SWOPLA is a peer support organization, run by sex workers and for sex workers. Our mission is, broadly, to pursue our human rights to bodily autonomy, racial and social justice, and mutual liberation through outreach, education, mutual aid and political advocacy.
We believe that the liberation of everyone is essential to the liberation of sex workers, but we center sex workers.
For several years, SWOPLA has served the sex worker community in Los Angeles.
Services & Outreach:
We regularly distribute supplies to street-based sex workers, including safer sex supplies; health, hygiene, and beauty supplies; and other helpful supplies and resources, depending on the demands and availability at the moment. We usually distribute supplies to street based sex workers 1-3 times a month.
We hold a monthly support group where we provide food, a monthly chapter meeting where we provide Lyft codes and members bring food to share, and regular community building events, including a supper club, clothing swaps, fundraiser dance parties, and events in recognition of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, the Trans Day of Visibility (that’s today! I am trans while writing this, now you see me), the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and International Whore’s Day.
We also work with other service providers to help each other better serve our shared community, and help sex workers lobby for issues that affect their lives.
For example, we have been worked with ACLU Southern California and Bet Tzedek to create useful information for distribution to sex workers, and are working with Bet Tzedek to create a conference for legal services providers to learn skills necessary to more adequately serve their clients who perform sex work.
We are currently activating in opposition to the EARN IT act in the U.S. Congress and AB 2389 in California, which both threaten to put many sex workers in danger, and have also been working locally to improve policy through lobbying.
Last year, we were successful in passing SB 233 in coalition with several partners, including the ACLU Southern California. SB 233 prohibits law enforcement from using condoms as evidence that someone committed a sex work-related crime, and prohibits law enforcement from arresting someone for certain low-level consent crimes (such as drug possession, solicitation, or prostitution) if they are reporting certain more serious crimes.
Recently we have been coordinating a research study with UCLA California HIV/AIDS Policy Research Center, Unique Women’s Coalition, and East LA Women’s Center to investigate the effects of SB 233, expecting to find evidence that this de-criminalization will lead to better public health outcomes, and hoping to use the study to expand services available for sex workers and to connect sex workers to resources. SWOP LA is helping design the study and trying to ensure that the researchers treat the sex workers who they are studying with respect and sensitivity, including by paying them for their contributions. That study was progressing extremely well until the COVID-19 outbreak, but we hope it will. SWOP-LA had also been organizing SB 233 rollout events to inform people of the effects of the bill and receive feedback from the community, but they have been cancelled or postponed for now due to COVID-19.
We have also been lobbying the City of West Hollywood to better serve sex workers, and West Hollywood voted to officially recognize the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17th and dedicate some funding to better serve sex workers, but unfortunately fell far short of agreeing to our request to form a city-ordained task force of sex workers to review how city policy affects sex workers from top-to-bottom and issue recommendations based on that review.
Board of Directors:
The SWOPLA Board of Directors is currently composed as follows:
- Bella Bathory, Director
- West Seegmiller, Co-Director
- Daphne Von Rey, Assistant Director,
- [Reserved], Bodily Autonomy Director,
- Ashley Madness, Political Action Director and Secretary,
- [Reserved], Fundraiser