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Critique Essay Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Where The Trans Men and Enbies At?: Cissexism, Sexual Threat, and the Study of Sex Work

By Angela Jones, 2020

In this article, I examine the existing research on transgender sex workers and explore how cissexism and sexism overlap and shape this work. Overall, researchers assume that all trans sex workers are women, and all male sex workers are assumed to be cisgender. Transmasculine and other gender non-conforming sex workers are absent from studies of sex work. Researchers in public health and criminology dominate the literature and this research is limited because it focuses only on trans women and because it focuses primarily on disease and trauma, and almost exclusively on HIV. The literature I examined treats transgender women as a public health “problem” to be solved, rather than addressing their experiences and needs as workers and as people in our society. I argue that in order to have useful applied and policy implications aimed at harm reduction, researchers must use a sociological lens to document what structural conditions push and pull people of various genders into sex markets in the first place. Finally, I advocate for the use of queer, intersectional, and transnational frameworks in future lines of inquiries as a way to push the sociological and public health literature on sex work forward in a way that will benefit all sex workers, their advocates, and service providers.

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