“I remember the moment the undercover cop pulled out his badge and told me I was going to be arrested. I experienced a mix of things; shock, self disgust, disbelief, shame, and an overwhelming numbness.
As a Samoan trans woman, at the age of 23, just a few months after completing my bachelors degree, I was arrested for prostitution.
It wasn’t long until a few other undercover cops made themselves known, and within seconds I was in a van, alone, with 5 cops. As I was checked into the holding facility a male cop was assigned to pat me down. He misgendered me and asked that I remove my bra. This terrified me for so many reasons, but mainly because my bra was such a huge part of what affirmed my femininity for me. Thankfully a female cop noticed I was uncomfortable with that request and told me I could leave it on. As I waited for my sister to bail me out, I sat in a cell for an hour, without anything but four walls, silence, and my self-hating thoughts to keep me company.
Sex workers pose a very low risk to society. We are not murderers, or thieves, or drug dealers, yet police departments dedicate whole sting operations to criminalizing us for trying to survive in a system that forces us into sex work.
We need to #redefinesecurity so the most disenfranchised in society aren’t being targeted by the system. We get enough of that from the people who actually pose a threat to society: the ones who harass trans women of color and follow through with killing us.