The Outlaw Project

Mission: The Outlaw Project is based on the principles of intersectionality and prioritizes the leadership of Transgender Women, BIPOC, gender non-binary, migrant and sex worker folks. Ensuring our rights and health as a first step will ensure the rights and health of all. We believe that accessible, safe and secure housing is the best way to support our community.

Background: The foundation of the Outlaw Project is the culmination of three years of planning by coordinator Monica Jones and supporting advocates. The project is named in honor of Sharmus Outlaw—transgender woman of color and sex worker rights advocate--who passed away on July 7, 2016.The Outlaw Project is the culmination of three years of planning by coordinator Monica Jones and supporting advocates. The project is named in honor of Sharmus Outlaw. Sharmus was a tireless advocate and fighter for the rights of Trans Women and sex workers. Sharmus was a Black Trans Woman of Color and sex worker who passed away on July 7, 2016. In spite of her organizing and community involvement, she passed away in unstable housing and financial insecurity. The Outlaw Project was founded to prevent this fate from befalling our people. In order to ensure the rights and health of BIPOC Trans Women and sex workers, we are building transitional housing. Our first project is in Tucson, AZ, with a lot set to have 4 tiny homes and a main house. This land has been purchased and is being renovated.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, The Outlaw Project pivoted to getting Trans Women of Color into housing immediately. Much of our funds went to housing women in hotels and apartments. We are now looking to build a community space, first in Tucson, then in Phoenix and beyond.

The Outlaw Project works on the following priority areas: emergency housing, economic justice for self sufficiency; harm reduction and health promotion; community-led solutions to violence, mitigating the impact of oppression because of criminalization, decriminalization of sex work and the removal of other repressive laws and policies.

Context: The Outlaw Project exists in a situation in the United States where sex work, sex workers, transgender women and immigrants are oppressed by laws and policies against sex work. This situation has been described in several reports--to which we contributed--by the Best Practices Policy Project and partners submitted to the United Nations. (See the reports here.) We want decriminalization, to do this we need strong leadership of color so that all can be freed from oppression. We want to be able to benefit from our labor as sex workers, to do this we must understand our history of how our labor was stolen from us, so that we may undo that repression. While the oppression of sex workers overall in the US is better understood because of our work at the United Nations, the history of why this is more so for some groups is less understood. The Outlaw Project is based on a deep analysis of why sex workers of color in particular are oppressed by policing and incarceration in the United States.

Our analysis: As a result of the Atlantic Slave Trade, African bodies were used as to create profit for white people. White elites used this stolen money/wealth to take over the lands of the indigenous people all across the Americas. The people who are impacted by this history cannot to this day reap the benefits of our bodies. Even after the "sexual revolution" where we were told we can own our bodies, this is still not so, as the US continues that "no you can't" policy by policing our bodies still to this day. Ending the policing of our black bodies is part of our sex worker rights revolution. We are inspired by economic revolutionaries such as those involved in Black Wall Street. Money produced by Black Wall Street stayed in the community (more than 30 times longer than money produced by any other groups) to benefit communities of color. We want sex workers of color to benefit from their labor, to keep money in communities of color, to raise families and to create a stronger society. This is why we seek fundamental change, rooted in economic justice.

DONATE: The Outlaw Project is a 501c3 entity and your donations are tax-deductible. All donations go directly to building housing for Trans Women and sex workers of color. https://gofund.me/358e3f7a

VOLUNTEER:Our project in Tucson, AZ is underway and we welcome volunteers in both physical and virtual capacity. We regularly hold fundraisers, work days, and need online and social media support. Let us know if you’d like to be involved! Contact theoutlawprojectinc@gmail.com