Sex Workers constitute a particularly vulnerable segment of society. Due to the work in which they engage in, often when crimes are committed against them, the justice system fails to act appropriately. Even a serial killer is not enough to push police into striving for an end to violence against sex workers. When the justice system does finally catch a murderer, one day in jail seems to be an appropriate sentence. We are, after all, only talking about sex workers. Some will even go as far as to turn the murder of sex workers into a joke.
Imagine how this already vulnerable category, is further devalued when the sex worker in question is transgendered. Trans people face high rates of violence. Simply walking down the street is enough for some to be ridiculed and scorned. Due to cisgender bias, many trans people are forced into the sex trade in order to survive. In instances like this, they are both fetishsized by the John and then disciplined by society for even existing. When we limit legalized forms of employment due to cissexism, what choice do we give the trans person in question but to turn to other methods to survive?
In Vancouver, British Columbia, a trans gendered sex worker has allegedly been assaulted. The police know the address and the phone number of the man who allegedly committed the assault by gun point. At this time, the police believe that they do not have enough information to press charges. It seems as though the case has been reduced to the victims testimony versus that of the alleged rapist.
It is extremely difficult for anyone that has been raped to step forward and report the crime. Society is very quick to blame the victim. The clothes you were wearing, why you were out so late, how much you had to drink, and even your sexual history, quickly become fodder for gossip. The life of the victim is deconstructed to the point that s/he is ultimately responsible for their own violation. Imagine how much more difficult this is for a sex worker that is trans. This person immediately straddles two identities that society has specifically chosen to devalue.
Why is the word of the alleged perpetrator that much more valuable than the victim? Being a trans sex worker does not automatically render one untrustworthy. In fact, considering that we know how difficult this would have been for the victim, in my mind it makes her accounting of the alleged incident more likely.
Police Department spokesperson Lindsay Houghton confirmed police were called to an apartment on Burnaby St at about 4 am Sep 12 where they found the victim of the assault. “Other than the sexual assault, the victim wasn’t injured,” Houghton said. “The gun wasn’t fired.”
I would say that the injury from a sexual assault is more than enough pain for one person to endure. It seems as though the police are determined to belittle how traumatizing this must have been to the victim. Would they have acted quicker had they found her shot to death in her own home?
Justice is not a word that has much meaning amongst the trans community or sex workers because often the crimes against them go uninvestigated. The lack of action by the criminal justice system, further empowers those that believe that they have the right to be violent. Justice is not just blind, for many segments of our society it does not exist at all. All bodies matter and until we can all embrace that one single fact, the streets will continue to be filled with the blood of the marginalized.