October 4, 2019
The New York State Gender Diversity Coalition convened at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar to exchange ideas about how to support gender diversity, equality, and sex worker rights in New York. This new coalition of sex workers’ rights and LGBTQIA* activists highlights the important overlap between DSW’s mission and the rights and safety of the LGBTQ community.
The event was organized by The New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG) and The Sharmus Outlaw Advocacy and Rights (SOAR) Institute, co-directed by Melissa Broudo and Crystal DeBoise of DSW. NYTAG and SOAR have a veritable history of fighting for both of these communities in the New York area and beyond. DSW was honored and excited to join them at this event.
Activists march for sex-worker and trans rights in Stockholm, Sweden, in October 2019. (Photo: Twitter/SWARM)
DSW’s Melissa Broudo and Frances Steele join with the organizers and attendees of the Brooklyn event.
This alliance continues to be incredibly important to the policy we are striving towards. On October 2, LGBTQ advocates in Washington, DC, delivered a letter to DC Council members advocating for the full decriminalization of sex work on the grounds that it is “critical to the health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ community.” There will be a hearing on October 17 in DC on the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019. If passed, the bill will decriminalize sex work in our nation’s capital. Kaytlin Bailey will testify at the hearing.
September 20, 2019
Earlier this year, DSW filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by the Woodhull Freedom Foundation (WFF), Human Rights Watch, The Internet Archive, and two other plaintiffs in reaction to the terrible federal law known as the “Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (FOSTA). FOSTA chills speech and harms sex workers. It makes it harder for people to protect themselves from violence and personal risk and violates constitutional rights protected by the First Amendment.
The court wrongly dismissed the lawsuit, but the plaintiffs appealed. After a year of fighting for the case to be heard, DSW and our plaintiff allies finally got our day in court: On September 20, attorneys for WFF and the other plaintiffs addressed a panel of three appellate judges. They asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction to halt the future enforcement of FOSTA, meaning that ideally, people would no longer be arrested.
Kaytlin Bailey attended the hearing on September 20. No decision has been issued at this time, and it may take months for the appellate court to rule. WFF was joined by fellow plaintiffs from SWOP Behind Bars, related organizations, and brave individuals who put their reputations and livelihoods on the line by articulating for the courts how FOSTA/SESTA has impacted them. The current position of the federal government is that issues of free speech, sex worker safety, and trafficking are not impacted by FOSTA/SESTA — and that the law simply disrupts trafficking without endangering individual rights or safety.
After the oral arguments attorneys, plaintiffs, and advocates, including Bailey, gathered for a debriefing. Learn more about the case in a Peepshow Podcast interview with Ricci Levy. Our coalition is waiting for the judges’ decision. No matter the outcome, we will continue to fight this transparently unconstitutional law.
DSW’s Kaytlin Bailey is pictured with Ricci Levy, WFF’s CEO, president and former executive director, named the lead plaintiff in the Woodhull v. USA case, as well as the team from Davis Wright Tremain Law Firm, litigating the suit. (L to R: Larry Walter, Ricci Levy, Robert Corn-Revere, Kaytlin Bailey and Ronald G London; Photo: DSW, 2019)
September 19: DSW’s Kaytlin Bailey was invited onto Newsmax TV with John Tobacco and Frank Morano to chat about sex work, Robert Kraft, and why handcuffs almost never help.
September 22: Kaytlin Bailey appeared on “Morano in the Morning” to expand on the Robert Kraft case, why it matters for sex workers’ rights, and field calls from listeners.
September 30: “No Such Thing As Love,” a podcast hosted by Jesse Jolles and Claire Burns (two hilarious writers, comedians, and outspoken feminists), invited Kaytlin Bailey to come speak about her own experiences in sex work, confront stereotypes and stigma, and explain why decriminalization is the answer for the health, safety, and human rights of women everywhere. Listen here.
September 5, 2019
DSW attended the International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference in Toledo, Ohio. The conference has been an annual event since 2004, bringing together researchers, survivors, allies, and service practitioners to exchange expertise and ideas and collaborate on future initiatives to fight human trafficking and social injustice worldwide. As anti-trafficking work is central to DSW’s mission, we were excited to attend and inspired by the amazing work that so many of our allies are doing.
