Lawyer Jared Trujillo is fighting to change the law criminalizing sex work in New York.
“Sex work is inherently work,” he explained. “It’s how people feed their families. It’s how people put clothes on their backs. It’s, you know, how people survive, and I think for people to know that their means to survive is valued by society would only empower folks.”
Trujillo, who also helms the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, says sex work, as well as many other types of jobs, helped him finance his education. The association is a union of attorneys and staff represents low-income folks in NYC.
New York may become the first state to fully decriminalize sex work thanks to a bill package introduced in the New York State Legislature that could be up for a vote in the next legislative session. Trujillo worked with advocacy group DecrimNY to help draft the decriminalization bill. If passed, it would allow consensual, paid sex between adults, while a separate bill would eliminate the “walking while trans” ban.
Some opponents of the decrim movement say it would embolden traffickers who coerce or force people into sex. But many current and former sex workers dispute that claim, saying decriminalization would help police officers and law enforcement identify victims of trafficking since they wouldn’t be as afraid to come forward.
Advocates say decriminalizing sex work could help provide legal recourse for full-service sex workers and help destigmatize those involved in other sex trades.
“I think it will let people know that they’re seen,” Trujillo explained. “It will let people know that society doesn’t view the way that they support themselves as any less meaningful or as less valid than anyone else.”