5/10/16 National Call

National Call
Tuesday May 10 8pm EST
Conference Call number – 712-432-1680, access code 219655

Speaking Stack – sign up here to talk, and to list that you were present


SWOP-USA Updates

New people


  • Cathy Reisenwitz, In-Depth Reportage Fellow. As a communications fellow, Reisenwitz will focus on in-depth investigative and features writing, and work with SWOP in pitching and writing in-depth pieces on important sex worker advocacy issues.


  • Our new ombudsperson, Melanie Keller! Melanie Keller has been an advocate and crisis counselor for victims of gender-based violence since 2012, working with human rights organization Power Inside. She is a current Advisory Board Member and former Co-Director of the anti-street harassment organization Hollaback! Baltimore
  • New board member, Jasmine Phillips. As a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program fellow placed at HIPS, she is currently building the advocacy and policy capacity of the organization by utilizing an anti-criminalization framework.  Prior to HIPS, Jasmine conducted research in South Africa in collaboration with sex workers and has interned at the Vera Institute of Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project.  She has also published two articles in law review journals complicating sex trafficking discourse and police reform efforts.
  • Call for Board applications coming soon, keep your eyes peeled. Send nomination to savannah@swopusa.org

SWOP Governance

Ad Hoc Bylaws & Structure Committee

  • Update to bylaws to reflect SWOP-USA growth

Events & Happenings
Pride Toolkit

  • Images and printouts

Whores Day – June 2nd

NJRUA & SWOP-Philly event

– What else? Anyone doing anything?

  • Funding
    • Wow, this is hard…
    • Up to $400 per person, or $800 per Chapter
    • Each Chapter up to 2 people
    • Prioritizing need
    • Collaborating with Desiree
  • SWOP Presence
    • Community Meeting
    • Tabling – Need a volunteer coordinator – Jamilla!
    • Who is presenting? Add your name here.
    • I Am anti-stigma


Online Tools & Communications

Web stuff

  • Beautiful new website coming our way, á la SWOP-Sacramento
  • Weebly website and mad mimi newsletter  
    • why is this cool and important?
    • Online Presence Goals – get domain & hosting paid for by SWOP
  • Scarlet Letter twice a month
    • Connect with Liaisons – let us sing your praises!



Financial Stuff

  • Tiered Funding
    • New Chapter Development Goals – $200
      • Existing Chapters may be eligible for this.
    • Annual Chapter Strategy Goals – $50
    • Online Presence Goals – $120 value (domain & hosting)
  • SWOP-USA  2015 Annual Report – give us some quotes!
  • Budget review
  • Financial FAQ – Tada!
  • Donation receipts are now in your Chapter folders
  • A financial audit of folders is coming up
    • Not sure how to use your spreadsheet?
    • We can set up a webinar
    • Contact Jam – SWOP.Bookkeeping@gmail.com
  • Report back forms
    • Required for anyone who received SWOP funding
    • Important for fundraising


Cease & Desist Letter from Travelers Insurance

  • Logo dispute
  • Kiss our asses, Travelers!
  • Do not respond
  • Connecting with other SW orgs who are under the same duress

Sharing some highlights

  • SWOP-Minneapolis did a legal right training, adapting from a workshop one of their members did to protest the RNC, made is sex worker specific. It was great, informative!
  • SWOP-Baltimore also hosted a Know Your Rights class with Sista of the T and Power Inside. Small success, but success nonetheless. We hosted Charlotte Shane reading of “Prostitute Laundry”.
  • SWOP-Seattle did a great panel at University of WA, it was a subpanel of a full on anti-trafficking event, went far better than we expected. We had an art installation at Seattle
  • Erotic Arts Festival, it was absolutely phenomenal.

Feedback for SWOP-USA



14/2/16 Board of Directors Call

Board of Directors Call

Date: Sun Feb 14th 2016 4pm EST

TODAY IS VALENTINE’S DAY…derp….a lot of people can’t make it.

On call:

Brittany (gave advance notice)
Mags (gave advance notice)
Katie (gave advance notice)
Fatemeh (gave advance notice)
Kate Zen


To Do from last call:

Savannah – Edit NH statement

Christa & Savannah – Chat about USA governance model

Matt – will look at conference funding to determine how much to allocate towards desiree


AGENDA: Please feel free to add items


  • Other Action Items


    • Board communication
      1. So much for Slack – Let’s stick to email. All addresses can be found in Nominating folder
      2. Suggestion: create google groups for Committees & Board?
    • Addressing concerns on social media
      1. Genevieve SWOP-NOLA & Whorearchy
        1. We don’t want to monitor people’s internet speech, where are we overwhelmed, and how do we ask for accountability? How do we responsible? How do we communicate with people who are intervene? Remain loving, understanding, promote growth.
        2. Whorearchy community call on Feb 21
        3. AR/AO braindump
        4. AR/AO rough budget
          1. Is this training the same as capacity building?
      2. ESPLER, NH decrim bill, external orgs
        1. Celebrating all SW efforts –
        2. Clarifying determination to serve all SWs? – Should we support anything that pushes rights forward (benefitting only privileged sex workers), or should we prioritize the most marginalized? This is a critical question for us to answer.
          1. ESPLER fact sheet to help educate? One pager
            1. Media support
          2. How can we help build capacity to bring the marginalized and most impacted by oppression to the table?
          3. Create Best Practices, invites other groups to put their input. Let these best practices inform our actions.
          4. We have so much to learn from those who experience criminalizing in a different way than most of us do.
          5. Anti-criminalization position. St. James is using this language. Decrim won’t prevent workers on the street from being harassed under other laws.
          6. We need to show up in solidarity to other events and efforts.
      3. Tits & Sass interview
    • Bylaws – Haven’t been updated since 2008
      1. Members clause
        1. “SWOP Shall have no members” – What defines members?
          1. Look at other models:
            1. ACLU – Guardian of Liberty program
            2. Planned Parenthood Action Fund
            3. we need to be able to use the word “members” and membership”.
            4. Are there national issues we do have a general vote? Christa to help work on this.
      2. Board expansion
        1. 5 senior members to vote on amendment to expand?
        2. Put some context into why we want to change these bylaws.
      3. Directors Compensation
        1. Moving towards sustainability via paid staff
        2. Lift or sustain?
          1. It makes it hard to get someone to do this work. Why would we not pay an executive director?
    • Derek & Katherine hire
      1. Part time, independent contractor, $20 p/hr up to 50 hrs monthly
    • Desiree
      1. Call for proposals
      2. Approximate costs:
        1. $215 early bird group discount tickets
          1. Varying discounts for volunteers & presenters
        2. Rooms about $700-800 each for 6 nights (3-4 people)
        3. $450 full page color ad & banner (Mags is all for this)
        4. $200 tabling
        5. TOTAL: ~ $650 (table/ad) + $2400 (3 rooms for 12 people)
        6. Have people with funding do tabling and what else?
          1. Have a panel of Reps and BOD members to review applications. Matt will propose something by the end of the week about what we can support, with regards to how much we allot to Desiree. Also, could extended our airbnb more affordable?



  • Committee Check-Ins/Updates


  • Finance
    • Funding applications – time to review
      • Applications
      • Funding budget
    • Budget review
    • Desiree
  • Chapter Relations
    • weebly website and newsletter updates
    • New on boarding process and documents – Derek updates
      • Here’s the new process based on Loftin’s old process, I’m still moving things around as we develop our website & AR/AO protocols
      • Here’s some documents I’m working on for the onboarding process: New Chapter Checklist (I will be changing this to reflect the steps in the above process), a Chapter Planning Form, and a Governance Worksheet that can be used to mediate any potential conflicts
    • Chapter Annual Report – 8 responses
  • Advocacy
    • Bad Date List
    • PROS Network
      • Maggie, Katie, Savannah to connect with Rad Remedy
  • Executive
    • We gotta do an annual report!
  • Communications
    • Websites
      • Weebly for Chapters
      • Klaudia for site overhaul $1500
        • Savannah has raised $500 for this project


Community Call on Law Enforcement-Assisted Diversion

On Sunday, June 26, we hosted a community call  to discuss concerns and questions about Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs. This conversation has been spurred by the advent of SB110 in California, which has resulted in a community petition to remove the sex worker clause from the bill. LEAD is currently implemented in Seattle, and is being proliferatedaround the country, including in your area.


Call Notes:  are below, and can also be found here.

Call Recording: click here.

FAQ About LEAD and Sex Work: Kris Nyrop, the LEAD liason of the Public Defender Association, has also prepared an FAQ About LEAD tailored to the sex worker community. To view the FAQ, click here.

