Open Letter from Sex Trade Survivors
Autumn Burris

A Project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), 501(c) (3)

The Desiree Alliance has serious concerns over the ongoing attacks against sexual freedoms of adult-oriented industries. We view the right for consensual sexual freedoms as fundamental civil liberties every citizen is afforded to engage in without legal recourse, without policing, and without moral repercussions. These intrusions and deprivations debase personal privacy and equality that censor the First Amendment right guaranteed to every citizen. The targeting, profiling, arrests, and convictions against vulnerable populations inherently impair the health and well-being of communities that have limited or no access to services that provide safe working environments and protections against state-sanctioned violence. When government begins to criminalize sex in the guise of morality and jettisons legal language, we question the validity and reasoning as to why government interference belongs in the consensual labor of sex and online advertising sites that provide safety from second and third party interferences and exploitations.

We consider the unbalanced policing of online adult-oriented websites as a direct assault against the sex worker community. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency ACT states that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230), therefore, not legally liable for the words of third parties who use their services. The Supreme Court struck down portions of this Act as unconstitutional and was successfully argued on the First Amendment against the censoring of adult interactions and communications online of sexually explicit nature (Reno v American Civil Liberties Union 521 U.S. 844 (1997) (Shea v Reno 930 F. Supp. 916 (S.D.N.Y. (1996). When we tolerate and accept government intimidation as sovereign, we must uphold the First Amendment right and question authority regarding protected constitutional freedoms (Backpage v Dart №15 C 6340 (2015). Elected officials cannot legitimize the piecemealing of constitutional guarantees in the expressions of skewed rhetoric designed upon moral principles. Targeting websites of adult-content as criminal initiates legal vulnerabilities to the entirety of the world wide web. We again defer to the 1996

Communications Decency ACT where legal provisions have been built upon this document for more ardent surveillance on the internet (TVPRA 2000, Children’s Internet Protection ACT, SAVE ACT, Palermo Protocol). Many site owners and managers fully cooperate with government agencies taking reasonable and responsible measures to counter the trafficking of adults and minors through awareness, providing online resources, and warning labels directly on their websites. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, involuntary servitude and commercial sex acts, trafficking convictions are dwindling, exhibiting online warnings and cooperation have been successful in countering human trafficking. Prostitution and disorderly conduct arrests in the US from 1981 until 2013, data shows 1.8% of these cases involved minors (Almodovar — Operation Do The Math). U.S. global policing will affect public entities in all contexts that expands further than websites displaying adult-centered material. Criminalizing the ability to freely engage in consensual adult content has been rejected recurrently by state and federal courts exampled by Brown v Entertainment Merchants Association 564 U.S. 08–1448 (2011), United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, 529 U.S. 803 (2000), Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S 234 (2002).

We reject the frameworks of anti-trafficking discourses as conflated and ultimately dangerous to those who labor in alternative economies that the laws do not protect and serve or, wholly provide representations. We acknowledge trafficking exists in the most deplorable and heinous conditions through capital means of demand and supply. However, when government entities and funded stakeholders are not held accountable for accurate trafficking data, the burden of proof lies upon public knowledge of such data. Incorrect data purposely distorts the right of the public to make informed decisions and skews the balance of how far governments can regulate consensual sexual freedoms. We find this deeply problematic as sex trafficking has never been an epidemic; No statistics put forth by the US Justice Department, FBI, or credible research has shown an epidemic. Factually, government statistics represent hyper-criminalization and arrests disportionately affecting communities living in economic disparities and in communities of color. Marketing mass hysteria to gain public support reifies trafficking in all forms, (i.e. labor, sex, and human trafficking) and furthers the demand for these economies to thrive in clandestine markets regardless of government objectives to curb or eradicate trafficking. Enacting laws upon existing laws only expands the consumption for underground labor forces that ultimately hinder and defeat the purpose of the laws designed to aid victims of trafficking. These deterrences do not mitigate or alleviate circumstances of human trafficking, and only exacerbates the installation of fear and retributions of dangerous retaliations put upon by the government itself.

The Desiree Alliance and the undersigned individuals and organizations believe losing the ability to freely engage in constitutional freedoms is negligent on behalf of legal systems that are designed to uphold First Amendment decisions of the courts. As representatives of sex workers rights and our allies, we reject the continued legal attacks on sex workers in erroneous retaliations in the pretext of suppressing human trafficking.

