Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015

Today, November 20th 2015, marks the 17th Transgender Day of Remembrance. SWOP Denver joins trans communities, locally and globally, in honoring and remembering the lives of those we have lost to violence, hatred, stigma, oppression and fear.

Every year, many of the trans lives lost to murder and violence are also the lives of sex workers. We must continue to fight together for the rights of trans individuals- especially trans women and especially trans women of color- and for the rights of trans sex workers. We are committed to creating a world in which basic human rights and safety are taken as a given for trans individuals and sex workers everywhere.

Below, please find the memorial list for 2015, in addition to information on vigils occurring in Colorado this evening.


Link to the memorial list for 2015

Link to SWOP USA’s TDOR Fact Sheet

Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil hosted by One Colorado

The above event is located in Golden, CO and begins at 7pm

Transgender Day of Remembrance March and Vigil hosted by Out Boulder

The above event is located in Boulder, CO and begins at 6:30pm

Grand Junction Event hosted by One Colorado and First Congressional United Church of Christ

The above event is located in Grand Junction and begins at 7pm



1st Pros Network Denver/ Colorado Training, Nov. 23 7pm!

The Pros Network will be a network of professionals local to Denver and Colorado who have been trained by Sex Worker Outreach Project Denver in how to work with those in the sex industry using a compassionate and harm reductionist approach. One of SWOP’s core beliefs is that trading sex for money or to meet other needs is not inherently harmful, damaging, degrading or empowering. When sex workers experience harm through the sex industry it is often a byproduct of stigma and criminalization, and we want to help those who are providing much needed services to sex workers to better understand how to help us. We seek rights, not rescue!

Our first training is being held on Nov. 23, 7-9pm at the Bakery Arts Warehouse, 2132 Market St, Denver, CO 80205. We do not anticipate it lasting more than an hour- the event is 2 hours long in order to make sure there is time for questions and discussion. As this is our first training we will also be open for any feedback you might have on what we should include/ exclude for future trainings. This training is open to all service providers, which may include (but is not limited to): physicians, sexual health service providers, mental health professionals and social workers, alternative/ Eastern medicine practitioners, lawyers and legal professionals, accountants and bookkeepers, social service providers, harm reduction service providers, those servicing homeless and marginalized communities, LGBTQ organizations, etc. Please invite other professionals if you believe they might be interested.

If you have a large group of individuals who would like to be trained, we are also open to making a special visit to your office or other location to get your whole group trained up. We also plan on having these trainings either once a month or every other month going forward, taking the month of December 2015 off since nobody likes to do anything in December.

If you are interested in attending the Nov. 23 training, please RSVP so we can get a head count. We look forward to this opportunity to give you a view into the world of individuals in the sex trade, and to adding you to our network of friendly professionals.

This training and your participation in the pros network is absolutely free!

Monthly Meetings: Dates, Location and Information

Are you a sex worker or sex work ally who lives in the Denver area, or who happens to be visiting and would like to connect with other sex workers and activists? Then we have the monthly social and chapter business event for you!

SWOP Denver currently hosts meetings on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 6:30-8pm, at the American Friends Service Committee offices located at 901 W 14th Ave #7, Denver, CO 80204. The AFSC offices can be a little tricky to find; they are in an apartment building across 14th street from the parking garage/ underground King Soopers on 14th and Speer, through the entrance to the left of the main entrance. We always put a sign on the door of the offices that makes it easier to find us!

Here are the meeting dates for the remainder of 2015:

October 20th
November 17th
December 15th

The purpose of these meetings has traditionally been twofold: we want them to both be a place where chapter business is conducted, but we also want there to be a social and networking aspect. We often bring snacks, and we always bring our smiling faces, knowledge and support.

If you’ve been thinking about getting involved with SWOP Denver, now is the perfect time! We have numerous volunteer opportunities coming up, and as always we are here for our community. If you have more questions about monthly meetings, or any of SWOP Denver’s current services, please feel free to email us at



SWOP Denver

Rachel Carlisle





Denver, Colorado – SWOP Denver commends Amnesty International for calling today for the full decriminalization of sex work, including the removal of criminal penalties against “prostitution,” “soliciting,” “patronizing a prostitute,” “promoting prostitution,” “loitering with intent” or “prostitute making display,” “brothel-keeping,” and more. The vote was finalized on August 11th at the 2015 International Council Meeting in Dublin, Ireland. Amnesty International joins several other international human rights and health groups including Human Rights Watch, the World Health Organization, and UNAIDS in calling for the full decriminalization of sex work. The decision has been lauded by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, which includes 237 organizations in 71 countries, including SWOP Denver, and whose petition in support of Amnesty’s draft policy garnered over 10,000 signatures. The resolution did not contain any recommendations for removing criminal penalties against forced or coerced labor or trafficking, and encouraged governments to take steps to ensure protection against the exploitation of children.

“We want to offer our sincere gratitude to Amnesty International for voting to uphold our human rights,” said Rachel Carlisle of SWOP Denver. “Decriminalization is essential to our efforts to fight for our rights and against violence, stigma, discrimination, and mistreatment.” SWOP Denver is a group of current and former sex workers and allies who are organizing for rights and justice. SWOP Denver’s activities include the maintenance of a “Bad Date List” of violent clients and holding events such as the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17th of each year.

The purpose of the resolution is to “adopt a policy that seeks attainment of the highest possible protection of the human rights of sex workers” and it is the result of two years of consultation with members and human rights advocates, including Amnesty’s own independent research into the impact of legal models on the rights, health, and safety of sex workers in Argentina, Norway, Hong Kong, and Papua New Guinea. This research confirms the findings of many other researchers and human rights groups. Amnesty notes, “[s]ex workers are criminalised and negatively affected by a range of sex work laws—not just those on the direct sale of sex.” In Norway, laws against “promoting” prostitution make sex workers working together for safety into criminals, and police interventions such as “Operation Homeless” “ led to the systematic and rapid eviction of many sex workers from their places of work and homes.” The name of this intervention calls to mind the US DOJ’s “Operation Chokepoint,” in which the personal bank accounts of sex workers and other groups of people were seized.