LEAD National Bureau Website: click here.

California SB110: click here

California SB110 – Petition to Remove Sex Work Section: click here.




Magalie Lerman [OSF & SWOP-USA]: Before LEAD, the only options sex workers had were post arrest programs, that had lengthy requirements (including abstinence from drugs and sex work), and anyone unable or unwilling to meet this version of “success” gets the arrest charge, and sometimes even the jail time. We need more alternatives to incarceration for people in the sex trade. LEAD was formed to be one step forward towards this goal. There are many misconceptions of LEAD, which includes the conflation with prostitution court. We have invited Kris and Melody to discuss aspects of LEAD with us today.


Rachel West [US PROStitutes Collective]: We work with Black Coalition Fight Back Serial Murders. We’ve been organizing against a bill in CA SB110, raising serious concerns we have with this bill, starting with the sex workers community and being joined by other communities. People have jumped on board. We’re working with formerly incarcerated people very closely, of which many sex workers are. This is a multi-racial compagine. We’re going to Sacramento next week for a public hearing. Our big issues with LEAD are first and foremost that it’s law enforcement led, putting services into the hands of the police. We know how violence and racist the police are, and we know who gets the brunt of the harm from them. Black, trans, people of color are clearly the people being targeted by LE. You’ve all heard about the Oakland police dept violating a young sex worker. Why can’t there be services for sex workers without involving the poli ce? It�€ ™s dangerous to involve the police. We’re concerned about how SB110 lumps drug use and sex work together. We don’t agree with the fact sheet recently release that street work isn’t work. We’re concerned about how all of this money is going to co-opt parts of our movement, and recruit them to be part of the criminal justice system. LEAD IS part of the criminal justice system. We’re concerned about how this may benefit non-profits that are not pro-decrim, anti-trafficking orgs will get the LEAD money and not pro-sex worker orgs. In this way, the power of LE is increased, services do not serve sex workers. We don’t see LEAD as being on the road to decriminalization. We agree with Cris from Desiree that this is a “soft sell” on decriminalization. We feel this will be a means of “cleaning up the streets”, targeting the most vulnerable of us and forcing us into LEAD via threat of arrest.


Kris Nyrop [Public Defender Association/LEAD Nat’l Bureau] – Those were wonderful comments, I’m not sure I’ll be able to address all of them in four minutes. Let me go through the notes I’ve made here.

  • Why can’t there be services without police? We would fully embrace this model. The point of LEAD is not to prove that social services work, but to advocate for the expansion of social services work, and that diversion as opposed to going through the justice system would be beneficial.
  • Sex work and drug use – LEAD in Seattle was created to address racial bias in arrest, people being targeted for sales and possession of drugs. We hopes to include other minor arrestable offences, but the only ones LE would budge on where prostitution. We wanted to see Seattle police refer the same individuals into LEAD that they had been arrested and prosecuting and sometimes sentenced to lengthy jail terms. If the populations in LEAD had differed than the population sent to criminal justice, we would have pulled the plug immediately. LEAD is part of the criminal justice system, true. We’re trying to make a shift in this system, where police themselves will realize that arresting people for low level offences is stupid, and see that the criminal justice tool is highly ineffective.


Carol Leigh [BAYSWAN] – There are so many topics here. I was disturbed by SWOP’s statement, which escalated the confusion. Even a good program is bad. To tell you a quick story, in SF in the 90’s we were threatened with prostitution court, and a program was designed, much like LEAD…human and civil rights groups, some sex workers. Everyone in it agreed that they could not do this as a group, it was in conflict of a civil rights approach, but they were so desperate to do something, that this was all they could do. The prostitution court failed. I’m trying to point out that there’s a huge history of sex workers and these diversion programs. I respect the idea that SW orgs feel this is a new field of harm reduction, but I feel there need to be new approaches and strategies to address this. A lot more work needs to be done. The way it was originally communicated with SWOP, we need more….even a good program is a bad program. I think the people who have been involved for the way they’re put this forward. There’s a delicate balance here, that empowers the system. Sex worker groups have a long history with this, it needs a lot more work. In Consultation with people who have critiqued the PIC, we see many people probably appreciate this program because it gets them a better deal than usual. I feel this is a really serious turning point, discussion with PIC reform groups is critical. This document is not really about prostitution, it’s mostly about drugs. Makes me think this is not very well thought out, especially about how sex work is involved in this. I encourage local groups and SWOP national to spear heard collective history.


Melody Lee [Melody Lee, Katal & Nat’l LEAD Bureau]- Thank you for your comment, I concur and agree. It is important to remember that balance….to bring groups involved in the process in to talk about these issues. My org (KATAL) agrees with that, works on prison reform, so much of this is dialog in process. That’s why a call like this is so important.


Kris – I echo Melody. Circling back to something Rachel said. The possibility that a program like LEAD could possibly strengthen anti sex work and anti drug use sentiment. This is absolutely a possibility that is of concern for us. We’re very open to hearing concern from our allies on this.


Eileen Corcoran [Former case manager, LEAD Seattle] – I’m listening right now, because if you’d told me we’d be having these conversations a year ago, I’d be stretching my head. This opens the door for this conversation to continue. My perspective, coming from the street population, where my addiction was fueled by street based sex work, I know at the end of the day, the referrals to LEAD for prostitution are very low…I didn’t feel as a social service provider that we were targeting these women. These women were coming and asking for help. How do we continue to develop these programs, and have sex worker voices at the table. There were a few at one time, with very different strategies. Takes me back to when there were no services at all for sex workers, drop in shelters were very bare bone. We have so much further to go.


Katherine Koster [SWOP-USA]- Feeling really conflicted about LEAD because all of the point people have made are good, but in places like FL and Pittsburgh, there are places where sws and drug users are getting arrested and regularly sentenced to jail, and felony prostitution is a very real thing. Several hundred things getting felony charged preventing them from so much. On the other hand, lots of people here are from pretty liberal places where real decrim is possible. That’s something to consider when we’re talking about this on a national basis. Second question: I know that information given to case managers is regularly shared with police and prosecutors….they say it’s not used to arrest as client, but what happens when there are many drug users or sex worker who are giving info about the broader aspect of the trade or community, have you ever seen this used to gather info on and go for bigger networks?


Kris – great points, I’ve been thinking the same thing about your first point…where is LEAD most applicable? In Seattle, it was made to address the huge gaping wound that was the racial disparity, which needed to be fixed. Maybe in a place where decrim can be achieved, LEAD might not be as useful there. The work we’re doing now is in some pretty damn conservative places. Places where people are still being arrested for marijuana, while as that’s unfathomable on the west coast. Let’s consider the local political landscape. Another thing, no information that case managers have given police locally, to our knowledge, has ever been used. When we first started doing LEAD, there were people who turned down a referral to LEAD…their reasons being they thought LEAD was a snitch program (would have to give up names, or they’d be labeled as a snitch). Second reason was they thought it was drug court, which they wanted no thing to do with it. Once word got out on the street, we haven’t had anyone say no in the past couple of years. We emphasize, that you cannot use people in LEAD as informants. The program would be dead in the water if that happened.


Savannah Sly [SWOP-USA & SWOP-Seattle] – Also feeling conflicted personally. Asked about the oversight process for LEAD programs that are being implemented nationally.  How can we ensure that police will not abuse trust and this won’t turn into another harmful diversion program?


Kris – oversight of other jurisdictions is a HUGE concern. Fidelity to the model is something that comes up frequently for us. Melody can speak to this most….the two cities we see in the US doing LEAD like Seattle are Albany and Santa Fe. we did a lot of hand holding. There are other places that are starting to say they’re doing LEAD, but we’ve had no interaction. Such as Huntington…they have two different programs…they have one which is similar to LEAD, which they use for drug user, then they have POST-booking court based program used for sex workers, BUT, the same program name has been used in media, creating confusion and alarm. When we saw the original language for SB110, we were appalled, and immediately contacted people in CA, saying we will publically opposed you if you go forward with that language. Last I saw, they had included language about harm reduction and a need to replicate the Seattle model. If we don ’t see that, that’s a problem.


Carol Leigh – So many people are doing great work, I’ve been watching over the years as the harm reduction movement has influenced the criminal justice system. That said, I was to question the idea that this is necessarily locally based, in terms of how the SW right movement or SWOP deals with this. There is a SWR perspective, nationally. There’s an issue between supporting or not supporting LEAD. We need to look at all of the different options for sex workers, so that there are NOT just two options. We need to be much more informed. I want to make sure that I was clear…even the very very best program that is based on a police encounter, is going to encourage arrest some way somewhere, and is potentially extremely dangerous. Maybe the SW groups would be officially supporting, but people who are allies and sex worker criminal experts, maybe they individually participate and maintain information. I’m concerned about the dange rs, I th ink there’s other options. I’m hearing the good things, but I don’t think that’s the point. The other points are so important to the sex worker movement.


