Happy International Wh*res Day! This month, we would not be celebrating Pride if it weren’t for the radical migrant/Black/PoC/queer/trans sex workers who made the movement of queer liberation an internationally united struggle; a struggle that is not over!

Today we honour every sex worker who has paved the way for us as we continue our struggle against police violence, sex-work criminalisation, transphobia, racism, deportation, homophobia, incarceration, exploitation & gentrification. We call for people fighting these intersecting issues to unite and see these struggles for what they are: not only interconnected but interdependent.

Please join us TODAY June 2, 4pm @ the new location of Washingtonplatz Hauptbahnhof for the counter-rally against criminalisation and later in the week on June 5, 3pm @ U Hallesches Tor (Mehringplatz). 

NO PRIDE FOR SOME OF US WITHOUT LIBERATION FOR ALL OF US – Marsha P. Johnson

Inspiration for the text on this image from Jason Domino.

In commemoration of International Whores Day we call people to unite together under the red umbrella of the sex workers’ struggle. On 2nd June 1975, over 100 sex workers occupied a church in Lyon (France) to resist police harassment in the streets they were working on and in protest against their marginalisation. In this spirit, we call on all sex workers and supporters to come together to create a community of resistance!

Internationally, sex workers are being denied the rights all workers are owed. The ongoing pandemic is accelerating this process of marginalisation. The current German laws are stigmatising and push most of us further into illegality. Politicians discuss further criminalisation of our work and deny our bodily autonomy. Anti sex-work advocates are gathering globally to introduce the Nordic Model which has been proven to harm sex workers.

We are done with people telling us what WE NEED! We continue to be denied the right to speak for ourselves and define our own struggle. It’s time to listen to us! As sex workers we know of the power of community as it is in our communities that we assemble and thrive.

We call for people fighting intersecting struggles to come together in solidarity in a moment where we raise our voices.

We call for the full decriminalisation of sex work.

We call for a community of solidarity and to fight as a union!

We call for an end to deportations and to xenophobic and racist harassment.

We call for an end to police violence.

We rally for full bodily autonomy & agency over our own lives, not just a daily struggle for survival.

Please bring your mask and keep the 1,5 m physical distancing regulations to ensure that these actions can happen.

For more info head over to Sex Worker Action Group!

[Deutsche Übersetzung unter.]

Sex work is a profession in which a disproportionate number of trans* people work — yet despite the comparatively high number of trans* people who work in it, the sex industry does not have a good reputation when it comes to openness and acceptance of trans* people. Rightly so! While transphobic terms and attitudes have long since become unacceptable outside of sex work, they are often still commonplace in the sex industry among website operators, on advertising platforms, among customers, and even among colleagues.

We think it is high time for us to demand better working conditions for us and for all trans* people in sex work worldwide. Stop the discrimination!

Our demands

An end to violence against trans* sex workers

Violence affects all areas of sex work and is unfortunately a reality for many sex workers. As a doubly-stigmatized group, trans* sex workers are unfortunately most often affected by violence.

Asserting our right to self-determination and self-identification

Many trans* people do not want to come out at work. In sex work, this is especially true when they offer e.g. erotic massage or ‘classical’ domination.

All trans* sex workers must be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to come out or not, without feeling forced. This right applies equally to pre-, post- and no-op trans* people of all genders. Unfortunately, trans* sex workers in particular find themselves forced to out themselves time and again, threatened by violence and other negative consequences.

If you want or have to come out as a trans* sex worker, the usual advertising platforms in the industry offer further stumbling blocks. Being trans* is often presented as a kind of ‘third gender’, especially in online profiles. In addition to the options ‘man’ and ‘woman’, there is usually the option ‘trans’ — and no others. This categorization not only denies the man- and womanhood of binary trans* sex workers, but also ignores the existence of non-binary people in sex work. If binary trans* sex workers dare not click on ‘trans’ and instead apply as ‘man’ or ‘woman’, they may find that their accounts are banned from the website.

Sometimes sex workers have to use slurs to refer to themselves on advertising platforms, as these platforms do not provide them with other options for their self-designation. Trans* sex workers want to determine how they present themselves to their clients. Some are comfortable, in a work context, with terms that are considered slurs outside of the sex industry; others are not. Some see themselves primarily as trans* and only secondarily as male, female, or non-binary; for others, being trans* is secondary to their gender.

We are thankful for the services which offer better solutions — for example Tryst.link, a platform that handles self-identification of trans* people in advertising well. We regret that the largest German and international portals have not yet followed this example and hope that these websites will also rethink and improve their treatment of trans* sex workers in the future.

