I am a 49-year-old Metis mother of two daughters. In 1990 I graduated from a two-year program in massage therapy from Sutherland-Chan School of Massage Therapy in Toronto, Ontario. I practiced as a Registered Massage Therapist in Toronto from 1990 - 2000. During that time I worked with Dr. Bryan Sher at his Rosedale Chiropractic Clinic, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville, in my home and, with my portable massage table, in the homes of some of my clients. My work was highly regarded, respected and praised. When I moved from Toronto to Victoria, BC, in 2000, I began working Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa. Again, my work was praised and appreciated. I loved my work and found my career to be not only lucrative but also deeply rewarding. Unfortunately, irreconcilable conflict between my supervisor and I resulted in an untoward termination from my post in February 2004. Eager to not only earn a decent wage in order to support myself and my daughters, but also to work with people's bodies and to explore my own sexuality, I embarked upon a private, independent, indoor sex work practice. I write about the seriousness with which I approached this endeavor in my Sociology undergraduate Honours thesis http://tinyurl.com/kfsbupp It was always my intention to be public about my decision to become a sex worker. I was aware that some people would have a hard time understanding and accepting my decision but I was not prepared for the onslaught of humiliation and punishment that ensued once people were informed of the way in which I chose to make a living. The trauma that I incurred is documented in my thesis. I was shocked and dismayed at the violence, both verbal and physical, that resulted when people discovered that I was doing sex work. I attribute this violence directly to the stigma that is associated with sex work, with prostitution in particular. And I attribute the stigma that goes along with prostitution directly to the criminalization of prostitution. I am the same person, the same trained and skilled bodyworker, whether I am working with people's genitals or not. Why is it that in one capacity I am privileged with education, hands-on training, supervision, licensing, regulation, and a regulating body while in the other capacity my work is criminalized, or my clients are criminalized, or those who work with me or who are supported by the income that I make are criminalized?
The harms and losses that have been experienced by me and by my daughters, as a result of the vilification of sex work and sex workers, are irrevocable. All that I can hope for, and work towards, is the re-education of those who have been indoctrinated into thinking that sex work is inherently violent, bad, disgusting, harmful, evil, and any other adjective that may be used to invoke fear, loathing and/or pity towards those involved in the world of sex work. I have just received notification that my application to transfer from my Masters into an Interdisciplinary PhD program at the University of Victoria has been accepted. I begin in January 2015. I will continue to take a stand for the importance and necessity of sex work, as a healthcare modality akin to massage therapy and as a viable means to earn a living.