Kris – One of the things I was thinking while Carol was talking, is that it would be nice to have a lot of voices from multiple perspectives…I’m thinking back to Gay Mens’ Health Crisis. “You can either negotiate with us, or Larry Kramer can come pee on your desk”. Maybe you can negotiate with us as LEAD, or face radical action from others. Just a thought. Melody, do you want to talk about Albany and oversight there?


Melody – can’t hear her…maybe she dropped off


Katherine – My concern about not getting involved in LEAD on a local level is that anti-trafficking anti-sex worker orgs WILL. Which will then lead to police viewing people in the sex trade as victims or villains, seeing all third parties as violent, and supporting the nordic model. Whenever there is opportunity for sex workers to get involved, it could be an opportunity to influence the broader perspective. I feel like there is a dichotomy between supporting lead and supporting decri, it’s a false dichotomy. My personal perspective is to push for the best you can get, then keep on pushing. In places where there are felony charges pushing for LEAD for now, and when that culture changes, push for something else. I feel it can be a fluid position. These are interim steps to decrim.


Kris – I could not agree more. One of the things we’ve been saying repeatedly is, “if we’re talking about LEAD 15 years from now, that is not a success, that’s a failure”.


Melody – I agree with that, I see LEAD as a vehicle, not a destination.


Starchild [SWOP-San Francisco[ – I’m not as well  versed in this issue some of you, I’m an activist across several issues, am a sex worker, libertarian….listening here I share the concerns some people here have been voicing. Specific questions: Have you built into the programs that you helped start, and kind of a sense of cause? You can always restart it from your terms and start from scratch if you need to…that these programs might not last for more than a few years. A few other things: I’m concerned these kinds of programs could have people working in them that will continue stereotypes (needing exit, exploiters) which is problematic. What have you done if anything to screen the people involved in this work? Also, have you had conversations about these programs with anti-sex work groups, what do they say and what do you say in response? Knowing that would help our community with trust. It sounds like you support decrim , but we need it explicitly.


Kris – ensuring case managment delivery side of things is true to our ideals. In Seattle and Santa fe, we put in a request proposal for the service delivery side for LEAD. I wrote that request….”What is your agencies understanding of harm reduction, and how do you practice it?” This was not a standard grant application, but results based. This is not normal case management, this is completely going to be non-abstinence, non-sanction based. There is nothing to comply to. Addressing those issues structurally. That’s why we tried to get that language into SB110, so no groups that are recovery based are infused in the service…that would be a nightmare. We have not talked about a sunset clause, but that’s an interesting thing…I’m going to think about it. What’s made us hopeful is watching the culture of police and prosecutors change…it’s likely we’re going to open more than one safe room in Seattle this year…how can you get LEAD to result in changes where you don’t need it anymore? In terms of open statements for decrim….LEAD is not an entity, it’s a thing. There’s no way we can get LEAD to support decrim, but the partners that are involved in it, we’re open that that’s our goal. We can take back to the LEAD national support Bureau, if this is something we can support and say? We’ll take that back.


Starchild – What kinds of conversations are you having with police and trafficking groups?


Kris – we’ve been lucky, we’ve had no conversations with anti-trafficking groups aside from pushback to their messaging. We had no local groups who wanted to insert themselves into LEAD, they didn’t push back. We definitely have an anxiety filled relationship thi some of our local prosecutors who are all about the Nordic model….we haven’t had to deal with them, because their focus is entirely on internet based escort and massage services. They’re basically uninterested in street based work. If they decide they were going to aggressively arrest street workers, we’d have a large confrontation with them.


Savannah – Can you tell us about the LEAD funding, where it comes from, and who gets it?


Kris – Seattle was the first LEAD program, our money was entirely private foundation dollars for the first few years. In 2014, we started transitioning to public funding, in 2017 we’ll be entirely publically funded through city and public dollars. Perversive incentives for police…they have gotten ZERO additional dollars, same with prosecutors office. All of the money for LEAD has gone into case manager salaries and service provision. Our contract with service providers that at least %50 of their money go to services. We’ve changed that slightly as we’ve seen where money needs are. Services agencies are going to get rich on this. NO ADDITIONAL MONEY FOR POLICE OR PROSECUTORS. Do you regular policing, but instead of arresting people, divert them.


Rachel – I don’t agree with kris that all of these LEAD programs will make police not arrest people and prosecutors not prosecute. We’re all focusing on this LEAD program, but the way they got decrim in New Zealand is through organized effort…we need that. Amnesty is a huge victory. The way we’ll get police to stop harassing sex workers is via decrim, let’s start organizing around that. Let’s get together as a national group, really planning how we’re going to do it. They’ve done it in NZ, let’s do it here. We don’t trust the police, they’re not social workers. The only way we’ll get a change is to build the effort for decrim. The fact that if you don’t sign up for this assessment, then charges are held against you…in this assessment interview, what kinds of question are asked? Immigration status? Kids? Personal info? Where does that go? Into a database? Are SWs put on a registry? It’s very con cerned.< /span>


Kris – In terms of the assessment, LEAD is designed specifically for folks who are coming in primarily around drug involvement, the assessment that is used is the addiction severity index…housing status, employment, as for kids it’s something the case manager might ask. The assessment is really to help the case manager and the person in the program figure out mutually what that person’s goals and desires are. What do they want out of the program, and in what order? Those case managers notes are non-disclosable, they’re protected by privacy law. The fact that someone is or is not in LEAD might be disclosable and might now be, depends on the justification. In WA, arrest records are non-disclosable. It would not become public info.


Danny – Could you walk us through more about what a social contract referral looks like? In SB110, it looks like being based on a prior history of arrest, a community member recording someone for drug use or prostitution. Second question I had: The amended version of SB110 has a separate clause in it specifically to deal with LEAD for prostitution. Is this prostitution clause in other LEAD programs?


Kris – Social contact, this really came about 3-4 into doing LEAD…it came out of two experince: Officer feedback “we’re out there everyday, we know these folks. Why in the world do we need to wait until we have an arrest to refer a person into a program?” second thing, “bike officers were out one day, a woman asked them if this was a day they were doing LEAD referrals, she came back with a couple of rocks in her hand. Can you please arrest me so I can get into LEAD?”. That made no sense at all, we need another route. Originally it was just police who would do it, over time we’ve expanded the route in. We were approached by judges, drug court “we have a person here who is going to fail drug court. Would you take them into LEAD?” we’ve done that. WE’ve have public defenders with clients on drug charges where they have worked with prosecutors to get the person referred into LEAD that way. There are community ways in&#823 0;residents or business owners can highlites that there’s drug activity on their corner, asking they be considered for social contact.


Jasmine – POint of clarification I’d like to know: can people only access these services is referred to LEAD? Is there anything to protect people from police conduct or extortion? Does LEAD have any copyright to protect it’s integrity from poor execution in other places?


Kris – LEAD trademark, it just came through in the past few weeks. This will hopefully give us leverage. Complaint procedure…we have these in place regarding the service delivery aspect of LEAD, if a service is not appropriate or unfair. We don’t have a complaint procedure other than the normally existing and completely inadequate complaint procedures about police that already exist. I don’t know how we’d get over this…the police won’t give that up without a fight. Can you clarify your first question?


Jasmine – Are the services that people get through LEAD LEAD-specific service, or are they established service orgs with expanded services?


Kris – This will differ from place to place. In Seattle, we are resource rich. We were able to detail what was expected of the entity that handled case management. Thing we also know if there is no one entity out there that will be able to provide the range of services we anticipated people might need or want. We’re not looking for one org that does it all, we’re looking for an org that is capable of hooking people up with those services. In Santa Fe, they kinda had to create the infrastructure from scratch. I suspect that’ll be true in numerous jurisdictions.


Starchild – I like Rachel West’s comment, they were spot on. Kris and Melody, it sounds like you do support decrim, that does make you part of the movement. We’d like to hear you speak from that perspective. If we see the people who are running these programs are part of the movement, we will have more trust. ESPU, SWOP, USPROS, we’re not involved in the day to day LEAD operations….if we know movement concerns are represented there, that’d be helpful. We’d like to see you explicitly be a part of this. It sounds like you have had conversations with police and prosecutors….have they said “how successful is this at moving people away from prostitution and drug use?”. Now that it’s publically financed, as a libertarian, that’s working from a violence based model. Participating that violent system, getting addicted to that funding, this goes back to perverse incentives. We don’t want someone sucked into that. Being p art of t his movement, being harm reductionists, it’s extremely important.


