, 230 tweets, 58 min read
Good morning! Will be tweeting as long as I can last at the #DecrimDC hearing! It’s gonna be a long day and if you want to join in spirit & watch the livestream, link here! #sexwork #rightsnotrescue #housingnothandcuffs video.oct.dc.gov/412/jw.html
No matter what happens, today is HISTORIC and the work of @DecrimNowDC made this happen. @HIPSDC @NJNP_DC @SafeSpacesDC and many other groups are immeasurable. It’s truly a win. This moment is a win.
@councilofdc opens w @charlesallen setting an ask for respect and the necessity of this debate. @JackEvansWard2 gives some history on the issue in DC & approaches to prostitution - all rely on policing, inc “creative solutions” which were considered unconstitutionally harsh
@JackEvansWard2 wants to know how we can help people in this trade. @cmdgrosso considers this a historic moment while two anti-#sexwork folks sitting behind me just made gun noises as he began to speak. Yikes.
“I met w (sex workers, survivors of trafficking) bc my work at the council is grounded in people’s lives... I have heard too many stories of violence.” sex workers are stigmatized, denied services, abused by law enforcement. “Criminalization directly encourages these harms.”
Read the beautiful opening statement from the bill’s sponsor @cmdgrosso and then call your rep. Demand they be this brave. Demand they care this much.
@cmdgrosso notes the incredible work of @TheLancet and notes the global projected drop of 33% in #HIV transmission w decrim - real this study here. thelancet.com/series/HIV-and…
Global anti-trafficking orgs @GAATW_IS and La Strada were mentioned for their work towards decrim. They’re INCREDIBLE orgs. Follow! Check out their work. gaatw.org
Important reminder!! Are you with an org who wishes they were here to support? The council is taking testimony until Nov 1. Please submit to Judiciary@dccouncil.us
First speaker is from the Children’s Law center. They support decrim of selling but not buying. They say there will be an increase in demand. Refer a study that there’s a study that some men would buy sex if not criminalized. But doesn’t that mean they WANT to obey the law?
(Say that when Germany legalized saw an increase in trafficking - I know the study. They saw an increase in identification but had no reliable numbers on pre legalization.)
Children’s Law Center calls the brothel code necessary for youth to be found. (Doesn’t mention that trafficking is still criminalized...) CLC is opposed to a higher level of proof needed for police to enter a space.
Personal injury attorney opposes the bill, but appreciates the intent and that violence is inherent to sex work and that sex workers will not be empowered...

Cause hearing a lawyer call sex workers “ho” is super empowering...
“Would you teach your daughter to become a sex worker?” Nothing says “respect” than the attorney making comments like this.
GLAA notes their long stance on decriminalization - that it protects #LGBTQ people, that collateral crimes arise from criminalization. “Currently law already does harm.” And asks us to not call in imaginary harms.
GLAA: put your money into services and resources, not enforcing criminalization of minority populations.

“It is time to lead. It is time to act.”
It is odd that Children’s Law Center cites discredited studies from Melissa Farley and Donna Hughes...
Question to CLC: why should we care if people come into dc?
CLC: it happened in Rhode Island, to increase people coming in to buy sex. (RI had decriminalized indoor sex work after a legal challenge from COYOTE)

Also in RI? A drop in sexual violence. washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2…
To CLC: Wouldnt it be a better approach to strengthening trafficking laws?

CLC: would welcome that as a discussion. Think that the increases in demand outweighs it. But CLC doesn’t want to speak about how to make sex work safe.

@BrianneKNadeau joins and talks about services needed, and wants to hear from sex workers on making that possible. A discussion on the need for services: housing, mental health care, record sealing
Mara Keisling from @TransEquality is speaking about sex work in the trans community. #trans folks are 2x as likely to be in poverty, 1 in 8 have been homeless in the last year. A majority fear contacting police for help. Sex work means survival.
Want to learn lots more about those who have traded sex in the US Trans Survey? transequality.org/sites/default/…
This bill DOES NOT increase trafficking and @TransEquality would not support it if it did. Criminalizing sex work conceals real abuse. Ashanti Carmon and Zoe Spears names have been brought into the room.
@tyrone_hanley from @NCLRights - an advocate and org who have a history of showing up for sex workers - they are here standing for Black and Brown #trans women. Even w lgbtq protections 50% of employers would prefer a less qualified cis candidate over a more qualified trans prsn
20% of DC sex workers report that police demand sex, others report fear, shame, stigma. @NCLRights opposes #enddemand because it has not shown improvement internationally and quotes the new Northern Ireland study
“We know from experience and research that carceral approaches do not work... sex work is work and purchasing sex does not make a person inherently violent or bad”
Speaker from NOW, says commercial sexual exploitation is gender based violence. Says decrim = more demand, and that demand can’t be met locally:.. even@if it was true; I beg to differ. I know some local folks who would consent to make bank.
NOW also claims that of the missing girls, many are actually trafficked... citing... still waiting.

Says that the best way forward is to decrim selling, and that she knows the word transgender.
Concerned citizen is speaking. Says there need to be funding - if folks are curious the reason is bc bills w funding have more hoops, so SWAC is part of a larger coalition doing budgetary pushes.
Concerned citizen says that he wants the council to come gawk at sex workers near him, then complaints about “beckoning prostitutes” and says street based workers are the problem.

