Sandra Pankhurst, the subject of Sarah Krasnostein’s book The Trauma Cleaner, has died in Melbourne. Aged in her late 60s, Sandra suffered from a pulmonary condition before her death.
Sarah Krasnostein’s award-winning biography bought Sandra Pankhurst’s amazing story to the public in 2018.
Sandra described herself as a transgender woman “adopted into an abusive family, forced to live a malnourished life in a backyard shed [who] worked in brothels across Australia.”
She always spoke candidly of her abusive childhood, and her careers as a drag queen, sex worker and funeral director. While working as one of Australia’s first female funeral directors, Sandra noticed a void in the market for trauma cleaners.
She also spoke of her transition in the 1980s.
Specialised Trauma Cleaning
Sandra’s company, Specialised Trauma Cleaning cleans up following homicides and suicides. It also decontaminates particularly squalid premises such as those used by hoarders and meth cooks.
Sarah Krasnostein writes in The Trauma Cleaner, “Each day for the past twenty years, her job has led her into dark homes where death, sickness and madness have suddenly abbreviated the lives inside.”
Sandra said the skills and inner strength she gained from her traumatic past enabled her to build Australia’s largest and most successful trauma cleaning business.
Friends and admirers have taken to social media to pay tribute to Sandra Pankhurst.
WomenConnect Frankston remembered her huge heart.
“It is with great sadness, we received word of the loss of our beloved Sandra Pankhurst. Sandra was an incredibly open, forthright and generous lady with a huge heart. She graced our stage and bared her story, in all its glory, not once, but twice!”