Sex Worker Explains How a Higher Minimum Wage Could've Changed Her Life

November 30th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Advocates won the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 in some states, but many other states are still paying workers extremely low wages. 

The Fight for $15 campaign organized a "Day of Disruption" Tuesday where thousands of workers protested low wages in cities across the country. 

Inspired by the protests, Angel Archer, a self-described "transsexual dominatrix," tweeted about the choices working class people are forced to make due to their low wages.

She previously was an escort and a porn performer - now she is a dominatrix and phone sex operator. 

"Since the 'Charlotte Uprising' and the election, I have been trying to get more involved in organizing and activism, but I couldn’t find any information about Fight for $15 strikes in my city," the Asheville, North Carolina, resident told ATTN:. "I decided to make a thread on Twitter drawing attention to living wage issues because it seemed like the least I could do."

Archer tweeted that if working class Americans were paid decently, she wouldn't have needed to become a sex worker. 

Angel Archer's tweets.

She explained that her life would've been more stable, and she wouldn't have to do a job that's a "horrible violation of bodily integrity."

Angel Archer's tweets.

She went on to write that a stable job with a "living wage" would have allowed her to save money for transgender surgery. 

Angel Archer's tweets.

She added that the low wage structure of the economy is "wasting human potential, and just punishing it out of existence." 

Angel Archer's tweets.

Making a low wage can impact a person's life in a multitude of ways. 

Archer told ATTN: that she became a sex worker in her mid-20s after struggling to live on her $7.50 an hour job, which was a position that she said was hard to find in the first place. 

"It had taken me about six months of searching to find that job, after years of unemployment, homelessness, housing instability, etc.," she explained. "I was heartbroken over the futility of what I was doing." 

She said that the instability of moving constantly for sex work has partly prevented her from saving money to get transgender surgery. 

"I think that instability in terms of where I am, living has just generally consumed a lot of material resources," she explained. "Moving is expensive [and] time consuming. It takes time that could be spent working, money that could be saved." 

Archer went on to note that low wages in this country contribute to a cycle of poverty that keeps poor Americans struggling. 

In 2015, a group of organizations published a report, "Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being Transgender in America," on being a transgender worker in the U.S. It found that transgender Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed and more than four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000 a year which is below the federal poverty level. The current federal minimum wage is only $7.25 per hour. Advocates and supporters argue that $15 per hour is the minimum for a "living wage," or the amount of U.S. workers should earn in order to be able to pay for their basic needs.

"Being poor is extremely expensive and causes people to have to spend a lot of time and energy just struggling to survive in oppressive living conditions," she said. "Like I said on my thread on Twitter, I could have potentially gone back to school and gotten a university degree if I was earning a living wage."

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