Thanks for the feelings, bro.
To NCLR: why arent non discrim provisions enough?
@tyrone_hanley : we know. Laws aren’t enough. And we’re talking about the harms of criminalization.
Mara: Anti discrim laws aren’t important, but also stigma, lack of services, crim - “these all play on each other”
“Anti discrim laws can’t help if someone is also criminalized and stigmatized” - @TransEquality
NOW says she is repping ALL the chapters and that ALL chapters have the same stance on #decriminalization which:.. Thats just a full blown lie.
Why is buying AND selling important for decrim?

Nclr: it’s not inherently bad. And because when you decrim only one half, it changes power dynamics. Increases isolation, criminalized negotiation, harder to declare boundaries. @TransEquality
Concerned citizen is talking about drug involved sex workers and the problems are drug involved sex workers flagging down men to get drugs... so that stigma thing we keep mentioning... also says that there will be no street harassment if we decrim indoor sex work... DEAR SIR
Concerned citizen talks about the LEAD program to @BrianneKNadeau without calling it that and references Seattle. Well that’s a whole story and having some problems when it comes to #sexwork...
Rochelle Keyhan, former prosecutor, Collective liberty. Is pushing end demand. Says everyone should “reach across the aisle”. Says some managers traffick ppl, family members traffick people. (But some means not all...) calls in Jack the Ripper.
Keyhan talks about the marginalization of sex workers, the dehumanization that’s people that is preyed on. Says buying sex is a pathway to accessing sex workers.
VP of NOW says buyers can legally commit incest... I... ok that’s a new one. Then goes on to describe sex work is technical terms.., the need for money in exchange for sexual fantasy, and that sex workers undergo harm due to selling sex.
*insert dehumanizing and disgusting description of #sexworker as all broken victims*
Sangam from @ReframeHJ (thats is!) speaks about youth homelessness and how that led to trading sex. “I have so many loved ones who would be here today if they were still alive.” Read the full statement here: medium.com/@reframehealth…
“There are best practices here and abroad for anti-trafficking efforts. We are ignoring them & in some cases, criminalizing them.
The conflation of trafficking w all commercial sex also misallocates scarce resources which could be spent on effective anti-trafficking efforts.”
Courtney’s House is playing testimony from youth in their program. org is against the bill, says even tho it’s over 18, it’ll impact youth, talks about “all the little girls”
Has concerns abt brothel code & that inside houses you can hide youth (trafficking.. still criminalized)
Courtney’s house Says that if a minor goes to LE and says there’s a minor in the house you can’t investigate: Thats probable cause of trafficking to investigate. So yes, that would still be covered/illegal/enough

Playing testimony saying it’ll be harder to get out of the life.
Another claim that gets brought up is that it removes “safe harbor” for youth - when you decriminalize sex work, you can’t have a “safe harbor” provision. They want youth to be required to be sent to CPS, which can happen, you just change a diff code. (Not saying thats good)
“You’re trying to turn this into a new Las Vegas” - LV is the highest arrest jurisdiction in the United States for prostitution related crimes, mostly focused on sellers...

I don’t actually have time to correct every piece of misinformation that just got stated...
“W only 3 trafficking sentences in a 3 yr period, why am I not hearing more to strengthen trafficking laws?”

Courtney’s house: most traffickers get pandering so that’s the problem. Talk to the police.

“But only 2 pandering charges”

Courtney’s house: yep.

Good talk.
@cmdgrosso reads the laws on coercion, forced labor, trafficking which would remain in the statute. For all you law nerds out there, here’s the DC statute: code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/cod…
The white ladies next to and behind me are having a TIIIIIIIIIIIIIME right now.
Courtney’s house: “Why do I need a manager to sell my body?”
A third party? Safety, a ride, finding clients, holding money while I run to a place to hustle, someone to give info on clients, a person to answer my phone... should I go on? You seriously don’t know?
Second person from Courtney’s House. Still opposes the bill. Says a higher standard of proof will make it harder for cops.

World without exploitation - the “prostitution survivor” group. She’s upset about the name of the bill. They KNOW it’ll increase trafficking. Based on...
No one who she hangs out with wants to decriminalize brothels. She also points to how hard it is for people to testify and @worldWE has to speak for them - because they’re too shattered to speak for themselves. Which... sounds like you do some really empowering work.
Black Women’s Health Imperative gives support to the act. They take a Repro Justice stance, and black women are served when they invest in their health and not when they are criminalized. bwhi.org
“One step in the right direction to a future that supports the health and wellness of all Black women and girls.”

Baptist minister literally just said he speaks on behalf of the whole faith community... that doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard before...
“If you’re going to get rid of the law why do we have legislators?” ...what?

“I know the church hasn’t been great to them” and aggressively points to SWAC... who laughed pretty damn hard.
Baptist from KS says the Bible says to prostitutes “go and sin so more.” I’m not sure he’s as familiar with the history of the church and sex workers as he claims to be...
Organization of Prostitution Survivors speaking. Talks about violence from buyers and that this can’t change culture. References murder in a strip club. Says that there’s a minority of empowered sex workers screaming for their rights in the name of money.
Covenant house in nyc is speaking. Anti buyer, usual stuff. People recruit outside shelters. Still doesn’t explain why a trafficking situation can’t be investigated based on trafficking jurisprudence...