Kris – Thank you for all of that. Thank you for saying are part of the movement…it’s nice to hear.


Starchild – To clarify, I’m asking if you are part of the movement. Are you able and willing to bring that movement consciousness into the day to day operations of your work. Getting your board on board with explicitly standing for decrim would be part of that.


Kris – Because this has been so much more around drugs until the item of sex work has come to the surface, I’m more comfortable speaking about that (drugs). Maybe we can roll that over into talking about sex work. Pretty much all of involve with promoting LEAD have been long term members of DPA and other drug reform orgs, we’re very open about that. I can’t see problems with transferring those same sentiments and strategies over. As far as working with police and prosecutors…it’s on such a small scale, but LEAD does fundamentally change the way police and prosecutors think. We’ve developing a cadre of LE who are saying things that would have been unfathomable a couple of years ago, and they’re saying it in public. In terms of the long game, that’s so useful. Police and prosecutors only listen to each other, not outsiders. If you want to change the culture, you need to change cops. I heard a member of the public say, “If s omeone was in LEAD but continues to smoke crack, but did it inside, is that a success…” and the cop says “yes, from a public safety standpoint.”. Thats new, that’s a success. People are saying the war on drugs is a disaster, if we can get them to say the same about the war on sex work, that’s a success. As far as funding, LEAD is pretty damned expensive. I don’t know how to get over that. Some places can do medicaid, but that’s still taxpayer dollars.


Melody – I echo a lot of what Kris has shared. In terms of the piece around transforming police culture, it is incremental. To see the police chief of albany get to a place where he’s having the entire dept go through a harm reduction training is just one of those example. We’ve had a lot of community partners at the table building that process. We’re building, moving forward. Even two years ago, those folks would never have imagined everyone sitting in the same room.


Rachel – Seattle is a strong movement city, challenging police and prosecutors. $65 million it’s going to coast LEAD in Ca, that’s a lot of money. Is this going to existing services, Jasmin mentioned? Some of the money is going to a program sexually exploited minor program, it’s part of the anti-trafficking effort. It’s the flavor of the month, they use child prostitution, to go after stings against adult sex workers. This is clearly part of the anti-trafficking lobby. It’s a real concern. How will this increased criminalization? It doesn’t end it. People are still being picked up by the police. It’s very problematic.


Katherine – Kris I appreciate your openness to building parallel advocacy relationships re. sex work to the ones LEAD already has with drug policy organizations. after the parallel between sex work and drug use…it needs to be done intentionally…there are folks who are pro drug reform who are pro nordic model. I would be interested, and I know this would be a follow up call, as to how to intentionally do that, and a potential partnership for doing that.


Kris – I hear you, I welcome that. We have spoken out here locally against the Nordic model. In terms of LEAD work, they haven’t brought it to us. We’re concerned about it. We’d be frightened if LEAD was put in partnership.


Magalie – I think that one thing I’ve seen that has come up in this call is that we as a movement need to have continued conversations about approaches to decrim. A mentor of mine recently said “in drug policy (and other) movement, there is division between incremental step and hold out end goal approaches, fearing incremental steps contribute to violence. This is a difference, but there’s a need for the movement to come together to talk about. We need to put this in the US context….NZ and Portugal are small and homogenous places. The US is not…as Katherine was saying, something could be very different between SF and Miami, difference demographics, politics, etc. This is a really good time for us to start this conversation. These programs are happening, there’s possibly a way to get training into these programs, so that other organizations don’t. I hope we can have these continued conversations moving forward.< /p>



Community Concerns and Questions

  • No SW community input on these programs
  • “Handcuffs are not outreach”, why are police first responders and not outreach workers?
  • Increased police power over SWs, police as gateway to services
  • More reason for police to harass SWs
  • Police violence [Are there explicit misconduct policies? Screening questions for this in intake interviews?]
  • More money for police…where does LEAD get it’s funding?
  • Anti-trafficking orgs as case managers instead of harm reduction orgs
  • Info from case manager work shared with prosecutors & police [Even if this doesn’t impact participants, is this information used to arrest dealers/third parties/others?]
  • Ensuring fidelity – how do we know implementation elsewhere won’t just be another diversion program?
  • What do police social contact referrals look like? What are the protocols? [Is there coercion or implicit threat of arrest in these?]
  • Transparency [LEAD Ntl Bureau website + transparent misconduct policies]
  • LEAD funding will be used for prostitution stings. Will funding for LEAD expand the capacity of law enforcement to police drug use & prostitution? If not, what checks are in place to prevent this?
  • Categorical ineligibility for promoting prostitution in Stl, Santa Fe LEAD — [Q – Is this people with any arrest/conviction history of this, or just immediate charges?] Can Nat’L LEAD bureau do what they do for drug dealing charges on this? People who have mix of prostitution & promoting prostitution charges [at least] should be eligible for LEAD, for the same reasons subsistence drug dealer/users are.
  • In large cities, how much of an effect will LEAD have on reducing arrests & changing police culture?
  • Social workers viewing arrest as a positive intervention to enforce client compliance (source – Stl LEAD evaluation, p. 42)
  • This is about a California pilot program in 3 California cities, yet we are consulting a Seattle group. Do we have a public defender in California that we could engage?

How did SWOP USA come to be involved directly with LEAD? Whose idea was this? Please fill in the blanks in terms of open society, LEAD and SWOP USA.

Pride Month – Organizing Toolkit!





I.) What is the history of Pride, and why does SWOP recognize it?

II.) What are common issues impacting LGBTQ sex workers?

III.) What are 5 ways to celebrate pride as sex workers?

IV.) Tabling Printouts

V.) Helpful Links

VI.) What are sex workers and the LGBT community saying about Pride?

I.) What is Pride, and why does SWOP recognize it?

Pride is a celebration and recognition of the Stonewall Riots and all those who have paved the way for LGBTQ equality. On June 28, 1969, after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, an underground queer bar in New York City, the LGBTQ community and supporters rioted and fought back against legal and social repression of the community. The riot was led by sex workers, gender nonconforming individuals, low-income individuals, and people of color, people who were most affected by police actions against the GLBTQ community and who were brave enough to stand up and fight back. While not the first revolutionary act by the community (most would point to the Compton Cafeteria Riots as the first) the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots reverberated throughout the city and country.

On the one year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the newly formed Gay Liberation Front led organization of the Christopher Street Liberation Day, and the first Pride marches took place in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Every year since then, the number of cities participating in pride have continued to grow exponentially as more and more people started coming forward to demand freedom from oppression and to celebrate their sexuality and gender expression. The entire month of June is now widely recognized as Pride Month and celebrated globally.

At the Sex Workers Outreach Project, we very much care about Pride celebrations. Pride is as much a day for sex workers as it is for the LGBTQ community. We very much remember and honor those who were willing to stand up and demand change against social repression and violence enacted by the state against LGBTQ communities, and also remember the instrumental role sex workers had in making happen. As sex workers continue to come forward and find empowerment in standing with SWOP and other sex worker-led organizations, we will continue to work with Pride organizers to rightfully stand in solidarity with other marginalized and disenfranchised communities who continue to demand recognition and a political voice. While many of us come from a wide variety of backgrounds and may not identify as LGBTQ, sex workers can and should proudly, loudly and wildly participate in the beauty and community celebration that Pride activities mean for people around the country.


II.) What are some issues impacting LGBTQ sex workers?

Survival Sex, Housing Instability & Youth – A disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth engage in sex work as a means of survival. As youth come to terms with their sexual or gender identity, too many families continue to throw youth out of their homes or create violent and unsafe living conditions that make running away the best option. Many housing shelters continue to discriminate against LGBTQ youth, often allowing cisgender and straight-identified peers to harass or enact violence against LGBTQ youth seeking shelter. Many also impose strict policies that reinforce social gender roles based on one’s biological or perceived sex. Without stable housing, survival sex work is a rational choice for many.

Poverty & Employment Discrimination – As a socially disenfranchised community, many members of the LGBTQ community, particularly gender-nonconforming and transgender people, experience rampant employment and social service discrimination, cutting them off from access to resources and leaving many in poverty.  For many, the sex trade is an important source of income. For some it may be the only viable way to meet economic needs, and for others it might be an important source of supplemental income to low-wage work.

