I who may well be...

Musings from the perspective of a human being who may well be not locatable completely within the usual categories of male or female or gay or straight or transsexual or intersexed or exploiter or exploited or supplier or consumer or performer or spectator.

Friday, February 13, 2009

SWOP abandons sex workers' lobby

My former employer, ACON/SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project), has apparently decided that membership of the national sex workers group is not worth it. ACON, formerly the AIDS Council of NSW, which has controlled SWOP since being asked to temporarily auspice it when it was set up in the early 90s, has made this decision. ACON is controlled by its Board, which has no sex worker representation at all. If supporting sex worker advocacy by supporting the national advocacy body is not part of ACON's core work, then how can it claim any authority to speak to sex workers about their work?

With disgust at the hypocrisy of institutions claiming to be community organisations and then displaying no commitment or more than purely token responsiveness to that community, here is the email from the national sex workers group advising of SWOP's determination to be irrelevant to sex workers. ~norrie mAy-welby, employed at SWOP (NSW) 1997-2007, Outreach Worker, Outreach Coordinator, and Acting Manager.


It is with great regret that I inform you that after almost 20 years, as of the 1st of July 2009, SWOP will no longer be a member of Scarlet Alliance.

The ACON Board made this decision on the basis of SWOP being unable to pay for their membership from their Health Departments funds, and that fundraising to pay for the membership fee would deter from SWOP's core work.

Elena Jeffreys
Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Freedom and the mainstream

When I was a young adult, homosexuality was illegal. That taught me the proper respect to have for the law: Absolutely none. Of course, I didn’t even consider obeying the law when an opportunity arose (so to speak) to kiss (act of indecency between males, 3 years in prison), fondle (act of gross indecency, punishable by seven years with hard labour), or fuck (carnal knowledge against the order of nature, punishable by fourteen years in prison with hard labour, with or without whipping).

I’m glad to have lived so long and at a time when history is speeding up, so that I can actually see society change from its inherited prejudices and tribal superstitions.

Feminism had shattered at least the myths of gender stereotypes in the Seventies, but these persisted in the treatment of transsexuals when I was diagnosed as such in 1985. Meeting the doctor’s expectations of ladylike behaviour, and apparently not barking mad, I sailed through the transsexual medical industrial complex, having a sex change in 1989, after four year on hormones.

A couple of years after the genital realignment, I went off hormones. Examining the whole notion of gender from a post-modern perspective, and learning of the existence of intersex conditions, I didn’t want to keep supporting the fiction that every human is either essentially male or female. If I was really female, why would I need to take pills to assert that?

I did an internet quiz last year, with a score of 57 percent feminine, and 43 percent male, and maybe this explains why I am most happy with my body being androgynous. At the time, when I went off hormones, I just wanted to be myself, whatever that was without props or makeup or policing the gender of my behaviour or clothes, without any shame about whether some aspects of my being, behaviour and body were male or female or both or neither.

I’ve lived the last eighteen years freeing myself from the preconceptions of others and the limits of the mainstream. Just because most people may think everyone should be Arthur or Martha doesn’t mean they are right. Much as I love all humans, the fact is that the majority of them often get things wrong. Take, for example, re-electing Bush, or supporting the anti-gay laws, or even just assuming that police and other authorities are always in the right.

To individual freedom! Cheers!

~norrie mAy-welby, 8 February 2009