We’re three hours in and it’s a lot of “same song next verse” at this point
Rights for Girls is speaking. Says trafficking will be the only way to meet the demand. NZ decrim - says LE investigate less in brothels, but this bill doesn’t have brothels. Says that brothels don’t have to check IDs? Which... just read it again.
Courtney’s House, Rights for Girls supports the Nordic model. Just so everyone can read the impact of the most recent country who has gone to the Nordic model... newstatesman.com/politics/femin…
Another person from rights for girls. Just to clarify - soliciting for youth is still illegal under decrim. Cites that some youth want buyers tortured. While I get the feeling of retribution, this is the exact reason there’s a judicial system & “eye for an eye” isn’t legal code
“If this is a good idea why won’t you do it in your neighborhood instead of in mine??”

Ma’am, you’re from Chicago.
US PROS Collective speaking, talking about the history of enforcement. Criminalization has driven sexwork underground, where people are more vulnerable. Cites how “#sexworker are an easy target because we are criminalized”
Cites the harms of mothers losing their children, the risk of deportation. “We need resources and services, not punishment for trying to survive.”
US PROS was involved in the SF prostitution task force - the rec after years of research was to decriminalize and redirect resources
“The TF is part of a long history of sex workers organizing... today is history and credit should go to the sex worker led movement that got us here.” (US PROS)
This is a wonderful moment to remember that you can support this work by donating to @DecrimNowDC @HIPSDC @NJNP_DC @SafeSpacesDC - this is a committee hearing, and the fight isnt over
Ahh! And @BYP_100 here in DC!! Sorry for that misstep!
A trafficking survivor is giving testimony. Is against the bill. Says the sex trade makes a lot of money, described biolence that happened during a trafficking situation. Says that prostitution can never be safe or distinguished from trafficking.
I think her experience is valid. But there is nowhere which actually treats all sex work as trafficking. Anyone who works in trafficking - actual trafficking - knows that there is a difference. Investigated that difference.
Another survivor of trafficking speaks against the bill, describes details of sexual violence that occurred during a trafficking situation. Cites challenges w getting health care bc of trauma, losing children bc of PTSD.

Totally agree that we need access to mental health care.
Salvation Army rep: “we are against the inherent abuse of power that is present in”

Definitely missed that she was from Salvation Army and thought “cops”. Oops.

Says the bill victimized people because sex work is a human rights abuse and we can’t legitimize the sex trade.
Just a daily reminder that you’ll never eradicate sex work so conflating #sexwork & #exploitation, #trafficking or #violence means everyone who experiences those thinks “well I guess I should have seen this coming because there is no better”

There is. Don’t gaslight #sexworkers.
Cyndee Clay from @HIPSDC speaking! GO CYNDEE. HIPS has been serving ppl since 1993. (DAMN) says that for many reasons, even when there was harm ppl didn’t want LE.

“What are our goals as a city? How do we help people currently impacted by criminalization.”
vast majority at HIPS arrested/police involved are not victims of trafficking. Concerns abt LE referrals? Self referral is pref to LE referral and “we chose not to work that way because we wanted to be available to people when it made the most sense”
“What we need are services available On peoples terms”

Nordic model may seem like a middle ground but it’s not.

@HIPSDC does amazing work and I’m so excited for their staff to talk.
Q to @HIPSDC : why does Nordic model not work?
#sexworkers who have lived under the Nordic model - cite problems w negotiating w clients esp when you’re hiding from cops, increased competition, stigma from SPs, still faced problems/lack of protection. nswp.org/resource/the-r…
Is it a half measure?

It’s not, it’s continuing the problems. It’s changing dynamics, not offering solutions. Buyers are less likely to screen, “it reapplies a broken system”
To @HIPSDC - when ppl come and report violence, what do you tell people?

Address immediate needs for health and safety. “Nearly every single time, getting police involved is the LAST thing people want... because there’s no trust. Officers are forced to move people along.”
“Officers are forced to trick people into admitting that they’re criminals. Because of how MPD has to act... people do not feel that MPD is there to help them”
When ppl see a minor, what do ppl see?
Sex workers are concerned, want to help and find out resources. People bring others to HIPS all the time. There are a lot of youth serving orgs, and under decrim it’s easier to bring those situations.”
The angry lady behind me just yelled “you got off on the prostitute” about the q&a with the ED of a 25 year old outreach org.

Can someone ask NOW National to collect your fucking people?
The spectacular @tamikahs66 speaking: “I consented to trading sex, not be raped by officers of the law.” Tamika discusses how trading sex kept her kids fed and housed. “I am a survivor be any means.”
“ i worked in low end jobs - ones that were very discriminatory... policing sex workers never gave safety - it produced a number of low level of arrests. It has never been an effective law... full decrim is the way to go. These laws have done enough laws for multiple lifetimes”
The mobile manager from @HIPSDC : “criminalization is rooted in racism, transphobia and classism. The forms of sex work most available to QTPOC are the most policed and criminalized. How exactly in criminalization powering people to live their greatest lives?”
“MPD frequently harass our van & clients who come to our van for services.”

