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Authentic Acceptance Matters

#AcceptanceMatters: When banking campaigns target communities that are dependent on criminalized lifestyles they also share in lobbying challenges.

Instead we get: Mastercard's New Policy Violates Sex Workers' Rights

October 15th 2021 Mastercard officially required of all adult content:

  • Merchant must not market the content of its website or permit content search terms to give the impression that the content contains child exploitation materials or the depiction of nonconsensual activities.

  • Merchant must support a complaint process that allows for the reporting of content that may be illegal or otherwise violates the Standards.

  • Merchant must offer the ability for any person depicted in a video or other content to appeal to remove such content. The Merchant must not attract users to its website by utilizing adult content that is illegal or otherwise violates the Standards.

  • Merchant must have effective policies in place that prohibit the use of its website in any way that promotes or facilitates human trafficking, sex trafficking or physical abuse.

  • Active membership and participation in an anti-human trafficking and/or anti-child exploitation organization is highly recommended.

Good thing we here are allied, though we are still hurt by these discriminating practices.

Sources shared that Mastercard met with Red Umbrella organizers in a thirty minute meeting outlining regulations, hanging up promptly at the end of the meeting without discussion.

#AcceptanceMatters is a timely example of how help can hurt. When Mastercard decided to work with new views on gender and identity the intention was inclusion. What happened however was a travesty to the award winning effort when a strong majority of the target population proved to be excluded as a result of the criminalized status of sex workers, and the conflation of consensual adult sex work (CASW) with child sex trafficking.

Produced by Mastercard, Ketchum, McCann, BMF the “concept of acceptance virtually defines Mastercard’s products and services. Having your name on a Mastercard effectively allows retailers to “accept” you at the point of sale. But in recent years, acceptance has taken on an even deeper meaning for the brand”.

Potentially because the brand realized how much revenue was lost in discriminating practices. So they changed not just their corporate view on inclusion, they even changed a couple of west side street names to adapt to this new attitude!

Mastercard: “Christopher and Gay is more than just an intersection. It’s always been the “Main Street”of LGBTQIA+ New York. Seen as the birthplace of the gay rights movement during the Stonewall Riots of 1969, it’s been host to countless parades, protests and celebrations. And [in 2017], [MasterCard] partnered with the NYC Human Rights Commission to celebrate the evolution of the movement with an evolution of the intersection: Acceptance Street.”

That is right. Not only can you have your true identity on your card, you can go shopping with your new card all around the newly renamed historic Stonewall Riots neighborhood that started it all.

So fabulous! Right? Actually NO.

Republic Bank: “You can proudly display your chosen name and present your true identity with the Republic Bank Mastercard Debit Card with the True Name feature on personal and business checking accounts. Because whether you are buying groceries or out with friends, you should always be accepted for who you truly are”.

That’s right. We should all be accepted for who we truly are. Except we are not.

Shorty Awards: For many in the LGBTQIA+ community, the name on their card does not reflect their true identity. For the transgender and non-binary communities in particular, the card in their pocket can serve as a source of sensitivity, misrepresenting their true identity every time they are asked to present it.

In 2019, the brand saw a unique opportunity to make a profound difference by creating the True Name initiative – which would be the first solution to enable people to use their true name on their eligible credit, debit and prepaid cards, without the requirement of a legal name change. By driving national awareness and positive conversation around the True Name initiative and its promise, Mastercard aimed to set a new industry standard with an offering that would recognize the entirety of the LGBTQIA+ community, foster a world that allows the name on every card to be presented with confidence and pride, and ultimately attract the attention of leading banks to be among the first to implement the True Name feature for their card offerings.

Challenging to this provocative campaign proved to be the reality that many LGBTQI community members also identify as sex workers. Sex work, already a hot bed discussion on it’s own merit, has unexpectedly dominated the political and punitive forums since the early on in the impending inception of 2018 Fight Online Sex Traffickers Act. Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (FOSTA/SESTA). This legislation targeting the Communications Decency Act (CDA) Section 230 holding sites responsible for criminalized sexual transactions leading to possible trafficking, sex work has now become conflated with sex trafficking in public debate that untangling the chaos of social media tweets and hashtags is nearly impossible. What is clear however is that amidst the credit card culture change, the bankers and ad campaigns overlooked the fact that many individuals interested in participating in Acceptance Street may now find themselves down and out without because sex workers are not welcome on the new block.

Acceptance Matters dot org: As laid out in a statement on Acceptance Matters dot org, 10-19% of all trans people have traded sex for income or resources. Black and Black Multiracial trans survey respondents report as high as 40-47% have traded sex. An under reported statistic from 2015 showed 26.4% of all sex trade participants self reported as transmasculine and among trans workers 30% of those interviewed identified as non-binary.

People who lose jobs due to transphobia are 3 times more likely to engage in sex work. A Covid-19 survey showed 13% of all LGBTQ+ respondents worldwide reported engaging in sex work. And it’s worth noting these studies focus on in person sex work – an even greater percentage of queer people create sexual content for legal platforms or use sexuality in their art and are still discriminated against.

This intersection has deadly consequences: analysis of known data indicates that 62% of murdered transgender and gender-diverse people whose profession was known were sex workers. 48% of trans women who have engaged in sex work have experienced homelessness. Some cities report 40-50% of homeless young people are LGBTQ-identified and thus much more likely to trade sex for shelter. LGBTQ+ workers are also more likely to be negatively impacted by losing resources like payment platforms and banking.

That’s right. We should all be accepted for who we truly are. LGBTQI community members, sex workers and allies. And sex work is a profession which many of our communities rely on to survive.

MasterCard spent tens of thousands of dollars hiring ad firms, advertising their positive relationship with the LGBTQ+ community to a largely receptive straight public through hashtag campaigns like #AcceptanceMatters. Meanwhile online sex workers are revealing feeling left vulnerable as identification checks leave them exposed, and potentially conflated with abusers and even actual traffickers.

What can you do?

Find out if your favorite sites to follow engage in best practices and sex work inclusive safety! Start the conversation!

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