Exposure Laws & Communicable Diseases – Across the country, people can receive up to 30 years in prison for “exposing” sexual partners to HIV. At least thirty-two (32) states and two (2) U.S. territories explicitly criminalize HIV exposure through sex, shared needles or, in some states, and 14 States specifically criminalize engaging in sex work if the individual knows he/she is HIV+. No exposure or transmission? You can still be charged–even if you use a condom, your viral load is suppressed to the point where the possibility for transmission is virtually negligible, or you engage in a sex act, like oral sex, where risks of transmission are virtually negligible. For sex workers, no sex must even occur, and most sex workers receiving HIV-related charges are charged during sting operations where no sex has even taken place. Because sex workers are criminalized for engaging in an activity at risk of transmitting HIV, sex workers are frequently subjected to mandatory HIV testing during interactions with the criminal justice system, are more frequently in contact with the criminal justice system, and sex workers often face disproportionate burdens for the criminalization of HIV.

Fear, despite overwhelming research and evidence from the scientific community indicating that these laws cause more harm than good, perpetuates these laws.  Unless you have every single sexual partner sign an acknowledgment document saying you are HIV+, having sex while positive has become a de facto crime. While most laws target HIV, many states have laws that apply to all sexually transmitted infections and Illinois recently increased laws around Tuberculosis exposure. Given the health disparities experienced by LGBTQ people and sex workers, these laws concern people of both communities.

III.) Five Things to Do to Celebrate Pride

  1. March in your local Pride parade – Holding a parade is central to the history of pride and most cities around the country will have one during the month of June. In order for your Chapter to participate, you will need to check in with local pride organizers and likely pay some kind of fee. Don’t forget your red umbrella’s and a banner!
  2. Table at your local Pride event – Some pride events will be a large street festival with street vendors and other nonprofits tabling. In order for your Chapter to participate, you will need to check in with local pride organizers and likely pay some kind of fee. This is a great way to get some small donations and engage with the community.
  3. Hold a sex work themed event during your local LGBTQ Center’s Pride activities – If your city, town or county has an LGBTQ Center they will likely be hosting regular events at the center in recognition of Pride. Reach out and see if they will allow your Chapter to organize an event centered around sex work issues as a part of their Pride festivities. Who knows, they might be able to throw some money your way for the event too!
  4. Hold a fundraiser & show at your local LGBTQ bar – If you know of a friendly LGBTQ bar in town, why not try approaching them and see if you can host a fundraiser for your chapter? Some talented members of your chapter can donate their go-go,  or burlesque dancing skills. Maybe you can have an amateur Drag King/Queen or karaoke competition? The bar owners might also be willing to donate a percentage of the profits from that evening or a certain percentage of the cover charge. If you bring a crowd, you’re helping them so this is of interest to local business owners!
  5. Launch a social media campaign – You can take pictures of people holding signs relevant to LGBTQ/sex work issues and tweet them out or put it on Facebook. Maybe you interview some people on the topic and post it online in conjunction with pride. Whatever you do, make sure you have people’s permission before you use their name or face!

IV.) Tabling Printouts


Check out our organizer toolkit for materials and fact sheets you can print out if you are tabling at any point during pride, as well as social media images for sharing. Check this folder over the upcoming weeks, as more materials will be added.


V.) Helpful Links

Sex Work and Queer Politics in Three Acts (Svati Shah)

Activist Spotlight: Morgan M Page on Trans History And Truth

Whose Lives Matter?: Trans Women of Color and Police Violence (Princess Harmony)

Why We All Need To Recognize That Trans Women of Color Are Powerful(Princess Harmony)

How Sex Work Got Us This Far In Gay Liberation (Hawk Kinkaid)

How LGBT Liberation Connects to the Oldest Profession (Diane Anderson-Minshall)

Underserved. Overpoliced. Invisiblized. LGBT Sex Workers Do Matter (Sex Work Europe)

Meaningful Work: Transgender Experiences in the Sex Trade (BPPP, RedUP & NCTE)

World AIDS Day: End Condoms as Evidence, the Crusade against Condomless Porn, and the Criminalization of HIV. (SWOP-USA)


VI.) What are sex workers and the LGBT community saying about Pride?


What many don’t realize is that the police brutality the trans community faces is directly tied to other forms of discrimination we face. Some TWOC are thrown out of their homes (even as children) and have to support themselves by attempting to get a job. Discrimination against transgender people in the workplace causes us to be unemployed or underemployed, so we have to turn to sex work. As sex workers, we get mistreated by clients and the police. Police violence against sex workers, and those presumed to be sex workers, goes unpunished and uninvestigated because sex workers are seen as expendable by clients and worthy of destruction by the state. It’s a vicious cycle that is worsened by the constant threat of police violence towards anyone who is transgender or gender non-conforming.

-Princess Harmony Rodriguez, Whose Lives Matter?: Trans Women of Color and Police Violence


A huge number of LGBTQ members are sex workers. If GLBT doesn’t want the government in their bedrooms, why would it be OK for the government to invade the bedrooms of sex workers and their clients? GLBT individuals should be outraged that sex workers face violence due to stigma and criminalization.

-Bella Robinson,  Executive Director – Coyote RI


I have come to the realization that even at my lowest and loneliest hour, I was always a small part of a big movement. Now I grasp the importance of a solidarity that transcends the many stigmatized subsets of industrialized sex, a solidarity that goes beyond gender identity, social class, and color. I challenge all who read this to fight all forms of violence wherever they find it, to strive to better understand the plight of those who are stigmatized, and to persistently look for ways to exist in solidarity with one another.

-A. Passion, One Black Trans Sex Worker’s December 17th


Trans people’s history is tied up with sex work due to the variety of economic and cultural factors that have often made sex work the most viable option for trans survival. And it’s personal, too—my own history as a trans woman and as a sex worker are connected so closely that I cannot speak about one without the other. So often trans people seeking the supposed safety of respectability try to jettison our connections to prostitution, and while I understand this strategy and the emotions behind it, I can see that this comes at the cost of rejecting sex workers. And that rejection has profound implications for our life chances, which multiply exponentially for many trans sex workers of color.

-Morgan Page, Activist Spotlight: Morgan M Page on Trans History And Truth


I’ve noticed some folks tend to equate the sex that sex workers have at work, or the version of our sexuality that we sell, with our in real life sexuality. I.e. lesbian community members will sometimes say that a female sex worker can not identify as a lesbian because she has sex with men at work. That ain’t cool. Some parts of the LGBT community sometimes seems to fall into the trap of not viewing sexual labor as LABOR just as much as heterosexual community does, if not more so.

-Rachel Carlisle, SWOP-Denver Organizer


Lesbian and gay communities must question whether they will continue to allow non-sex working gays, lesbians, and queers to be held up as experts on sex work and allow the misleading ideologies and representations of queer sex workers that they perpetuate to remain prevalent…Failure to recognize the contribution of queer sex workers to the queer community allows ‘othering’ of sex workers; it means that sex workers are repeatedly not recognized as part of queer communities and that sex worker-led campaigns for decriminalization are not recognized as a queer issue.

-Ryan Elizabeth Cole, Academic (p. 230, Queer Sex Work)


Trans women of color come from a legacy of resilience. When obstacles have prevented us from access to care and wellbeing, we created our own paths….It was trans women who fought in liberation movements alongside cis men and women. We organized in our communities against AIDS. We organized among sex workers to protect ourselves. And even now, many of us are on the front lines of movements today. We live and breathe revolution.

-Princess Harmony, Why We All Need To Recognize That Trans Women of Color Are Powerful


The LGBTQ community is vastly, disproportionately affected by criminalization of sex work.

-Kate D’Adamo, National Policy Advocate at The Sex Workers Project


The (cis- and trans-) misogyny and sexism that endangers our lives and violates our autonomy is part of the same systemic heteronormativity that policies and oppresses all of us!

-Vanessa Soma, Founder & Managing Attorney at V. Soma Law


When I started the Lesbian AIDS Project [at Gay Men’s Health Crisis], it had twelve clients. When I left it had 4,000, 2,000 of whom were women in New York who partnered with women who had HIV. At least a third to a half of those women were sex workers, and at least three quarters of them were endlessly incarcerated. You could not divorce that lesbian identity—or trans identity—from sex work, HIV infection, poverty, and incarceration. But those 2,000 lesbians were never visible anywhere in the political markers for lesbian feminism. Never. Their stories were never at the center; they were never invited. It was as if those markers of queer identity and how it’s completely intertwined with sex work and difficult choices never existed.

