Canada’s government-funded corporate media is under fire after platforming the work of a non-binary trans-identified male who recently wrote positively about his experience in prostitution. Eviah Obadia-Wong, formerly Shimshon Obadia-Wong, is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and activist from the Okanagan in British Columbia. In his second report for CBC’s First Person column, Obadia-Wong calls “sex work” a “fulfilling” endeavor.
In the article, published August 20, Obadia-Wong recounts his first experience with prostitution, explaining that he was trying to save up money to leave home and attend the University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan’s theater program.
“The first time I did sex work, I was a desperate teenager hoping to save enough money during the 2008 financial crisis to leave my home and attend university,” he wrote. “I was ashamed of the work, the stigma of the profession and of doing it in a body that sent me into waves of dysphoria. I got out as fast as I could.”
Obadia-Wong, who divorced his wife last year after ten years of marriage, credits their separation and his decision to go to school to complete his graduate degree as justification for his return to the sex trade.
“I was recently divorced, suddenly paying twice as much for a downtown apartment in Kelowna — one of Canada’s most expensive cities — and at the tail end of a pandemic that had inflated the cost of living higher and faster than anything I could have ever imagined, said Obadia-Wong, adding: I’d also recently returned to school to get my master’s degree. Despite earning scholarships and finding part-time work that could accommodate a student’s schedule, I wasn’t able to make ends meet.”
In his report, the freelance contributor for CBC likens unpleasant experiences as an escort to having a “nightmare customer or a terrible day at work” and admits that despite having some reservations about “acquiescing [his] body to market demands,” Obadia-Wong claims his experiences in the industry have boosted his confidence and helped him accept his “authentic self.”
Although he admits that he plans on leaving the industry eventually, Obadia-Wong concludes his piece by praising “sex work” for fulfilling him and validating his identity.
“Though I started writing this piece thinking I was ready to move on from sex work, the more I dive into it, the more I realize how fulfilling it is,” he concluded. “Sex work is a part of me and for better or worse, it’s made me the bold, radical, weird and wild queer person I’m so proud to be. I’m not at all sure what my future will look like, but I’m grateful for everything sex work has taught me about appreciating myself and for the many people who’ve been so kind in appreciating the whole of me, body and all, along the way.”
While soliciting sex under any circumstance remains illegal in Canada, it is currently legal to sell sex as a service under Bill C-36.
News that Canada’s taxpayer-funded media was platforming a trans-identified male and his experiences with prostitution led to backlash online, with many women’s advocates expressing disgust that a mainstream news outlet would minimize the horrors of prostitution.
Meghan Murphy, an outspoken Canadian feminist critical of gender ideology, shared the article in a post:
“I have not yet gone hard on the defund the @CBC front, but DEFUND THE F**KING CBC,” she wrote. “Not only are Canadian taxpayers paying to be indoctrinated into the trans cult, but the @CBC is now promoting prostitution as an empowering form of ‘work’ #defundthecbc.”
In a thread, Murphy continues: “It is insane and unacceptable that a public broadcaster is openly marketing a religion that is destroying kids’ bodies and lives, removing the rights of and endangering women, and destroying the very foundations of truth and human biology.”
“In this case, a man who was sex trafficked as a teen is now promoting the industry as empowering, with a caveat: Obadia-Wong is clearly taking pleasure in, and profiting from, presenting himself as feminized,” explains Gluck.
“He is treating the systemic sexual abuse of women as a personal fetish,” Gluck says. “It is massively insulting to women when men advocate for the sex industry while play-acting at being female. This disturbing pantomime reinforces ideas about women that encourage male violence against them.”
Gluck, who advocates for the abolition of the prostitution industry, adds that child sexual abuse is often an overlooked factor in the sex industry.
“Many individuals who are sex trafficked as adults – the majority being female – were themselves abused as children,” Gluck says, adding: “It is then doubly bizarre that a man who claims to have experienced a similar situation would endorse this as empowering, given the starkly different reality for women and girls.”
Obadia-Wong, who goes by “she/they” pronouns, publicly came out as transgender and non-binary on International Non-Binary People’s Day in 2020.
In an Instagram photo taken by his ex-wife, he recounts coming out as a “trans-non-binary person” to his family and friends, expressing his excitement about “diving deeper into [his] gender transition” over the coming years.
“So that’s it, no more hiding, I am who I am: Shimshon Obadia, they/them,” he concluded in the caption for the post.
Since then, the queer activist has diaried his transition on Instagram in a Highlight titled “trans things.” In one story, Obadia-Wong posts about his first experience using an estrogen patch, referring to it as “grrrl joose.”