following is an interview by
Siobhan Brooks from her book about sex workers of color
called, ďDancing Shadows: Interviews with Men and Women of
Color Sex Workers,Ē which she is currently looking to
Tyra is a mixed (Black
and white) transsexual woman.† She has been a prostitute for
fifteen years, and has done porn films.† In this interview she
talks about her life as a transgender woman of color in relation
to her transition, being of mixed race, education, being HIV
positive, and barriers she has come across in trying to find
other type of work.
Siobhan Brooks: Where are
††† I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but I was raised in
California most of my life.
SB:† ††††††† When did you
start going through your transition process as being
†††††† I can remember wearing my sisterís clothes at ages seven
and eight.† But when I totally made the transition, when I
started taking hormones and all, that was when I was
twenty-one.† I was already cross-dressing.
SB:†† †††††† What side
effects did you have while taking hormones?
††††††† Oh, yes.† Mood swings, morning sickness.† Iíve just had
my kidney tested, and Iíll get the test results soon.† Hormones
can destroy your kidney or your liver.†
SB:† ††††††† How long did
these side-effects last?
††††††† About two weeks.
SB:† ††††††† Are you postop
†††††† Iím preop.†
SB:† ††††††† What was your
familyís reaction to you coming out as transgender?† Do you
think they knew that, or do you think they confused that with
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†††††††† They confused it with being gay.† They kind of knew all
along, (smile) but when they thought I was gay they didnít
accept me for a while, and finally they did.† I then started
taking the hormones and all of that came along with
SB:† ††††††† How did you get
††††††† I did it when I was like sixteen or seventeen for fun.†
I was having sex with guys, then I realized that they would give
me money, so I took the money.† When I make the transition to
being a transsexual thatís when I really started doing it, and I
did because I had to.† My family didnít agree with the idea of
me being gay anyway, so when I started my transition they cut me
off [financially].† When they did that I was dramatized, I
didnít know what to do.† Before, I knew that if I needed to I
could run home for a place to stay or if I needed some money.†
But then, all of the sudden, they just said, ďno.Ē†† So, I
needed money, and a place to live, and I went out on the
stroll.† From that day on itís been that way.† Iím thirty one
SB: †††††††† Do you
prostitute only in the Bay Area?
††††††† Iíve worked all around the country.† But now itís been
mainly in San Francisco because I was busted in Oakland, and
they [the police] put me on this program called SOAP.† If they
bust you for prostitution, and they give you SOAP for two years,
if youíre caught in any known area for prostitution, they can
take you to jail.† The first time they catch you, itís for
fifteen days.† After that the time just goes up and up-
sometimes they even give you double time.† So, I left Oakland
alone.† When I first came to the Bay Area this is where I
SB:† ††††††† Were you ever
arrested in San Francisco?
††††††† Yeah, but they let me go in an hour or two.† But it
wasnít for prostitution, they were doing a sweep, and they
picked me up.† An undercover cop arrested me.
SB:† ††††††† What is the
basic procedure when the police bust prostitutes on a sweep?
†††††† They just come out in a paddy wagon and if youíre just
standing around or if you look like a hooker, theyíll just throw
you in the paddy wagon.† Undercover cops usually pose as Johns.†
If you get them as ďJohnsĒ what they do is try to offer you a
price.†† Once you name a price, they bust you for prostitution.†
I donít get busted that much because of how long Iíve been
working the streets.†
usually donít get busted by undercover cops.† The last time I
was busted in Oakland, it was by an undercover cop with an
accent, I always let that accent fool me because I think that
theyíre foreigners.† But most cops donít have foreigner accents,
because most of them were born in America.
SB:† ††††††† How are safety
issues dealt with?† Do you usually go alone?
