Before we go in on how we are concerned for sex workers who may suffer from loss of clients as this crisis affects the economy, we are concerned about how the spread of COVID-19 may affect work environments for sex workers.
Transmission has most been documented by individuals who are traveling, sex workers often work out of motels and we are concerned about potential crossover. The isolation, including from financial networks & social networks with resources; many sex workers face in their typical lives will greatly increase their barriers to support in this time.
Additionally in DC — according to the DC Trans Needs Assessment Survey, a survey released in 2015 that had over 500 trans participants in the DC Area — over 35% of the respondents reported of having engaged in sex work, with a majority those respondents being of color and identifying as trans woman or trans feminine. In the same survey 74% of respondents had been verbally assaulted, 42% physically assaulted, and 35% sexually assaulted, so it should be no surprise that when the issue of housing came up in the survey, 20% of those taking the survey reporting that they are currently experiencing homelessness, Those currently experiencing homelessness are significantly more likely to be HIV positive and half of those responded as homeless reported to rely “ informal and grey economic work for income (such as sex work).
As we see shelter in place orders be discussed in this country’s largest cities, we are asking community to help us raise funds for:
1) Emergency microgrants to be given to Trans sex workers - for food, bill and travel assistance, for cleaning, hygiene, sanitation and other related essentials
2) Motel rooms for homeless, housing insatiable and motel dependant Trans sex workers and sex workers who need to quarantine.
3) Replenishing supplies provided by DecrimNowDC Groups that are currently in high demand by community members
4) #DCMutualAidNetwork relief work and supplies related to that response for DC Sex workers
Our sex worker community needs our support right now not just as a form of relief for an industry that has no workplace safety net — that is being affected by COVID-19 — but additionally to help reduce the dependance on traveling and seeing clients physically.
The people who typically fall through the cracks within the system are the ones, where the pandemic is further along; who are also being left behind. As our for profit healthcare system becomes too incapacitated when doctors are choosing who lives and who dies, those most on the margins — Black & Brown, Trans & Queer sex workers, homeless or housing unstable, chronically ill, those living with HIV, our trans elders — are not going to be the first individuals they prioritize. Lets be sure to have their backs!
No Justice No Pride (NJNP) has been one of the few community groups providing dedicated support, mutual aid and care; to DC’s Transgender community. NJNP Collective housing, which was started by NJNP as a response to FOSTA/SESTA; provides long term and emergency housing to as many as 50 individuals a night.
HIPS promotes the health, rights, and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by sexual exchange and/or drug use due to choice, coercion, or circumstance. HIPS provides compassionate harm reduction services, advocacy, and community engagement that is respectful, non-judgmental, and affirms and honors individual power and agency.
DECRIMNOW DC was created by the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition (SWAC), a group of individuals and organizations promoting the human rights, civil rights and liberties, health, safety, and well-being of sex workers and people profiled as sex workers in Washington, DC while advocating for legislation and other policy changes to challenge the system of criminalization of sex work.
- Leah Muskin-Pierret
Fundraising team: NJNP + HIPS (2)
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