THE health of queer male and trans sex workers will be put under the microscope as part of a new research project launched by the University of Queensland (UoQ).

In partnership with sex worker group Respect Inc, UoQ has launched The Trans and Male Sex Workers (TaMS) project. Funded by the HIV Foundation Queensland, research for the project is being conducted by sex worker peers.

The aim of the project is to find out more about the health and wellbeing of workers who are male and/or trans.

“There’s virtually no research in Queensland focusing on trans and male sex workers,” said Candi Forrest of Respect Inc.

Forrest said most of the existing research is in relation to law reform, and has focused on cis women in sex work.

While the majority of sex workers – about 85 per cent — are cis women, the significant remaining group is made up of trans people and queer cis men.

“To ignore this percentage is to ignore LGBTI people,” Forrest said.

Stigma related to sex work and to being LGBTI can combine to make accessing healthcare a particular challenge for male and trans sex workers.

Dr Lisa Fitzgerald from The University of Queensland is excited to be working collaboratively with Respect Inc.

“Community-based participatory research is best practice in sex work research internationally,” she said.

The new project aims to identify the different needs and experiences of men and trans people who do sex work. It will focus on how these workers access care for their physical and mental health, and how their wellbeing can be improved.

“The overarching aim is to improve access to sexual healthcare,” Fitzgerald said.

“It is wonderful that the HIV Foundation Queensland has funded such an innovative and important project.”

The TaMS project is seeking current or recent sex workers in Queensland to participate in interviews for the research. Everyone interviewed will be paid $100 for their time.

If you’re a male or trans worker who would like to be involved, please contact Joe at Respect Inc on 0424 657 064 or [email protected]

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