††††††† I usually work alone because if Iím with a whole bunch
of women, it will just be more competition.† Many Johns arenít
serious about money if there are a lot of women, because they
figure that they have all that to look at.† When Iím working by
myself and a John approaches me, I know he means business.†
SB:† ††††††† Do you feel
pretty safe with the Johns?† Has a John ever been violent
††††††† Oh, yes.† My first night I got my two bottom teeth
knocked out by my second John.† Iíve encountered violence all
through my years of prostituting.†
SB:† ††††††† What kind of
differences have you noticed prostituting as a male before your
transition, and prostituting as a transgender woman in relation
††††††††† I really canít tell because back then I was doing it
for fun, I didnít have to do it.† So, I donít think I could
because I wasnít serious about it as I am now.† Now I have to do
SB:† ††††††† Why do you feel
that you have to do it?
†††††† For one thing---just being bi-racial and transgender...I
mean in this societyóeven in San Franciscoóitís a taboo.† Iím
passable to a point, but when I work a job, and after Iíve been
there for a while, people find out.† You know, they whisper to
each otherójust all kinds of different shit Iíve encountered.†
Thatís what leads me back to being a hooker, Ďcause I donít like
putting up with the bull.†
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SB:† ††††††† Can you
describe an encounter youíve had at a job where you feel like
you were forced out for being transgender?
††††††††† Mmmm...There was a job I worked in St. Louis.† They
[the owners of this business] said I was fired for being late,
which I was late, but donít think it was that.† Because one of
the owners of this place had the hots for me, and his wife knew
that, and she was the one that fired me.† I donít know for sure
if it was because of my sexuality, it could have just been
because he had the hots for me.† It could have been a female
thing.† For the most part I havenít been fired from jobs, Iíve
quit.† I quit because of people whispering, talking about me,
making jokes about me...I just get tired of that.† When they
[co-workers] came in they started whispering to each other
across the room.† And I know what they were saying because
theyíre smiling, looking, and pointing.† Thatís irritating after
SB:† ††††††† How did you
make the transition from prostitution into porn?†††††
††††††† When I work I meet all different types of people:
different classes, races.† I had been approached several
different times by people [to do porn].† This one guy used to
always approach me about it and I was kind of needing the extra
money, so I said, ďWhat the hell.Ē† Iím transgendered, Iím out
in the street turning tricks.† I mean pornówhat could be worse
about that?† (laughs)†† So, I did it, and once I got into it I
didnít like it.† They didnít want to pay me what I wanted.† They
told me that their clients were looking for white girls.† Also
because Iím pre-opt, they wanted me to cum, and get erect like a
man.† But if youíre going through hormone therapy, taking
estrogen, you canít do that.†† Whereas a lot of transgenders
that are in porn can get erect and ejaculate, usually they have
had many hormones, silicone, and all that.† So, they can still
perform like a ďman.Ē†
SB:† ††††††† So, at this
porn place, did you do the film and when you were finished, they
said they would pay you, and they wouldnít?
††††††† When I first started, I did the film and got educated
with my first experience and I was like, ďHey, I want more
money.Ē†† They came up with all kinds of different excuses as to
why they wouldnít pay me more.† So, I was like, forget it.† I
just wonít do it.†
SB: †††††††† So, you donít
do porn anymore?
††††††† No, I havenít been.† But I met this guy who is like my
agent, and he is supposed to be hooking up something where we do
our own porn together.† But even without him, I may do that
myself.† Porn is a good business, especially when it comes to
Black queens.† In Europe they make more money over there, than
they do over here.†
SB:† ††††††† Why do you
think they make more money in Europe?
†††††† I donít know.† I just learned that when I was doing porn,
just hearing them [Black queens] talk about it.† Iíve never been
to Europe, but it makes me wonder why they want more white
queens than Black queens.
SB:† ††††††† You mentioned
racism within the porn industry, how else have you encountered
racism in relation to clients and making money?
†††††††††† Well, many clients donít know Iím Black until they
hear me speak.† They usually think Iím Spanish, Indian, or
Puerto Rican---even other queens donít always know that Iím
Black until I tell them.† The reaction from clients is usually,
ďOh, I didnít know thatĒ or ďWell, youíre cool because youíre
light and you have straight long hair.Ē† They tell me that I
donít really look Black or they ask me what Iím mixed with.†
SB:† ††††††† What is the
ethnicity of most of your clients?
