In 2010, President Barack Obama declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It is the exploitation of a person through force, fraud, or coercion. The vast majority of trafficking victims in the United States are people who have historically faced discrimination: BIPOC, Indigenous communities, immigrants, and LGBTQIA+.
People living in poverty, foster care, and/or who are struggling with addiction, trauma, abuse or unstable housing, are also at higher risk for trafficking. The State Department’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report found that BIPOC trans women and girls who are trafficked are predominantly victims of sex trafficking. Nine in 10 trans sex workers have reported being harassed, attacked, or assaulted by the police.
Some trans and TGNC sex workers who are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking do not go to the police for assistance, out of fear of more discrimination and incarceration.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stated that “[m]any cases of violence against LGBTQIA persons are underreported; many persons are afraid of reprisals, reluctant to identify themselves as LGBTQIA, or do not trust the police or the justice system.” Former Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin expressed, “The level of violence targeting transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, is a national crisis that the LGBT movement has a responsibility to confront.”
Decriminalizing sex work in the United States would help protect the lives of trans people – especially trans people of color – whether or not we engage in the sex trade.
Modern day slavery and human trafficking doesn’t just harm the victims; it harms their loved ones, families, and chosen families, who experience real pain and grief — and often take on expensive legal costs tied to supporting the victim, or to putting them to rest if they were killed.
Modern day slavery and human trafficking is a transgender issue, because slavery and human trafficking disproportionately impacts BIPOC trans women and girls, and LGBTQIA people.
In addition to exploring the slavery and human trafficking resources below, follow #EndHumanTrafficking on Twitter to access more news and information.
Resources (United States)
- National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733)
- Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign designed to educate the public, law enforcement and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases. Blue Campaign works closely with DHS Components to develop general awareness trainings, as well as specific educational resources to help reduce victimization within vulnerable populations. Learn more: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign
- WATCH #LivesAtStake: does the COVID-19 crisis reveal it’s time to declare sex work lawful? TransLash Creator/Producer Imara Jones talks with trans activists Aria Sa’id, Toni-Michelle Williams, and Cecilia Gentili on April 23, 2020 (captions provided).
- Transgender Law Center’s Trans Agenda for Liberation: Freedom to Thrive
- NYC Anti-Violence Project: Report Violence (you can report violence from any state). You can also call or text their 24-hour bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141, where you can speak with a trained counselor. NYC Anti-Violence Project is a safe space and resource for trans people (watch here to learn more).
- Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative (SNaP Co.) Report: The Most Dangerous Thing Out There Is The Police (SNaP Co. is a Black trans-led org).
- BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective): Community and Self-Care Support Plans. BEAM is a safe space and resource for BIPOC trans people.
- The Transgender District’s Housing Opportunities for Trans Tenants (H.O.T.T.) Program is a housing subsidy program whose main goal is to provide safe, equitable, stable, gender affirming and permanent housing opportunities for transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex individuals throughout the Bay Area. Founded by three Black trans women in 2017 as Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, The Transgender District is the first legally recognized transgender district in the world.
- Transgender Rights Toolkit by Lambda Legal
- TGI Justice Project: challenges the human rights abuses committed against transgender, gender variant, and intersex people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and beyond.
- TAJA’s Coalition: provides services that identify and fulfill the immediate needs of transgender women of color through the lens of social equity by increasing education and understanding of the transgender experience to the general public, eliminating violence, creating employment opportunities and a leadership pipeline, and supporting existing programs that provide services to transgender women.
- TAKE Resource Center: focus on issues such as discrimination in the workplace, housing advocacy, support for sex workers, providing trans-friendly services, and working to alleviate the many other barriers. (Birmingham, AL)
- Gays and Lesbians in a Transgender Society, Inc. (GLITS): advocates and educates to ensure health, wellness, and inclusion of transgender people in our society and address the stigmatization and criminalization of trans people because of anti-prostitution and anti-sex work laws.
- @forthegworls raises money to assist Black transgender peoples’ rent, gender-affirming surgeries, legal needs, and more.
- Explore this amazing roundup of Black trans-led organizations and resources, curated by Raquel Willis.
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