By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The woman didn’t seem very old, but it was really hard to tell. She wouldn’t let anyone past her screen door, and the stench was enough to keep most people away. Hoarder situations like that are business as usual for Sandra Pankhurst. Nevertheless, this “trauma cleaner” extends to her clients nothing less than compassion. And there’s ample reason for that. Pankhurst was born a boy, raised as a boy, became a man, married a woman, and fathered two sons. “Her reality is as conflicted as it is real,” author Krasnostein reveals. After Pankhurst fully transitioned, she continued to work in the sex industry until she was raped and almost lost her life. She fell in love, fell out of love, fell in love again, married an older man, and divorced. Krasnostein writes that “Sandra is, variously, mother hen, bad cop, and hanging judge.” She’s matter-of-fact as her staff hauls away pathogen-soaked furniture while ensuring that next-of-kin are treated with kindness. Says Pankhurst, “None of us know what tomorrow’s got in store.” The goodness in this book is discovered between the lines. This is a biography of cringing, compassion, and somebody’s-got-to-do-it resourcefulness. If you can get past the gruesome parts, it’s a great read. • St. Martin’s Press (us.macmillan.com).
This article appears in the June 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.