes her on the long term consequences of criminalization, “When you have a record you can’t get housing or a good job. It’s like a scarlet letter on your chest.”Our organizer Madeline states, “Everyday, people do what they need to do to survive—that is clear today now more than ever. For the LGBTQ, especially trans women of color like myself, that is nothing new. Many of us have been shoved out of our homes as teenagers and discriminated against when seeking a job. Do we want to do [sw]? Well, I’m sure different people would answer differently, but that’s not a question many of us have the luxury of asking.“Sex work should not be criminalized. We have learned that the criminalization of sex work violates many human rights. The fight for sex workers’ rights has always been an inseparable part of the fight for LGBTQ rights.”#DecrimMA has collected a powerful group of allies from other marginalized groups— GLAD, The Transgender Emergency Fund of MA, Urban Survivors Union, Reframe Health and Justice, Out Now of Springfield, ACLU of Massachusetts, and many others have signed on in support. For those who missed it, here again is @melissagiragrant ‘s New Republic piece quoting my work wife/Whose Corner co-organizer Naomi Lauren at length on the #DecrimMA campaign.…

So, we are chock full of activity and accomplishment, but the only problem is we are currently going through funds like water! Though now we have a small separate fundraiser for #DecrimMA, we have been spending $500-$800 a week on it for a while. Even the pilot version of the emergency shelter project is costing about $400 each night we do it. We are staffing extra subcommittee members at our drop-in hours to provide more services to our members, and that also carries a larger weekly price tag. Our last supply pickup ended up costing about $4.9 K just in cash honoraria, to say nothing of food and supplies. We will also be continuing to order tents, rope, duct tape, reflective blankets, wool blankets, ponchos, and mummy sleeping bags to distribute to our houseless members at our drop-in hours each week for as long as demand continues.After my long couple week hiatus from fundraising, this is a week where we could DEFINITELY use your help meeting and exceeding our 2 K goal for Weds. Beloved and consistent donors—help us out, but more importantly, please brag on us to all your trusted friends & convince them to invest in us as well! And remember, we couldn’t have done thing A—not to mention things X, Y, Z, etc unto infinity like we’re doing now—without your dedication and loyalty. Even when you don’t have funds to give us, we value your persistent cheerleading and tweeted lurv.All our love back to you in return. After what might have been the last life-threateningly cold night in MA for a while, we hope all sex workers, drug users, poor people, community members etc are warm and safe today and tonight.

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