Thanks for reading Capital Muse, a Facebook Bulletin newsletter centering Black women and DC. Click here to subscribe and receive my newsletter in your inbox twice a week, for free! If you like it, send friends.
Brianna Conner is the CFO and Operations Director of No Justice No Pride (NJNP), the DC Trans sex worker-led abolitionist collective.
NJNP started its long-term housing program in response to the passage of FOSTA/SESTA in 2018. The House bill known as FOSTA, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, and the Senate bill, SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act continue to negatively impact the livelihood of sex workers. After a recent restructuring of leadership amid a global pandemic, we start by discussing where NJNP is now.
All personal opinions regarding anything outside of NJNP initiatives and services are expressly her own.
NJNP was working on purchasing a property when the sale fell through. What is the current status?
Right now, we are trying to find a place where the bottom floor can be used for business and the top floor could be used as a drop-in center. We are just trying to find a place for the girls to go that is in a safe environment. Fundraising is a focus. There’s a big need now to get other houses, so we have the capacity for more people.
Has the pandemic increased the demand for housing in DC?
During the pandemic, there have been more people [in need] of housing and other resources - like food and other things. People are still putting their children out because they are LGBTQ. Right now, we don't have space. We also changed our age requirement, and that's a big thing. We had to change it to 18-25 instead of allowing anyone underage, so we wouldn’t get locked up.
How does NJNP provide support to the DC community?
If girls want to get their ID, we do that. If they want to get their [legal] name changed, we help with that process. We help them with court support. We try to help with anything that goes on with the [criminal justice] system or involves police brutality. Right now, we are trying to get a van to transport them to and from surgery - instead of them having to do it themselves.
NJNP was formed after the passage of FOSTA/SESTA. How does that legislation continue to impact sex workers in DC?
It’s troubling at this time. Sex work is not like sex work used to be. It is very hard for the girls to work like they used to because they have shut down certain sites. We try to help the girls with any services we can. Any job offers that have, we try to give to them. We try to make sure we are still there for them.
The pandemic has made everything harder. How are the girls able to make a living?
It’s been very hard, they want to work - but the dates aren't as accessible as they were before. It’s a pandemic, they don’t want to get sick and they don’t want to get anyone sick. So, they're not making money because of the pandemic. And, if you're [living] in a house full of other girls, you really can't work.
How are the girls able to protect themselves against COVID-19?
We have been trying to get by because there have been things happening at the house, like break-ins. We are trying to keep our girls safe. It is not always the girl that is part of the problem, sometimes it’s just their dates. There have been a lot of men trying to break into our houses and we are trying to get security so that it is less problematic.
Are they breaking in to commit acts of violence?
Yes, and to try to steal stuff.
I listened to your podcast. Why did you start it and who is your intended audience?
I'm so happy about that. DC doesn’t get heard enough, you know what I'm saying? The sex trade doesn’t get recognized in DC. Sex work is harder in DC for trans women than cis women - and there’s a division between the two. Trans women have the choice to date men and not talk about it, but if you talk - there’s gonna be suspicious activity because most of the men we date are on the DL. I really want people to understand the girls more.
So you are trying to provide a better understanding of everything happening right now?
Right. Masks offer us safety right now, we don’t get identified as much because it is easier to fit into public settings. But, I also want people to look at the bright side of being trans - not just the stigma. It’s not just about whether we catch HIV or not. Even if someone gets HIV, they are still living.
To find out more about No Justice No Pride and how you can help support their mission, visit nojusticenopride.org.
Capital Muse is your weekly opportunity to read unique stories focused on Black women and DC. Subscribe, engage and invite others! Do you have a story worth sharing? Send a message to email@example.com.