Luna is like so many sex workers that are mothers. Hard working, providing care for their loved ones, prioritizing family, and in fear of losing custody of their babies because society judges sex workers. Luna is a stripper, engaging in legal sex work, but being treated like a criminal. Recently, a judge ordered full custody to Luna’s abusive ex, the father of her youngest child. The only reason being, she’s a sex worker, using OnlyFans. Just like so many other folks who turned to the popular site due to job loss during the pandemic. But besides being a sex worker, she’s an amazing mother.
When Luna’s ex filed for court proceedings to fight for full custody, it was after an incident where she had to literally run away from dangerous abuse happening to her at hands of the father of her child. This man, who battles with drug addiction, decided to hit her where it really hurt, by doing what he could to take Luna’s child from her. The judge quickly made the decision that the father was better equipped to take full care of the two and a half year old, than the mother. She was allowed limited visits with her son at this point. Luna had basic representation from the state. Her lawyer did not understand how to fight for her, and this improper defense led to her losing custody of her baby. It led to a decision that causes sleepless nights and a hole in her heart. She has not seen her son in months.
Shortly after the decision to give the father full custody, he decided to have a circumcision scheduled for the toddler. This was a procedure that Luna had been against since his birth. Studies have shown that circumcisions on babies can lead to long lasting trauma and does in fact affect the brain. But getting a circumcision at an older age, when they have already developed a relationship and awareness of their body parts, this could be even more traumatic. That put a fire under Luna, and she started reaching out to community members for help.
Very quickly, some of us made a petition, started a GoFundMe for Luna (as she was unable to go to work due to stress, anxiety and using her time to fight for her son) and before she knew it, she had a new group of friends, rallying around her. She was encouraged to go to the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, where the procedure was scheduled, and talk to the Risk Manager and the CEO of the hospital and let them know how she felt. That she was the boy’s mother and strongly disagreed with the procedure. She was laughed at and promptly forced to leave by security. The next day, about a dozen people showed up and protested the procedure with the help of Norm Cohen from NoCIRC of Michigan. No one was sure of what had happened. Did they go through with it? Did they not go through with it? We had to wait for answers.
It wasn’t until June 7, 2021, several weeks after the hospital protest, that Luna received the information letting her know that the procedure had in fact been cancelled. So, a sigh of relief, but only for that moment. There was no telling if the father would try again, somewhere else.
During the time of campaigning and community conversations happening on Facebook, a user, unknown to Luna, commented and thought it was appropriate to suggest that Luna or someone close to her, should nab the boy and run away with him, to save him from the procedure. The father saw these comments and used them to his advantage in court, also on June 7th. He was armed with this information, shared it with the judge, who then ruled on an ex-parte. Meaning, now she does not get to see her son at all, unless supervised by a third party. There was no investigation to shed light on what the father claimed was a scheme to kidnap their son. The judge only listened to the father, and not to the distraught mother, who was telling the judge, “I don’t know this person who wrote that comment. I have no plans to kidnap.” This all fell on deaf ears.
Since all of this Luna is struggling to find legal help. In one instance, a lawyer she interviewed didn’t think she was discriminated against, and used language that implied that he (the lawyer) was being discriminatory towards her. It seemed to her like he would not be on her side, while at the same time, demanding a $2,500 retainer. The other lawyer she spoke to, knowing she is a sex worker, wanted a $7,000 retainer.
It is a myth that all sex workers make tons and tons of money. Especially right now, reeling from a pandemic where so many workers had been out of work or on the saturated site that is OnlyFans. It is a myth that sex workers are not good mothers. Sex workers do not work in front of their children. They do not bring their children to work. Just like someone who works in a factory, as an example. You don’t do the type of work at home that you do in a factory. And you don’t bring your children to said factory. Factories are not a safe place for very small and young children. Same for say a person who works at a bar. That is not a place for children, and you don’t serve your children alcohol at home. Any argument that sex workers are harmful to their children because of their job, holds no water. You can be a bad parent and not be a sex worker, and sex workers are not bad parents because they are sex workers.
The fact that there is little to no help for Luna, the victim, the abused, is egregious. Before all of this, there was no fight on Luna’s end to keep her child from his father. And in fact, if she had a fair chance in court, despite the father being abusive to her, she wouldn’t have fought to keep father and son apart. Luna is the mother of another child from a different father, with whom she has shared legal custody and there is no questioning of her quality of motherhood.
This is a case of extreme bias by the judge, complacency by her initial defense and prejudice by other lawyers. Luna has contacted her local ACLU branch several times. The first time she called, someone told her “We will get back to you.” Since then, they’ve ghosted her, as she (and I) have called to request a call back several times. Luna is a caretaker of animals, including two kittens, and four pet rats. She is an outstanding community member, she is a worker, she is devoted to her children. I’m writing her story in the hopes that someone in her community, with the means, connections, and resources, can help Luna. Really help her though. If no one answers this “call in”, we don’t know what to do next.
This is a last resort “who can help her, who is out there” call to other folks. Luna and her son need help. This family needs repair. And this whole time, the fight that Luna is going through, she understands this is not just about her and wants to help others in the future. She wants to make a difference so less people have to deal with this type of bias that tears families apart. As an advocate and activist for sex workers, I can tell you this is not the first case where I have seen mothers having to fight tooth and nail for their children to be by their sides. This is something that must be changed, but it starts to feel hopeless that no one with power or influence seems to care. Are you that person? Do you know that person? Please share this information, this story. Hope is running out and one of your community members needs you, needs someone, to show up and help pick up the pieces. Thank you for reading and potentially caring.
If you can’t help with legal or moral support, consider donating to Luna’s GoFund Me so she can continue to fight for her son.