Kamala Harris
Photo: Facebook | Kamala Harris.
International, News

VP-elect Kamala Harris divides sex workers, LGBTIQ Americans

Kamala Harris this weekend made history by being elected US Vice President, making her the country’s highest-ranking elected woman ever.

She will also be the first Black and first South Asian Vice President.

While millions of Americans are celebrating the Democrats’ election win, including many in the LGBTIQ community and other minority groups, Harris’s record on issues affecting them has been called “complicated”.

After President-elect Joe Biden announced Harris as his running mate in August, writer Wren Sanders reflected on her inconsistent history with supporting minorities.

Harris has been lauded for supporting marriage equality, working to end gay and trans ‘panic’ defences, and establishing an LGBTQ+ hate crime unit in San Francisco.

During this year’s Black Lives Matter protests, she joined protesters in the street demanding an end to racism and police violence.

However, commentators have drawn attention to her record of failing to support the trans and sex worker communities.

“Kamala Harris is no friend to trans [or Black] women and always a cop,” wrote activist Ceyenne Doroshow.

As district attorney of San Francisco, Harris opposed legislation to decriminalise sex work, claiming that sex work contributes to “the transmission of AIDS”.

She supported the controversial FOSTA/SESTA legislation, which shut down numerous websites that had helped sex workers safely make a living, particularly marginalised workers such as people of colour, trans people, and disabled sex workers.

Harris has since commented that while “we can’t criminalise consensual behaviour as long as no one is being harmed”, she supports criminalising paying for sex.

As California attorney general, Harris in 2015 defended the state’s denial of gender-affirming healthcare to a trans woman being held in a men’s prison.

She has since called for better understanding of LGBTIQ people.

“I believe that we are at a point where we have got to stop vilifying people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and we’ve got to understand that when we are talking about a particular transgender community, for too long they have been the subject of bias, and frankly, a lack of understanding about their circumstance and their physical needs in addition to any other needs they have, and it’s about time that we have a better understanding of that,” said Harris in an interview last year.

In her victory speech on Saturday night, Harris honoured the work of minorities before her, particularly Black women, who “paved the way for this moment tonight”.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” said Harris.

Leave a Reply