-Amber Hollibaugh,  writer, filmmaker and political activist, in Sex Work and Queer Politics in Three Acts


Sex work and LGBT rights battles are about the liberation of our bodies. It is simply hypocritical for LGBT activists to fight for bodily autonomy but deny it to sex workers, and given the huge numbers of people within the community who engage in sex work it also throws a lot of LGBT people under the bus.

-Stephanie Farnsworth, charity worker, freelance writer and dedicated LGBTQ+ activist in Why LGBT & Sex Worker Rights Go Hand in Hand


I think the better question is why does the LGBTQ community refuse to stand up for Sex Worker rights, after all it was transgender women who were sex workers who fought at Stonewall and got LGBTQ the rights they enjoy today. Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were proud sex workers and this fact is being whitewashed when reporting on Stonewalls history.

-Bella Robinson, Executive Director – Coyote RI


Sex work has always been relevant to queer and trans communities, both as a livelihood option and as an issue that critically informs the space between social and political margins, the centralities of queer and trans communities…The vital set of issues raised by the intersections of sex worker and queer populations has not always been addressed by LGBTQ organizations, however.

-Svati P. Shah, Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Sex Work and Queer Politics in Three Acts


The role of individuals who are either compelled or have chosen the sex industry must be included in LGBT rights conversations as we look to translate the social capital accrued over the last 40 years into tangible cultural changes. To exclude us does enormous disservice to our predecessors, who proudly understood that sex in the margins, sex as a form of agency and survival, sex as intimacy, and sex as an act of power are fundamental to LGBT identity. We encourage this by demanding respect for those who choose to be cis and trans, male, female, and genderqueer workers in the adult industry. It’s also important that we advocate for the support of programs which give space for sex industry laborers to speak and access legal, medical, and emotional health resources. Think of HOOK, SWOP, and the Sex Workers Project. Lastly, we can contribute to a national dialogue that raises attention to the intersectional factors which compel individuals towards the adult industry, like ongoing homophobia in rural areas, immigration, income inequality, misogyny, and transphobia.

#lovewins only when we don’t diminish the wonderfully diverse queerness of our community as well as make invisible the true identities of the men, women, and genderqueer liberators that got us here.

-Hawk Kinkaid, Hook Online Founder and President and Former Sex Worker in How Sex Work Got Us This Far In Gay Liberation


A lot of people seem surprised when I tell them that I do sex work. The idea that, as trans men, we should be doing a more stereotypically masculine job contributes to the difficulty in being able to talk openly about it. This is all the more reason why it’s important that the LGBT movement should be a non-judgemental place for us to be open about the reality of our lives and should support us in the struggles we encounter.

-Sam – Sex Worker Open University, Underserved. Overpoliced. Invisiblized. LGBT Sex Workers Do Matter


Sex workers and LGBTQ people share a powerful history of resistance against stigma, discrimination, (police) violence and criminalisation. The equality agenda of the LGB movement has, for many years, left behind both trans communities and sex workers, often the most vulnerable to violence and abuses. It is time for the LGBTQ movement to remember its commitment to inclusion, listen to sex workers and take an unequivocal position in favour of sex workers’ rights and decriminalisation of sex work.

-Luca – ICRSE Director, Underserved. Overpoliced. Invisiblized. LGBT Sex Workers Do Matter


Groups most at risk of discrimination and oppression are frequently over represented in sex work,…Transgender people and men who have sex with men also account for a significant proportion of sex workers in many states.

-Amnesty International, Underserved. Overpoliced. Invisiblized. LGBT Sex Workers Do Matter


Sex work is a significant source of income for many transgender women around the world, given their exclusion from other means of income generation. In settings where sex work is illegal, transgender sex workers often bear the brunt of police brutality and, when complaints against police brutality are lodged, they are often ignored.

-World Health Organization, Underserved. Overpoliced. Invisiblized. LGBT Sex Workers Do Matter


Rather than ignore the centuries-long relationship between sex work and queer liberation, we should embrace it

-Diane Anderson-Minshall, journalist, How LGBT Liberation Connects to the Oldest Profession


As a lesbian, queer sex worker, I experience both homophobia and the whore stigma. Both sex workers and LGBTQI people are reduced to that one aspect of their lives, which is sex, and therefore discriminated against and stigmatised. It is not by chance that there are a lot of queer people in sex work: people who are reduced to sex may find it easier to use sex to make a living. But we are kept at bay through moralistic, discriminating and stigmatising laws and human behaviours. Therefore, sex workers and LGBT groups need to join forces to fight for a world where sex is not moralised and not used to perpetuate sexism as well as homo- and transphobia!

-Elisa – Hydra [Germany], Underserved. Overpoliced. Invisiblized. LGBT Sex Workers Do Matter


I think it’s important for us to create a space to start addressing the fact that many people in our community use sex as a survival tool in many ways. There’s nothing wrong with that. We need to find spaces in which we start advocating for less criminalization of sexuality in our community.

-Felix Gardon, an activist in Latino/a and LGBT communities since the early 1990s, Sex Work and Queer Politics in Three Acts


I think it’s connected to many things. Sex work is a queer issue as much as any other issue is.

Ignacio Rivera, two-Spirit, Black-Boricua Taíno, queer performance artist, activist, filmmaker, lecturer and sex educator, Sex Work and Queer Politics in Three Acts


I question why UCSF, CDC, and other institutions are promoting the recognition of “the importance of HIV testing,” prevention, and treatment among transgender people. It cannot be because the society values the lives of trans women of color so much, when so many of them continue to be abandoned in poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and survival sex. I wonder if the real, if unconscious, motivation behind such projects is to protect (mostly) white, middle-class, non-transgender men who buy sex from trans women and their families.

I am not doubting the sincerity of individuals involved in these projects on the frontlines, especially since many of them are also members of trans communities. But I continue to be suspicious of the larger institutions that promote HIV testing in isolation of other, more immediate needs of many trans women of color.

-Emi Koyama, a multi-issue social justice activist, A thought on the first annual National Transgender HIV Testing Day


Gay culture has a long history of sex work, from 1950s “hustle” bars where “straight” guys paid a commission to the bartender in order to hook up with gay johns, to 1990s go-go bars where queer dancers were often there to display their wares to potential clients, either as porn actors or other types of sex workers. Dozens of gay icons from Andy Warhol to Christopher Isherwood and Samuel Delany have admitted to (and boasted about) picking up hustlers…[Yet] At a time when we should be decriminalizing sex work, there’s a movement in the LGBT world to pretend sex work doesn’t exist, isn’t a queer and trans issue, isn’t something we’ve historically embraced…But that’s our history, and fighting it or covering it up so we can have marriage equality is a tough price to pay for the LGBT folks who are still doing sex work, either by choice or coercion. We create a world where those folks are marginalized, isolated, invisible…

-Diane Anderson-Minshall, journalist, How LGBT Liberation Connects to the Oldest Profession


Latesha – Statement and What You Can Do

On January 11th, Latesha, a 15-year-old African-American girl and mother to two toddlers, was sentenced in an adult court to 9 years in jail for being used as bait in a scheme to rob men responding to a Backpage escort ad placed for her. After men met Latesha at a motel and gave her money for sexual services,  two older teens would show up rob the men using a fake gun.

SWOP-USA members and board share outrage at the injustice that has already been voiced by the sex worker community. As others have already pointed out, Latesha, as a minor advertised for commercial sex, meets the Michigan state definition of a human trafficking victim. Similarly, the men who were robbed committed several state felonies when they agreed to pay for sex from a minor, an act that is now federally defined as human trafficking.

 These laws were created from the belief that all youth in the sex trade are victims and all men who solicit sex from a minor are perpetrators. Why, then, was Latesha treated as a perpetrator and charged in an adult court? Why weren’t the men who had solicited and paid to have sex with her? And worse, Michigan has no statutory requirements to try minors as adults–so why did prosecution specifically petition to have Latesha tried there?

This injustice, as well as many similar ones, affirm what organizations like Incite have been saying for years: that new anti-trafficking laws are constructed to arrest black men and halt migration, not save black children and immigrant women. That a judge would give an 9-20 year sentence to a vulnerable 15 year old girl with a complicated life who played a marginal role in the robbery of men attempting to committed state and federal sex offenses against a minor (Michigan banned mandatory minimum sentences last summer) suggests that all the energy funneled towards trafficking awareness and legal reform is ultimately failing the people this energy is intended to help: public awareness campaigns dramatizing perfect (often white) victims are distorting our understanding of sex trafficking to the extent that we can’t recognize a real (and fairly typical) victim; and immunity and record relief remedies for minors, if restricted to minors in the sex trade and prostitution charges alone, fail to adequately help most youth in the sex trade, who are criminalized in multiple ways for, essentially, just trying to survive.