“trafficking is being weaponize to attack sexwork. Advocacy for survivors are stronger when sexworkers have a seat at the table. Sex workers are valuable members of society & should be treated as such.”
Substance use manager at HIPS - we are talking about people’s lives- says that yes, people sometimes take drugs to work.

“I don’t want women like me to be afraid anymore.”

Swanee Hunt - the benefactor of @DemandAbolition is on this panel. And speaking to three HIPS folks about dignity. While continuously putting her hand on the woman next to her.
Are you playing end demand bingo? CROSS OFF GERMAN MEGA BROTHEL.
Swanee says that demand creates abuse. “We need to clean up law enforcement... on the other hand every law infringes on rights. Downstairs I went through a scanner. If that scanner gave 5% of ppl stomach cancer, how long would we have it?”

... that...
To panel: why does the Nordic model not work?

@tamikahs66 “because were sex workers in DC and were telling you what we need.”

That’s basically the only thing you need to hear today.
Why are you against demand?
“A 20% increase in demand means a 20% increase in money to sex workers. And everyone talking about pimps - I don’t know what bill you’re reading because trafficking is still criminalized.”
ANC commissioners speaking. First notes lack of support for Black and Brown trans women. Cites under investment and young ppl trading sex bc of lack of resources. “We do not give opportunities to black men and boys, black girls and women who are making these choices to survive”
“What more can we do, because what we do is not enough.” Cites police abuse of sex workers - demanding services in lieu of arrest. We cannot have leaders speaking for us. What more can we do to support our communities?
Another community member who says he isn’t sure about the legislation.

A community member who is upset about sex work and that she can see prostitution near her home.
The white folks just exploded in cheers when it talked about white buyers and women of color selling sex. The roots of end demand are firmly in spaces of anti miscegenation.

Andrea Powell speaking from Karana Rising. Speaks in support of decriminalizing sex workers, immunity for Reporting. Asked about vacatur law in DC.
One of the things I didn’t expect: people are just upset about repealing laws overall.

“I sold drugs BECAUSE. I sold drugs in highschool BECAUSE we had no clothes, we needed food.

These national people who flew in for this? They weren’t here when there was a cop trafficking”
Just coming back from a break. Room got too heated. Damn.
Next up, @whitmanwalker - a huge supporter of sex worker rights - “we see the effects of criminalization and stigma every day and exacerbate the harassment of trans people in the city.” WW recently did a study on sex workers:
Causes stigma, discrim and impacts on health...
Creates barriers to housing and employment, disrupts access to care, stereotyping and harassnent, mistrust of LE. Sex workers feel they are not believed, prioritized when they report crime.”

Our criminal laws disempower sex workers. We must stop reinforcing marginalization.”
Girls Inc speaking in opposition “out of concern for girls” because of the myth that it’ll increase trafficking and turn DC into a destination for sex tourism.

If they only knew just how lazy clients really are.
Let’s be clear: if it was THAT easy to turn a city into a hub for tourism don’t you think a place that really needed the economic boost would have done it??
@LambdaLegal testifying! “Many LGBT people, particularly trans people of color, rely on sex work for survival or to supplement their income, when discrimination in the formal market and across many sectors creates barriers and limits opportunities.”
“Criminalizing sex work is criminalization of LGBT people experiencing poverty in DC.
Sexwork provides an avenue for trans ppl to get resources needed to survive. It provides a means for trans people to live independently & with dignity & to support themselves,their families.”
“For sex workers, the police have historically been the perpetrators of harm and violence not a force that keeps them safe. The DC Trans Coalition found that about 20% of sex workers in DC report that police officers have demanded sex from them. “ @LambdaLegal calls MPD out
Criminalizing buyers alone has the same effects as criminalizing sex workers themselves bc it still criminalizes the trade. It creates a power imbalance between buyers & sex workers. Sexworkers need income more than buyers need services, so workers are forced to take on more risk
@HRC testifying is support citing how crim is a threat to public health. “It is institutionalized shame - shame of trying to stay alive.” 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

“This demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of why ppl engage in sex work”
Photos from @Mateo_Presente
Fair Girls is speaking against the bill. Asks for more inclusive conversation on the issue. They support end demand & exit strategies. Says as a former prosecutor, she used every statute because of “uncooperative victims” & “when you knew what was happening but couldnt prove it”
Oh lord. @ncose is speaking. The last time I was on a panel with this person she read the most vile, dehumanizing things about #sexworkers she could find online. I know she was making a point about dehumanization if sex workers, but I think she made a different one.
#EndDemand bingo folks!! Just heard that people will pay to poop on you in sex work! Thanks, @ncose! I think you just won someone free shots!
@NCOSE is upset that panic buttons were installed in rooms that alert management that something is wrong... y’all really are down with #sexworkers getting killed and hurt.
Breaking Free is upset about sex work. Says that all sex work is inherently violent and exploitative, Makes no different if it’s a choice or not.

It’s time for Miss Dee! The incredible Dee Curry, who is a force in this district. “I was once that person who lived in the shadows.”

