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SACRAMENTO, Calif.—As anyone who’s been following the news knows, sex workers have been waging both a legal and media campaign to let the American public know that—surprise, surprise!—they’re workers who in most ways are just like any other worker, and that they’re deserving of the same respect and, perhaps more importantly, police protection that are already given to all other workers as a matter of course.

Figuring out how to gain that respect and protection formed a large part of the discussion that took place on the evening of November 7 at the Sacramento Universal Unitarian Society Church. Largely organized by the Erotic Service Providers Legal Education and Research Project (ESPLERP), the discussion, which was open to the public, included representatives from the Sacramento Chapter of Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP Sacramento), the US PROStitutes Collective, the LA-based Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, the Washington, D.C.-based Helping Individual People Survive, and even the adult industry’s own Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC).

Ostensibly, the evening’s discussion was to center on sex workers’ concerns surrounding a new $1.5 million study authorized by the California state government allegedly to “fight human trafficking and amplify the voices of victims” and mainly targeting the Sacramento area—but ESPLERP’s Maxine Doogan expressed great concerns regarding who the recipients of those funds would be, and how they would be used.