Earlier this week, advocates and lawmakers launched legislation that would decriminalize sex work across the state of New York. If passed, the legal penalties for anyone engaged in sex work would be completely dropped, largely ending the targeted persecution of sex workers that leaves them unsafe, exposed to violence, and a common target for abuse by police.
Sex work is a crucial and valid source of income for many marginalized people across the US, including immigrants, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community. According to the U.S. Transgender Survey, one in five transgender women have engaged in sex work, including nearly half of all Black transgender women. Because their livelihood is arbitrarily criminalized, those who do sex work not only face harassment and violence but are discouraged from seeking help when they need it.