Event: Sex Work Decriminalization: Lessons from Decrim Campaigns Across the United States

This panel will be comprised of organizers from sex work decriminalization campaigns from across the country. 

Michael Cox is the executive director of Black and Pink Massachusetts, a prison abolition organization that supports LGBTQI+ people and those living with HIV. After serving a six year prison sentence, he was inspired to dismantle the criminal legal system. He is also a former sex worker.

Marika Maypop is an autonomist organizer, Buddhist dharma teacher, and sex worker of 16 years born, raised & living in the American South. She currently organizes with the Sex Workers Advisory Committee on the Deep South Decrim campaign to decriminalize sex work in the state of Louisiana. 

TS Candii is a leader in the social justice movement for Black and Brown Trans Civil Rights. As a former sex worker, TS Candii uses her first hand experience with racial and transgender profiling as well as employment and housing discrimination to expose the roots of transphobia and white supremacy. In 2020 TS Candii founded Black Trans Nation(BTN) and Black Trans Nation NY (BTNNY), organizations which seek to uplift black and brown trans people and GNCP through advocacy for policy changes and helping get trans people elected to public office. She has been a leader in the movement to ban the policing practice of arresting trans women for soliciting prostitution, also known as “Walking While Trans.” Her work, along with many others, saw the law officially repealed and expunged on February 2, 2021.

Lakeesha Harris is the Director of Reproductive Health and Justice at WWAV.  Previous positions held by Lakeesha include being a Health Educator, Community Health Worker, and Alternative Insemination Coordinator at Chicago Women’s Health Center, one of the last remaining feminist health centers in the country. As a community healer, Lakeesha’s primary focus is on centering complete health care access for Black people, specifically queer and trans Black people, who are often shut out of services that are culturally affirming, financially accessible, and whole being centered. Lakeesha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Women and Gender Studies from Northeastern Illinois University and Master’s level credits in Political Science. In 2011, she was selected as a Student Laureate of NEIU and received numerous awards for her work as a community activist, poet, and one of the Founders of Seeds Literary Arts Journal of NEIU. She is a playwright whose collaborative political literary work, Spirit House, was commissioned by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center for the educational engagement and healing of the community. As a practicing healer, her work has spanned more than two decades and evolved from her roots as a Certified Nurse Assistant, Doula, Apprentice Midwife and Community Health Worker.  Lakeesha was recently trained as a Street Medic with Chicago Action Medical and is a practicing Reiki Master – Teacher.

Ivaneliz Rivera has been in leadership at Whose Corner Is It Anyway since April 2018 where her responsibilities have included mutual aid, managing supply distribution logistics, and criminal justice programming.  She is currently the Outreach Coordinator at WCIIA and in that capacity coordinates material assistance to the most vulnerable members of the organization as well as doing tech support for the leadership team and others.  Ivaneliz was part of the Spring 2020 team that implemented a total organizational rehaul at WCIIA in response to COVID 19.  She is also a founding member of DecrimMA- a grassroots coalition of sex workers fighting for liberation and genuine safety on their own terms via the full decriminalization of sex work in the state of Massachusetts. Ivaneliz is excited to delve further into policy advocacy and has a passion for directly serving her community of current and former sex workers who use drugs.