Sex worker applauds decision to dismiss NYC prostitution cases

It's a new day for TS Candii, a transgender woman who has been advocating for the LGBTQ community and sex workers rights.

Video Transcript

- This week, a huge shift when it comes to prostitution in Manhattan. The DA will no longer prosecute those crimes, and that change may impact thousands of sex workers, many of them people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, and many also victims themselves. Here's race and culture reporter Crystal Cranmore.

TS CANDII: I've been selling sex all my life since I was 13. Words cannot even express how decriminalization of sex work save lives.

CRYSTAL CRANMORE: It's a new day for TS Candii, a transgender woman who's been advocating for the LGBTQ community and sex workers' rights. Manhattan DA Cy Vance announced this week he would no longer prosecute prostitution and unlicensed massage, asking a judge to dismiss some 900 cases. Another 5,000 loitering for the purpose of prostitution cases will also be dismissed, this after New York state repealed the law known as Walking While Trans earlier this year.

TS CANDII: I was automatically profiled. I was automatically stopped. I was automatically frisked.

CRYSTAL CRANMORE: Blacks and Hispanics made up 90% of those arrests between 2017 and 2019. While Candii says she's never been charged with prostitution, the DA's move removes a sweltering fear and lingering warrants and convictions.

ABBY SWENSTEIN: When someone escapes a trafficking situation, very often, they still can't get work in other arenas because of their criminal record. So many of our clients have remained in sex work.

CRYSTAL CRANMORE: Advocates have been pushing for full decriminalization of sex work between consenting adults.

ABBY SWENSTEIN: Reducing police interaction is imperative for people's safety and to reduce stigma.

CRYSTAL CRANMORE: State Senator Anthony Palumbo says this latest move by the DA sets a dangerous precedent.

ANTHONY PALUMBO: The failure to prosecute the crime of prostitution will open up more serious crime.

CRYSTAL CRANMORE: In a statement, Vance said in part, "Criminally prosecuting prostitution does not make us safer, and too often, achieves the opposite result by further marginalizing vulnerable new Yorkers."

While people won't be charged for prostitution or unlicensed massage, they could still be arrested.