Speaking

Melissa Gira Grant speaking

I speak widely on sexuality, gender, rights, and justice to audiences worldwide, at institutions such as Duke University, Yale University, the New School, Third Wave Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, and the UC Berkeley Labor Center, and at events including South by Southwest Interactive (USA), re:publica (Germany), NEXT (Denmark), the Oakland Book Festival (USA), the Brooklyn Book Festival (USA), Bristol Festival of Ideas (UK), and the International AIDS Conference (Mexico).

Events

  • Fri
    08
    Jun
    2018
    Data & Society Research Institute, 36 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011

    Practitioners and creators from world-building disciplines such as art, fiction, architecture, and science gather at Data & Society’s second Future Perfect conference on June 8 to explore the “uses, abuses, and paradoxes of speculative futures.”

    Data & Society INFRA Lead Ingrid Burrington curates presentations, readings, and games that played on the namesake verb tense of the already-happened: the robots will have taken our jobs; America will have already been made great (again); sea level rise will have destroyed major coastal cities; we will already be immortals living on Mars.

    When viewing the future as a subject of trepidation or a site of inevitable triumph, powerful actors and institutions often fail to see alternative futures latent in the present, and rarely have answers for how one lives after these imagined tipping points of devastation–or profiteering.

    Session 2: Voight-Kampff Tests
    Dystopia Now: Erasing the Internet by Erasing Sex Workers
    Melissa Gira Grant and Danielle Blunt

    You wake up one morning to find your Google Drive has been deleted. There is no warning, no explanation. You try to tweet about it but no one replies. Your clients post payment but your credit card processor vanishes without a trace before the funds land in your account. You call your co-working space to explain why you’ll be canceling your reservation this week because your clients can’t reach you; they tell you they’re going out of business because they are in the same boat. 

    Your phone number, your emails, your websites: all of the channels that you use to connect to do your work and build community are disappearing. How do you work? How do you make your voice heard? How do you participate in a community on social media that is actively being erased and silenced? What does security look like if the resources you are trying to secure are disappearing without warning or a trace?

    This is not a fictional dystopian future; for sex workers, this is reality. On March 21st, 2018, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) passed the Senate (97-2). President Trump signed FOSTA into law on April 11th. FOSTA was sold as “anti-human trafficking” legislation; however, what it actually does is give online platforms the power and incentive to censor their users for fear of  “facilitating” sex work. Its’ passage was followed with an immediate chilling effect, as platforms shuttered in anticipation of bankrupting lawsuits and possible criminal charges, and with some big platforms used by all kinds of people – like Reddit and Craigslist – deleting content before the law had even been signed. As a result, the already-marginalized communities who use the web to find work and build community around sex work were suddenly locked out. 

     

  • Thu
    06
    Sep
    2018
    Palm Springs, CA

    Go behind the crime tape and headlines to hear about what it takes to produce and investigate those heart-wrenching stories that transform us and become part of our popular culture. Whether through serial podcasts, TV series or the center of tabloid pages, these veteran producers and reporters provide their expertise on what makes a great story, series, a must-see interview or long-form investigations.

    Moderator: Senta Scarborough
    Panelists: Johnny Dodd, Tod Goldberg, Melissa Gira Grant, Christine Pelisek, Donna Rossi, Jeff Truesdell

    About NLGJA
    NLGJA is the premier network of LGBTQ media professionals and all dedicated to the highest journalistic standards in the coverage of LGBTQ issues.

    SENTA SCARBOROUGH is an award-winning journalist and Emmy-nominated producer.  She is the founder of Sentamatic Media focusing primarily on screenwriting, journalism and nonfiction projects. Her work has appeared in Adweek, INTO, USA Today, E! News, Us Weekly Magazine and Asheville Poetry Review, among others. She currently serves on the board of directors for the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. She holds her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California Riverside/Palm Desert. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife, Katie, and their dog, Sadie.

    JOHNNY DODD is a staff writer for People, deployed in the trenches of pop culture. He also writes nonfiction books about true crime stories. Dodd appears in Investigation Discovery’s hit true crime series, “People Magazine Investigates,” now in its third season. The series draws upon original reporting from People’s award-winning true crime editorial team, delving into extraordinary tales of ordinary people thrust into the national spotlight.

