SESTA, an evil, horrible, no good bill that aims to curtail human trafficking but will, in practice, make current SWs far less safe by limiting our online platforms (impeding free speech in the process), as well as further invisibilizing trafficked individuals by removing online ads through which they have previously been tracked and located, has passed 97-2, pending the president's signature, which he has indicated he will.
We are FURIOUS.
But because we are who we are--brilliant, fabulous, resourceful, clever, and--above all--adaptable--the SW's rights movement is about to get a whole lot louder. Allies who have been looking for a reason to collaborate with our movement for years have come out of the woodwork in droves, and we are forming a formal, diverse, and broad coalition. In particular, the ACLU, trans rights groups, and AIDS prevention organizations are wholeheartedly on our side. The ACLU believes that there are multiple openings in the bill for a legal challenge, so PLEASE donate to them if you're not already a supporter.
We have already seen some of our platforms modified or disappeared--months before the bill can legally take effect. This, to me, is an utter and blatant act of cowardice. TER, in particular, has removed its ad boards. TER is how I found my first client, and many, many thereafter. Far too predictably, the first platforms to crumble under the mere idea of legal scrutiny are the ones that serve those not able to pay for expensive ads. TER was free for us; Craigslist has closed down its personals section. And we all know that Massachusetts BP is dead and gone. So we are left with fewer options already. Our strategy now is to diversify our advertising in order to survive, should further shoes drop.
The question for us now is how to harness this momentum and all the people Congress has pissed off. SurvivorsAgainstSESTA is the best way to track the movement, but, for my part, I am extremely excited about the ideas and plans being discussed.
Our main goal at the moment is to educate representatives, senators, and their staffers about the evils of this bill and a better way to proceed--help not harm. Many of us who called our representatives and senators to discuss this bill were met with complete ignorance--either that the bill existed at all, what it contained, or how it could be extremely harmful to the SW community. Many staffers have already expressed interest in becoming educated about how the vague language of such laws affects us on the ground. There was already a phone call with many staffers who have indicated early curiosity about the reality of our lives. But we plan to broadly expand our educational efforts. Many of the votes cast for this bill were cast in ignorance. Under the circumstances--the life-and-death nature of this bill--this is intolerable, and our elected leaders will be held to account. They committed to this legislation; our mission is to obtain commitments to mitigate the harm it will cause and to be more informed and less appallingly lemming-like in future.
To that end, we are planning a public day of action in DC in June in a loud and proud manner. It will involve meetings on the hill in addition to occupying public space in the most colorful, creative, and riveting way that only we can.
But friends: All of these projects will require funding, especially to get as diverse as possible a crowd of SWs to DC in June. Please consider a donation to MASWAN as part of your support of me and my ability to continue to be simultaneously fabulous and safe, along with my tens of thousands of comrades and our allies and friends.
Many thanks for your support. I cannot adequately convey how moved we as a community and I personally have been by the outpouring of compassion and action that we have seen over the past several weeks. We very much see this as having lost a battle that heralds the beginning of the war. We are the oldest profession, and we are not going anywhere. The only question is how much of our safety net will our law makers destroy.