May Jeong is a Special Correspondent at Vanity Fair. Her reporting on the MSF hospital strike in Kunduz, Afghanistan for The Intercept won the 2017 South Asian Journalists Association’s Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Report on South Asia, as well as the Prix Bayeux Calvados Award for War Correspondents in the Young Reporter category. She was also shortlisted for the Livingston Award in 2018, as well as the 2016 Kurt Schork Award, both for her reporting on Afghanistan, and will be featured in The Best American Sports Writing 2020 in November. She is at work on a book about sex work in America. (June 2020)

NYR DAILY

Ah Toy, Pioneering Prostitute of Gold Rush California

Chinese workers panning for gold, California, circa 1855

Ah Toy had arrived in San Francisco just as California was becoming a state, in that interstitial time before the introduction of laws that would establish structural bias against women and people of color, and before the traditional order, religious and social, that pertained elsewhere in the US could assert itself. (The first clergyman of the Bay Area, Timothy Dwight Hunt, did not arrive until October 1848 from Honolulu.) Though their power would diminish with the closing of the frontier, women, and women of color, prospered—for a time.