“I beg you to not to harm another generation of people. I ask this body to have the fortitude, courage; common sense to pass this bill”
“When we talk about change, we talk about not in my neighborhood.”


“This is a new day and time, baby. This is a day of people having say over their bodies.”
Person from Fair Girls talks about a case of trafficking, where person got pandering charges and that was a success.

Also says MPD is saying they’ve been reprioritzed to prostitution arrests instead of trafficking... what?
@NCOSE says that all trafficking in the sex trade happens in the sex trade. A true expert.
Speaker from WWE. Speaking on behalf of people who are “in prostitution and hopeless”. Says it’s all rape and decrim means trafficking.

@ncose speaker #2. Gives story of a trafficking situation with three sisters.
The woman who yelled about “getting off on the prostitute” and then boo-ed an expression of gratitude to a community leader for supporting issues of housing & healthcare is from @worldWE - there’s a spectacular level of disrespect that surprises no one.
Family Research Council is up! The most detailed testimony yet - if anyone had “anal penetration” and “with bottles and guns” on their bingo sheet... and a link to who these folks are, link below.

The TERF couple making transphobic comments beside me seem to be into this one...
Speaker from the Well Path, a SD based group, calls all sex work exploitation and that it’s not a choice for anyone. Asks to focus on the root issue. Says this bill will impact everyone in the country.

God willing?
Brad from @Polaris_Project is up. Just a reminder that this is the white straight cis non survivor, non sex worker who’s never, ever worked a case who said that the Black & Brown queer and trans folks behind this bill are “naive” and “myopic”
Also, he misrepresents the views of “MOST trafficking victims” - absolute fucking lie.

Says laws on the books don’t stop anything - really? So why are we criminalizing the sex trade?
Now he’s saying that it legalizes pimping - which I love hearing a white man yell - no, we’re decriminalizing.

The ED of a $11m organization which offers no services just said money should go to housing.
Also, @Polaris_Project, can you let your ED know that standing six feet away to stare while a community member is upset is pretty fucked up.
Next person is saying that condom use doesn’t go up under decrim - which is a complete lie. In NZ one of the pieces of the legislation is to mandate condom use under a $2k fine. So everyone uses condoms. That’s just literally not knowing what you’re talking about.
Pastor speaking right now. Oh man. Read from Leviticus about the land falling to whoredom. Then said he felt left out of SWAC.
I’m getting lost. We’re at hour seven and someone is saying we should have plant based food in prison and that sex work isn’t work.

“If this community really believes that sex work is a job, you can go to Las Vegas”

(Las Vegas... criminalized...)
Girl Scouts are here. Trafficking, sex buyers, etc etc etc. no such thing as sex work just Rape etc etc

Wait. Random public witness who just happens to be a former Girl Scout.
Amazing organizer and sex worker from Baltimore!! “When I am told I need to be saved, you are denying me my agency. I was a student, working full time and I was struggling. I needed a job that would support me in a moment where my mental health was deteriorating”
From Drug Policy Alliance: I stand in the truth that sex work is work

Notes that it’s an invasion of privacy and that decrim is the only way to improve conditions. People are making choices to take on risk to avoid LE. This makes SWers more vulnerable, less likely to seek help
Talks about the way a criminal record the ability to improve your life - something @DrugPolicyOrg is a true expert on. Sex workers who use drugs are at a compounded risk - inc a higher risk of OD, employing harm reduction. Crim of sex work can undermine good SAM laws
@KaitlynBailey from DSW talks about her own experience of how sex work stigma, abuse of the legal system facilitated her IPV situation. Sex workers, trafficking victims will not report crimes because of criminalization. “I know that sex work can be done safely”
“Criminalizing prostitution isn’t protecting anyone”

References The Uk’s own DOJ report released last month which said that after 11 years of end demand implementation it had not achieved its stated goals.
In Baltimore we feel no sense of trust with LE. If I had reported, I would be arrested and sent to a diversion program which didn’t meet my needs. I’m a sex worker. Under capitalism, I have to work and I don’t want a low wage, dead end job that doesn’t nourish my needs.” ❤️
Academic who studies 18th/19th century prostitution in the district speaking. Interesting. Crim of sex work happened in the wake of purity movements.

DAMN. And criminalization came to support racial purity... see my tweet from like three hours ago.
“You on the committee have the opportunity to undo a century of harm” I dig this historian!

Next person says sex work is bad.
Nona Conner, powerful advocate from SWAC - asks the committee to pass the billl, and for support for trans women of color. Beautiful statement.
Someone from a human trafficking org says he “comes to state facts and come from love” and then immediately says that there were 750 cases of human trafficking in DC and that those were calls to polaris. But calls =\= cases.