More awareness and education instead of regurgitation of transphobic terms and representations

We often hear the claim that the sex industry has to use transphobic terms because customers don’t know the right words. In our experience, it works the other way around: our customers learn transphobic words and attitudes through their use on porn websites and paysex platforms! They bring these transphobic attitudes with them to their session with us as trans* sex workers, where we then have to either endure or confront them. Transphobic attitudes, terms, and portrayals are thus spread into society at large, making the sex industry a major source of discrimination towards all trans* people — sex workers and non-sex workers alike.

We see it as the responsibility of commercial enterprises in the sex industry to support their users (both customers and sex workers) in learning trans*-positive attitudes. It is already common for industry advertising portals to provide smaller glossaries of terms; trans*-positive terms could be included in these help guides. In case of doubt, customers could be encouraged to politely ask ourselves, the providers, if they don’t understand.

Anti-trans attitudes are not only widespread among paysex portals and clients of sex workers. We also experience misunderstandings and discrimination in our work with colleagues, in counselling centres for sex workers, and in the compulsory counselling under the Law for the Protection of Prostitutes. For example, people often do not even understand the difference between transgender people and transvestites/crossdressers.

We ask everyone involved in the sex industry to educate themselves about trans* identities and to be informed by trans* people. If we work together, a trans*-positive sex work is possible!

Respect, not fetishization

Unfortunately, there is a widespread attitude in the sex services industry that trans* people and their bodies may be openly fetishized. Trans* women in sex work often feel especially bad about this: instead of being treated as women or at least as real human beings, they are seen as fetish objects — a body with a dick and tits.

Trans* male and post-op trans* female sex workers also suffer from this fetishization — they are often reduced to their bodies and categorized as less desirable without regard to their humanity, skills or professionalism.

The fetishization of trans* people also means that cis people who have sex with trans* people (whether paid sex or not) also have to deal with stigma. Some feel ashamed of it, or think that sex with trans* people is perverted or abnormal. This shame and stigma in turn leads to more violence against trans* sex workers.

While sex work is undeniably places a focus on workers’ bodies and their perceived attractiveness, we trans* sex workers demand the same respect from our clients and colleagues that service providers in all other industries are entitled to expect. In particular, we demand our recognition as human beings and respect for us as people.

Recognition of the diversity of trans sex workers

The term ‘trans’, when used in the sex industry, almost exclusively refers to trans* female sex workers. In reality, many trans* males and non-binary people also engage in sex work. They often feel forced to pretend to be female in their work — outed trans* male and non-binary sex workers otherwise have a hard time renting rooms in brothels. Most prostitution venues are open to trans* female sex workers, but deny space to people of other trans* identities.

Trans* female sex workers also face constant rejection in their workplaces — whether by misidentification as crossdressers or transvestites by customers, or accusations from colleagues of being a ‘client in disguise’.

Sex workers are an extremely heterogeneous and diverse group of people. Stereotypes mask this diversity and force them into a small, pigeonholed ideas of ‘typical’ sex workers. We are committed to promoting education on trans* issues, respect for us as human beings, but also access to jobs for trans* sex workers.

An end to discrimination against trans* people in all sectors and industries

Trans* people are often discriminated against in education, then in job applications, and finally in the workplace. Up to 50% of trans* people are unemployed; worldwide, 30% to 40% of trans* people’s job applications are rejected because they are trans*.

Many trans* people choose the sex work industry as a way out. When people feel forced into sex work because of the transphobia prevalent within the broader world of work, it is a failure of society as a whole. The discrimination that goes on in sex work in turn often leads to precarious working conditions. This can create a vicious circle in which trans* people find it difficult or impossible to move into other professions or to leave sex work.

Solidarity with trans* sex workers — in the trans* community and in the sex work industry

As mentioned at the beginning, it is a fact that a comparatively large number of trans* people engage in sex work. The rights of trans* people and the rights of sex workers are political issues that cannot be separated. And yet sex work is often a taboo subject in the trans* community.

We ask everyone in the trans* community to address the issue of sex work. Let’s work together to strengthen the rights and social recognition of trans* people — inside and outside of sex work.

This text was written by a group of multiple trans sex workers in Germany who met in October 2020 to discuss their experiences and wishes.

