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Body Autonomy Virtual Reading

April 19, 2024 | Present & Past Events

TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2024, 5:30-7:00 PM EDT

Body Autonomy: Decolonizing Sex Work & Drug Use Virtual Reading Event

Join authors and contributors of Body Autonomy: Decolonizing Sex Work & Drug Use for a free virtual reading and discussion on May 14, 5:30-7 P.M. EDT, celebrating the intertwining needs for touch and the exploration of our consciousness. This groundbreaking book promotes the understanding of how these experiences have been suppressed. The anthology’s authors invite us all into self-sovereignty by imagining otherwise. 

In an era when the privileged can publicly embrace the benefits of sex positivity and psychedelics, marginalized communities continue to bear the brunt of interpersonal and systemic violence in everything from criminalization to health inequities. In the 17 essays in Body Autonomy: Decolonizing Sex Work and Drug Use, leading advocates, sex workers, and scholars who have been harmed by American neocolonial policies unpack the ideological wars on body autonomy and map tactics from the War on Drugs onto legislation that criminalizes and disenfranchises sex work. This bold and timely collection uplifts the right to freedom in one’s own body, drawing connections between erotic labor, the use of psychoactive substances, and the impact of violent policing and incarceration. 

By illuminating the material and sacred aspects of erotic labor and foregrounding decolonial perspectives on substances, Body Autonomy emphasizes healing-centered harm reduction practices to shine a path beyond punishment and inequity. If we gaze together through the lens of a pleasure-oriented future, we can learn to prioritize compassion over criminalization, collectively expanding our understanding of survival, healing, and embodied liberation.

Register for Free

About the Panelists

Justice Rivera (she/they; ella/elle) is a writer, social justice consultant, harm reductionist, and pleasure activist based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Justice’s professional and artistic work is grounded in principles of harm reduction, anti-oppression, and healing justice. Her expressions, which come in many forms, seek to deconstruct carceral and punishment-driven paradigms to race, gender, and bodily autonomy. Justice has worked to provide direct services, organizing leadership, and capacity building support to people in the sex trade, survivors of trafficking, and people who use drugs in Denver, Washington DC, Seattle, and nationally. She is now a Partner with the QPOC-led harm reduction consulting company Reframe Health and Justice. This anthology was compiled in part through her 2019 Open Society Foundation Soros Justice Media Fellowship. When she isn’t working, Justice loves to travel, cook, volunteer, and play with her cat, friends, and family. Follow Justice on X @justice_writes and IG @justicerivera_writes. Follow Reframe Health and Justice on Instagram @harmreductionfemmes

Jessica Peñaranda is a Queer (im)migrant woman of color, a human rights advocate, organizer, strategist, creative, and caretaker. Jessica has worked for over 14 years providing direct services, strategic leadership, program management, community building, and co-struggling with communities at intersecting identities impacted by systemic and interpersonal violence. Jessica is passionate about collective leadership and birthing communities of care through an intersectional and anti-oppressive healing justice framework with an emphasis on connection, cultural humility, mutual aid, and transformative justice. Jessica holds a master’s degree in Human Rights from New York University and a BA degree in Women’s Studies from The College of New Jersey.

zara raven is a Caribbean queer mama working to build safety through healing and transformative justice practice. zara is cocreator of many projects and campaigns working to interrupt state and interpersonal violence, including the DecrimNow DC and Decrim NY campaigns to end the criminalization of the sex trades in Washington, DC, and New York. zara’s writing has been featured in Teen Vogue, them, and the Washington Post, and zara’s work has been profiled in Slate, Upworthy,, Rolling Stone, Hustler magazine, and more.

Presto Crespo (any/all) is a Black Latiné TGNC burgeoning pharmacological scientist, self-described “radical-combatant,” storyteller, and advocate for drug users as well as those living with chronic pain. Heavily influenced by his birthplace/still current home in the Bronx, he identifies as a former and current lumpenized individual-former drug dealer and current drug user. Presto is an initiate of Ifa and uses the spiritual practice/science to guide their communal work and connections. Presto currently works in harm reduction with NEXT Distro, the New York State Department of Health Office of Drug User Health/The AIDS Institute, and as a freelance stylist.

Paula Kahn is an artist, movement strategist, MPH candidate, and hxstory nerd working at the intersections of Indigenous rights; racial, migrant, environmental, and healing justice; drug policy; feminism; historical memory; and decarceration and demilitarization. Paula is interested in the roles of plants, psychoactives, ceremony, ritual and collective experiences in building historical memory, designing and implementing disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and genocide prevention initiatives. They currently focus on abolishing the mass incarceration of immigrants in the US and enjoy building transnational networks for planetary rematriation. Born and raised in the working-class suburbs of Los Angeles, Paula descends from Mayan, Ashkenazi Jewish, and Iberian ancestries. Find out more about Paula @plurproductions on Instagram.





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