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I am going to attend Desiree Alliance conference after all.

Date: July 14, 2010

This is an update to an earlier post about being awarded “merit based” “diversity” scholarship to attend Desiree Alliance conference, which actually wasn’t a scholarship at all.

Recently while I was talking to some people in the sex worker advocacy field about my recommendations about sex trafficking on Craigslist, I was asked if I was planning to attend Desiree Alliance conference. I told them that I wasn’t going to attend because I was disgusted with how the conference organizers treated me over the scholarship application I had submitted. Soon later, the word got back to the scholarship committee at the conference, and this is the email I received from them:

Dear Emi,

We had previously sent a letter offering a merit scholarship, which is a fee reduction for registration. We have offered these in previous years, but the circumstances are different this year, and we see that we made a mistake by offering people a “reduced” fee of $150, when that fee is actually the same as the ‘early bird’ registration fee.

Our approach to getting funds for scholarships is very grassroots (we’ve held fundraisers, we’ve approached the most radical foundations for some funds, we’ve donated money/resources ourselves to make up shortfalls). Yet despite these efforts not too many people have been able to give money to support sex worker rights and we had limited funds. Sometimes under all this pressure to share scarce resources we have made mistakes and the content of that merit scholarship letter was one of them.

We are sorry for the mistake and hope you excuse this misunderstanding. We really do want you to attend the conference. We want to serve as a resource for you, so please do let us know if you still plan to attend, if you have registered for the conference, and what resources you are looking for to attend the conference.

We hope you understand that we greatly value your contributions and look forward to you participation at the conference and we will make further efforts to assist you.

We then started emailing back and forth, and voila! they found some new money to help me attend the conference. So anyway, I will go :-) If anyone reading this is attending, please say hi.

Oh by the way–I just found out that former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders is among the keynote speakers at this conference. Those of you who’s been reading this blog for a long time know that she is a pediatric endocrinologist who has advocated for intersex (cosmetic) genital surgeries (read about my encounter with Dr. Elders at Let’s Talk About Sex! conference)…

I totally think that her position on intersex contradicts everything she is famous for, which says a lot about the peer pressure and conformity within a medical field. I wonder what she thinks about the Cornell post-clitoral surgery sensitivity study or prenatal dexamethasone treatment for the purpose of preventing (gender)queerness.

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