The Trans Justice Program at the ACLU of Missouri is pleased to announce an incredibly special statewide research project, and the very first of the newly coined MO Ho Justice Coalition. 

From August 1 - August 31, 2020, the coalition will hold the largest outreach effort ever to sex workers in the state of Missouri. 

In partnership with fellow #MOHoJustice coalition organizations Sex Worker Outreach Project, Metro Trans Umbrella Group, Stop the Bleed STL/The T, and MO Network, the ACLU of Missouri is proud to join this historic effort to discover more about a deeply ignored and underserved population. The multi-organization goal is to not only connect with sex workers but to publish a report detailing what sex workers in the state of Missouri face. 

With evidence dating back to the 1870s, St. Louis has a contentious relationship with sex work, as do most major urban centers. Coalition partners are committed to changing this dynamic and informing the public so stigma can be eliminated and sex work can be discussed as labor. 

It is a reality that many trans people - most often trans women and trans folks with disabilities or neuroatypicalities - are forced to turn to sex work due to family and social hostility, sexual harassment, or unfair and discriminatory hiring practices. 

This work is part of a shifting framework nationwide. As ACLU-PA’s Trans Justice Organizer Naiymah Sanchez shared in a recent interview for a similar effort in Pennsylvania, “If sex workers and those who buy sex are no longer committing a crime, prisons will be emptier. “I had 17 charges of prostitution—” explained Sanchez, “not prostitution per se, but solicitation, loitering on the highway, trespassing. These all resulted from me engaging in survival sex work. I’ve also sat in jail for pretrial for months for sex work charges. I was given bail — but I couldn’t pay a $1000 bail. I couldn’t even put a roof over my head. I am being criminalized in jail; I am being criminalized in society for trying to meet my needs.” Of the survey efforts in Pennsylvania, Sanchez explained, “It’s about uplifting the experiences of those who are impacted.

Though we celebrate changing legal precedents affirming legal protections for trans and GNC people, we know those legal protections only work if you have a job in the first place. Trans women tend to be overlooked and not even hired to begin with because of social biases and unfounded fears.

We are hiring two contracted story collectors to ensure participants can receive support with completion.

So, please, spread the news of this new survey far and wide. The first 75 participants will get cash for their time and story.

Thank you for joining us in this effort to #DecrimTheHustle! Let's end the stigma together.

The ACLU of Missouri is a part of this campaign to decriminalize commercial sex work, protect workers in the industry, and affirm their rights and needs.

Click here to take the survey.