Melissa Gira Grant is a senior staff reporter covering criminal justice at The Appeal and the author of Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work (Verso). She has been a contributing writer at the Village Voice and Pacific Standard, and her work has also appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, BuzzFeed News, the New York Review of Books, and the Nation, among others. Her essays are collected in Best Sex Writing, The Feminist Utopia Project, and Where Freedom Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo. She lives in New York.

Featured Work

  • Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work

    Her latest book Playing the Whore dismantles pervasive myths about sex work, while criticizing both conditions within the sex industry and its criminalization.

  • See Where the NYPD Arrests Women Who Are Black, Latina, Trans, and/or Wearing Jeans (Village Voice)

    Interactive map of the top neighborhoods where police target women for "loitering for prostitution" arrests.

  • The NYPD Arrests Women for Who They Are and Where They Go — Now They’re Fighting Back (Village Voice)

    Feature investigation into New York's anti-loitering laws, and how they are used to profile transgender and cisgender women of color.

  • An Escort Killed Her Client In Self-Defense — Then Came The Aftermath (BuzzFeed)

    Feature profile of an escort whose act of self-defense drew headlines, amateur sleuths, and would-be do-gooders seeking to make her story their own.

  • How Stoya took on James Deen and broke the porn industry’s silence (The Guardian)

    Feature story on sexual assault and relationship violence in the porn industry, and how porn performers are challenging myths and stigma about porn and abuse.

  • Journalism

    Reporting and commentary on sex, tech, and politics.

  • About Her Work

    Her work has been hugely influential in how I think about sex work and outright changed my mind on a number of points. She’s a must read.

    Underneath Grant’s strategically inclusive argument lurks a harder political critique of the transformation of politics and economics since the 1970s.

    Melissa Gira Grant can be quite scary.

    Recent Work

  • In Justice Today: Anti-Online Trafficking Bills Advance in Congress, Despite Opposition from Survivors Themselves

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    SESTA, the Senate bill, is currently supported by a seemingly disparate coalition: anti-sex work groups, some anti-trafficking services, religious right groups, and some women’s rights groups. Though they originally opposed it on the grounds that it would compromise free speech online, most major tech companies now back SESTA. The bill has also won a personal endorsement from Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

  • In Justice Today: Proposed Federal Trafficking Legislation Has Surprising Opponents: Advocates Who Work With Trafficking Victims

    Friday, January 26, 2018

    The legislation is meant to protect victims of sex trafficking, but many advocates who work directly with people who have been trafficked oppose both bills. “They think that shutting down any online platform is going to miraculously end human trafficking,” Jessica Peñaranda, director of strategic initiatives at the Sex Workers’ Project, told In Justice Today. “They think it’s an easy way to do this.” But real solutions aren’t so easy, she says.