    TOD GOLDBERG is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including “Gangster Nation,” “Gangsterland,” “The House of Secrets,” and “Living Dead Girl.” His essays, journalism, and criticism appear widely, including in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, and, recently, Best American Essays. A former columnist and book critic for a number of newspapers in Las Vegas, Tod Goldberg has won 5 Nevada Press Association Awards and was recently given the Silver Pen Award by the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. In addition, he is also the co-host of Literary Disco, and Open Book, a radio show on KCOD, the public radio station of the Coachella Valley. He holds an MFA fiction and literature from Bennington College and founded and directs the low residency MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside.

    MELISSA GIRA GRANT is a journalist, author and senior staff reporter at The Appeal. She has been a contributing writer at the Village Voice and Pacific Standard, covering criminal justice, LGBTQ and women’s rights, sex workers’ rights, HIV/AIDS and human trafficking. Her most recent book, “Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work,” has been translated into six languages.

    CHRISTINE PELISEK is an award-winning crime reporter who has been covering the beat, most recently for People, for more than 15 years. She also covered crime and national news as a reporter for the ABC newsmagazine TV show “20/20” and the Daily Beast. While at the Daily Beast, she wrote about almost every national news story including the Aurora movie theater shooting, Newtown/Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro and the tornadoes in Oklahoma City. Prior to that, Pelisek worked at the LA Weekly as an investigative crime reporter. In 2008, during her tenure there, she broke the story that a serial killer who murdered women in South Los Angeles for decades had struck again in 2007, and she dubbed the killer the Grim Sleeper. She received a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Los Angeles for her work on the case. Her book about the Grim Sleeper was released in June 2017. Pelisek appears in Investigation Discovery’s hit true crime series, “People Magazine Investigates,” now in its third season. The series draws upon original reporting from People’s award-winning true crime editorial team, delving into extraordinary tales of ordinary people thrust into the national spotlight.

    DONNA ROSSI is a five-time Emmy Award-winning reporter  who has logged three decades covering and uncovering some of the most high-profile stories in the state of Arizona. Rossi started her professional journalism career at KNAZ – TV 2 in Flagstaff, Arizona, while still attending Northern Arizona University to complete her bachelor’s in broadcast journalism. She then moved to the CBS affiliate in Tucson, Arizona, and joined CBS 5 News in Phoenix. Rossi’s experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and continues to serve on the NATAS Board of Governors. Rossi is the go-to emcee for many of the LGBT nonprofits in Arizona including Equality Arizona, Aunt Rita’s Foundation, One Community, One-in-Ten and Shanti. She is a past board member of AIDS Project Arizona. In fall 2018, Rossi will be inducted into the Arizona Broadcaster’s Association Hall of Fame and with become an adjunct instructor at the prestigious Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

    JEFF TRUESDELL is a staff writer for People magazine, where he covers breaking news and true crime from cold-case mysteries to mass shootings. He contributes to the Investigation Discovery series “People Magazine Investigates” and executive produced the 2017 documentary “For Ahkeem” on themes of juvenile justice and the school-to-prison pipeline. He is an NLGJA national board member.

  • Thu
    20
    Sep
    2018
    Fri
    21
    Sep
    2018
    Eyebeam, 199 Cook St. Brooklyn, NY

    PANEL

    09/20/18 //
    6 to 9:30pm //
    Part 1 of Hacking//Hustling is a panel discussion featuring presentations from sex workers and sex worker rights advocates discussing censorship, discrimination and policing in the wake of SESTA.

    Panelists include:
    Lorelei Lee, writer and sex worker
    Kiara St. James, CEO and a co-founder of New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG)
    Bardot Smith, analyst & dominatrix
    Ashley Paige, international travel companion & connoisseur of kink

    WORKSHOP

    09/22/18 //
    1 to 4pm //

    In conjunction with our panel discussion, we’ll be hosting a half-day of workshops (in collaboration with t4tech) where sex workers and digital rights advocates will work together to address the harms of SESTA with a collaborative approach grounded in principles of harm reduction. We will learn how to to protect data, have safer communications, and build stronger online communities.

