All I want for Christmas is the decriminalization of sex work because it’s the gift that keeps on giving – not just to me. I’m not being selfish, even though it would benefit me as a sex worker in the US where sex work is criminalized.
For me, decriminalization would mean I have the same workplace rights as every other worker in the US. It would mean I could call on the police in an emergency rather than put myself in danger trying to avoid them. It would mean I don’t have to find places to hide my condoms in case they are used against me as evidence. It would mean I could be clear with potential clients about my service and my limitations without fearing they are an undercover police officer.
It would mean my criminal record for receiving money for sex work, from over 30 years ago, would be cleared rather than being kept on file forever as a prostitution conviction. For me and thousands of criminalized sex workers in the US, it would mean I could prioritize my own health and safety over police evasion.
Decriminalization also sends a message to the community that everyone deserves to be safe. Decriminalization supports sex workers’ safety by removing the barriers sex workers face when accessing police, allowing sex workers to work in ways that are safe, and reducing stigma against sex workers – all of which impact sex workers’ safety. Anything that reduces violence against a particular group of people is a gift to the whole community.
So this year my Christmas wish is for the US is to continue its proud tradition of leading the way in progressive and nondiscriminatory social policy by decriminalizing sex work, and once again show the world that giving people basic rights will not result in the sky falling in.
Revised from the original author, Ari Reid