Schluss mit der Diskriminierung: Trans* Sexarbeitende fordern bessere Arbeits-Bedingungen, Respekt und Solidarität

Sexarbeit ist ein Beruf, in dem überproportional viele trans* Personen arbeiten – doch trotz der vergleichweise hohen Anzahl an trans* Menschen in unserer Branche, hat die Sexdienstleistungs-Industrie in Sachen Offenheit und Akzeptanz keinen guten Ruf. Zu Recht! Während trans*feindliche Begriffe und Haltungen außerhalb der Sexarbeits-Branche schon längst zum No-Go geworden sind, sind diese unter Betreiber*innen von Prostitutionsstätten, auf Werbeplattformen, unter Kund*innen und sogar unter Kolleg*innen oft noch gang und gäbe.

Wir finden es ist höchste Zeit, laut und unüberhörbar bessere Arbeitsbedingungen für uns und für alle trans* Menschen in der Sexarbeit weltweit zu fordern. Schluss mit der Diskriminierung und der Sonderbehandlung!

Unsere Forderungen

Ein Ende der Gewalt gegen trans* Sexarbeitende

Gewalt kann in allen Bereichen der Sexarbeit eine Rolle spielen und ist eine Realität für viele Sexarbeitende. Als doppelt stigmatisierte Gruppe sind trans* Sexarbeitende leider am häufigsten von Gewalt betroffen.

Die Durchsetzung unseres Rechts auf Selbstbestimmung und Selbstidentifizierung

Viele trans* Menschen wollen sich bei der Arbeit nicht outen – in der Sexarbeit trifft das insbesondere dann zu, wenn z. B. erotische Massagen oder klassische Dominanz angeboten wird.

Ob sie sich outen wollen oder nicht, müssen alle trans* Sexarbeitende selbst und ohne Zwang entscheiden dürfen. Dieses Recht gilt gleichermaßen für prä-, post- und nichtoperierte trans* Menschen aller Geschlechter. Leider sehen sich besonders trans* Sexarbeitende, unter anderem unter Androhung von Gewalt, trotzdem immer wieder dazu gewungen.

Will oder muss man sich als trans* Sexarbeitende*r outen, bieten die branchenüblichen Werbeplattformen die nächsten Stolperfallen an. Trans*sein wird vor allem in Online-Profilen oft als eine Art „drittes Geschlecht“ dargestellt. Neben den Auswahlmöglichkeiten „Mann“ und „Frau“ existiert meist noch die Auswahlmöglichkeit „Trans“ – und damit hat es sich. Ein solches Schubladendenken spricht nicht nur binären trans* Sexarbeitenden das Frau- oder Mannsein ab, sondern ignoriert zeitgleich die Existenz von nichtbinären Sexarbeitenden. Wenn es binäre trans* Sexarbeitende wagen, nicht auf „Trans“ zu klicken und sich stattdessen als „Mann“ oder „Frau“ zu bewerben, müssen sie ständig damit rechnen, dass ihre Accounts gesperrt werden.

Manchmal müssen sich Sexarbeitende auf Werbeplattformen selbst mit Schimpfwörter bezeichnen, da ihnen diese Plattformen keine andere Möglichkeiten für ihre Selbstbezeichnung zur Verfügung stellen. Trans* Sexarbeitende wollen selbst bestimmen, wie sie sich vor ihren Kund*innen darstellen. Einige sind mit Begriffen, die außerhalb der Sexbranche als Schimpfwörter gelten, im Arbeitskontext einverstanden; andere nicht. Einige empfinden sich primär als trans* und erst in zweiter Linie als männlich, weiblich oder nichtbinär; für andere ist das Trans*sein ihrem Gender untergeordnet.

Wir freuen uns über alle, die einen besseren Weg gewählt haben – zum Beispiel die Betreiber*innen von Tryst.link, einer Plattform, die mit dem Thema Selbstidentifizierung von trans* Menschen in der Werbung gut umgeht. Wir bedauern, dass die größten deutschen und internationalen Portale diesem Beispiel bisher nicht gefolgt sind und hoffen, dass auch diese Webseiten in Zukunft ihren Umgang mit trans* Sexarbeitenden überdenken und verbessern.

Mehr Awareness und Weiterbildung statt Wiederkäuen trans*feindlicher Begriffe und Darstellungen

Oft wird behauptet, dass die Sexbranche trans*feindliche Begriffe verwenden müsse, da ihre Kund*innen die richtigen Begriffe nicht kennen! Unserer Erfahrung nach funktioniert das aber umgekehrt: Unsere Kund*innen erlernen trans*feindliche Haltungen eben durch deren Verwendung auf Pornowebseiten und Paysex-Plattformen. Diese trans*feindlichen Haltungen bringen sie zu ihrem Termin bei uns mit, wo trans* Sexarbeitende sie dann aushalten oder konfrontieren müssen. Trans*feindliche Haltungen, Begriffe und Darstellungen werden so in die breite Gesellschaft hinausgetragen und machen die Sexbranche zu einer großen Quelle von Trans*feindlichkeit gegenüber allen trans* Menschen – Sexarbeitende und Nicht-Sexarbeitende.

