Jelena Vermillion / Canada
“I grew up in Southwestern Ontario and experienced a lot of bullying and discrimination as I was growing up, being visibly queer and autistic. With living with disabilities and not having any friends until I was in highschool – I was incredibly isolated. When I was 19, I started working in the sex industry as a full-service worker. As a sex worker, there are unique challenges that we face. These experiences are compounded for sex workers who are trans. We can experience ostracism, judgement, hatred violence, and contempt simply for being who we are or for the work we engage in. This is anecdotal, as many trans women struggle to find or maintain secular employment due to systemic discrimination.
Nonetheless, I have always danced to the beat of my own drum. From being estranged from family members, grappling with loneliness and severe depression, I have struggled enormously. I can say now, nearing 30 this month, that I am so glad I made it to this point. Life gets better, if only you can endure long enough to get there”