This year’s conference hosted attendees from 42 states and 30 countries, laying the groundwork for action in the social service, health care, and criminal justice fields. DSW’s general counsel, Melissa Broudo, represented our harm reduction advocacy efforts on behalf of human trafficking survivors and sex workers across the globe.
At this year’s conference, we were honored to be able to support Jill McCracken, Ph.D., Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies at the University of South Florida and the co-founder/co-director of Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Behind Bars as she received the 2019 Influential Scholar Award. Dr. McCracken presented her research on how decriminalization of prostitution helps to fight violence and trafficking in the sex industry. The seminar centered on a community based participatory research project with the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. Following the decriminalization of prostitution in 2003, three months of fieldwork produced interviews with 33 sex workers and 34 service providers, clients, and health professionals.
Dr. McCracken presented data on how decriminalization specifically addresses harms; examples of individual sex workers and communities recognizing, preventing, or resisting violence; how they recover from it; how sex workers are able to control their work to greater or lesser degrees; legislative recommendations based on the perspectives of impacted individuals; and future areas of exploration. The audience walked away with an understanding of the stark and important differences between consensual sex work and trafficking, a greater understanding of different legislative models related to sex work, how said models affect violence, and a picture of decriminalization in New Zealand and its day-to-day impacts.
DSW tabled with SWOP Behind Bars, an ally that provides interdisciplinary community support for incarcerated sex workers in the US, as well as other fellow organizations working to fight sex trafficking through criminal reforms. Anti-trafficking and harm reduction is at the heart of DSW’s work, and we were honored to collaborate with such amazing individuals and organizations promoting the health and safety of sex workers worldwide.
L to R: DSW’s Melissa Broudo poses with Dr. Jill McCracken after the latter was presented with the 2019 Influential Scholar Award for her work on decriminalization of sex work, anti-trafficking and harm reduction. (Photo: DSW, 2019)
L to R: DSW’s Melissa Broudo, Alex Andrews and Jill McCracken, PhD, of SWOP Behind Bars, and Danielle Bastian, LCSW, table at the conference. (Photo: DSW, 2019)
DSW information at the SWOP Behind Bars table at the conference (Photo: DSW, 2019)
L to R: DSW’s Melissa Broudo and Logan Dee of We Are Dancers USA catch up and take a selfie the first day of the conference. (Photo: DSW, 2019)
August 18, 2019
DSW’s Kaytlin Bailey attended the 10th annual Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit hosted in Washington, DC. She connected to sex worker rights activists and sexual freedom advocates from all over the country. Attending panels, presentations, and performances, Kaytlin was able to get a broad perspective on the issues plaguing sex workers and their allies in different states.
Kaytlin was especially moved by DC’s Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS) and the transgendered women willing to speak to the systemic issues that bar them from fully participating in some advocacy organizations. She connected with criminalized sex workers in Nevada, got to hang out with living legend Carol Leigh, participated in an incredibly informative discussion about using a human rights framework to advocate for sex workers’ health and safety led by Dr. Jill McCracken, and had many conversations about strategy and pushing for a better future for all of us.
Sex workers are not a homogenous group. We come in all colors and creeds, we come to this work for different reasons, and we have wildly different experiences—but allies from across the political spectrum can work together toward a future where our lawmakers listen to sex workers and stop the arrests.
Kaytlin Bailey smokes a cigar with Ceyenne Doroshow, strikes a pose with Carol Leigh, and hangs out with Amber DiPietra & Ceyenne (clockwise from L, August 15-18, 2019).
August 6-8, 2019
Melissa Broudo, DSW’s general council and RI coordinator, and Kaytlin Bailey, DSW’s communications director, met with state legislators from all over the country at the National Conference of State Legislatures annual meeting, which was hosted this year in Nashville, TN.