Wir sehen es als die Aufgabe kommerzieller Unternehmen in der Sexbranche an, ihre Nutzer*innen (sowohl Kund*innen als auch Sexarbeitende) beim Erlernen von trans*positiven Haltungen zu unterstützen. Es ist bereits üblich, dass Werbeportale aus der Branche kleinere Glossare mit Fachbegriffen zur Verfügung stellen, trans*positive Begriffe könnten in diese „Fremdwörterbücher“ miteinbezogen werden. Kund*innen könnten im Zweifelsfall ermutigt werden, bei Nicht-Verstehen einfach höflich bei uns selbst, den Anbieter*innen, nachzufragen.

Trans*feindliche Haltungen sind nicht nur unter Paysex-Portalen und Kund*innen von Sexarbeitenden verbreitet. Auch in unserer Arbeit mit Kolleg*innen, in Beratungsstellen für Sexworker oder in der Pflichtberatung nach dem ProstSchG erleben wir Missverständnisse und Diskriminierung. Zum Beispiel wird oft nicht mal der Unterschied zwischen transgender Menschen und Transvestit*innen/Crossdresser*innen verstanden.

Wir bitten alle, die mit der Sexbranche zu tun haben, sich über trans* Identitäten weiterzubilden und von trans* Menschen informieren zu lassen. Durch Zusammenarbeit ist eine trans*positive Sexarbeit möglich!

Respekt und Menschlichkeit statt Fetischisierung

Es besteht leider die weit verbreitete Haltung in der Sexdienstleistungs-Branche, dass trans* Menschen und ihre Körper offen fetischisiert werden dürfen. Gerade trans* Frauen in der Sexarbeit fühlen sich deshalb oft schlecht: Statt als Frauen oder zumindest als fühlende, denkende Menschen behandelt zu werden, dienen sie als Fetischobjekt – ein Körper mit Pimmel und Titten.

Auch trans*männliche und postop trans*weibliche Sexarbeitende leiden unter dieser Fetischisierung – sie werden oft auf ihre Körper reduziert und als weniger begehrenswert eingestuft, ohne Rücksicht auf ihre Menschlichkeit, ihre Fähigkeiten oder ihre Professionalität.

Die Fetischisierung von trans* Menschen hat im Übrigen zur Folge, dass cis Menschen, die mit trans* Menschen Sex haben (egal ob Bezahlsex oder nicht) auch mit einem gewissen Stigma umgehen müssen. Einige glauben sich dafür schämen zu müssen, oder denken, dass Sex mit trans* Menschen pervers oder unnormal ist. Diese Scham und dieses Stigma führen wiederum zu mehr Gewalt gegen trans* Sexarbeitende.

Obwohl Sexarbeit sicherlich eine Dienstleistung ist, die einen verstärkten Fokus auf Körper und empfundene Attraktivität setzt, fordern wir trans* Sexarbeitende von unseren Kund*innen und Kolleg*innen den gleichen Respekt, den Dienstleister*innen in allen anderen Branchen erwarten dürfen. Insbesondere fordern wir unsere Anerkennung als Menschen und zwischenmenschlichen Respekt ein.

Eine Anerkennung der menschlichen Vielfalt (auch in der Sexarbeit)

Der Begriff „trans“ meint im Rahmen seiner Verwendung in der Sexbranche fast ausschließlich trans*weibliche Sexarbeitende. In der Realität gehen auch viele trans*männliche und nichtbinäre Menschen der Sexarbeit nach. Oft fühlen sie sich dazu gezwungen, sich in ihrer Arbeit als weiblich auszugeben – geoutete trans*männliche und nichtbinäre Sexarbeitende haben es ansonsten schwer, Räume in Bordellen mieten zu dürfen. Die meisten Prostitutionsstätten stehen zwar trans*weiblichen Sexarbeiterinnen offen, verweigern anderen trans* Identitäten aber einen Platz.

Auch trans*weibliche Sexarbeiter müssen ständig damit rechnen, an ihren Arbeitsplätzen abgelehnt zu werden – sei es durch die Fehlidentifizierung als Crossdresser oder Transvestit durch Kund*innen, oder den Vorwurf von Kolleg*innen, ein „verkappter Freier“ zu sein.