†††††† White.† Some of my clients are Black, but I mostly chose
white clients usually because Black clients are too cheap.† They
usually want more for less money, from time to time Iíll have
Black clients, but most of my clients are white.†
SB:† ††††††† What class
background are your white clients from?
†††††† Anywhere to poor men, to someone who works in an office
in a corporation, to someone from Hollywood.† Iíve dated all
different kinds of men: married, gay.† Iíve even dated a
woman.†† Iíve dated couples.
SB: †††††††† How was your
experience with the woman?
†††††††† She found out I wasnít a [genetic] woman.† We didnít
actually have sex.† We kissed, touched, fondled, and hugged.†
Thatís why Iím not with her anymore because she wanted a genetic
woman.† This woman, who was Filipina, had become a regular; she
wanted to experience being with a woman, so she approached me
one night.† At first I didnít notice her because I was talking
to some guys, and the guys told me that she was trying to pick
me up.† That night we hugged, kissed, and talked; she paid me.†
We exchanged numbers and she paid to see me everyday.† We never
had sex because I knew that she knew I wasnít [a genetic woman],
so we didnít.† I had a feeling she felt I was a guy.† After a
while she dumped me, I thought that she would love the fact that
Iím transgender, but she didnít.† I havenít seen her since.
SB: †††††††† Has that been
the case when you tell people that you arenít a genetic woman-
that people are turned off?
††††††††† Yes, a majority of people are turned off, especially
the men.† Once the men find out Iím transgender, itís like, ďOh,
itís been nice knowing you.† Youíre a real nice person, but I
canít do it.Ē† When they say they canít do it, I donít think
they mean that they canít do it sexually, because I know they
could.† They mean socially, they canít have me as a girlfriend.
SB:† ††††††† Do your Johns
know that youíre transgender?
††††††† Most of them do now, but not all the time.† When I first
started prostituting I wouldnít tell them, but since Iíve been
working in San Francisco I tell them.†
SB:† ††††††† Why wouldnít
you tell Johns that youíre transgender?
†††††† Because they wouldnít date me, or they felt they could
get it cheaper.†
SB:† ††††††† What have you
found the overall attitude among the Black community in relation
to sex workers and transgender people?
†††††††††† [Laughs] Of course, darling.† I get more prejudice
from them then any other culture.†
SB:† ††††††† [Smiling] Well,
I know that, but people reading this book might not know that.
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†††††† Theyíre very homophobic, but I get a lot of men that tell
me that I make them real upset.† Itís usually something in them,
because Iíve had the very same men approach me when we were
alone somewhere else.† It also depends onóand I hate to say
thisóit often depends on the class of the Black people Iím
dealing with.† Poor Black people let me have it, the middle
class is kind of fifty-fifty, but the Black people with
moneyóthe rich Blacksóthey donít care Ďcause theyíre enjoying
life anyway.† They still wouldnít have me as their wife or
girlfriend, itís still taboo.† They would accept a murderer
before they would accept a transgender person, weíre at the
bottom of the token pole.† You donít get any lower than a Black
queen or a Black gay or lesbian.
have more problems with other Black transgender women, those
relationships havenít been working out too well, and I would
just as well let them go.† A lot of Black transgender women have
low self-esteem, and a lot [of] problems.† They tend to hurt
people around them.
ones that Iíve encountered come from broken homes, poor homes,
uneducated homes.† I canít deal [with] them; it becomes a
problem.† I try to be friends with them, but itís hard.† Iíve
also encountered hostility because Iím mixed.† They notice that
before they notice Iím transgender.† Many of them arenít that
passable to pass into mainstream as a genetic woman, so they
have low self-esteem or a chip on their shoulder.† But I can
pass, so they take their anger out on me.†† Now, I keep my
distance from many Black transgender women.
SB:† ††††††† Thatís too
bad.† It seems there should be more of a stronger community.
†††††† But itís not.† We catch so much hell as Black transgender
women, from society, and the Black community within itself,
until they just lash out at each other instead of putting that
energy into something positive. †I refuse to be a part of that.
SB:† ††††††† You havenít
heard of COYOTE, right?
