Oppose Language Defining FL SB 540 HB 851

Re: Florida SB 540 dated 3/5/2019;   HB 851

Dear honorable representative: As a federally defined former victim of U.S. domestic minor sex trafficking I am writing to oppose the current language of Fl SB 540 dated 3/5/2019, and Fl HB 851 creating a “soliciting for prostitution registry”, and “making prostitution legally the same as human trafficking”.

Please know that I potentially support a registry, if it can be utilized by sex worker rights organizations – such as the Sex Workers Outreach Project Behind Bars –  involved in the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDTEVASW). IDTEVASW began in 2003 when serial killer Gary Ridgway was sentenced for murdering transient women and prostitutes, believing he could rape, torture and murder without consequence. He admitted to 49 murders, though claimed so many he lost count; and he is not alone.

We who have survived the trade, and identify as survivors, workers and allies know what it is like to stare into the lens of both  mad men and also law enforcement who view us disposable collateral damage. We who have the mixed blessing to have survived life in this older system maintain dedicated observance of IDTEVASW, keeping an international memorial list each year as best possible. A registry would certainly be a unique new resource to have available. Except that those who suggest these registries usually have not heard of the efforts we as survivors and workers maintain, nor do  work with us personally, or for us amidst legal and legislative changes, or advocate daily for those most impacted by violence associated with loss of empowerment. We are “vinimals” caught in the middle.

Between 1982 and 1988 I lived in Brevard County.  I was kicked out at 13, and then permanently in 1986 at age 16. I withdrew from traditional high school in Satellite Beach, enrolling in Brevard Community College Adult Education. I maintained independent high school studies while “couchsurfing”, and also trading sex and other services as survival for food and places to live. I graduated on time in 1988. By my 19th birthday I had a near fatal reproductive infection as a result of this reality. I readily admit my choices may have been bad. I will take full accountability there. However – There simply were no empowering or stabilizing  services for abused youth; except the compassion of those who knew our stories, and quietly advocated to see us be allowed the most basic of luxuries such as a high school diploma.

Under the new legislative  languge, someone like me, who was “on the run” all through high school to avoid DHS, would be – if I had been caught – listed on that registry, removed from school and placed in limbo as a consequence of human trafficking. I hope you will consider – if you do makes these changes – the authentic support services necessary for victims to be able to become valued in ways that are realistic and sustainable. Thank you.