DSW handed out fliers, t-shirts and buttons, and we started conversations with lawmakers pressing the point that the best way to end violence and exploitation within the sex trade is to stop arresting consenting adults engaged in sex work. To demonstrate the difference between trafficking and sex work, we compared the high-profile cases of Jeffrey Epstein—a serial predator who preyed on children and should have been stopped years ago—and Robert Kraft, a single 70-year-old man who payed a 40-year-old legally licensed masseuse to rub a different part of his body.
DSW was very well received. We ran out of t-shirts within the first hour and ran out of buttons on the first day. Legislators from across the political spectrum and country were ready to talk about decriminalization. Many lawmakers seemed to understand that this is not a problem we can arrest our way out of. Several legislators pledged to begin forming coalitions and pressing their colleagues using the information we presented.
Kaytlin Bailey & Melissa Broudo mind DSW’s booth at the National Conference of State Legislatures meeting in Nashville (August 7, 2019).
July 31, 2019
DSW’s Kaytlin Bailey participated in Nevertheless She Existed, a live show and podcast produced at Caveat Theater. She told the story of Phryne, a famous courtesan in the classical Greek period who defended herself against blasphemy charges by disrobing in front of the all-male jury and declaring her perfect body a gift from the gods. She won her case.
This show specifically highlighted the contribution sex workers have been making to their communities for literally all of human history. Junior Mintt reminded us what an undeniable powerhouse Josephine Baker was in her lifetime. Solange Azor talked about one of the founding mothers of the sex worker rights movement, Margo St. James, who created COYOTE, and Anna Bianco talked about the incredible achievements of Theodora, who became empress of Rome in 527 after spending some time in a brothel in the Roman Empire.
Kylie Holloway, Kaytlin Bailey, Junior Mintt, Anna Bianco, Solange Azor & Molly Gaebe at Caveat Theater perform for Nevertheless She Existed (from L to R, July 31, 2019).
July 11, 2019
June 30, 2019
DSW attended the Queer Liberation March and political rally that followed on June 30, organized by the Reclaim Pride Coalition to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The march took place on the same day as the NYC Pride Parade, which also hosted World Pride this year, but without corporate sponsors or police officers present. The Reclaim Pride Coalition, represented in a WBUR interview by their attorney and former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union Normal Siegel, wants to ensure that Stonewall50 lives up to the original spirit and intent of the first marchers in the June 1969 uprising: "the freedom to be who you are and to take pride in that." The message of the Queer Liberation March is to stand "in solidarity with other oppressed groups, to demand social and economic justice worldwide."
Reclaim Pride Coalition Art Build
The Wednesday before Pride, the coalition hosted an art build in which all kinds of activists got their heads and hearts together to make art, signs, posters and banners for the Queer Liberation March and Rally. The build united criminalized bodies against corporate control, erasure, and violence and provided an understanding of the breadth of the movement and the identities for whom it holds significance. DSW Communications Director Kaytlin Bailey attended and collaborated on two signs representing our message: “Listen to sex workers” and “Prostitution isn’t the problem, it’s the patriarchy.”
The Rally: Rights and Safety for All
Well before the march started, crowds had gathered at Sheridan Square, holding signs and sporting black, pink and gold attire. The energy and love in the streets was breathtaking. The march took place along the historic root, up Sixth Avenue and into Central Park, where a First Amendment political rally took place from 1-4pm, addressing the biases, homophobia and stereotyping of the LGBTQIA community that persist today. As the crowd walked up town, a moment of silence was held at 11am to commemorate those in the LGBTQIA* community lost to violence, stigma, racism, HIV/AIDS, and lack of access to safety or health care, particularly trans women of color.
The coalition wants to highlight that, though progress has been made, the queer and trans communities, especially individuals of color, are still stereotyped, harassed and criminalized on a day-to-day basis. The march was open to the public, without sidewalk barriers or police presence. It concluded on the great lawn of Central Park. The rally hosted speakers, performers and a display of the artwork that community members and allies had made for the event. Speakers included Larry Kramer and Jason Walker from ACT UP, Black Trans Media Representatives Sasha Alexander and Olympia Sudan, and many more. DSW feels so privileged to have been able to participate and see the wonderful community this march created.