Solidarity with Sex Workers: The Dangerous Misdirection of FOSTA/SESTA

On March 21, the two major parties passed two bills in Senate, claiming that they will curb sex trafficking online: Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA).

These bills will only further criminalize sex workers and put them, along with victims of sex trafficking, at more risk.The Green Party of Kansas City, Missouri stands in solidarity with Sex Workers and against sex trafficking.

End Immigration Detention, Safety for Sex Workers, Save Women’s Healthcare

While public perception and legislation often conflate these terms, preventing sex trafficking requires addressing the different forms of marginalization that create vulnerable communities.

Many sex workers and activists are calling for the decriminalization of sex work. We join them in these calls and are actively integrating this into our developing local, state, and national Green Party platform.

Draconian legislation like FOSTA/SESTA are taking sex workers and the victims of sex trafficking and pushing them further into the shadows. Websites such as Backpage and personals on Craigslist, can now be prosecuted if they "facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims" or support the "promotion or facilitation of prostitution.” Craigslist has since removed their personals section from their website.

Despite working in a socially secluded industry, women today have much to thank sex workers for as they have been on the front lines of advocating both women's, queer folks’ and workers' rights in and outside of their industry. As fellow workers and as socialist feminists, we stand with them.

FOSTA/SESTA will make it much harder for sex workers to screen their clients and will force those using online resources to rely more on “street-based” sex work, which can be more dangerous. However, these bills go beyond sex workers’ ability to safely book clients, it is even retroactive. Former sex workers can now be banned if they discuss having previously been in the industry.

FOSTA/SESTA are not the answer to addressing human trafficking. Punishing sex workers, taking away their online communities and removing ways they can safely vet clients is not the answer. We must take a stand against these bills and stand in solidarity with Sex Workers in Kansas City and throughout the country and develop real solutions to support victims of human trafficking.

Sources for further reading on the issue:

Arnold, Amanda. “Here’s What’s Wrong With the So-Called Anti–Sex Trafficking Bill.” The Cut, 20 Mar. 2018,

Cole, Addy. "The dystopian future is here..." Facebook, 28 Mar. 2018, 28 at 11:22 a.m., Accessed 05 April 2018. 

Roderick, Leonie. “What We Owe to the Hidden, Groundbreaking Activism of Sex Workers.”Broadly, 8 Mar. 2017,

Facebook post from Addy Cole:
Cole, Addy. "The dystopian future is here..." Facebook, 28 Mar. 2018, 28 at 11:22 a.m., Accessed 05 April 2018. 

Things you can do to help sex workers in the wake of #FOSTA and #SESTA (non-monetary ideas included)

  1. Give your money to sex workers. If you know folks struggling, and can afford to, throw them some cash. If the workers that you know are fairly privileged, ask them to give some cash to some less privileged workers that they might know. Many of us are losing the platforms which we advertise on and so money is going to be tight.
  2. Share your resources. Do you have a job that gets you discounts? Are you able to get some extra food on your way out at the restaurant? Do you have some sky Miles that you can donate to help a sex worker go work in a different city so they can make up for the deficit? Do you have a spare bedroom or couch that someone can crash on if they lose their housing? 

  3. Share sex worker content. Many of us are posting about this stuff and it would be extremely helpful if you could hit that share button and keep that content on people‘s radar. Now is not the time to be sheepish or be concerned about whether or not your friends and loved ones will judge you. We already get a bunch of judgment and, to be perfectly honest, if you are willing to share the content about kids getting shot in the street and homophobia and such, then you should be talking about sex workers rights as well because sex work is the intersection of all of those things. These laws are based in racism and sexism and that needs to be considered and addressed. Also, keep in mind that this bill has already shut down the sub Reddit and a lot of sex worker only discussion groups and a lot of us are sitting here with this sword hanging over our heads wondering when our Facebook accounts are going to get shut down. When and if that happens, we will need you more than ever. #slutupandlisten

  4. Bug your senators and representatives. If you don’t know how to contact them, you can text RESIST to 50409 And they will tell you how to contact those people. When you do, please tell them that the passage of FOSTA and SESTA is having a devastating effect on people in your community and you would like for them to repeal it.

  5. Listen. Pretty much every sex worker I know is scrambling right now to not only make sure their business stays afloat, but also to inform and educate the people around them because, quite honestly, we don’t know what else to do. When sex workers talk to you about these issues, don’t tell us what you think should be done because you don’t know the business and we are already being talked down to by our clients, the government, family, and the public at large, so we don’t need any more condescension. Sometimes we just need an ear or shoulder to cry on. Be that person. And definitely don’t be the person asking sex workers how to get into the industry right now. We don’t need more newbie workers coming in at this time and they won’t make money anyway, especially with the current climate. We need resources, we don’t need leeches. Please be considerate of that when you lend a hand or ear. 

  6. Correct people when they say negative things or make jokes about sex workers. Especially when you’re in public. I know it’s uncomfortable, but imagine being a sex worker in a room full of people, and then someone makes a joke about how you should be dead, and everybody laughs and nobody says anything in your defense. I can tell you from experience, its a very isolating and distressing experience. It’s hard enough to think that your government wants you dead, but it’s even harder when it’s people who are your IRL friends and associates. When you stand up for sex workers, just remember that there might be a sex worker in that room who, even though they may not ever tell you, will appreciate that someone cared. A lot of us suffer in silence because we have to do. Try to minimize that suffering if you can. 

  7. Share your skills. Are you a great babysitter and have a couple hours that you can give to a sex worker so that they can go to work? Are you good at building websites or know a lot about tech and/or security? Do you teach a yoga class and think you could pencil in a special class for sex workers here and there to relax and connect to their bodies? Think about the things that you are good at and how you can use that to help folks. 

  8. Share you contacts. Do you have famous friends with lots of twitter followers? Do you know lawyers or legislators? Start educating them. Ask them to talk with their base and retweet sex worker content. ESPECIALLY if you have friend who may have said disparaging things about sex workers in the past. 

If someone else thinks of more ways that people can help sex workers, please add it to the comments and we will add to this post and share on our Facebook. 

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