Transgender Community Activists Upset by Times Story on Transgender Sex Workers

By Stevie St. John

Many transgender women, faced with rampant employment discrimination, turn to sex work. Their stories are largely untold, says trans community activist Hannah Howard, and she’d like to see that change. But she wasn’t happy with the way the L.A. Times told the story in its recent article, “Slaying casts light on Hollywood’s transgender prostitutes.” In fact, she joined with Gender Justice Los Angeles and trans community members to deliver a petition to the Times. She also contacted the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which is working to schedule a meeting that will include trans community members as well as GLAAD and Times representatives. 


Additional photos posted in the Gender Justice LA Facebook album
Hannah Howard and other community members deliver a petition to the L.A. Times.

Here are the issues Howard says she has with the Times story:

  • Cassidy Vickers, who was killed in November 2011, is referred to with male pronouns throughout the story. In reporter Sam Quinones’ blog, he wrote about pronoun usage in the story. (Some people knew Vickers as a trans women; others reportedly did not.)
  • She objects to sex workers being referred to with slang such as “streetwalkers.”
  • The story uses the phrases “men with women’s breasts and clothes” and “male hookers dressed as women.” (Quinones says the first phrase is meant to be from the perspective of Vickers’ mother. Here’s an excerpt: More than a hundred people attended Vickers’ funeral in East Palo Alto. Thompson didn’t know many of them. She was startled to see a few were men with women’s breasts and clothes.

Howard says she doesn’t yet know when the meeting will take place. She said she’d love for it to be the beginning of an ongoing dialogue with the Times.

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