Latesha also serves as a reminder of the injustice of the juvenile justice system in America. Latesha is one of an estimated 250,000 youth tried, sentenced or incarcerated as adults each year. She is also one of roughly 10,000 minors in an adult prison or jail today.  Among high-income nations, the United States’ practice of sentencing youth as adults, mandatory minimums sentences, and excruciatingly long sentencing lengths is an outlier…and an aberration. Sentencing any of the teens who participated in the robbery, least of all Latesha, to time in adult prisons is an injustice.

Latesha’s sentencing is also a glaring reminder of race and class disparities in sentencing. Minority youth are far more likely to be arrested, and subsequently far more likely to be tried in adult courts, convicted in those courts, and incarcerated than white youth.  And had Latesha been white and middle-class, well, it’s likely she wouldn’t have needed to engage in survival crimes to support herself and her children.


What You Can Do

COYOTE and SWOP-USA are working on researching concrete ways to support Latesha. We will update you with further information as it becomes available. In the meantime, COYOTE director Bella Robinson, who has been in touch with Latesha and offers the following action items:

  • Send Latesha age-appropriate coloring books: Latesha asked for coloring books. We set up a “wishlist” featuring coloring books we think a teenage girl would like in order to reduce duplicates or too many books arriving at the same time and being trashed because she is over quota. We’ll update it as we get more information about her interests. You can also send them independently — mailing books to prisons is often faster and easier through major online vendors, like BarnesAndNoble, Dalton, or Amazon.
  • Add money to Latesha’s commissary account: You can do this through JPay. Latesha’s DOC number is 972719.
  • Send age-appropriate letters of support, via mail or the JPay email system.

*Instructions for sending mail to Michigan State Correctional Facilities are here. Please remember that all communication to incarcerated individuals are opened and read before they are received

**Latesha’s address is:

[Full Name] – MDOC Number

Womens Huron Correctional Facility

3201 Bemis Rd.

Ypsilanti, MI, 48197

1/10/16 National Call & Speaking Stack


Questions to follow up on:
        – Can local chapters apply to local funding grants? Do they need to go through USA?

  • How can Chapters see what each other are doing?

January 2016 Call Agenda (in progress)

  • 1. Call Overview
    • Review Agenda
    • How often do these happen? – Supposed to be quarterly…

Monthly Scarlet Letter supplements quarterly calls

  • 2. SWOP-USA Updates
    • Second 2015 BOD expansion
      • Currently at 12 active BOD members
        • Kate Zen is VP
      • Personnel: Communications Director, Chapter Liaisons program, Chapter Coordinator, new Bookkeeper (Introducing..Jam Jones!)
      • Seeking grant writer
      • 2015 Recap
        • New Chapters & Highlights
        • Impact
  • 3. Financial Stuff
    • Bank Updates & New Tiered access to funding

Getting away from Chase, tedious.  

All Chapters fall under SWOP-USA 501c3= USA is accountable for all financial happenings

Fundraising docs in the works

    • SWOP-USA 2016 Funding Opportunities
      • Seeking Volunteer – Desiree Conference organizing
    • Chapter Folders – tada! where documents are stored
      • Finance & Donation Tracking Spreadsheets

-Jam Jones is our new bookkeeper, you can contact them at swop.bookkeeping@gmail.com

-These forms should be used for 2016 financial tracking

-Better donation tracking this year including “in-kind” donations or non-cash donations

-tracking categories

      • Receipts

-Receipt folder: needed to keep track of financials. Include picture of it and description of what it is. Link to this on your financial spreadsheet

-Training call in the next month or so

      • Grant agreements
      • This is YOUR folder, put whatever you want in it
      • Paypal buttons:

Extra buttons are being cleaned up and new chapters will get buttons: please let me know if you’re partial to one specific button

Monthly paypal donations will be tracked and chapters informed

        • Evil Empire 3rd party payment processors:

Want to keep paypal as an option as people have faith in it, but we would like to move away from it- suggestions welcome!  

            • Let’s look at DWOLLA
            • Other recommendations?


  • 2016 SWOP-USA Budget


Trying to be more transparent. Projections are estimates and may change

Currently operating as negative

Rows 11-25 are grants and expected donations

row 29: all the things we want to spend money on

row 55-73: SWOP grants

All of this is updated on the chapter hub site



  • 2016 Funding that is available


Quarterly funding available, links will be sent out through the Scarlet Letter when funding is available [this should be included in the handbook]

No limits to applying but want to spread funds evenly if possible

Conference funding: rolling funding: 9K allotted, in part due to Desiree Alliance


  • Tiered Funding


Will be creating applications in the next two weeks

  1. Chapter Updates
    • Chapter Liaison Program

New volunteers to act as liaisons. Hoping to provide better guidance and quicker response system

    • Roles & Responsibilities of Reps
    • Annual Report

Will be sent out sometime this month

    • Chapter Hub Site updates

Where we keep good info as well as archives

    • Proposed Media Kit

Working towards unification

      • Websites

Made by SWOP-USA, a network of websites for Chapters and will come with general content built in that is editable.

      • Mad Mimi newsletters

Easy to use, like mailchimp. Central SWOP-USA account and chapter accts

  • 5. National Agenda
    • 2016-18 Advocacy Agenda
    • Webinar Series
      • AR/AO & Whorearchy training
      • What else do we want?
  • 6. Other Agenda Items
    • Community Support Line Updates

Would love to see this become a stronger resource, need more support for this and it is in the works

    • Desiree Alliance

We encourage carpooling, room-sharing, networking with people in the area

      • Registration opening soon

Actually open now!

      • Save the dates – July 10-15
      • Call for volunteers
    • SASS in Seattle

In March, will be a big event and would be great to have you there!


Added topics:

1- Sola – if time, support for the current trafficking = specific to media, info handouts, victim access and resources gotchya

Large trafficking/ bust with advertising/ discussion board has been shut down. Inserted into news about trafficking. People have been upset about our lack of support to “victims” of raids. Trying to find a way about actual victims, no idea where they are. How do I get ahold of info and provide networking to resources for this specific situation?

-probably keeping info “protected”

-immigration issues go *poof* but they were not going to be deported, will be hooked up with social services and given T-1 visa

Mynorthwest.com- Sara Learner, has experience with trafficking


2- Starchild – I know that SWOP national was approached about donating to the lawsuit to overturn California’s anti-prostitution law, and was looking into that with legal counsel. Also realize national is $29K in the hole right now, but — this is really important. I think there’s consensus in our chapter that we’d like to see support for this prioritized — perhaps over other budget items such as “Chapter Development”

two diff concerns:

-Unsure of ramifications of donating, but we have since learned that it would not be an issue

2Division among board and Chapter of how to address this.

National statement was not made due to this, but Chapter autonomy is respected on this issue for fundraising


Welcome to the speaking stack.

Please add your name to this list if you have something you would like to add to the upcoming National Call. You can add topics that you didn’t see addressed in the agenda, or indicate which agenda topic you’d like to talk about with the group.


Stack moderator: Andrea


STACK SIGN UP: Include your preferred name, Chapter, and what you’d like to talk about:



Mj- Unsure about where to deposit funds? Guidelines for how to handle individual funds?

Documents are in the works! Building a process to keep petty cash on hand at Chapters


Starchild- Will SWOP-USA financials be publically documented the same way the chapter folders are?

Yes! We are working on filling in 2015 budget from national


Joy- Applying for grants for local chapter funding that needs parent permissions?

Not sure- Will follow up


mj, boston – ? for jam re: chapter agreement: Is it possible to update the chapter agreement?

Will speak on the annual report and chapter tracking


?- Funding: Money left over from Dec 17th, can it be applied to other projects?

Yes, no problem.


Starchild – Is there a national email list? I understand there is, but I don’t believe I’ve been added to it; I’ve only seen emails from individuals (Savannah, Jam, and Matthew)

National newsletter and yahoo group, shoot Savannah an email and she will add you


Rachel- have y’all looked into yammer? (for group convos)

No, yammer hasn’t been looked into. We are currently in process of testing one format but will look into yammer- thanks!


Andrea- What is a paypal button?

Paypal button is a link on your website that goes to paypal but identifies your local chapter as the recipient of funds.


Derek – google wallet as alternative to money transfers

Kendra – venmo?


sarah-square cash is another alternative to paypal. I use venmo for most of my payments as well.



Starchild – Really basic question here, this is probably old hat to most, but just wondering how national board is accountable to chapters in terms of elections or what-not?

