In 2017, with the support of No Justice No Pride and other members of The Sex Worker Advocates Coalition (“SWAC”); Councilmember Grosso introduced the 'Reducing Criminalization to Promote Public Safety and Health Amendment Act' to the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. The Bill, if passed would decriminalize sex work while creating other measures to keep our communities safe. Last year it died in committee because Councilmember Charles Allen, who is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee never scheduled a hearing or vote. This June, Councilmember Grosso is reintroducing the bill and we can’t let it fail!
Right now our communities are under attack, from federal housing protections to healthcare & employment protections; the devastating effects the passage of FOSTA & SESTAare still being felt. We are fighting back to not only ensure the D.C. Government fulfill their promises to the D.C. Trans Community but that they take critical steps to further protect Trans lives in the heart of the empire.
Last year, Allen said he didn’t believe it had support to pass in the Council but his role as Chair is to call a hearing to engage the wider community about this issue. We deserve to have our voices heard.
Tell Judiciary Committee Chair Allen, to hold a hearing once the bill is reintroduced. Safe communities start with resources, not arrests!
Dear Councilmember Allen,
Criminalization is one of the primary sources of violence against Black women and women of color, specifically transgender and gender non-conforming people of color. It increases women and girls’ susceptibility to being shuttled through prisons and experiencing abuse at the hands of police and corrections officers.
The District has one of the highest number of Trans residents per capita, yet the Trans unemployment rate is estimated to be around 50%. According to the DC Trans Needs Assessment Report from 2015 - which to date, the largest city-based, Trans-specific needs assessment in US history, with survey responses from over 500 participants - over a third of Trans respondents reported having engaged in sex work with half being Trans women and Trans feminine people of color and nearly 75% of which were more likely to be HIV positive.
Over 41% of respondents who reported engaging in sex work felt it was their only option for income. The report details how lack of access to housing and stable employment forces Black and Brown Trans communities in particular to receive income "through underground or grey economy work."
As these forces push Trans and gender nonconforming people into underground economies, the District’s policy of criminalization makes this dangerous work, contributing to the devastatingly short life expectancies of Trans Women of color. D.C.'s sex work criminalization policies have failed to deter violence and improve public safety. They have instead made it more difficult for sex workers to seek safety due to the significant risk of arrest instead of protection and have lead to the deportation of documented and undocumented Trans and Queer immigrants, many who are escaping violence from their home countries and working to build better lives.
Last year, as chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety you didn’t believe the “Promoting Public Safety and Health by Reducing Criminalization Amendment Act” had support to pass in the Council but as chair, it is your role to call a committee hearing to engage the wider community about this issue. We deserve to have our voices heard. we urge you to bring the “Promoting Public Safety and Health by Reducing Criminalization Amendment Act” to a hearing and facilitate formal community dialogue about efforts to decriminalize sex work in the District.
* This bill will remove the criminal penalties associated with sex exchange, maintain existing laws on sex trafficking, and establish a task force to evaluate the impact.
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