Rev tells me she’s worked on CSS animation, CLI GIFs, and a handful of other tech for clients: “DQaaS—data quality as a service—projects were quite regular last year.” Those, she adds, were pretty valuable to stabilizing her income as she got more coding experience. Magical has been at AnnieCannons for a year. “My first web project was EasyTRO, an app that helps survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking access the documentation needed to file a temporary restraining order.” Voyager was a student in the nonprofit’s third class; she now manages the bulk of the company’s data project work.
In recent years, Catie Hart has spent her time both as a lecturer at AnnieCannons and as a human trafficking adviser to places like the San Francisco Police Department, Shasta County, and UC Davis. But when she was 18, Hart was coerced into sex work by a man she met just after she had arrived in San Francisco. After more than seven years, she broke away, found her way to UC Berkeley, and got a degree in sociology.
To photograph Rev, Magical, Voyager, Tia, and Maeflower, photographer Maria del Rio shot images from a low angle; she—and collaborator Alma Haser—wanted to create a halo effect, reminiscent of Renaissance paintings. Del Rio then sent the files to Haser in East Sussex, UK, who printed the portraits in her studio and wove pieces of the images together to make a collage that would preserve the coders’ anonymity. Most of the developers at AnnieCannons assume a pseudonym—as a safety precaution, as well as a symbol of a new identity.
These days Hart, who is now 40, is cutting back from speaking engagements and spending more time at AnnieCannons. “For the first time in my life,” she tells me, “I have shed survivor or victim as my identity. I was having to survive on being a ‘survivor,’ because that’s how I was making money, speaking about what happened to me. Now I want to talk about coding.”
LYDIA HORNE (@lyderature) is the editorial business manager at WIRED.
This article appears in the May issue. Subscribe now.
Let us know what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.