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 (D-Ward 6), who is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee never scheduled a hearing or vote.
On June 4th, Councilmember Grosso reintroduced the bill now called the ‘Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019’. Thankfully due to public pressure, community education, organizing and direct action, Council Member Allen joined fellow Committee Members Robert White (D-At Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large) in co-sponsoring the bill.
We need still need to keep pressure up on Councilmember Allen as it is his role as chairperson to schedule a hearing, but we also need to increase pressure on other members of the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety to support the bill before it can move on through the larger D.C. City Council. Do you live in Wards 7, 3 or 2?
If you live in Ward 7 - your Councilmember is Vincent Gray (D),
If you live in Ward 3 - your Councilmember is Mary Cheh (D),
& If you live in Ward 2 - your Councilmember is Jack Evans (D);
Sign this letter to your Ward Councilmember urging their support!
Dear Judiciary and Public Safety Committee Member,
In the past 50 years since the stonewall riots, we’ve seen many advances for the LGBTQ Community however progress has been slow for many in the Trans and Queer community, in particular Black and Brown Trans Women, Trans Femmes and Two-Spirits. Our communities and the ones that we love need safety, resources and care. Criminalization and policing has brought harm, not healing, to our communities.
The District has one of the highest number of Trans residents per capita, yet a report by DC’s Office on Human Rights found that 48% of DC employers preferred a less qualified cisgender applicant over a more qualified transgender applicant. According to the DC Trans Needs Assessment Report from 2015: 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. More than 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 or 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.
As the legacies of Black and Brown Trans Women who started Pride are celebrated this year we must close the gap on safety for our communities. As a member of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, we ask that you join Councilmembers Robert White (D-At Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large) in supporting the ‘Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019’ which would remove the criminal penalties associated with sex exchange, maintain existing laws on sex trafficking, and establish a task force to evaluate the impact.
We urge you to co-sponsor the ‘Community Safety and Health Amendment Act’ & make a public statement pledging you would support if it were to come to a vote in committee or larger the larger council.