For perhaps the first time, the epidemic of violence against trans women of color has become an election issue, with Sens.
Joe Sestak — were willing to comment. The laws made it possible for companies operating websites to be held legally responsible if people posted for sex work, including consensual sex work. They passed the House in February and the Senate that March, with overwhelming bipartisan support. Every presidential candidate then in Congress — Sens. In April, the president ed them into law.
The response was swift. Two days after the law passed, Romano reports, Craigslist shut down its personals section, which had been used by some sex workers for advertising.
The escort service Cityvibe shut down. Reddit closed down several subreddits devoted to sex work.
And the impact on sex workers, many say, was devastating. Before the law went into effect, Spellman explained, sex workers were able to find clients online as well as using message boards to compare notes about which clients were safe to work with.
Indeed, a study found that the ability of sex workers to advertise on Craigslist actually reduced the total homicide rate for women in America by 10 to 17 percent, because sex workers were so much less likely to be killed. Black trans people in general are disproportionately likely to face employment discriminationand with no federal law banning discrimination on the basis of gender identitythey often have little recourse.
For some, the best or only option is sex work. And now, Spellman and others say that option is a lot more dangerous than it used to be. Overall, transgender people of color are at high risk of violence in America.
At least 18 trans people were killed between the beginning of January and the end of Septemberaccording to the New York Timesmost of them trans women of color. Dana Martin, 31, Muhlaysia Booker, 23, and Bee Love Slater, also just 23, are just some of the trans people who have lost their lives this year. Of course, not every trans person who is killed is involved in sex work. But laws around sex work are a big factor making trans people unsafe, advocates say. When Vox surveyed all the candidates on their position on the legislation and whether they would support oversight of its impact, only two campaigns got back to us to comment.
So, we need to revisit that. Other candidates, including Sens.
Booker, Harris, Sanders, and Warren, and Rep. Coming out against it at this point would, for many candidates, mean admitting they voted the wrong way. Without such safety nets, and without action on FOSTA-SESTA, advocates say trans sex workers in America will remain vulnerable to violence — and legislation backed by Democrats, including frontrunners in the race, will be part of the cause.
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