SB:† ††††††† [I tell her
about COYOTE after the interview] Do you think you would ever go
to some kind of conference about sex workers?† Usually at these
conferences there arenít that many women of color.
†††††††† Maybe.† It would depend on how my pocket book looked.
If I werenít in need of any money, then yeah, I would go just
out of curiosity.†
SB:† ††††††† Do you think
itís true that most transgender women are prostitutes?
†††††† In the Black community I think thatís true because most
of the time they come from broken homes.† Often their families
donít want anything to do with them, and theyíre poor because of
SB:†† †††††† If you felt
that you had another outlet to make money besides prostitution,
would you take it?
††††††† Yeah, but I would have to be economically stable in
order to make that change.†
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SB:† ††††††† How much money
do you make?
††††††† It varies.† Sometimes itís slow, other times itís good.†
Sometimes I donít date them, I just clip (pick pocket) a John .†
I may have got $700, $60, or $5.† There have been times where I
didnít make anything, then Iíve had times where Iíve actually
worked and made about $900.† It depends on what mood Iím in.†
Sometimes Iím juiced to go out and work, other times it makes me
sick to my stomach.† Sometimes I get very angry and
violentóthatís when I take what I want.†
SB:† ††††††† Do you like
††††††† No, I donít like itóperiod.† I do it because I have to,
and now itís probably become a habit.††† Iíve never liked it.†
Iíve had some clients that Iíve enjoyed, but itís not right for
me.† Iím not saying prostitution isnít right, itís just not
right for me.† I think they should legalize it, I think
prostitution should be a womanís choice, but I donít feel I have
SB:† ††††††† If you did have
a choice what kind of job would you see yourself doing?
††††††† I donít know, thereís so many things that I want to do.†
I kind of got lost, Iím 31 years old.† I had a lot of goals when
I first started off, but I just got lost in the shuffle, just
going through the bullshit of life being transgender.†
SB:† ††††††† How does one
get lost in the shuffle?† How does that actually happen?
T:††† ††††††† Drugs, having
different boyfriends, just working the streets period.† Having
quick fast money.
SB:† ††††††† What were your
goals when you first started?
††††††† I wanted to do many things.† I was an honor roll student
in high school, I was very active in school.† Iíve had some
college.† I hadnít really made up my mind what I wanted to do,
Iím good a lot of different things, at least I was then.† I
havenít exercised my brain in so long, Iím not sure where my
skills are at now.†
SB:† ††††††† What college
did you go to?
††††††† Well, I went to Santa Rosa Junior College, and Santa
Monica Junior College.† I was still trying to apply myself, and
thatís when I was going through my transition, and my
sexualityóit was very difficult.† Thatís why I didnít stay in
school because I wasnít getting any support mentally at the
school or at home.† Everything was new to me. †When youíre
transgender, itís like you were born a woman all your life, and
suddenly youíre starting a whole new life.† It might hit you at
the age of 17, 18, or 19.†† I was just interested in becoming
more of a woman and meeting men, because I didnít have my family
there to support me, and be there for me.
SB:† ††††††† Do you feel
like you were finding support in these men you were dating?
††††††† No.† Well, some of them, but not really.† I found
support in other girls that were like me.† They showed me about
the streets, and taught me about becoming more of a woman, which
normally your Mom would teach you that when youíre a little
SB:† ††††††† What did you
find difficult in terms of adjustment from your pervious gender,
to becoming transgender?
††††† The way people look at me.† The reaction from society, I
didnít find it difficult to make the transition.† I never
thought I was a woman, and when I was little I used to think
that I did want to be a woman.†† Now Iím at the pointóand I have
been for some timeówhere Iíll never be a woman.† I am
comfortable not having a complete sex change because most of the
sex changes they [transgender women] have donít work.† You canít
have a baby; you canít climax.† So, what the hell do I need with
a pussy?† Iíll still look the same.† I can still go to the
beach, I go to the beach wearing a two-piece bathing suit, and
no one [will] give me a second look.† Well, they do, but not
more then usual.† There are also a lot of men who like bodies
like mine, but theyíre in the closet.† Especially, when it comes
to Black men, and thatís mainly what I prefer: Black men.† Iíve
been in a relationship for seven years, and this man is still in
the closet.† Only his sister and Mom know about me, but not his
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SB: †††††††† Do you feel you
lost a since of male privilege when you made the transition into
being a woman in terms of experiencing violence, economic
†††††††† I feel I have more privileges now being a woman because
most men think with their dicks.† I donít care how much money
they have, or how educated they are, they think with their
fucking cocks.† If I can see that I can manipulate that, I will.
