January 2, 2013

Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, confessed to the murder of between 48 and 71 prostitutes in the 80s and 90s: "I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught." Earlier this month — December 17th, 2012 — was the 10th annual International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers, a day for mourning and solidarity for Ridgway's victims and all sex workers who have been murdered or harmed. It's also a day for acknowledging and addressing the structural violence that we live with, as sex workers and in all of our communities. Brianna Gardner, a 22-year old woman from Texas, was found murdered in a Chicago hotel on August 13th, 2012. A day later, Tiffany Gooden, 19 years old, was found murdered in an abandoned building in the city's Austin neighborhood. Her body was just three blocks away from where Paige Clay, 23 years old, was found murdered in an alley on April 16th. These three young black women were mourned by their friends, families, and communities, and were picked to shreds in the local news. Though it's unclear if they were working when they were murdered, all three were engaged in the sex trade, and Paige and Tiffany were transgender. We read the brutal details of how they were murdered; we saw their mug shots and advertising photos. We were bombarded by language that implied that they were less than human, that their deaths didn't matter, and by proxy, that our lives didn't matter.