The Voices of Sex Workers Need to be Heard

I am Tamika. I’m a peer advocate and policy fellow at HIPS, a service and advocacy organization for people in the sex trade and for drug users. DC has been a home for me since the late eighties.

I am a fighter. I am a survivor. I am a Black trans woman, and I do sex work.

Tamika Spellman (2018)

Tamika Spellman (2018)

When I think about my safety being further compromised because of laws that criminalize sex workers, like SESTA/FOSTA, it makes me wonder what these laws are trying to accomplish. They certainly don’t help anyone.

I know a lot of people in the sex trade in DC, especially trans women who sell sex to survive and have worked along K, 9th, 10th, and 11th Street. We don’t feel safe or protected. We talk a lot about how these laws have increased harassment and violence from the police and from others.

Tamika Spellman testifying at a public hearing at the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety at the DC Council (2018)

Tamika Spellman testifying at a public hearing at the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety at the DC Council (2018)

I’m overburdened as a DC resident because I do survival sex work. I’m often a victim of harms that go unreported because police would rather arrest me than protect me. I need laws that liberate me and give me equal protection from being raped, beaten, robbed, or murdered.

Tamika Spellman (far right) and other freedom fighters from Casa Ruby and No Justice, No Pride at the Sex Workers Rise Up for Safety rally (2018)

Tamika Spellman (far right) and other freedom fighters from Casa Ruby and No Justice, No Pride at the Sex Workers Rise Up for Safety rally (2018)

The voices of sex workers need to be heard. Sex workers need to stop being criminalized. Our lives, and the health of our communities, depend on it.



— Tamika Spellman
HIPS Peer Advocate and Policy Fellow

#SEXWORKISWORK #StopCriminalizingPOC #DECRIMNOW