2016 Democratic Convention

Transgender DNC Delegate Calls Out Sex-Work Shamers

"Some people like to paint. Some people like to dance. Some people like to express themselves in an erotic way," says Sharron Cooks.

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Making Our Lives Easier/Facebook

At this year's Democratic National Convention (DNC), Pennsylvania activist Sharron Cooks was one of 28 openly transgender delegates and two trans women-of-color delegates. She's also a former sex worker. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, it's this last bit that The Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jenice Armstrong chose to focus on.

"Delegates to political conventions come from all kinds of backgrounds," wrote Armstrong at the beginning of her post. "Still, it's kind of surprising, when you come across someone who admits to having worked in the sex industry." On Thursday, the last day of the DNC, Armstrong took her surprise directly to Cooks, asking the 38-year-old delegate about her past career and insinuating that having a former sex-worker as a Democratic delegate was somehow at odds with the party nominating its first female presidential candidate.

Cooks, founder and chief executive of the nonprofit Making Our Lives Easier—and a former "professional adult entertainer and film actress," according to her bio—handled the situation with grace. "I've had some individuals say, well, what about when you were an adult film actress? Or what about when you did that?" she told Armstrong. "I don't necessarily think that it is a negative thing. People look at it as a negative thing and it's not necessarily a negative thing."

"The thing about that is, people here in America have a stigma around sexuality, sexual orientation, what bathroom you use," Cooks continued.

People are always going to have questions about that. We here in America we have freedom of expression. That freedom of expression takes various different forms for each particular individual. Some people like to paint. Some people like to dance. Some people like to express themselves in an erotic way.

That wasn't good enough for the Inquirer columnist, however, who kept pressing Cooks for more details about her past work. It's only after the delegate evades her farther that the writer begins to "feel dirty" about her line of questioning.

I asked if she had ever worked under the name "Mistress Soliel" as the paper had been tipped off. (And no, I'm not going to describe what I saw when I Googled it.)

[…] "If you look on my website, I address that."

Suddenly, I felt dirty raising the topic with her. It was a downer on what really was a triumphant moment for Cooks to be in such a heady atmosphere just steps away from where President Obama had spoken so eloquently the night before.

Cooks said she wasn't surprised that someone had felt the need to tip off the paper about her experience with sex work.

When you educate and start rising, people are going to try to tear you down. It's sad because here it is an African American trans woman has the opportunity to represent and bring awareness to issues and you have other individuals who are trying to undermine that progress.

In an interview with Next magazine, Cooks explained that the reason she became an activist for transgender rights is the personal discrimination she experienced trying to find a job. "I too know what it's like to be stereotyped, stigmatized and misunderstood," said Cooks. "I know what it's like to need quality medical care. I know what it's like to engage in high risk activities to survive."

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20 responses to “Transgender DNC Delegate Calls Out Sex-Work Shamers

  1. Bringin’ awareness, bitch! You can’t get woke without someone to bring awareness.

  2. “Some people like to paint. Some people like to dance. Some people like to express themselves in an erotic way,”

    What do we call what Crusty likes to do?

    1. Some revel in the disgust of others.

  3. “OK, Bumstead, how did you manage to run up this huge ‘art’ budget?”

    1. ALTERNATE JOKE: “I see that Reason has a vacancy for an art critic.”

  4. Jeez, did Ms Cooks go to Iran for a deal on those cheek implants?

  5. When you educate and start rising, people are going to try to tear you down.

    There’s a Darwinian motive, the ghost in the machine, that causes an aversion to transexuallity and homsexuallity.

    1. “They laughed at Jenner, they laughed at Pasteur, they laughed at Bozo the Clown…”

  6. Suddenly, I felt dirty raising the topic with her. It was a downer on what really was a triumphant moment for Cooks to be in such a heady atmosphere just steps away from where President Obama had spoken so eloquently the night before.

    Ugh. Maybe you should feel dirty, but not because of that.

  7. Why would any advocate for freedom of any kind be a Democrat? That makes no sense at all. You can have an abortion and have other people pay for it, lady, but you can’t be using your body in ways unapproved by the state. That will make you a victim, and a long jail sentence is the only fix for that. For the children.

    1. This.

      The Dems are just as anti-sex as the most uptight conservative church lady, just (usually) about slightly different aspects of sex.
      The statist need to control other people’s genitalia and what they do with them has been a perennial feature.

    2. The Dems have been taking the non-normals for granted for decades. Can the GOP say that??

  8. I couldn’t give a fuck less about this person. I suppose that makes me “transphobic”.

    1. How many more intersectionalities do you need in order to give a fuck?!

    2. The opposite of love is apathy, so that makes you transapathetic. And that may be worse than phobic.

  9. I i get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless.

    Heres what I’ve been doing:==>==>==> http://www.Alpha-Careers.com

  10. None of these three words give me any reason to care what this person thinks about sex work:

    Transgender.

    DNC.

    Delegate.

    Now, she actually has relevant experience. Why not highlight that? Why, in fact, call it unfortunate that she has experience relevant to the point she is making? Weird. Its like a white male RNC delegate who is an ex-soldier stating an opinion on the military, and the headline is “White Male RNC Delegate Calls Out Anti-Military Activists”.

  11. I especially liked when she called for all the men currently imprisoned for consumption of sexual services to be released and demanded that they no longer be denigrated as perverts for being sexual creatures, and all the ‘my body, my choice’ feminist democrats applauded her enthusiastically for standing up for sexual freedom. Oh wait…

  12. This kind of crap is to be expected from some people. Thankfully not everyone is a marginalizing dufus. I’m attending a labor training at Rutgers right now- with union women from all over representing various unions and trades. When dealing with other people who are fighting for a living wage, fighting discrimination, fighting for labor rights- it’s a whole different ball of wax. ‘Reporters’ are pretty pathetic a vast majority of the time and this reporter- she SHOULD feel dirty. Not because of any topic she could be covering- for being dishonest, deceptive, self serving and a host of other attributes which reporters engage on a daily basis to sell their stories. It’s pretty GROSS. For her to believe she has any moral high ground is laughable.

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