SB:† ††††††† Do you feel
your life changed living as a woman?
†††††† No, because Iíve never lived as a man.† I remember being
small and people would tell my mom that she had the prettiest
little girl, and my mom would get defensive and say, ďHe ainít
no girl!† Thatís my little boy.Ē† Maybe at one point I lived as
a gay man, but I didnít like that either.† Gay men want a man,
but Iíve always looked like a woman.
SB:†† †††††† What kind of
people do you socially date?
††††† Black men.† Iíve dated poor men, rich men, dope dealers,
thugs, ex-cons.† [Laughs]† Iíve dated all kinds of men.†
SB:† ††††††† Were all these
men accepting of you being transgender?
†††††††† Well, in most of these cases I was their secret.† Most
of these men think they are straight, or in the closet.
SB:†† †††††† Do you feel
closer to openly queer Black men as oppose to straight Black
†††††† Iím close to Black gays and lesbians.† I have met some
straight Black women that I get along with.†
SB:†† †††††† What is your
family background in relation to class?
††††† My family is middle-class, but very dysfunctional.† My mom
is a lesbian and her parents died when she was very young.†† My
mom went through a lot of problems when I was growing up, and my
father is white, but Iíve never seen him.†† So, he was never
there, and my mom wasnít either because she left to explore her
sexuality.†† You know, all of that bullshit, Ďcause this was in
the 60s.† When I was twelve and thirteen I used to wonder why
there were so many women in the house, why didnít she have any
men around [smile]†† I was having these sexual feelings towards
men myself, so I wondered.†† I was raised by my great-great
aunt.†† I call her my grandmother, and she did the best she
could.† But I never suffered for anything financial.
I was cut off from my family, that just dramatized me.† I spoke
to my father once on the phone, and he said to me, ďIf I had
been there I wonder if you would have ended up the way you did!Ē
but I knew I would have.†† I knew I was different since I was
five years old, I knew I liked boys.† I was also molested by
some boys at thirteen and fourteen, but even before then I knew
I was different.† A lot of people would think that because you
were raped or molested or your father wasnít there, thatís why
youíre the way you are.† But that wasnít the Ďcause, I had
cousins and uncles around me.† My grandmother use to think that
because my mom was queer one of her children would be, but I
think thatís a bunch of shit.† Because if thatís the case, then
which one of my motherís parents were?†
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SB:†† †††††† Did your mom
ever tell you she was a lesbian?
†††††† No, my grandmother told me in a negative way and it
bothered me.† Even though I had these [queer] feelings within
myself, I didnít like it.† Everybody wants their parents to be
perfect parents, so I didnít like the fact that my mother was a
lesbian.† I didnít speak to her for a long time.† My mother
accepted me for what people assumed was my being gay, but she
wouldnít accept me for being a queen.† She had friends who were
queens, but she couldnít accept me on that level.† I think she
has accepted me now.† I still keep in contact with her.†
SB:† ††††††† But she doesnít
financially help you out?
††††††† Oh, hell no.† Sheís struggling herself.†† My grandmother
financially raised me, but my mother had a lot of problems.†
Sheís a Black woman, lesbian from the South, both her parents
are dead, and the family members that raised her are mostly
alcoholics.† She probably shouldnít have had any children, but
SB:† ††††††† Are you an only
††††††† No, I have a brother and two sisters.† She gave up one
of my sisters for adoption, I had always thought I was the
oldest before I found this out.
SB:†† †††††† How have your
siblings accepted you being transgender?
