TRANSforming Support Services

Alisha OstbergBlog, human rights, sex work, stigma, support

Approximately 5% of our clients accessing the Shift support services program last year self-identify as transgender women.

The stigma associated with transgender individuals often leaves them without social or economic support, and sex work joins a very short list of options just to survive.

With the addition of the social stigma attached to sex work, the risk of whorephobic and transphobic inspired violence increases astronomically. Transgender sex workers have identified specific needs that, while often available to the greater community of sex workers, are not always available to those who identify as transgender.

Lack of support is the norm for transgender people in this situation, excluding them from such basic human rights of personal safety, shelter, food, and legal protection. Marginalization is intrinsically associated with higher rates of homelessness, depression, and exclusion from more mainstream — safer — sex industry jobs. The work more often occurs out of doors, increasing vulnerability and a greater risk of violence.

The lack of services and protection afforded to individuals identifying as transgender is problematic, and perpetuates the cycle of violence experienced by transgender sex workers.

At Shift, we are committed to advocating for the rights of all transgender people and encouraging community agencies to become more aware of the issues and adopt policies that are more inclusive.

Shift continues to see an increasing number of trans-identified people and we work with them in a non-judgmental, anti-oppressive way, creating a safe space to access support and advocacy services.

Although there are structural barriers to transgender people accessing services, we have and will continue to push back and demand that their human rights are realized.

Further information can be found here: The Needs and Rights of Trans Sex Workers