What we did in our first workshops

By Matthew Jones

On Thursday 4th May we held our first TransActions workshop. It was a great day involving lots of interesting discussion and debate.

As we’ve previously said, the aim of this initial meeting was to bring a broad range of people together who are involved with the trans sex work community to discuss ideas about future projects and research that could be designed and conducted in this area. We were particularly interested in identifying what important issues future research should focus on; how we should conduct the research and who we should design resources for based on the information we collect.

We intentionally split the day up into two parts:

The morning was attended by practitioners who work for organisations that provide support and health services to trans sex workers and was facilitated by Del from National Ugly Mugs. The practitioners were keen for the research to be designed and executed collaboratively between trans sex workers and practitioners; and saw merit in producing an online resource (e.g. a website that links to key information and fosters community support) alongside a more traditional paper based resource (e.g. a leaflet) that can be handed out to their service users. There were lots of ideas about what areas/topics the research should focus on, including (these are just a couple of examples – there were many more for us to consider):

  • Health services and support for trans sex workers
  • Funding for support organisations
  • Community amongst trans sex workers
  • Experiences with the criminal justice system

After a lovely vegetarian lunch (which also provided an opportunity for people get to know each other better) the afternoon session was attended by ex and current trans sex workers – facilitated by Clinic Q and one of the participants who was from Sex Work and Trans. The workshop participants were very passionate that any research on trans sex workers should include them as researchers – which gave us lots to think about in terms of employing trans sex workers to collect data for the project, as well as being participants. They talked about the issues that affect them on a daily basis and thought that the research should focus on areas such as (again, these are just a few examples):

  • Trans sex worker safety and experiences of violence
  • Experiences of health and medical services
  • Discrimination against individuals for being trans and also selling sex
  • The diverse experiences participants had when selling sex
  • The legal framework around sex work in the UK and its consequences

We would like to thank everyone for taking part in the day. Everyone really embraced the supportive and collaborative theme of the day that allowed us to capture really thoughtful ideas that will be extremely beneficial to this project. Encouragingly everyone who attended was keen to be involved in future communication and stages of the project.

We are now going to digest and reflect on the data we collected on the day (i.e. from the post-it notes, recorded conversations and data from the buttons). There was lots of it so that will likely take us a couple of weeks. But we’ll keep you in the loop let you all know how we are getting on. We’ll also be reaching out for some input on this and will be in touch soon about the next steps for the project.