This will be put in our updated handbook: the National board is divided into committees, one of which is a nominating committee. They take suggestions, conduct interviews and accept based off that.

Based on this, how is National held accountable to Chapters?

Good question, we will review the bylaws and look into changes. UPDATE: Since 2008, SWOP-USA’s Board of Directors has conducted it’s own nominations and elections, as described in our bylaws.


MJ – question on hub site : Can be really wonderful, if chapters have their own pages is there a way to see what other chapters are doing?

Working on a chapter tracking system, if interested in helping please feel free to email andreaferguson86@gmail.com


Starchild – Agree, this would be cool (to be able to see what other chapters are doing).


Joy – what is the time line on this? I personally think this an awesome idea. Hoping to move on this within the next week🙂

Rachel- question on editing websites- we are still in the works and don’t have details on this, but chapters would have full autonomy with editing materials- Thanks just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t have to send updates to someone else, it would be too slow🙂


Is the support line a crisis line?

No, it is a support line. We don’t have the resources for it to be a crisis line and don’t advert it as such



New questions:


Sola – if time, support for the current trafficking = specific to media, info handouts, victim access and resources


Starchild – I know that SWOP national was approached about donating to the lawsuit to overturn California’s anti-prostitution law, and was looking into that with legal counsel. Also realize national is $29K in the hole right now, but — this is really important. I think there’s consensus in our chapter that we’d like to see support for this prioritized — perhaps over other budget items such as “Chapter Development”.


Who showed up:

Andrea- USA/Liaison/ Atlanta

Savannah – USA

Alex- Orlando

Diana- South Florida

Mike- Chapter Liaison

Andy- Minneapolis

Derek – USA/ Liaison

Rachel – Denver

Logan – Dallas

Kristen – Sacramento

Aisha – Philly

Risa – Baltimore

Maggie Mayhem – USA

Sarah – Philly

Kendra Holliday – St. Louis

Taylor – Wilmington

Joy- New York –

M Dante – Philly

Jennifer Reid- Las Vegas

Starchild – San Francisco

Rachel – San Francisco


Jam Jones- USA

Sola- Seattle

Danny- LA


Mj- Boston

Kitty – Boston

Khristina- Kentucky


Chapter Liaison Introduction Call

In attendance:
Savannah (leading)

Resources for Chapters:

Potentially move to google?

New on-boarding process on the way

  • Scarlet Letter (Mailchimp)

Once a month, includes accomplishments big and small.

Moving to new host?

Need to streamline/ archive stuff

Updating funding, etc, resources for reps and liaisons

“Get Educated” tab with resources for articles to educate

  • Chapter handbook

Major reconstruct

Lots of chapters have internal conflict, materials to help serve governance and mediation to come

  • (turn this into archives) Dropbox

Chapter Folders:

Draft of tiered financial access to funding


Reaching out to Chapter

  • Are the on the yahoo group?
  • Do they get the Scarlet Letter?
  • do they know about the Chapter hub site?
  • Is their info updated in the Chapter Contact & Rep Info sheet?

What does a rep do? Streamlining the new rep onboarding process

Entire member newsletter needed

12/5/15 Advocacy Committee Call


Dec 5th 6pm-8pm EST

Conference Call








Kate Zen





Going over Advocacy agenda, providing background on how we developed our 2016 agenda. This agenda came out of a Chapter Needs Assessment.


Eliminate Systemic & Direct Violence Experienced by SWs in USA

Create safe environment within SWOP-USA

Review SW exposure to systemic violence – social service, medial, public policy

Review SW exposure to interpersonal violence – clients, predators, police


Support successful decriminalization of types of SW in USA

research on-going current decorum efforts for effectives

started a national decrim working group

provide on-going emotional and technical support to allies

identify orgs we wish to come out in favors

foster research that aids the decrim efforts


Move towards a world where SW is seen as work

Create anti-stigma campaign


Anti-descriminations policies

Create safe environment within SWOP for all SWs

Community support line

Decrease discrimination via social services, etc



–   PROS Networks Evaluation

Webinar programs

Anti- Stigma Campaign

Clear, Consistent SWOP Rep training

Coalition building


Ideas & questions:

– Create infographics and talking points for dermic vs legalization

– Track reporters and media people who are good at addressing these issues

–  Amnesty – being present at those regional conferences, supporting other orgs

Community Line – Conner has stepped down, we do not have the resources to keep up with this.

How to we develop good advocacy at a local level?


To do

–  Send Advocacy Agenda on Scarlet Letter to Chapters to see if this agenda matches member expectation. Have feedback sent to Savannah.

–  Contact HIPS and list their number on our website as the hotline.

–  Create AR/AO and whorearchy required reading materials for new Chapters, look to NSWP for model of on-boarding and stating mission goals/values. Make sure NEW leaders are trained.

– Create mediation materials, and a process to address conflict.

– Form osbudsman position for SWOP-USA – usa RUF funding to do this

– Create newsletter list of favorable journalists

– Create quarterly report-backs for Chapters, get a better idea of what they are doing

– Create Annual Reports


1/16/16 Board of Directors Call

Board of Directors Call

Date: Sun Jan 10th 2016 4pm EST

Google Hangout link:


On call:













To Do from last call:

Fatemeh & Derek – Help Savannah, Matt make annual report


Vote: Katie as Chair, Derek, Katherine,


AGENDA: Please feel free to add items



  • New People
  • Kate Zen was elected Vice President
  • Katie was elected to be Chair of the Advocacy Committee
  • Proposal – remove Derek from the Board and hire him as Chapter Coordinator for $20 p/hr up to 50 hrs per month (up to $1000 per month). Tasks:
  • Manage Chapter Liaisons Program
  • On-board new Chapters
  • Handle Chapter loose ends – mediation, questions, Liaison gaps
  • Internal Communications – collaborate with Savannah on newsletter, yahoo group, etc


      1. Update (1/23/16): We will make an open job call for this position, to ensure that we are fairly picking the best candidate.
    • Proposal to get Katherine paid, back on 50 hrs per month mid Feb
      1. Update (1/23/16) Contact SWOP-Chicago for references
    • Contacted Matthew Killagrew from RedLightLegal
    • New Board members – add ideas to this list


  • Other Action Items


    • Board communication
      1. Moving to Slack – assign targeted projects to this, so we start shifting our communications.
      2. Meetings and involvement: feedback says we are hugely a working board= open to better ways to utilize time

-Just chairs meet to share updates, open meeting

-establish expectations for involvement

    • Board Retreat
      1. To happen before Desiree – July 8-10?

-Need someone to help organize logistics: Fatima, Maggie, Christa

-One big host-house airbnb

      1. Small team to help organize this.
      2. Budget is presently $8,000
        1. AirBnB 1
        2. AirBnB 2
    1. Supporting intersectional allied movements

-Discussion about working with other orgs, improving AO/AR and whorearchy training, didn’t respond adequately around Holtzclaw

      1. Justice ride– can support this fundraising
      2. Holtzclaw case



  • Committee Check-Ins/Updates


  • Chapter Relations
    • National Call 1/10/16 7-9ET (right after this call!)
    • Chapter Liaisons Program
    • Response to TRB shutdown in Seattle

Negative response to wording; classism and whorearchy. Balance between swift response and delicate handling. We need a rapid response team, and a crisis response protocol. Tie in more examples of similar cases to show trends.

Would extend to Chapter Reps and Chapters

      • $500,000 Employers Liability
      • $500,000 Directors & Operators
      • $5,000 Retention
      • Annual Premium – $3,113 + $500 CRC Fee = $3,613


  • Communications
    • Dec 17th Recap
    • New website network – contracted by Klaudia of dreemproject.
      • $1500 for swopusa.org overhaul & chapter template
      • $250 per new chapter website

-Talk offline with Kate, Andrea, and Kate Zen

-Transition AWAY from chase should be done by the end of the month

-Opened main accounts and sub accounts with Wells Fargo

-Approx 30K is Chapter funding, carry forward bal ~30K

-Feedback on SWOP USA grant amounts

-Incentivize internal chapter funding, work into tiered process


  • (A draft of these will be introduced to Chapters tonight)


Offer $100 to chapters who have already passed tier 1

      • Did we create a list of 2016 conferences to attend?

Call for write up of this

      • Desiree – we need a point person for this
    • Fatemeh is tackling some grants
    • We need to hire a grant writer
    • Bank shit
      • We’re getting really close
      • Create tiered system for access to funding
      • We have gotten the grant from the Red Umbrella Fund for $16,000



-Take a look at proposed changes

-Add materials to it as inspired