Privacy and Perception Issue

As a Sex Worker With a Chronic Illness, FOSTA Means Losing My Medical Care

In a nation lacking universal healthcare, recent legislation effectively cut a thread by which many disabled people climbed out of poverty.
June 18, 2018, 9:40pm
Illustration by Elnora Turner

This story appears in VICE magazine and Broadly's 2018 Privacy and Perception Photo Issue. Click HERE _to subscribe to** VICE magazine._**

Sex work comes in many forms. My job falls under the category commonly referred to as “escort service.”

Like many sex workers I know, I first started advertising on Craigslist and Backpage due to urgent financial need, exacerbated by the fact that I had a long-misdiagnosed genetic condition that made other employment options impossible to maintain.

Strange as it might sound, sex work has been an excellent option for me and many of my friends who have “invisible illnesses” like fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and endocrine disorders, which, while undetectable to any observer or client, make it difficult or impossible to keep a full-time, decently paying job for a long time. At sex worker community gatherings, I’ve heard many stories of joining this industry for reasons related to health issues; anecdotally speaking, there appears to be an unusually high proportion of sex workers with chronic, invisible disabilities. That’s because certain sick folks must navigate a gray area: What do you do if you’re too sick to hold down a full-time job, yet not “sick enough” for disability benefits, and a typical part-time job isn’t enough to survive on—especially with medical bills? The answer sometimes is: You reconsider how you feel about lingerie and older men.

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