Sex Worker Liberation Project Toolkit

Black and Pink National owes the work of this project to the 2022-2023 Sex Worker Liberation Project cohort. Without their diligent work both on this toolkit and within their communities, we would not have this resource. We believe that sex workers know exactly what their communities need and this living document is a testament to that. If you know of any additional resources that are a safe space for trans and queer sex workers, please contact us.

A special thanks to

  • Jasmine Tasaki, Founder and Executive Director of WeCareTN
  • Marla Renee Stewart, Owner and CEO of Velvet Lips Sex Ed
  • Cat Hollis, Founder of Haymarket Pole Collective
  • A.J. Scruggs, Executive Director of Visible Truth 365
  • Lance Nelson, Brown University School of Public Health
  • Jamaya Carter
  • Trina Sanders
  • Zola Z. Bruce, Director of Communications, The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center
  • Shaan Lashun

Sex Worker Liberation Project Toolkit

Business Development

Learn how to develop your business, create a brand, and incorporate your business.

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Health Care

Find out how to access affirming health care and what questions you should ask your healthcare providers.

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Get tips to help you when interacting with the police, being in crisis, and screening clients.

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Business Development

How to form your business

  1. Choose a name for your business.
    1. Choose a name people can spell, pronounce, and remember.
    2. Choose a name that always puts a smile on your face.
    3. Stay away from your government name in your business.
  2. Create an email address for your business.
    1. Go to Google or Yahoo and create an email address using the business you chose and go for the best name.
    2. Make sure your email address is very professional. You want to be as private as possible: Use
      Proton Mail (you will need to pay for more features). Want ease? Use
  3. Evaluate your business goals.
    1. Think about the goals you want to accomplish with your business. Think big, dream big; you can have anything you put your mind to. Also have a notepad to jot down ideas.

How to build your brand

  1. Choose 3-5 brand colors.
    1. Pick from one of your favorite colors or one that will grab people’s attention.
  2. Get a logo made or create one yourself.
    1. Logo should be created by you, it’s your baby.
    2. Think bright, think big, get creative, and pick a nice logo for your business.
    3. Your logo should show unity. Unity will make a lot of people do business with you because they feel connected to it.
    4. Create a vision board to work on your ideal logo.
  3. Create a website.
    1. Take pictures of you doing the work of your business for your website.
  4. Get active on social media.
    1. Facebook, Instagram, etc. are great places to push your business.
    2. Word-of-mouth and business cards are also helpful.

How to incorporate your business

  1. Choose a business mailing address.
    1. Don’t use your personal address if you can help it.
    2. Unfortunately, this cannot be a P.O. Box.
    3. Choose an address that is safe for you and one that you would be able to come and pick up the mail.
      1. Can be a friend’s address if they are okay with that.
      2. UPS also has business addresses for sale where you can pick up your mail and it can be valid when registering your business. $9.99/month or $99/year.
  2. Incorporate your business in the state you choose to do business in the most frequently.
    1. Find your state’s agency.
    2. Register as a sole proprietorship (if you’re by yourself) or an LLC if you’re thinking about expanding to other employees besides yourself. Every state is different, but it’s usually around $100. You are the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the company.
    3. Once you get approved,
      file for a Federal Tax number. It’s called an EIN. You’ll need this to file taxes. This is free.
    4. If your state asked for the type of business, you can say Life Coach, Consultant, or Personal Trainer.
    5. Every year, you’ll need to pay annual dues to ensure you are in compliance, which are typically around $50, but it depends on your state.
  3. Go to your local bank and create a new business checking and business savings account. You’ll need $25-$100, depending on the bank.
    1. All the money you make from your business goes here. Also, use the account when you are purchasing ANYTHING for your business. This will be a write-off later when you’re doing your taxes.
    2. Try to put money in your business savings account each month. Aim to save at least 6 months of business expenses.

Included websites

Health Care

Framing examples

Potential ways to frame the above questions and other ideas to consider

Questions to ask healthcare providers to make sure you will receive sex worker-friendly care