Sexarbeitende sind eine extrem heterogene und vielfältige Gruppe von Menschen. Stereotype Haltungen verschleiern diese Vielfalt und zwingen sie in einige wenige Schubladen von „typischen“ Sexarbeitenden. Uns ist es ein Anliegen, die Bildung zu trans* Themen, den Respekt für uns als Menschen, aber auch den Zugang zu Arbeitsplätzen für trans* Sexarbeitende zu fördern.

Ein Ende der Diskriminierung von trans* Menschen in allen Bereichen und Branchen

Trans* Menschen werden vielfach schon in der Ausbildung, dann bei Jobbewerbungen und schließlich am Arbeitsplatz diskriminiert. Bis zu 50% aller trans* Menschen sind arbeitslos; weltweit werden 30% bis 40% der Bewerbungen von trans* Menschen auf Grund ihres Trans*seins abgelehnt.

Viele trans* Menschen wählen die Sexarbeits-Branche als Ausweg. Es ist ein Armutszeichen einer Gesellschaft, wenn sich Menschen aufgrund einer trans*feindlichen Arbeitswelt in die Sexarbeit gezwungen fühlen. Die Diskriminierung, die in der Sexarbeit weiter geht, führt wiederum oft zu prekären Arbeitsbedingungen. Das kann einen Teufelskreis schaffen, in dem trans* Menschen der Umstieg in andere Berufe beziehungsweise der Ausstieg aus der Sexarbeit erschwert oder unmöglich gemacht wird.

Solidarität mit trans* Sexarbeitenden – in der trans* Community und in der Sexarbeits-Branche

Wie eingangs erwähnt ist es eine Tatsache, dass vergleichsweise viele trans* Menschen der Sexarbeit nachgehen. Die Rechte von trans* Menschen und die Rechte von Sexarbeitenden sind politische Themen, die sich nicht voneinander trennen lassen. Und trotzdem ist Sexarbeit in der trans* Community oft ein Tabuthema.

Wir bitten alle Angehörigen der trans* Community darum, sich mit dem Thema Sexarbeit auseinanderzusetzen. Lasst uns gemeinsam die Rechte und die gesellschaftliche Anerkennung von trans* Menschen stärken – innerhalb und außerhalb der Sexarbeit.

Dieser Text ist eine Gemeinschaftsarbeit mehrerer trans* Sexarbeitenden in Deutschland, die sich im Oktober 2020 getroffen haben, um ihre Erfahrungen und Wünsche zu besprechen.

This coming Saturday is May 1, International Workers’ Day. We begin at Hermannplatz at 5 p.m. & stand united in the struggle for workers’ rights, especially the rights of trans migrant sex workers! Join us!
Migrant sex workers on Frobenstraße and Kürfürstenstraße in Schöneberg, the gentrified Berlin district where sex workers have worked for over a hundred years, are under police patrol every night. We see the nightly harassment of women – majority migrant, many trans, many women of colour – for whom police discrimination is harsher and brutality more likely. Time and time again, it’s been documented that sex workers encounter the most violence at work when we are forced to deal with cops. Dealing with police hostility should not be a daily reality! The so-called ‘Prostitution Protection Law’ does not protect us!
Sex work is not a moral issue, it’s a worker’s rights issue! See you on the street! Look out for red umbrellas!

Mietendeckel Outcome

Germany’s Constitutional Court ruled that the state of Berlin has no jurisdiction to to implement a “rent cap law” (“Mietendeckel”). Since June 2019 the rents in the city have been frozen for five years and the rents on overpriced apartments had to go down. This was a big win for the people of Berlin!
Housing is a big issue like in most big cities in Europe. Tens of thousands of people in the city are unhoused or are living in emergency housing. Families are living in smaller and smaller apartments, while the rents keep going up. This law prioritises landlords and homeowners and will effectively push out poor people, but where do poor people go? It’s especially disturbing that this court ruling is happening in the middle of the pandemic.
Unaffordable housing drives people deeper into poverty, forcing people into unsafe working conditions, something we see regularly in the street-based trans sex work community which is majority migrant/PoC.
We are furious that the rent cap law is being overturned. People of colour/trans people/migrants/queers will be disproportionately affected by this terrible outcome! Housing must be for people, not for landlords!