The medical journal The Lancet, in their 2014 series on HIV and sex workers, concluded that the decriminalization of sex work in all settings would avert 33-46% of HIV infections in the next decade. The Lancet also states that criminalization increases the risk of violence and abuse by clients, police, and the public, and decreases sex workers’ access to human rights such as healthcare. The conflation of sex work and trafficking is common but “clouds the issue of safety for sex workers” and leads to “difficulties with definition and harm to sex workers on the ground” as well as “conflicts that undermine HIV prevention.” They also note that the “self-regulatory board (SRB) developed by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (Sonagachi, India) and replicated by Ashodaya Samithi (Mysore, India) reports better antitrafficking and antiviolence results at every stage—identification, protection, case management, and follow-up—compared with the raid and rescue model.”

In a letter of support for Amnesty International’s draft policy, UNAIDS director Michel Sidibé wrote, “It is Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International, who reminded us that “the candle burns not for us, but for all those whom we failed.” Sex workers are among those whose rights we have failed to protect. I urge you and the Amnesty International Council to keep the candle burning for them until their rights are upheld and their humanity fulfilled.”


In Loving Memory, 2014 Memorial

Thank you to everyone who attended our memorial yesterday for December 17th, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Event page here:

Mags, our current treasurer, led us in memorializing the people our community has lost in the previous year. Please be warned, this included sometimes graphic descriptions of how they lost their lives, and in some cases photos of the deceased (not graphic).

Memorial Slideshow:

memorial names 2014

We lit candles for the deceased (Rest in Peace and Power and Love) and viewed a video of the 2008 December 17th march on Washington, which one of our members was present for. Then, we held a group discussion centered around the following: how do we keep ourselves safe, what fuels violence against sex workers and how can we bring an end to it, and so on. It was a very powerful and healing discussion.

In love.

December 17th, 2014.




Video of 2008 march on Washington:


SWOP USA founder Robyn Few (RIP) shares her love:


Every Ho I Know Says So:





SWOP Denver Supports the Memorial and Remembrance of Slain Transgender People in 2014

The Gender Identity Center of Colorado will hold a celebration of life for the transgender women and men who died at the hands of others during this past year at the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th at Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden at 7pm. SWOP Denver will be there as always to show our support. There is always overlap with the members of our community who we memorialize on December 17th.

What’s SWOP Denver up to?

Looking to get involved?

We hold monthly general meetings the first Sunday of every month, and current and former sex worker-only potlucks quarterly.  Our next meeting will be October 5th.  Please contact us at for details.

What if I’m a current or former sex worker who feels that I don’t agree with you?

We aim to welcome diverse opinions and participation is not dependent on holding any particular beliefs.  We also have access to mediators through our national network (  We believe very strongly in solidarity among current and former sex workers.

How do you define sex worker?

Stripping, camming, escorting, working in a brothel or on the street, survival sex work (for a place to stay, or in exchange for other survival needs), performing in porn, or otherwise selling sexual/ized services.  Some of us are or were employed in the legal sex industry.  Academics, sex educators, social workers, clients, and employers are not sex workers unless they also sell their own sexual/ized services, but are free to attend non-sex-worker-only meetings as allies.  Members of the press or law enforcement may not attend meetings in their capacity as press/LE, and we have press guidelines for events.

Do we need help?

Yes, absolutely!  We are the roots of the grassroots, and are currently a volunteer organization with a micro-budget.  Building membership is always difficult, and all of our members are busy people.  But even if you’re just looking for peer support and solidarity, and don’t know how much time or effort you can commit, please don’t hesitate.  We don’t have any kind of minimum contribution to our projects, or even attendance at our meetings, and we are very flexible.  Additionally, we hold potlucks that are current and former sex worker-only.  We generally have a scheduled discussion topic for these.

Can allies be involved?

Yes.  Allies can attend our general meetings and are particularly encouraged to donate their time, money, and efforts toward our current and ongoing projects.

What are our current projects?

SWOP Denver, as part of the SWOP USA national network (founded in 2003), marks four important dates yearly.  On March 3rd (International Sex Workers Rights Day) and December 17th (International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers), we hold independent events and memorials.  We also have presences at Pride and TDOR, as sex workers have a large overlap with the LGBT community, which is reflected in our membership and that of our larger network.  We also try to have presences at other events through the year – notably, we had a very well-received presence at Slutwalk Denver 2013, at which we had a booth and some brave members even spoke about their experiences of violence and other reprehensible behavior – and we aim to expand these efforts as much as possible.  We’ve attended the MLK Marade in the past and have other events on our radars as well.

We also administer a Bad Date Line (, and we have related ideas), hold the aforementioned monthly meetings and potlucks, and we are in the process of creating a Denver PROS Network, based on the PROS Network created by SWOP-Chicago and the NYC-based network.  This will be a list of service providers of various sorts – therapists, other mental health professionals, social services, homeless services, needle exchange, anti-violence services including sexual assault and DV services, STI/testing services, attorneys, accountants, etc. – who have agreed to be trained by us and to adhere to minimum standards in their treatment of sex worker clients.  This project is large and involved and is our current project-oriented focus as a group.

We’ve been active politically (in line with the legal nonprofit status of our parent network), though it is difficult; notably, in our outspoken opposition to SB 85 in  2011.

Many sex workers (current and former) are just looking for community, and that is an important thing we provide in addition to the above.

Please feel free to contact us at for any reason.