Desiree Alliance

Sex Workers Outreach Project USA — SWOP USA

BAYSWAN (Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network)

COYOTERI (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics)


Power Source Tucson



SWOP Maryland

Anna Forbes MSS, Independent Consultant

Sex Workers Outreach Project Tucson

Prevention Access Campaign

JD Davids

Sex Professionals of Canada

Strass — Syndicat du Travail Sexuel

STROLL — Portland

Barb Brents, PhD, University Nevada Las Vegas

SWOP Behind Bars

Sex Worker Open University, UK

International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers, Europe

Woodhull Freedom Foundation

Maggie McNeill

Eric Sprankle, PsyD

PACE Society, Canada

New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance

Diana Hemingway

Maggie’s- Toronto Sex Workers Action Project

Way Pass Program

Shane A. Petzer, South Africa

Zandra Ellis, Rise Above Counseling

Desmond Ravenstone

HIV-Modernization Movement — Indiana

Carrie Foote, PhD

AIDS Alabama

Professor Elena Shih, Department of American Studies-Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Brown University

Heather Berg, PhD, University of Southern California

Stella, l’amie de Maimie (Montréal, Canada)

Loren Jones

Sex Workers Outreach Project Sacramento

Positive Women’s Network USA — PWN USA

Trans Masculine Advocacy Network

Counter Narrative Project

Red Light Legal

Sex Workers Outreach Project Tampa Bay

SisterLove, Inc.

Free Speech Coalition

Dr Hernando Chaves


Global Network of Sex Work Projects-NSWP

US PROStitutes Collective

Clients of Sex Workers Allied for Change -CoSWAC

Sex Workers Project

Second Chance Reentry, Inc

Tax Domme

Greggor Mattson, PhD — Oberlin College Associate Professor of Sociology

Rick Pettit

The Well Project

Empower Foundation, Thailand

Helping Individual People Survive — HIPS

Sex Workers Outreach Project Denver

Rachel Carlisle

Gregory Mitchell, PhD Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Williams College

Kari Lerum, PhD, University of Washington Bothell

Joelle Ruby Ryan, Ph.D. Senior Lecturer In Women’s Studies, University of New Hampshire

LaGender Inc, Atlanta

SWITCH Support Group, Atlanta

Juliana Piccillo

Monica J. Casper, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Arizona

Kym Cutter

Jennifer C. Jones, MSW, LCSW

Sex Workers Outreach Project San Antonio

Mike Crawford

TransLatina Coalition, Florida

SWOP Orlando

Alex Andrews

Philadelphia Red Umbrella Alliance

Julie Bates, Principal Urban Realists Planning & Health Consultants, Sydney, Australia

Adrian Mintzmyer

Prostitution Policy Watch, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Dr. Thaddeus Blanchette, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Dr. Ana Paula da Silva, Federal Fluminense University Brazil

Alexandra Lutnick, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, RTI International

James F. Pivonka, La Crosse, KS

Martha Lampley, Sex Workers Outreach Prpject Los Angeles

Amy Oden

St. James Infirmary

Women’s ReEntry Network

Sonyka Francis

Dr Alan D Brown Assistant Professor Southern Connecticut State University New Haven, CT

Marco Castro-Bojorquez, Venas Abiertas: Una red de inmigrantes Latinxs viviendo con el VIH/Sida

Ruby Corado, Casa Ruby

Alex S. Morgan

Las Organización de Trabajadoras del Sexo de El Salvador — OTS-ES

Best Practices Policy Project

Sex Workers Outreach Project, Chicago

Scarlet Alliance, Australia

Stepping Stone Association of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Barb Cardell

Positive Women’s Network Colorado

Cheryl Overs, Senior Research Fellow, Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights. Monash University, Melbourne Australia

Civil Liberties and Public Policy

Transgender Law Center


Sex Workers Outreach Project, Las Vegas

Keiko Lane, MFT

Logan Haynsworth

Asian Pacific Network of Sex Workers-APNSW

Bob Aquavia

Danielle Ellis

Ms. S. Hawkins

noa suprihmbé

Semona Baston

Alex Tigchelaar

Laura Holloway

Maria F. Bareiss

J Anthony Trimble, Deputy Director & Co-Founder — Trans Sistas of Color Project — Detroit; Executive Producer & Director — “WHAT’S T? Exploring the Narratives of Transgender Women of Color in Detroit” Docufilm & Book Project

James F Pivonka

Janice Daniels Knudson

People Exchanging Power — PEP

The official statement can be found at