Image: Trans*Sexworks bloc at Hermannplatz protest against Mietendeckel outcome

Text by Caspar Tate

One year ago today, Germany started its lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19. This lockdown happened very suddenly and organisations and projects had no time to prepare. Before Corona, we used to host the “Trans Dinner” every Thursday. One or two women from Frobenstraße (the street where street-based, trans sex workers work) would cook food and get paid for this. Other trans sex workers came to eat, talk, take a shower or wash their clothes in the washing machines. Many would also do their makeup and get ready for work. It was also important, to provide a safe space to do this. After 3 hours, everyone would head out together into the night, in search of clients. This weekly meeting was very meaningful for everyone.

On March 12, 2020, the last “Trans Dinner” took place. Four days later the lockdown suddenly began and we weren’t able to continue. When the lockdown began, the counselling centres also closed. No one went out to tell the women still working the streets what was going on. One day, seemingly out of nowhere, everything was closed. No one had thought of informing the sex workers, drug users and unhoused people in Kurfürstenkiez about Corona. The first few weeks we went out as often as we could and would translate Corona-related information, explained how to stay safe and informed sex workers about the new ban on sex work. It was always quite eerie. Everything was closed and everyone was at home, except for those that where unhoused or those that could not afford to not keep working. The first month was very hard. Back then we didn’t fully know yet how Corona spread and how to stay safe. I was very scared because I thought we would lose our friends one by one. The government wasn’t coming to help. Everyone was left out on the streets, with no access to toilets, showers or even a sink to wash their hands in. Many of the cis women working on Kurfürstenstraße left Germany at the beginning of March before the lockdown – they returned to their families and friends – an option that none of the trans sex workers had. All of them stayed in Berlin. 

Right away we started having the “Trans Dinner” out on the street on Frobenstraße. We handed out hundreds of sandwiches and drinks. Preparing the food in our apartments and carrying the heavy bags to Frobenstraße. The months went by and we started handing out supermarket vouchers and food to prepare at home. As more information was being published about mask-wearing, we asked our followers on social media to send us masks. It was very encouraging when hundreds of beautiful cloth masks arrived, which we then handed out each week. 

In the summer we started the “Mask Sewing Project”. We asked around in the sex worker community if anyone knows how to sew masks and we were excited when Katie reached out to us. Katie met up (one-on-one) with some of the women from Frobenstraße and taught them how to sew masks. For each mask they made, the women received 5€ in cash (the money for this project was donated by Berlin Collective Action). Later we gave the masks away to people for a donation and the cycle went on. We want to thank the queer book shop “Eisenherz” for having the masks on display in their shop! This project was a lot of fun for everyone involved and it created a small income, that everyone was happy about. Due to the mask-mandate changing and only allowing medical masks, not the fabric masks anymore, we decided to stop the mask-sewing. We still have some masks leftover, so please contact us if you want one!

On International Whores Day (June 2) we organised a picnic on Kurfürstenstraße with other sex workers. We held short speeches, gave interviews to the press and distributed flyers around the neighbourhood calling on neighbours to stop harassing the women working on the streets. A few weeks later we organised a meet-up for sex workers and allies at the Berlin Pride and want to again thank everyone that came!

At the end of June, we demonstrated together with the “Sex Work Action Group” for the rights of sex workers, against stigmatisation and demanded that the government starts supporting sex workers in this crisis. In the summer we wanted the ban on sex work to be lifted. Similar close contact professions were allowed again, only sex work was forbidden. Massages are ok, but erotic massages not. WTF? Sex workers were being called “Super Spreaders” of the Coronavirus by politicians, while to this day open-plan offices have not been shut down. The corona cases were not that high in the summer and our community was really, really struggling financially. Not a single person in our project has received any corona support from the government (Here is more info on this: https://www.gender-blog.de/beitrag/sexarbeit-corona/). Instead, there were some relief-funds for sex workers organised by Berlin Collective Action, Hydra and BesD. We helped street-based workers fill out the paperwork for the funds and distributed the money when it arrived (many don’t have a bank account). Please check out the relief funds from Hydra, Berlin Collective Action and BesD. At this moment all relief funds are empty and have been for a while.

In August the ban on sex work got lifted to be then put in place again shortly thereafter. We came up with a new side-hustle and started cooking vegan KüFa at the queer-feminist Bar “B-Lage” in Neukölln. Street-based, trans sex workers were invited to come cook and all the money that was made that night would be evenly distributed among everyone. We veganized Bulgarian dishes and everyone loved cooking and hanging out at the bar. Due to the new lockdown in December we had to pause this, but it will be back soon! 

