Who is Elisa Crespo? Former sex worker in the race to become first trans member in NYC Council
'It’s not something I wanted to do. It’s dangerous. We’re putting ourselves in front of strangers that we don’t know who can harm us'
Elisa Crespo is one of the candidates seeking to succeed outgoing Councilman Ritchie Torres in the 15th council district. She will be representing Belmont, Fordham, Tremont, Mount Hope, Allerton, Van Nest, West Farms and Bedford Park.
The former prostitute is the first trans woman in the run for the Bronx City Council. The 30-year-old who previously worked as a prostitute was busted in 2012 after two policemen showed up in her hotel room as customers who wanted oral sex.
Crespo was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida on November 14, 2012, after she posted a sex/escort advertisement on the internet. Instead of running away from her dark past, she is addressing her work as a “survival sex worker” head-on. “I am no longer engaged in sex work,” she told The NY Post. Crespo, who operated herself to female at the age of 15, said getting arrested and spending time in jail was a low point that triggered a turnaround in her life.
“I was in a complicated struggle to make ends meet. A lack of job opportunities for trans women of color led me to sex work. Through this experience, I wound up in Florida, where I was arrested and incarcerated with cisgender men. That moment transformed my life forever. It helped me begin my journey in civic engagement,” Crespo said during a recent political rally.
After she got out from jail, she went back to school and got a political science degree from CUNY’s John Jay College. She interned with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and is currently serving as an education aide to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. She told The Post she’s concerned that critics or rivals are attempting to “weaponize transphobia” by dredging up her arrest. “It’s shameful. People are upset at the momentum my campaign is getting,” she said.
“Sex work is work. It’s an unfortunate fact that trans women and sex work go hand in hand,” Crespo said during an interview with empoweredtranswoman.com.
“It’s not something I wanted to do. It’s dangerous. We’re putting ourselves in front of strangers that we don’t know who can harm us. I feel the very weight of my community on my shoulders. It’s very important for me to show people we can do this. We’re not defined by our past. If we want to get into the arena, we have the right to do it — and we can do it,” she said.