Shantha:
As someone who grew up 40 minutes from where you did, I understand that.




Violet:

Of course! That's a feminist motif I love playing with, because it can be understood outside of Newfoundland, but if you're a Newfoundlander it carries its own cultural motif as well. I love things that occupy multiple spaces like that. Where I grew up, I was the only queer person for a significant amount of time. I went to school in drag, wearing a full face of makeup. I've always been very unapologetically myself. I've always been very brazen in that way, and I've always resisted cis-normativity and heteronormativity in one way or another since a very young age.

That really inspires the brazenness of my practice, the openness, the vulnerability of it, the rawness


I met Morgan in person a few years ago, along with my close collaborator and best friend Daze Jefferies. Daze is a noted transgender activist and artist here in St. John’s, as well as a leading transgender historian in Atlantic Canada, particularly Newfoundland, so our lives and work dovetails often and easily. The gender studies department at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) held a national sex work symposium, and Morgan was presented as a community activist and professional artist whose work plays with and explores trans feminine sex work identities and experiences. Morgan's contemporary work is more history based and archival, but her earlier work focused on HIV and sex work activism using performance art and video-based art to explore these topics at a time when they were taboo. That part of her practice really inspires the brazenness of my practice, the openness, the vulnerability of it, the rawness. The other two people that really inspire me are Kate Bornstein and Nina Arsenault in how they have not shied away from the realities of being a trans woman sex worker socio-culturally, but also in their lived everyday experiences and how those parallel larger social structures of oppression.

Sex work has always been a trans feminine labor...it would be dishonest for me to sanitize that out of my practice


For a lot of trans women artists, sex work is a hallmark of where they got their start. It’s a major economic enterprise a lot of us participate in because we have no other choice to make money, to make ends meet, to help our families, to make certain changes—whether it be related to our transitions or our career. Sex work will always be, and has always been a trans feminine labor. That is an integral part of transness, trans community and trans history in North America. It is such a stark reality, and I feel it would be dishonest and irresponsible for me to deny that, to sanitize that out of my practice.

When I first started as a sex worker, I was so afraid of being found out, it was mental misery. I came out when I was 16 years old and now I'm back in the closet as a sex worker at 20 years old! I came out when I was so young, I don't want to be in the closet for nothing. I was in the beginning because it's scary, and the stigma is real, but as time has gone on, that’s changed as I’ve developed my practice. As an artist and sex worker I’ve earned my stripes and paid my dues, but also the cultural climate now, particularly in the queer community, around sex work is very different than when I was starting out.