April 1, 2020
Like many organizations and businesses, DSW has adapted to the current COVID-19 crisis by moving much of our work online. We continue to organize from home: lobbying state legislatures, providing resources and referrals to community members, and educating the public about the most pressing issues being faced by sex workers, trafficking survivors, and related communities at this time.
We have been adapting our work to the current economic and social climate. As with most things, the pandemic is disproportionately impacting vulnerable communities. Pro-Publica released interactive maps showing the inverse relationship between COVID-19 infections and median income in New York City. Additionally, African Americans comprise 14% of New York State’s population but 40% of deaths. Almost half of the infections in Milwaukee and 81% of the city’s deaths have been Black Americans. Across the country, communities already bearing the stress and vulnerability of systematic inequality are absorbing the most significant shocks of this crisis, while being denied adequate resources.
Sex workers, particularly transgender sex workers of color, are among the hardest hit. Like other service and gig workers, many saw their livelihoods vanish overnight. Unlike other service workers, “sex workers and anyone whose professional activities involve ‘prurient’ products or content” might be excluded from COVID-19-related government loans for small businesses and the self-employed. Blatant discrimination like this is as unsurprising as it is cruel. Whorephobia, racial bias, and fear are resulting in the abandonment of the individuals who are most in need. We cannot stay silent.
It has been inspiring and motivating to see our community members rally around one another during this uncertain and stressful time. Organizations have compiled harm-reduction guides to encourage safe behavior and combat stigma. Others are hosting funds and drives to provide economic relief for workers without other options. We would like to highlight the work of DSW Consultant Ceyenne Doroshow, who is spearheading efforts to provide support for TGNC individuals and sex workers who are being freed from Rikers Island during COVID-19. She is working around the clock to ensure their safety during this time. You can support her efforts here.
DSW, in tandem with GLITS Inc and NYTAG (New York Transgender Advocacy Group), has organized the work of many of these incredible organizations into a COVID-19 emergency resource guide for sex workers and related communities. We are spearheading an exciting, new research project outlining the ways that stigma and silence around human sexuality and gender diversity increase the likelihood of victimization and trafficking. We continue to stay connected, and we continue to stand for justice, safety, and health for all.