Sex Work among Trans People: Evidence from Southern Italy

Carlo D’Ippoliti & Fabrizio Botti

This study attempts to empirically investigate the determinants of the supply side of sex work beyond the dichotomy between coerced and freewill participation. It does so by focusing on a very stigmatized and discriminated-against population: transsexual and transgender people. We collected original data on trans people through nonrandom sampling within a study aimed at assessing gender-identity discrimination in Italy. A multivariate analysis of the determinants of falling into sex work confirms that within the trans population, “pull” factors – specifically, prospective income – positively affect the decision to supply sex services. Even more relevant are “push” factors, such as low employability and past experiences of discrimination. The resulting sex-work trap calls for policy initiatives to enhance the employability of marginalized individuals as well as an effective fight against stigma and discrimination in the labor market.

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