††††† My sister isnít wrapped too tight [laughs].† My mother had
x-rays while she was pregnant with her, and took a lot of drug
prescriptions.† I donít think she likes it, but she accepts me.†
She used to look up to me a lot because my mother was gone.† I
donít really know how she feels, but we donít argue or fight.†
My brother loves me and accepts me, but I know he doesnít like
me being transgender.† He used to look up to me, and I know he
would like for me to be his big brother and go out with a bunch
of hoís and his friends [we both laugh]†† You know, that
bullshit.† But I know he loves and accepts me.† Sometimes when
he gets out of line I have to put him in check because Iím older
than him.† We have a big age difference and he used to admire me
as a man.† I use to model as a man, and heís seen how girls used
to look at me, and lust after me.† Suddenly, I just left and
returned with long hair and titties, ass and hips, telling him
to call me Tyra.
SB: †††††††† How do you deal
††††††† I laugh a lot, I smoke pot to calm me down.† I used to
fear people finding out what I was, it used to wear me out.† But
now I donít care because Iím happy with who I am.† The only
thing they can really say is that Iím a man, because the
majority of the time they donít know Iím a hooker.† And if they
do, I donít give a fuck, Ďcause men explore transgender sexually
anyway.† Most men are in the closet anyway, once they find out
that youíre transgender all they want to do is have a session
with you and get it over with.† When many Black queens do have a
relationship with a man, [the men] have usually been in and out
of prison, or theyíre poor.† I deserve more than that, Iím
accustomed to living one way Ė I †was raised to live one way.†
Thatís probably the reason that pushes me to prostitution.
SB:† ††††††† Do you find it
hard to have relationships with men?
Of course.† I could have married a rich man and lived up on the
hills if it wasnít for this cock I have between my legs.†† If
society would accept transgenders, I wouldnít be a hooker.
SB:†† †††††† Do you find
empowerment in your job?
†††††† Yeah, Iím in total control of the situation. I can say
when itís time to stop, and they pay me.†† Sometimes I feel like
Iím not empowered, and they just used me and went home to their
wife and gave her the fur coat, the diamonds, or the new
Porsche---after they laid up with me and sucked dick or fucked
or whatever, and gave me $150 or 200 dollars.
SB:† ††††††† What would you
like to be doing ten years from now?† Do you see yourself still
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††††††† I see myself prostituting until I leave the man Iím with
now, and get me a better man, or this man starts making more
money.† The man Iím with now is a poor Black man.† Iíve been
with him for seven years.† He knew me before I was hustling, I
couldnít live the way we were living before.† Even though he
works full time, and Iím unemployed, heíll have his hand stuck
out for car fare, bills.† He works in a furniture store, his job
is really physical, he moves around a lot of furniture.† Before
I met him I had stopped prostituting and got a job as a
bartender, I was still living with my mother.† When I met him he
was on crack, and I had just cleaned up my act.† He later
cleaned up his act and got a job, but it still wasnít enough to
live on. HeH††
gets paid kimbles and bits, he doesnít provide any stability for
me to make that change in my life. Iíve tried with him to change
our situation, but it didnít work. Iíve had the opportunity to
be with someone else who would provide me with that stability,
but I didnít love them.† I donít know when Iíll get that
stability, and if I ever get it, I know I want my own business.†
I donít want to work for anyone else, especially not a white
man.† Iím independent, I would never want to depend on a man
giving me money, Ďcause just as he can give it to me, he can
take it away from me.†† My family was the first ones to take
money away from me, I donít want to go through that again.††
Thatís why Iím still hookiní. ††
SB: †††††††† Do you feel as
if youíre supporting both you and your man in this relationship?
†††††††† No, not really.† Heís just doesnít know how to manage
money; heís older than me and just comes to me when heís broke.†
I only work when I really need money: when a bill needs to be
paid, when I want a new outfit, food, some pot.†
SB: †††††††† How does it
feel psychology to be bumped down a class?† How would you define
your current class?†
†††††††† Oh, Iím poor, honey!† [laughs]† Ainít no shame in
that.† Iím dramatized, but I deal with it or else I would be go
crazy or be dead.† Iím still here.††††
SB:† ††††††† I ask that
question because I know many Black people donít want to identify
as poor because of the negative images and stereotypes already
existing about poor Black people. †Have you thought about going
back to school?
