Beyond Sex Work Decriminalization: Possibilities and Priorities for Marginalized Sex Workers
In collaboration with Woodhull Freedom Foundation, the Oregon Sex Workers’ Committee (OSWC) is honoured to be hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights to discuss the impact of sex work decriminalization in the state of Oregon and beyond. The OSWC advocates for decriminalization as an essential component of a public health framework that recognizes and protects the human rights of sex workers, but also emphasizes that decrim is not the end of the road for sex workers’ rights: it’s just one of many important steps in the long pursuit of equity and justice. Tonight, we have assembled a panel of experts to talk about the ways the criminalization of sex work worsens health inequities, and why decriminalization (rather than legalization or end demand) is the policy framework that best empowers marginalized communities.
Our panel features:
Tamika Spellman (she/her): Tamika began working with Honoring Individual Power & Strength (HIPS) in June 2017 after being a client since 1993, where she is now the Policy and Community Engagement Manager. She is dedicated to working to create positive policies and laws to help those engaging in sex work and drug use. She has testified on behalf of HIPS at DC city council hearings, spoken on several harm reduction panels, and is managing SWAC (DECRIMNOW). She also served as an advisor to the Sex Worker Giving Circle, the Chosen Few, No Justice No Pride, is a member of the Urban Survivors Union, and a board member for the Church Of Safe Injection-Bangor Maine. She also has featured op eds in The Root and Medium, appears in several articles and is the recipient of an award from the Legal Society of Washington D.C. for work on the fare evasion bill. She also advised congressional representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ro Khanna on proposed legislation.
Joaquin Remora (he/him): Joaquin is an advocate for Transgender empowerment and liberation with 10+ years experience in bringing harm reduction principles, mediation, racial equity and LGBTQ cultural competency to different organizations. He has enjoyed working in crisis intervention, housing and social services, including at St James Infirmary in San Francisco, with up to 100 participants per day in a variety of high demand settings. Dedicated whole heartedly to inspiring and teaching empathy, creating momentum towards social change.
Esther K (she/her): Esther is a Bunun-Taiwanese, Lead Organizer with Red Canary Song, an Asian-American sex workers-led group focusing on migrant massage business workers outreach. With RCS, she is working on the decriminalization of sex work in New York, coalition builds with Chinatowns across the U.S., and does public education on the need to include sex workers in anti-trafficking narratives. She’s spoken at the University of Chicago, University of Michigan Law, and Columbia University among others. Outside of RCS, is a Consultant at the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center, and helped produce their first ever documentary Sex(ual) Healing currently showing in film festivals, the Roxy Theatre, and the Museum of Sex (NYC).
Kaycee Voorhees-Washington (he/him, they/them): Kaycee is a 19 year old teenager from central Virginia recently relocated to Baltimore, Maryland with dreams of becoming a well-rounded activist and advocate. Kaycee’s key goals for his community are decriminalizing HIV transmission, stopping state-sanctioned violence against trans & Queer folk, and ensuring that all youth have access to accurate, comprehensive education on sexuality & health. From the age of 13 Kaycee has used survival sex work to escape homelessness and poverty and be able to support themselves without any assistance. Kaycee believes that every challenge in life is a new level up of greatness ready to break through .
This panel was organized and will be monitored by:
Bianca Beebe: Bianca is a sex worker and current MPH student at Johns Hopkins who lives and works in New Zealand, which has a decriminalized model of sex work. She brings her lived experiences in different countries and legislative models to her work as the Co-Chair of the Oregon Sex Workers’ Committee, the Sex Work Policy Fellow at FreeState Justice in Maryland, and her research at Johns Hopkins. She views sex workers as one of many categories of vulnerable workers in the gig economy under late capitalism, and focuses her work on policy development that shifts oppressive systems of power.