Janet Mock on the “Underground Railroad” into Child Prostitution for Transgender Youth- and why he thinks that’s a good thing.
February 2, 2014
“A sense of community, sisterhood, resiliency, resources, strength. It was like our underground railroad of resources to navigate a system not built for us. And for me that’s what sex work gave me.”- Janet Mock on his child prostitution experience.
Janet Mock says child prostitution is “liberatory” and “empowering” for transgender children in an article and series of videos he published this week. He describes an “underground railroad” of adult males that introduce transgender minors, including himself, into sexual relations with adult men for pay, which he celebrates as “making us feel desired”.
It is hard to imagine a public figure celebrating child prostitution and publicly testifying to personal knowledge of an “underground railroad” that coveys minors into sexual acts with adults without –at the very least- being questioned by the FBI. But in this case it is supposedly different, because transgender children are different.
According to trans activist and author Janet Mock (whose adopted name, he explains, is a reference to his desire to emulate musician Janet Jackson) sexual exploitation is not a bad thing for transgender children because an innate desire to experience sexual exploitation is, according to him, intrinsic to the condition of transgender males who want to be perceived as female.
Some excerpts from Mock’s blog and vlog:
*** I was 15 the first time I visited Merchant Street, what some would call “the stroll” for trans women involved in street-based sex work. At the time, I had just begun medically transitioning and it was where younger girls, like my friends and myself, would go to hang out, flirt and fool around with guys and socialize with older trans women, the legends of our community.
The majority of the women I idolized engaged in the sex trades at some time or another – some dabbled in video cam work and pornography, others chose street-based work and dancing at strip clubs (an option reserved for those most often perceived as cis). These women were the first trans women I met, and I quickly correlated trans womanhood and sex work.
I perceived the sex trades as a rite of passage, something a trans girl had to do in order to make the money necessary to support herself. I had also learned (from media, our laws and pop culture) that sex work is shameful and degrading.
Sex work is heavily stigmatized, whether one goes into it by choice, coercion or circumstance. Sex workers are often dismissed, causing even the most liberal folk, to dehumanize, devalue and demean women who are engaged in the sex trades. This pervasive dehumanization of women in the sex trades leads many to ignore the silencing, brutality, policing, criminalization and violence sex workers face, even blaming them for being utterly damaged, promiscuous, and unworthy.
So because I learned that sex work is shameful, and I correlated trans womanhood and sex work, I was taught that trans womanhood is shameful. This belief system served as the base of my understanding of self as a trans girl, and I couldn’t separate it from my own body image issues, my sense of self, my internalized shame about being trans, brown, poor, young, woman.
Though I yearned to be among women like myself, I also judged them for doing work that I swore at 15 I could never do. The work and those women didn’t fit my pedestal perched Clair Huxtable portrait of womanhood.
Yet my economic hurdles were real and urgent, and I couldn’t deny that witnessing the women of Merchant Street take their lives into their own hands, empowered me. Watching these women every weekend gathered in sisterhood and community, I learned firsthand about body autonomy, about resilience and agency, about learning to do for yourself in a world that is hostile about your existence.
These women taught me that nothing was wrong with me or my body and that if I wanted they would show me the way, and it was this underground railroad of resources created by low-income, marginalized women, that enabled me when I was 16 to jump in a car with my first regular and choose a pathway to my survival and liberation.”
“I did work at other places while I was doing sex work. So for me, I worked at a clothing store, I worked at a fast food place, I worked at boutiques and all these kind of things, you know. But nothing would compare to the check that comes from being a sex worker. That money was quick. Quick money enabled me to do things more quickly. And for me my body issues, my body image issues, the way I felt about myself- those were urgent matters. And for me frankly at that time as a seventeen, eighteen year old there was no waiting another year for things. I needed them now. And so for me yeah, there is this shame attached and a stigma attached to being a sex worker for me, but there’s also the other things I got from that. A sense of community, sisterhood, resiliency, resources, strength. It was like our underground railroad and resources to navigate a system not built for us. And for me that’s what sex work gave me.”
When sexologist Michael Bailey published “The Man Who Would Be Queen” which reviewed decades of research on male transgenderism- he was pilloried by transgender activists for publicizing the obvious sex-role basis of male transgender identity. Transgender for males is an embrasure of the sexualized role imposed on females, while transgender for females is an attempt to escape that same role. A photo of Bailey’s five-year-old daughter was obtained by trans activist Andrea James who posted it on the Transsexual Roadmap website captioned: “cocksucker”. Activists hastily set up a panel to denounce both the book and its author.
But the demonized Bailey never in a million years suggested that adopting female sex-roles meant that pedophilia or child prostitution was good for anyone. Janet Mock does exactly that: and is celebrated by the transgender community for doing so.
When 16-year-old Cassidy Lynn was in headlines recently as “the first transgender high school homecoming queen” the media never reported on his sexual exploitation by adult males, even though it was quite public and came up on a cursory internet name search. Cassidy quit school apparently to pursue his involvement in these activities, which we know because he posted about it at length, including multiple video blogs, but the mainstream media deliberately chose not to report. The transgender community also maintained silence, presumably because the truth might undermine the wholesomeness of the “girl-next-door” homecoming queen narrative for the transgender political agenda. But it’s more than just the transgender community turning a blind eye.
As Janet Mock shows us, because the transgender movement frames exploitation as “affirming” of a male sexual identity based on female sexual roles, it therefore considers sexual exploitation a “liberatory”, and “affirming” experience, even for minors.
Janet Mock is a former People Magazine online editor and graduate school alumni of the NYU School of Journalism. When not promoting child prostitution as an affirming experience for transgender youth he promotes his book, “Fish Food”. “Fish” is the transgender community word for actual women and is a pejorative term for how such men perceive the smell of female genitals. Mock’s book has now been re-titled as “Redefining Realness”. “Realness” is the transgender community word for successfully passing as a member of the opposite sex.
You can read the above cited article “Sex Work Experiences” on his Janet Mock dot com website. GenderTrender does not link directly to sites which promote pedophilia and the sexual exploitation of children.