If you won’t state facts, I have some ? about your ❤️.
@CMCharlesAllen says he doesn’t buy the idea that if DC decriminalized it’ll sweep the country. Same. And it’s a bummer. @cmdgrosso thanks Nona for her incredible, continued advocacy and bravery in speaking truth.
A rep from the @TransLatina_C chapter in DC speaks to the impact on her community as a migrant from Ecuador. “I have been robbed, raped and abused as a Latinx trans sex worker”
Shares the story of Camila, an asylum seeker who was denied & deported, became a survival sex worker
“The ability to eat, to live, to survive thanks to sex work. If DC is truly a sanctuary city then we need to decriminalize sex work.”
Audrey Morrisey from My Life My Choice. Similar to other end demand groups, is just against the sex trade in general. Agrees (at least) that police violence is an issue. But says that when she was a well paid sex worker, she was just confused about being traumatized and choosing
Also says that SWAC is “her people”... talks about testifying in Boston and how it’s better...
Boston is an aggressively pro cop, end demand city which has gotten TENS OF THOUSANDS to do demand work. Soooo. Yeah. Probably. That place is a homophobic mess.
DC for Democracy speaks in support of the bill, noting the powerful messages of @tamikahs66 and says that decriminalizing marijuana also faced huge public pushback but in the end, it was important as a step forward that supported the lives of its citizens.
“We’re here today because we trust impacted communities to know what they need.” - miriam’s kitchen.

“We should fund services, not police stings. We should fund housing, not handcuffs.”
Important point from miriam’s kitchen: it would be awesome if *ANY* of the orgs who showed up today would show up for housing in the budget season. Im gonna guess @NationalNOW isn’t going to bring in a bus from NYC...
Emmelia from @NJNP_DC and one of the powerhouses from @DecrimNowDC speaks - “I’m a sex worker, I’m a caretaker... And helped write this bill. We included buyers because we don’t want to criminalize black and brown people.”
“We are providers of housing to black and brown trans women - how do we pay for housing when we can’t get grants? Tricking.”

“The support for this bill came locally.”
“We included the parts in the law about pumping because under current law, working together on the street is still illegal and we want people to not have to work alone.”

Cam, a DC resident, speaks to the need for safety in the sex trade as her reason for wanting decrim.
Person from a French exit org THATS end demand. Im not gonna bother.
“Under decrim, I fear that my client’s pimp saying it’s not worth going to police would be true.”

Girl, have you been listening?
Then she says “I know people have been talking about other countries, let me point you to a random Dutch report”

France implemented end demand, why not point to that?

Ooooh Cause it’s bad. medecinsdumonde.org/sites/default/…
Next speaker, public citizen: “If we pass decrim and we live in a world where anyone can be a prostitute or John...”

Oh dear do I have news...
@cmdgrosso : this bill wont cure homelessness or racism or gentrification. But it’s a small step towards not putting people in jail and focusing on things that cause harm.
Testimony of a local academic, student, former sex worker confronting the untruths here: some people say sex work isn’t work because it’s survival. But what job is not for survival? Labor is exploitative. Look at amazon being built across the River.
Brings up such an important point: we can talk about labor. We can. And let’s.

“Exploitation is not fixed by police, its fixed by resources. It’s fixed by unionizing. It’s fixed by worker strength.”
Mentions the passage of FOSTA/SESTA, and that it hasn’t made trafficking any better - it’s removed a resource that made sex work safer.
Public witness: references the spectacular @emikoyama to ground us before telling his story as a gay, Black man sharing his experience trading sex here in DC and how he almost got arrested, and the impact it’s had on his life. He asks for the committee to pass the bill ❤️
Filmmaker who works in SA is against. Sex tourism destination stuff. Basically says “we’ve talked about this already today” - so hope it’s short?
It wasn’t. It’s “im speaking for the babies who can’t be here” so here’s something better: if you are moved today, if you are emboldened, move and embolden your fingers to donate to @SafeSpacesDC @NJNP_DC @HIPSDC @DecrimNowDC $5? $10? $50?
@ACLU_DC supports the bill. “We reject that the only way to enforce anti trafficking laws by enforcing prostitution laws... moral disapproval of sex work alone does not justify its criminalization... we cannot police and incarcerate our way out of poverty”
“The safest communities are not the ones w the heaviest police forces, but the ones with the most resources.” Also notes how policing and criminalization disproportionately impacts communities of color, LGBTQ communities. Thank you, @ACLU_DC for truly showing up.
The Mandela quoting white lady says “exploitation has never been solved through deregulation”

Sure. Criminalizing the whole trade isn’t regulation. Honey.

@CMCharlesAllen says he wants to understand what she’s saying. She doesn’t understand what she’s saying...
@PrestonMitchum from @URGE_org is up! Urge is the only Repro Justice org that focuses on young people.

Preston confesses to being a lawyer but we still love him.

Sex work is one of the primary ways that women of color experience state violence and harm.
There is NO EVIDENCE NO EVIDENCE NO EVIDENCE that criminalization decreases trafficking!

“If we want safety for sex workers we cannot rely on systems that require interaction w law enforcement.”

Everyone keeps saying this is about protecting white men when this bill was written by Black and Brown women.

“This is a nuanced issue and hyperbole will not create sound policy.”
Researcher describing that for survivors of trafficking reported that they did not trust the criminal justice system and did not feel the criminal justice system was the appropriate way to address trafficking.
“We have to ask: Why do some of us devalue sex workers?”
“When I started doing sex work the pride I felt was overwhelming. I had money. I had food. My friends had food and money.” Powerful statements from a community member recounting her arrest, and the harassment from the officers.