Around October, more and more violence was happening on Frobenstraße, mostly towards the trans women. Attacks kept occurring and the police would not show up or show up very late. Many workers were scared to call the police in the first place, due to the ban on sex work and the police being very aggressive and disrespectful towards the women in the past few months. These brutal attacks scared most trans workers and led to people not going out anymore to work. No work, also means no money and the problems just got bigger. 

In December the temperatures dropped. It was so, so cold. A few trans women that are unhoused stay in the train station at night to keep warm. Most shelters in Berlin reject trans people or put trans women in mens rooms. Trans people also experience (sexual) violence in shelters and there seem to be no efforts made to change this. We have been saying for a very long time now that there needs to be a shelter only for trans, inter and non-binary people. In January this year, the first steps were made in Tempelhof-Schöneberg by the regional parliament in creating such a shelter. We have been part of this process and we are now waiting for the district office to approve of the shelter. In February the “Schwulenberatung” opened up their queer refugee shelter to migrant, trans sex workers. However, not a single person has moved into the shelter yet, since the government has made it very hard to qualify to move in. At the moment, no one who needs the shelter has the paperwork they require. 

At the beginning of February, our Instagram got deleted, due to the censorship around sex work online. Instagram is the main social media platform we use. Just hours before we got deleted, we had just posted a call for donations (masks, condoms, disinfectant…). We have since gotten our account back, but we are still outraged that we got removed. We were never provided with a reason for our deletion; although presumably, it was for simply dealing with the topic of trans & sex work on a platform that consistently censors and bans the voices and images of trans people/sex workers. That same week the Camp at Ostkreuz got evicted. This was a self-organised camp in which over 100 unhoused people lived, mostly eastern-European migrants and many Romani. We were in this camp very often, since a group of trans women from Frobenstr. lived and spent time there. The people living there were evicted at night, while it was -10*C outside, so that an investor can build offices and an aquarium on the land. Last weekend we were out demonstrating against the eviction again and hope that more sex workers, queers and allies show up to the next few protests! 

Throughout the year we were in close contact with 15 street-based, migrant sex workers and have been closely supporting them through this pandemic. The support we offer ranges from small things like translating documents, to accompanying people to appointments, to helping in crisis situations.

Some examples of bigger “cases” we have supported in the last year: 

  • One woman had an operation in the Spring that did not go well and she had to go back into surgery a few times. We visited her weekly, brought food and helped her with whatever she needed during this time.
  • Another woman that is unhoused lost her partner of many years in the Summer. We helped her prepare and attend the burial. In the weeks and months following, we raised money to pay for the religious ceremonies. 
  • One of our members took in an unhoused teenager that was working on Frobenstraße and housed her for 6 months while she was fleeing domestic violence.  
  • In November, an HIV+ worker from Frobenstraße reached out asking for help to get HIV medication. After 8 years of not having any medication, we were able to connect her to the Berliner Aidshilfe and help her receive medical attention.   

    Our project has its focus on supporting our siblings and colleagues on Frobenstraße, but we are here for all trans/non-binary/intersex sex workers. Due to the pandemic, many sex workers from other areas of the industry have reached out to us for support. We gladly met up with everyone and were happy to get to know so many new people. The past year has been incredibly hard. Until the end of 2020,  only two people were left actively organising the project. This meant an incredibly large workload for only two people (Isabella & Caspar). We couldn’t give up, however, because we couldn’t leave our friends alone. We have made it through the year and we are happy that new people have joined the organising! Most of all we are relieved and happy that everyone from Frobenstraße has simply survived the last year. We want to thank you for all of your support! 

On Sunday there is a demonstration happening again at Ostkreuz to protest the gentrification of the area and the recent evictions. At the beginning of February, over 100 unhoused people (mostly eastern-European migrants, many Romani) were suddenly evicted from the camp that many had been living in for years. This all happened at night while it was -10*C outside. For what? So an investor can build a tourist attraction. Many sex workers (cis and trans), trans women & queer people lived here.

Many sex workers (both cis and trans), trans women & queer people lived here. We want to continue fighting for our friends and are calling for our queer siblings, colleagues and allies to come to the demo on Sunday!

Pack your red umbrellas, trans or rainbow flag and cardboard sign and meet us at Ostkreuz (Hauptstraße/Kynaststraße). For more info: kontrapolis.info/2594/

  1. Safety from domestic violence also for trans People. Most women shelters do not take in trans and non-binary people/women. Either this needs to change or we need an alternative fast!
  2. Unhoused trans People need a safe shelter. Trans People are being rejected by most shelters or they experience violence in them. We need a shelter for unhoused trans, inter and non-binary people
  3. We want drug counselling centers for trans, inter and non-binary people. Stress due to constantly experiencing discrimination results to higher drug use in the trans and queer community. There are still no specific services for trans, inter and non-binary people.
  4. Abolish the “Prostitutes Protection Law”. The ProstSchG has failed. We call for an end to this criminalisation and demand better working conditions, more workers rights and the fight against stigma.

