Sex worker Grace Bellavue died last week, and this is an appalling declaration on several counts. First, the person this sentence describes was just 28 and in possession of a rather fine mind that she put to good use. Second, the response this sentence evokes can tend to rely an ignorant morality. In recent reports of her death, both Bellavue and the industry in which she worked have been reinterpreted as tragic.

Bellavue, whom I happened to know personally, was not a victim of but an advocate for her trade. The only truly tragic thing about her is that she did not live to see her 30th birthday. Her early death, like all early deaths, was tragic. Her short life, however, merits no more pity or revulsion than that of any other worker.