The Cupcake Girls
By PROUD & Kinky Magazine Staff
The Cupcake Girls® is a nonprofit organization providing support and services to victims and survivors of sex trafficking and consensual sex workers. They affirm the rights and dignity of all Sex Workers, and they work hard alongside Sex-Worker led collectives and community groups to provide education about the nuanced contexts of those who choose Sex Work consensually and those who do not. There is often immense trauma within this broader community, not only for those who have been trafficked but also for those who experience severe stigma, displacement, ostracization, and marginalization for the work they do. They envision a world where all Sex Workers are safe and empowered.
A significant number of LGBTQ+ people are Sex Workers, particularly trans folks. Reasons why LGBTQ+ people engage in Sex Work are varied: many do this work because of homo/transphobia which negatively impacts their access to education and employment and exposes them to family rejection, poverty, and homelessness, or because of the possibility of better income.
For many LGBTQ+ Sex Workers, Sex Work also offers a sense of community, which might not exist in other employment. LGBTQ Sex Workers’ lives and voices are often ignored and invisibilized in public debates which define all prostitution as violence against women. This systematic invisibilization and silencing of LGBTQ Sex Workers’ needs and demands stems from and reinforces stigma and exclusion against these communities.
Sex Workers have always been part of the LGBTQ+ community. It was trans women of color and Sex Workers who started the Stonewall riots in the United States which led to huge social changes for LGBTQ+ people globally. However, this history is often erased and LGBTQ+ Sex Workers are often excluded from the wider LGBTQ community.
Sex Workers, particularly LGBTQ+ Sex Workers, are often refused the right to self-determination, bodily autonomy, and stigma-free healthcare and support. In one study of 793 Sex Workers, only 40% disclosed the nature of their work to their healthcare provider.
There are many Sex Worker groups working on the local or international level who have spoken up consistently for trans and Sex Worker rights. Sex Workers and the LGBTQ+ community are simply asking for the right to define their gender and sexuality themselves, and to be treated as any other citizen in education, employment, and in other spheres of life.
The Cupcake Girls work alongside these groups, collectives, clients, and potential clients to provide confidential support to those involved in the sex industry, as well as those affected by domestic sex trafficking through holistic resources, advocacy, and aftercare. They provide nonjudgmental support to empower their clients in their pursuits through respect, resources, and relationships.
The Cupcake Girls provide trauma-informed outreach, advocacy, holistic resources, and referral services.
The Referral Program is for clients who have one or two particular goals. Referrals are made to vetted, safe, and inclusive community partners and resources who have agreed to see their clients pro-bono or at a reduced cost. These partners may be individuals or organizations in the community and include doctors, tax preparers, therapists, and parent and family resources. This program usually lasts 1-2 weeks.
The Advocacy Program is for clients with more robust goals. In this program, clients meet weekly with an assigned advocate who will collaborate with them to set and achieve S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, + Time-Based) goals, and connect clients with partners and resources. The Advocacy program assists with needs such as: domestic violence, sex trafficking, substance abuse, career development, and homelessness. This program on average lasts 6-9 months, but there is no end date. A client may work with their Advocacy program for as long as they need.
The Mentorship Program is for clients who would like a support system and someone to talk to on a regular basis but who aren’t looking for resources/assistance with achieving goals. It is more centered on general personal and professional development than the Referral or Intensive Case Management programs. They expect clients to move through this program in three to six months.
In many instances, their clients are experiencing a crisis, escaping a trafficker, or leaving an unsafe relationship. They offer assistance to individuals as they move towards greater independence and self-sufficiency. Because their clients face multiple challenges in accessing and receiving safe resources due to stigma and fear, one of the foundations of The Cupcake Girls work is their extensive network of excellent partners and network connections all across the area. Their partners agree to provide low-cost or no-cost services to their clients. In addition, they provide trauma-informed education to their partners and initially and annually vet them to maintain these relationships, to best ensure they are providing resources with respect and care for each client.
Here are some ways you can help The Cupcake Girls as they continue in their important work in providing access to resources so that their clients are able to reach their goals in their timing:
- Volunteer your time! They have so many volunteer opportunities available – visit their website for more information: thecupcakegirls.org/volunteer/
- Partner with them! If you’re a doctor, dentist, lawyer, auto mechanic, or daycare provider (literally any profession) and are willing to donate your services to their clients at a discounted or probono rate they’d love to connect with you – find more information at: thecupcakegirls.org/get-involved
- Donate! $5-$10 a month may not seem like a lot to you but it’s everything to The Cupcake Girls and the work they do. Visit their website to start your monthly donation: thecupcakecollective.funraise.org
If you’re wanting to connect with The Cupcake Girls, please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published in the premiere issue of PROUD & Kinky Magazine. You may read it in its original format here.