    In an an effort to support this program and its participants and combat systemic inequities, we are implementing the following sliding-scale ticket pricing for this program. Sex workers will be admitted for free.

    ORGANIZERS //

    Melissa Gira Grant (she/her) 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 WritingThe Feminist Utopia Project, and Where Freedom Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo. She lives in New York.
    @melissagira

    Danielle Blunt (she/her) is a NYC-based Dominatrix, a full-spectrum doula and sex worker rights activist. She studies power dynamics through kinesthetic modalities and researches the intersection of public health, sex work and equitable access to tech. Her work has appeared in Kink & Code, Tits & Sass and Psychology Today. She enjoys watching her community thrive and making men cry.
    @mistressblunt

    PANELISTS //

    Kiara St. James has been a community organizer and public speaker for over 20 years. She has been instrumental in changing shelter policies that were discriminatory towards the Trans community. Kiara is the Founder and current Executive director of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG inc), A grassroots 501c-3 non-profit organization, that is Trans-led and intent on creating new opportunities for the Trans community, through various partnerships and innovative initiatives.
    @kiaraditmas

    Bardot Smith is the alias of an analyst, producer, and demimondaine living on the East Coast. She focuses her time on private consulting, erotic media production, and writing on economics and sex under capitalism. She enjoys pissing on men. She is currently studying for her Series 65.
    @ICONOCLASTIAE

    Lorelei Lee is a writer, sex worker, and activist. She began doing sex work in 2000 and has worked both on and offline. Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Salon, The Rumpus, WIREDDenver Quarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books, BuzzFeed, The Establishment, and $pread magazine, as well as in the anthologies Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent BoysOff the SetThe Feminist Porn Book, and Coming Out Like A Porn Star.
    @MissLoreleiLee

    Ashley Paige is an International Travel Companion & Connoisseur of Kink
    @AshleyPaigeNYC

    WORKSHOP FACILITATORS //

    t4tech is a free and accessible resource for transgender and GNC people to share and pick up skills of software engineering, digital technologies, and computer science. We work to enable trans and GNC people with the skillsets required to engage with and shape the tech community.

    Daly Barnett is a software engineer and privacy advocate. She is the founder of t4tech, an organization that facilitates free tech education workshops for trans and gender-nonconforming people.
    t4tech

    Sophie is a Senior Data Scientist at Metis where she is a bootcamp instructor and leads curriculum development. Sophie works in deep learning and data science ethics. Through t4tech Sophie helps provide free trans-centered classes in programming and data science.
    soph.info

    ART

    Throughout Hacking//Hustling participants are invited to view “Whores Will Rise: Protest Art & Resistance Ephemera Against FOSTA/SESTA,” a pop up community art show. Curated by Brit Schulte, the show highlights protest art/resistance ephemera from recent demonstrations against SESTA/FOSTA and calling for decriminalization and labor rights for all sex working/trading people.

    CURATOR //

    Brit Schulte (they/them) is a community organizer and under-employed sex working art historian currently splitting time between Chicago and New York City. They are a member of the Support Ho(s)e collective, Survived & Punished NYC and are the lead coordinator for the Justice for Alisha Walker Defense Campaign. Brit’s current organizing efforts center criminalized survivors, prison abolition and the decriminalization of all sex work/trade.

  • Wed
    26
    Sep
    2018
    3:00 amKW Institute for Contemporary Art, Auguststraße 69, 10117 Berlin, Germany

    Candice Breitz, Melissa Gira Grant, Änne Söll and Nosipho Vidima talk about the stigma­ti­za­tion of sex work in the context of the exhi­bi­tion CANDICE BREITZ: SEX WORK (Salon Berlin of Museum Frieda Burda). Moder­ated by Monopol editor-in-chief Elke Buhr, the sympo­sium includes a visit to the exhi­bi­tion and an intro­duc­tion to the work of Candice Breitz by the artist herself.