Transgender sex workers feel under attack. These women are working to protect their own.

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09/16/2019

With a bag of condoms and a stack of business cards, Tamika Spellman began a route she knew by heart, peering out the window of her Lincoln sedan at dark sidewalks where she once stood. West Virginia Avenue. K Street. Eastern Avenue. Street corners and alleyways where women wait for a steady trickle of clients, for quick cash to pay the rent. Spellman knows these streets, and these women, better than most: She used to be one of them. Now she was on a mission to help them, to help prevent the next black transgender woman from being killed at the fringes of the nation’s capital. “Hey love, you need condoms?” Spellman called out the window. On the passenger side next to her sat Emmelia Talarico, a fellow advocate for sex-worker and transgender rights.

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