One if the most moving moments all day.
Global Women’s strike and every mother is a working mother come and stand up for sex working moms. The harms to children are poverty, criminalized families, the foster care to prison pipeline - not a sex worker mama who’s keeping a roof and food. “We join with sex workers.”
Kimberlee tells her story of experiencing state violence through sex work criminalization. And now, being trans and having a record mean she still will struggle to find formal work. “I stay inside for fear of the police - for fear of someone homophobic - they’re the same thing.”
“I’ve come here to be brave for you, what are you going to do to be brave for me?”
Professor says she’s opposed to the bill, mentions brothel regulation because of survivors of DV may be being forced to trade sex. I don’t know if she’s aware but both domestic violence and trafficking are still illegal.
There’s a pediatrician with a lot of untrue stuff that she googled. Not bothering.
Dc Abortion Fund speaks out in support! “Decriminalizing sex work is essential to letting sex workers work in ways that honors their bodily autonomy.” Cites how it impedes the ability to negotiate for boundaries like condom use - reproductive coercion on a state level.
Concerned women for America is speaking for the archdiocese. I can’t put that much hate for #sexworkers into the world, so please watch this instead.
Public witness: we are here to affirm the dignity of QT ppl in DC, esp Black/brown trans folx. For the most vulnerable in our community, sex work may be the option. What can we call a Black woman kicked out of her home but violence? What can we call a SWer locked up but violence?
“How can we legislate based on the idea of trans women being trotted our instead of listening to the Black trans women here in the room speaking.”
A Nevada based prostitution survivor org. She says legalization doesn’t work and we agree... honestly, I’m not saying this woman is lying but if she’s not the traffickers in NV are really dumb. Also... pimps go to school career days?
She also says that when there’s money involved people get confused about rape... am I the only one who isn’t at all confused by either Rape or money? Sometimes a worry about these anti sex work people. They seem to really struggle with so@e stuff.
I had to break (i haven’t moved in almost 11 hours) but it’s still going! Keep following the hashtag!
Right now SURJ is testifying for the bill- "to cont to punish sex workers for making ends meet and trying to pay for skyrocketing housing needs to end...sex workers are in the best position to know who is being coerced or trafficking and can be full partners to end exploitation"
The woman from @SURJ_DC has been at the hearing ALL day, sitting in front and holding a sign for ... 11 hours? Damn. If you see this, know there's a text thread about loving you.
"whether someone is in the sex trade by coercion, choice or circumstance, they are part of our community and we must show up for them even when it seems difficult." - a local Rev. gives a statement on how wrong it is that people are criminalized for survival
"As Black women we know what it means to survive even when it criminalizes us. Black women have been the bedrock of our community from the beginning of time. I stand in solidarity as an ally and partner with the Decrim Coalition."
Speaker from the Public Defenders service in full support of decriminalization, describes how an adult sex worker she served arrested her, took her to a jail where she faced violence, degradation, and was given a record. "Our cirminal code is a barrier to safety"
"DC's criminal legal code is an astounding coercive experience... as a queer woman in DC, queer & trans people are harassed from MPD. As an adult who has chosen my profession, I support adults to choose their profession."

This testimony is fire. Can someone tell her I'm single?
A corporate lawyer is testifying that sex worker shouldn't be considered a business... ok.
Public witness: I would like to ask what the problem we're trying to solve via criminalization is - folks have mentioned the very small arrests for trafficking - so crim isn't actually stopping anything. Notes that having a record is economic coercion and marginalization
Laya from @HRC comes to testify that decriminalization means health and safety. While trading sex, she experienced incredible violence and felt she could not go to police. "Please stop incarcerated DC community members - my friends - who are just trying to survive."
@HRC "Decriminalization builds trust between sex workers and law enforcement" - this was a HUGE gain in the post-decrim world in New Zealand. It radically changed the relationship. Sex workers felt more ability to refuse clients, saw huge increases in health
"Decriminalization would have allowed me to screen clients more, to look inside the car to see a knife, I would write down the license plates down... sex workers are out fiends, family members, community members."
Q: Even without criminalization - the issue with police is bigger. Under decrim would that change?
A: yes and no. There are times where I was robbed, chased, threatened w guns, laying in a pool in my own blood - in those moments, I wanted an officer. I also was harassed -
- & told to take off our wigs, called men. I wanted that to stop, too. But every time I was victimized, I knew that I could not call anyone. Under decrim, there were times I got into a car too fast & couldnt take the time to scan the car and see the knife bc I was avoiding cops
Center for Child abuse stats speaking. Says the bill will have unintended consequences. No idea what that's like...

