Shantha:As someone who grew up 40 minutes from where you did, I understand that.
Violet:Brazenness is a feminist motif I love playing with. It can be understood outside of Newfoundland, but if you're a Newfoundlander, it has a cultural life of its own. Where I grew up, I was the only unapologetically visibly queer and trans person. I came out to my abusive homophobic parents when I was 13. At 16 I headed to my Roman Catholic school wearing women's clothes and drag makeup. I even had my first soapbox rant about queer rights in math class when the only teacher who acknowledged the awful bullying and abuse I endured by my peers gave me the opportunity to finally speak my mind before our lesson began. Growing up in the household I did, I felt like I wasted so much time not being true to who I was, I grew sick of it quite early on. I think I've always had a reservoir of inner strength because of that.
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 leading transgender artist, historian, and activist here in St. John’s. Both of us being alumni of the Gender Studies department at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), we had the incredible opportunity to meet Morgan during a national sex work symposium the department hosted years ago. Morgan's presence and her vital work was celebrated throughout the symposium. Morgan's contemporary work is more history based and archival, but her earlier work showcased during this symposium focused on HIV and sex work activism using performance and video-based art in exciting and experimental ways. Ironically, she is also the author of BRAZEN, the official safer sex guide for trans women. Many other trans sex-working artists inspire me, such as Mirha-Soleil Ross, Kate Bornstein, and Nina Arsenault. All of these artists have not shied away from the realities of sex work and transness, and its role in their lives and practices.
Sex work will always be, and has always been a trans feminine labour.
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 labour. That is an integral part of transness, trans community and trans history around the globe. It would be dishonest and irresponsible for me to deny this, in some futile effort to sanitize myself or my practice to appeal to some patriarchal cisnormative morality. When I first started as a sex worker, I was so afraid of being found out. Imagine me, the kid who came out about my sexuality at 13, to be back in the closet again at 20 about this. As I've matured in my practice as both a sex worker and artist, I've found peace and power through being truthful.