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LOS ANGELES — I’ve been receiving a flood of messages from people in the adult industry this week asking for my advice, all about the same topic. This morning, I woke up to another one. This time it was from a dancer in Portland, Oregon. She was desperate for help to pay her bills and reached out to me for money. Why? She explained that she was being denied financial aid, despite the unemployment benefits for independent contractors being expanded; the program bars strippers from receiving help.

I’m still taken aback when people come to me for advice or refer to me as the “Patron Saint of Sex Workers” — yes, I’ve actually been called that — but the fact that a patron saint is even needed in the year 2020 is disturbing. I love my job and the industry I’ve built my career in. I’ve also been around long enough to have lived the reality of being a social pariah, being considered less than human, because of what I do and who I am. And while this has been especially evident in the last two years, it was true before I spoke out about what happened between me and the president.

When the Wall Street Journal first broke that story and turned my life upside-down, it was a commonly held opinion that I simply must have been lying about what happened because I was just a stripper and porn star. Journalists didn’t bother to do the simplest and most basic fact-checking when writing about me. Why? Because I wasn’t deserving of the same respect that other subjects receive.

Instead, sloppy, lazy reporters just regurgitated other sloppy, lazy reporters to perpetuate “fake news” (ugh, I can’t believe I used that label. But at least I used it correctly). Not until a Rolling Stone article was published did a single speck of truthful reporting occur about me in 2018. And even after that turning point, respected publications still insisted upon prefacing my name with the title “porn star.”