In-person questions

    • What is your philosophy on sex work and how have you practiced that in the past year with clients? Do you view sex work from a labor perspective?
      • It is important to ask an open-ended question regarding this because it allows you space to not be criminalized or judged because you are asking it expansively. You should be able to get an idea of things like: are they focused on an exit strategy or meeting you where you are?
    • Have you and your staff had any sensitivity/cultural training on working with people in the sex/adult industry? How, When?
      • There are lots of online resources for healthcare providers to receive training on the concerns and interests of sex workers. A trained healthcare provider shows a dedication to understanding those issues and providing the best care possible.
      • Possible resource:
        haymarket pole collective
    • What is your experience and/or training surrounding transgender/gender-expansive affirming care?
      • Look for tell tale red flags like: do they look you in the eye? If they misgender you accidentally do they correct themselves or ask for your pronouns?
      • Do they misgender you over and over? Do they correct themselves and move forward quickly or do they dwell and draw attention to the mistakes?
      • For your provider: if they assume your gender identity without asking or looking at your charts. Are you seeing people mishandle your information verbally like talking flippantly to their coworkers or stigmatizing a part of your identity or assumed identity?
    • What sex worker-affirming resources are you/your office connected to that you may be able to refer a sex worker?
      • In the case that additional services are requested by a client, healthcare providers should have an evaluated list of other sex worker-friendly resources available. This can include such services as mental health professionals, community support, housing assistance, harm reduction organizations, etc.
    • What is the difference between human trafficking and sex work?
      • Confusing sex work with human trafficking not only shows a lack of awareness, it also places additional stigma and anxiety on sex workers who might want to connect with services without fearing legal trouble. A sex worker-friendly healthcare provider should either know this from educating themselves or show a strong desire to learn more.
    • Is there a way to opt out of my data being shared, and what is the process for removing my records from your office’s database, if desired?

As a patient, your sensitive health information is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). However, it is understandable that you might not feel comfortable with that information being handled by strangers. If I was to experience discrimination in your office, who would I report that to? Regardless of how much a healthcare provider tries to ready themselves for discussions around sex work, honest mistakes are bound to happen. It is the responsibility of providers to address those mistakes and do better. This includes being transparent about how clients can make their concerns known.

Cold-calling questions

  • Who has access to my records? Even depersonalized data.
    • Sometimes organizations will share demographic information with funders, the public, or their general staff. This data may not include personal details or separate you from the group, but it may be information you would not like shared. It’s important to check.
  • Is there a way to opt out of my data being shared, or remove my records?
    • See how long the organization may keep your records even after your care is complete. Will you have access to those notes? When will they be removed from the system?
  • If there was a child in a home of someone who works in sex work/ adult industry, would you consider that cause to make a mandatory report?
    • Your provider is likely a mandatory reporter. This means that if a child or elder is in danger or you are a danger to yourself, the provider may have to report this to a state agency. A way to get around this is to ask hypothetical/depersonalized questions like “What if someone was thinking about suicide, where could they go?” or “If
      there was a child in danger, what could someone do to protect them?”

Examples of Affirming care

  • Actually using the pronouns I give in the intake form
  • The best places are places where we work (trans folks on staff/as advocates)
  • Culturally specific
  • Sex work friendly or peer led
  • Accessible financially
  • Location accessible
  • Telehealth appointments (sometimes more expensive)
  • Ready with relevant resources surrounding holistic/community care (food box/housing/etc)
  • Confidentiality
  • How does my data get shared
  • Clarity of what is reportable and what is private
  • Trans friendly
  • TasP = treatment as prevention
  • Coming up with specific managing “you vs you” making sure providers are using “you=you”

Examples of non-affirming care

  • Anti-sex work
  • Addressing sex work as if it’s the ONLY issue in our lives
  • Not trans-affirming at all
  • Untrained staff on issues affecting sex workers
  • Sign in sheets that are public (listing everyone’s names)
  • Exit strategy only (trying to get you out of sex work as a solution)
  • Conflating sex work and trafficking


Police interactions

Make a safety plan

  • How to Make an Arrest Safety Plan
    (SWOP USA)
  • Use your network of fellow sex workers.
    • Screen clients (see below)
    • Safety in numbers
    • Try to be out in the open if at all possible
    • Knowing the industry standards in your area (prices, marketing,
    • Get information about the areas you’re going to be in. Learn about clients, other sex workers, and industry standards in that location if

Know community resources in your area

If you have to engage with police

Be very aware of how police view you due to your identities. Know that you will always be at risk and the police are never on your side. Every intersecting identity has another layer of consequence when it comes to the police.

If you are in physical danger

There are two sides to every coin, these situations can be tough because you never know how the police will react if you share that you’re a sex worker. Assessing the temperature of where you are and how well you know the system there will provide you the insight you need in order to make the decision for the situation at hand. Your safety should be the first priority and you know what’s best for you.

It may be best, especially if your life is threatened, to share all aspects of the situation in order to make sure details are collected, your mental and physical safety the first priority. It is possible that this information could be used against you later. To find a lawyer, contact the hotlines above.