Says it'll increase young people trading sex. Says the word "hashtag" in her testimony. Cites that she's talking about young people who are running away -
So is she saying that the problem is actually that young people who are trading sex because they've run away/are living on the street - you know... I think we need to talk about why young folks are running away to trade sex.
Plays a quote from someone on This American Life says that girls who have low self esteem are targets - I get that feminism is only valid if it centers men, but can we talk about how girls having low self esteem is a problem in and of itself?
Honestly, none of the antis testimony would pass the Bechdel test.
Elenor Gaeten, a historic anti-sex work... person, testifies. Pushes Nordic model - says it's prevailing... sure. Says that this hearing was not a safe space... I guess she was afraid one of the @NationalNOW attendees would yell "prostitute" at her, too?
@NationalNOW Testimony from an incredible outreach worker: "Decriminalizing sex work directly contributes to better resources and safer conditions of sex workers - I've had to challenge a lot of my ideas of what sex work is. As a former case worker/outreach staffer at a local church, it was..
"clear that SW was a viable option for income/housing. Finding affordable housing in DC is hard enough without the barrier of a criminal record. I was rarely successful in helping people find affordable housing. I saw people barred from jobs, despite being qualified...
"because of a criminal record. Passing this bill will take us one step forward to safety."
A woman who flew in from working in Thailand says that policies which do things like provide condoms and honor the needs of sex workers - "efforts to crack down on sex workers had far reaching consequences" Cites Amnesty Int'l, says sex workers are more willing to ask for help.
I love how much her testimony is "I'm skipping that, it's late and it's in my written stuff."
Public Witness: Opposed to the act. Oh no. She starts with "I don't want to offend anyone but..."

Everyone take a shot. Who got Bingo?
The glorious @katezenlove is testifying! "I wasn't planning on testifying, but there has been no Asian American representation - I am a second generation migrant, and I got through school because of the sex trade. I have experienced violence and could never report what happened"
The way to address labor issues - debt bondage, wage theft, unreasonable hours - those solutions are labor-based.

Right now @Polaris_Project & Sanctuary for Families are launching an attack on Asian women, which is leading to violence and death. Calls in the name of Yang song
If you don't follow @RedCanarySong, you are missing out on watching organizing that is beautiful and inspiring - it's like the opening of Fantasia, where you realize you have stopped breathing because you're watching something something spectacular
A public witness in support of the bill, a queer GNC Black woman living the district: To the white women and groups like @Polaris_Project calling people naive: y'all can fuck the fuck off.

@Polaris_Project Oh lord Exodus Cry is speaking afterwards talking about doing outreach to sex workers, massage parlor workers... What's amazing is that she has the audacity to speak after the last two speakers. Read the room, madame.
@Polaris_Project The Exodus Cry lady is horrified by the violence in the sex trade. Oh dear... "it's a disposable slavery" - sex workers aren't disposible... "Why do the countries with the Nordic model get voted the best for equality?"
From the audience: Cause there ain't no black people there.
@Polaris_Project To @katezenlove: Can you say more about the study on nordic model?

There's no evidence that the laws work in the way they're assumed to. Migrants are the most hurt under the Swedish model, bc they're deported within the first 36 hours, so it isn't recorded.
In France, met an Asian trans worker who had been so much out of the city that she was working in the forest. Labor rights only happen when we are treating the sex industry like other industries, and we target exploitative, extractive managers.
Gov testimony: Mayor's office talking about diversion... it's too late to go into it but "go to services or get arrested." is coercive, and which isn't how services work. Honestly.. the first word is "SERVICE"or "be in service to people, honoring their needs & desires."
Next is a person from OAG, who wants all the charges. Youth are lured, etc etc. Just so we're clear - even in federal studies, most youth - the vast majority - who trade sex under 18 never have an exploitative third party. Every major study finds 12-25% depending on specific pop
USAO: They like criminalization.
USAO: Investigations for trafficking are hard. Sometimes we need to get a warrant but literally don't know enough, so we need you to make it easy, and instead of doing real investigations, we'd rather violate rights and don't care about the damage we cause.
And OF COURSE. A number of questions were sent to MPD, who responded to nothing, and gave none of the data around arrest, charging decisions. The only consensus? @DCPoliceDept is harassing, exploiting & violating sex workers.
@DCPoliceDept Question: So you're not actually using the brothel law even though you say you need it... wtf?

Answer: We should educate people to use it more!

Me in my head: that's... what the fuck are you talking about? No.
@DCPoliceDept Asking the USAO to walk through why there are 5 cases of trafficking and pandering in the last few years.
Answer: Because one of those cases took a year. There's such a high level of manipulation that we can't develop trust w a victim in one meeting.
I guess USAOs don't know that the lack of trust with the legal system isn't seeded by a trafficking. It comes from the lived experience of being criminalized & interacting with police.
"There is a lot that goes into putting these cases together" - and says that one of the victims was 14, which led to pandering.

If there was a 14 year old, and you could get pandering... that's trafficking. Why couldn't you get trafficking?
"Many cases are a slow burn, and the investigations are hard, so that's why the numbers aren't high. There are many right now?"
"how many?"
"I don't know."
...what? No.
"Maybe 1/3 investigations turn into charges."
"So there were 6 which came to you to investigate?"
"I won't tie myself to a number but there are many."
"... 6?"
This is bananas.
OK, I really appreciate @CMCharlesAllen saying that if you say you need a charge on the books, you actually have to show that this is the case, you can't just say it and expect everyone to just fall in line. The lack of prep from LE is... underwhelming and unsurprising.
@CMCharlesAllen AND it's over! Holy shit - clicking in jut over 12 hour and 15 minutes, the first hearing on decrimainalizing sex work in any state/district in the US been heard.
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