††††††††† Iíve tried and thatís when I got sick with HIV.† I
canít afford to go to school right now.† I know it would be hard
and difficult, but in my heart I really want to.† I never wanted
to do this.††††† ††††††††††††††
SB: †††††††† How did
contract HIV and how did you find out?
††††††† Iím not sure how I got it.† I kind of blamed the man Iím
with now because when I first got with him, I heard rumors that
he had it.† Weíve been screwing for five years without condoms,
so if I had full blown AIDS then Iím sure he has it Ė he has
Herpes.† But I stopped blaming him because I had experiences
with different men in the past.† Even before AIDS became an
epidemic, I was having unsafe sex.† I used to be really angry at
him, but I had to let that go.†
found out about a year and a half ago, and I kind of knew all
along I had it because I had friends that died of it.† I didnít
get any help until it really took a toll on me.† I had to go to
a doctor, my hair fell out, I lost weight, I was pale---I almost
died.† I went to UCSF and the doctor---the blond white doctor
whom I was afraid of at first, brought me back to life with the
SB:† ††††††† Did you have a
fear of doctors before you went to UCSF?
††††††† I didnít want to hear that I had it, even though I
knew.† I could feel my body deteriorate.† I didnít have a fear
of doctors, but I know many Black people do.† Many Black people
donít trust white physicians, but if I want to live Iím going to
have to go somewhere.†
SB:† ††††††† During the hype
of AIDS in the early 80s did you feel that you had access to
knowledge to prevent getting HIV?†
††††††††† Well, at first it was thought to be just a white gay
disease.† I had the knowledge, but being transgender many people
think that the men they sleep with are only having sex with
women-they think these men arenít prone to getting AIDS.† Thatís
how I got it.† I felt that if I had a boyfriend he was only
going to be with me, so we didnít need to use condoms.† But I
should have always been using condoms.†
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SB: †††††††† Did you use
condoms with Johns?
††††††† Oh, of course.† I mostly didnít use condoms with men I
dated, and a few times I havenít with Johns because I thought
they were attractive or I was very intoxicated.† But after I was
diagnosed, Iíve always used condoms. ††I donít even give oral
sex without one.† I donít care how much money heís spending.†† I
donít care how much a nigga Iím dating tells me he loves me Ė
itís a no-no.† Now with the man Iím dating now, we use condoms.†
When I work, men still want me to have sex with them without a
condom, they offer me more money, but I refuse.† When I first
found out I was HIV positive I didnít want to live, but I
thought of my little niece and the thought of her and my family
made me want to live.
SB:† ††††††† Do you think
doing outreach to prostitutes makes a difference?
†††††† Yeah, it makes a difference everywhere.† They really need
to go to high schoolsóespecially the Black ones.† Black youth
should be the number one issue.† Black people arenít educated
about AIDS because sex is a taboo in our culture, itís not
talked about I didnít learn about sex at home, I learned about
it from the streets. The church has a lot to do with why Black
kids arenít educated about sex.† Black people were converted to
Christianity when they were brought here.†† Many young Black
people still think AIDS is a [white] gay disease.† They
think it wonít happen to them.†† I had a young Black guy try to
date me without a condom.† I asked him why he didnít want to use
one? †He said it wouldnít feel the same.† Many guys think they
can have sex with a woman and use the withdrawal method.† Many
Black men are self-destructive anyway because they donít feel
like they have much to live for.†
SB: †††††††† How did issues
of self-esteem play a role in your HIV status?
†††††††† I had a low self-esteem about my sexuality, being
transgender and how society looks down upon that.† Not being a
woman, but just being transgender.† I liked myself as a person,
though.† But now that I have HIV it makes me appreciate life
Contacting Siobhan Brooks
For Speaking Engagements Contact:†
David S. Neale, Owner, Resource Manager
Black Lavender Resources
To Contact Siobhan Brooks Directly:
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