Things to know when interacting with police (Know your Rights)

  • Don’t talk to the police and don’t let them in/answer the door
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you and others, you can choose to say “I choose to remain silent”
  • Never lie to cops but know that cops can and will lie to you
  • You don’t need to tell them you’re a sex worker, you only need to tell them your name, address and date of birth
  • Three phrases to use:
    • I choose to remain silent and I want a lawyer
    • Am I under arrest? Am I being detained? Am I free to go
    • I do not consent to this search
  • Limit amount of “party favors” because it creates reasonable cause –specifically anything that has a strong smell
  • Try to stay outside in a public area, especially if engaging in drug use
  • Put money and sexual tools/materials in separate places

If you’ve been arrested

Vetting child/family/custody legal resources: how to vet lawyers

Unfortunately, because sex work is criminalized, many attorneys cannot promote that they support sex workers. To vet the right attorney and gain legal advice it is best to contact

The Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center
, a national organization that defends the human rights of sex workers by destigmatizing and decriminalizing people in the sex trades through FREE legal services, education, research, and policy advocacy. They aim to create a sexually liberated world where all workers have the autonomy and
power to fully enjoy their human rights.

For information on the best lawyers to contact nationally call our Client & Community Services Rep, Abigail Anzalone at
or +1 646 459 3024

To understand your rights as a sex worker in the US, check out the  Sex Worker Safety toolkit .

If you need international legal support and knowledge about the laws in different countries contact the Global Network of Sex Work Projects.

Screening clients

What is screening?

Screening clients, also known as vetting, is the process of collecting as much information about them as you can prior to meeting.

Why is screening helpful?

Screening helps keep you safer by arming you with more knowledge about the client you’re meeting with.

When people have to be transparent, they’re often more accountable and less likely to intentionally commit harm.

Most clients who are sincerely interested in meeting with me understand that. By employing these methods, I am both ensuring my safety and prioritizing discretion, and they are therefore happy to supply this information.

You may not be able to get them all but get as much information as you can. If the client declines, don’t be discouraged, be relieved that you are aware of what they are willing to agree with and what they want. This informs the best decisions forward.

What information is important to collect?

It’s often easier when connecting with clients online. Important information to have includes:

  • Full legal name
  • Phone number
  • Place of employment
  • Online profiles – Google them, try and find their Facebook, LinkedIn, social media account – the more of a footprint they have online, the more likely it’s a real person.
  • References of previous dates your potential connection has had. Follow up with those people to ask whatever information helps you to feel safe
  • ID
Screening, online

As a vulnerable population that
disproportionately experiences violence, sex workers regularly face the dilemma of whether their new special friend is going to turn out to be awful (and with much higher stakes).

Create a system for clients to contact you. A formal email, a form. Let them sell themselves to you – are they worthy of your time, energy, and skill?

Example: Screening is required for all new friends. I accept the following methods of verification (choose one):

  • 2 provider references (links to her ad or site, and email), OR
  • Employment Verification: Your full (real) name, the name of your employer, and your company email or direct phone number,
  • OR If you’re on P411, you may contact me through my P411 profile.
  • I accept Date-Check as part of my screening process.
Screening, in person

Although meeting someone in a public setting is not necessarily any safer and makes pre-screening more difficult, it also provides the opportunity to judge someone’s mannerisms and demeanor upfront. Vibe checks like this are crucial – if you don’t have a good gut feeling about someone, do not work with them.

Take your own transportation and have a safety call for support.

You can ask to meet in a public space or talk on the phone before going to a more private location. You can also assess the person for comfort or intoxication in person when you can’t over email. Ask for ID

Once I have this info, what do I do with it?

Cross-examine profiles and info to check for inconsistencies and other red flags. You can also check this information against local bad date lists.

Use the phone number provided to schedule a call – it’s often easier to do a vibe check when talking with someone or in person.

If you come upon a work email or phone number, make a discreet call to ensure the person actually works there. Some workers request work phone numbers, and arrange a discreet call to confirm.

Agreeing on the terms and conditions of the meeting beforehand will help you be able to stand firm in your boundaries and be a good screening tool. Get your money upfront and if you renegotiate those terms or services, renegotiate pricing.

What to do when it’s weird.

If you feel like there is something that just feels wrong about this person, pay attention to that feeling. Don’t talk yourself out of it. That feeling is self-protective.

Men workers

Screening/vetting aren’t as common of a practice among masculine sex workers (trans and cis). A special consideration for transmasculine, masculine-of-center and non-binary sex workers can include disclosing to clients when/if you are transitioning as a safety measure or a way to make more money. Some clients may offer more for your services.

Survival work, special considerations

When doing survival sex work, it’s often hard to navigate and maintain boundaries. Losing a client can mean the difference between dinner or shelter that night, or not. If you’re in this situation, consider harm reduction approaches. Can you charge more for services you don’t necessarily want to do, but that sell often? Can you change the type of
services you’re offering?

A Note on Community

Having a community of other workers is helpful for screening. Bad date lists, review sites, etc. are ways that sex workers communicate with each other. Word about a bad date spreads, other workers know who to avoid, everyone is safer.

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