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On Friday night, the SPD had the Police evict over 100 People (mostly eastern-european migrants and Roma) from Berlins biggest Tent-City, so an Investor can build an Aquarium there. The eviction started suddenly at 10pm and lasted all night, while it was -10*C (14*F) outside and snowing. The residents where offered to move to a shelter, but most chose not to. There are many reasons why people do not want to move to a shelter: the shelters are not COVID safe, they usually arent open during the day, there are strict rules, pets often arent allowed, drug users are often not let inside etc. A few from our group spent all Saturday helping our trans & queer siblings and their friends and family get their belongings, and move them to a new location. Trans and Queer people experience a lot of violence in shelters and trans women are often not even let inside them. We are extremely angry that this eviction was done while the temperatures are below 0 and that the residents weren’t given even a few days notice. The fact that most of the residents are Roma seems to not have been taken into any consideration and while we were there all day, we did not see any translators. We talked to people and residents that were there last night and the police apperently worked together with 2 white & german NGOs (KARUNA and Gangway) that intimidated people to make them leave. We are beyond angry at how unorganized and inhumane this life-threatening eviction was carried out.

Interview with a trans woman that was evicted from the camp at Rummelsburger Bucht

Trans*Sexworks: What was the camp like for the residents?

A: For all the people who lived there, that was home. It was the same for me. When I saw the police, I felt like they were taking my house.

Trans*Sexworks: Many trans people do not go to the accommodation for fear of discrimination & violence or rejection by the accommodation. Do you think the trans people from the camp at Ostkreuz who have been cleared will go to the accommodations?

A: I think they don’t go into the accomodation. I think they will go back and look for something new

Trans*Sexworks: We are fighting together at Trans*SexWorks to ensure that a trans only accommodation is opened. Do you think trans people who don’t have an apartment will go if it is trans only?

A: Yes. I think so, because they think, if it’s only for trans it will be better. They will know then, that they can feel safe.

Trans*Sexworks: What do you think people can do to help?

A: Bring food and clothes. I think a new camp will be set up somewhere else. It’s like someone kicking you out of your apartment – you find a new apartment. If a new camp comes, I think I’ll go there too. People can bring things and help set up the camp.

Trans*Sexworks: Was war das Camp für die Bewohner*innen?

A: “Für alle Leute die waren da, das war Zuhause. Für mich war das auch so. Wenn ich gesehen hab die Polizei, ich habe gefühlt als Sie nehmen mir mein Haus.”

Trans*Sexworks: Es haben dort auch viele trans Menschen gewohnt. Wie war das für trans Menschen dort zu wohnen?

A: Da war kein Problem mit anderen Leute. Die Alle waren freundlich zu uns. Ich habe nie gesehen, dass jemand macht Probleme zu uns.

Trans*Sexworks: Viele trans Menschen gehen nicht in die Unterkünfte aus Angst vor Diskriminierung & Gewalt oder Ablehnung durch die Unterkunft. Glaubst du die trans Menschen vom Camp am Ostkreuz die geräumt wurden gehen in die Unterkünfte?

A: Ich denke sie gehen nicht in die Halle. Ich glaube sie werden wieder zurück gehen und was Neues suchen.

Trans*Sexworks: Wir kämpfen ja zusammen bei Trans*Sexworks dafür, dass eine Unterkunft nur für trans Menschen aufgemacht wird. Denkst du trans Personen die keine Wohnung haben werden dorthin gehen dann?

A: Ja. Ich glaube schon, weil sie denken dann wenn es ist genau für trans, dann wird es besser sein. Sie werden wissen dann Sie können sich sicher fühlen. Sie haben dann kein Stress und ich glaube sie nehmen alle Hilfe aber brauchen bessere Hilfe.

Trans*Sexworks: Was denkst du können Menschen machen um zu helfen?

A: Bringen Essen und Kleidung. Ich denke es wird ein neues Camp gemacht wo anderes. Es ist wie jemand schmeissen dich aus deiner Wohnung du findest eine neue Wohnung. Wenn ein neues Camp kommt, denke ich, ich gehe dann auch dahin. Leute können bringen Sachen und helfen das Camp zu machen.