Wendy Babcock, Morgan Page, and Rebecca Hammond have an article in this months issue of FAB Magazine on the Homewood-Maitland Safety Association and its controversial efforts to force transgender sex workers out of the neighbourhood. Although the article isn’t available online, Babcock has posted the text at her blog, the Prostitution in Canada Journal.
Homewood and Maitland isn’t the first stroll in Toronto to come under pressure as a consequence of gentrification – so what’s the big deal if this is a sad, but seemingly routine, social process? Homewood and Maitland is unique in that it has historically been known as the trans stroll, making it one of the few safer spots for trans sex workers. Johns here know what they are getting, as one sex worker explained, “in other neighbourhoods the johns don’t know what they’re getting, and they are likely to freak out and assault us.” As working conditions deteriorate thanks to the HMSA, trans women have started working untested areas where they are likely subject to increasing violent attacks.
These trans women make easy, almost socially sanctioned, scapegoats for a litany of issues that they are largely unconnected to and not responsible for. The streets are quiet, save for a few rowdy drunk college kids and the sounds of traffic wafting down from Wellesley. You know, the kind of night soundscape one comes to expect in downtown Toronto. Other residents of the neighbourhood have expressed their dismay to us. “Just tell me what I can do to help the sex workers,” one man said to us. The HMSA is quick to dismiss these other neighbours as unimportant, either because they live on the higher floors of the condos or their opinion goes against HMSA morals.
As they say, read the whole damn thing.