Press Contact: 
Gillian Branstetter, Media Relations Manager
October 5, 2017

D.C. Bill Would Eliminate Criminal Penalties for Sex Work

NCTE lauds effort to promote public safety, health, rights

The National Center for Transgender Equality today praised the introduction of groundbreaking legislation that would promote public safety, health, and human rights by eliminating criminal penalties for sex work in the District of Columbia. The bill is backed by a coalition of violence prevention, civil rights, victims’ services, HIV/AIDS, and other organizations. It would eliminate criminal penalties for commercial sexual exchange among adults, while maintaining prohibitions on human trafficking and other coercive practices and existing laws regarding minors. The bill would also create a task force of D.C. agencies and community members to study implementation.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said:

“Every person deserves dignity and safety. Criminalizing consensual sex work means criminalizing poverty, and too often means criminalizing transgender people and women of color in general. It isn’t working and it makes people less safe. We need to focus resources on finding and helping victims of coercion and on promoting health and opportunity for all. This bill is a critical step forward for our communities, and we hope that other jurisdictions will consider this approach.”

According to the 2015 US Transgender Survey, 12 percent of transgender adults have done sex work for income, Lifetime experience with sex work is much higher for transgender women of color, with 42 percent of Black transgender women reporting having done sex work for income. Transgender sex workers report high rates of violent victimization and abuse by police.

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