After fighting for a hearing on #DecrimNow for more than two years and finally getting one, we are facing intense opposition from Anti-Trafficking organizations who would rather criminalize sex workers, than allow our bill to see its day; so we need as much support as we can get. We need to show the council members who have come out in support that we see and thank them and ask them to hold strong and encourage other City Council members why we need to decriminalize sex work before this historic hearing.
Sign this letter to your City Council Members urging their support!
Dear City Council 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. I thank 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. I encourage other DC City Council members to join them. We cannot protect survivors while we are still criminalizing them.