Montreal, along with Vancouver, has historically (and currently) amongst Canada’s and North America’s largest sex worker populations. In response, various community organizations have been established for sex workers (and specific groups within them) to provide support, advocacy, peer support, and health programs that have operated for decades.
Transitions is a one-of-a-kind program in Vancouver, and its services are specialized and tailored to different segments of the local sex working population. In Transitions, we value evidence-based practices, experiential input, and flexibility to respond to the needs of our participants. After a year of delivering the program, the team has learned lessons and identified growth opportunities. As part of these learnings, a need to increase capacity and strategic ways to reach male sex workers (MSW) was identified, as well as the importance of knowledge exchange with other organizations who have experience serving MSW. In Vancouver, HIM is the only organization that provides tailored, specialized services to MSW (trans inclusive).
Why Male Sex Workers?
The percentage of MSWs (including both trans men and women) is estimated to be around 25% of the total number of adults employed in sex work jobs. MSW (trans included) often experience double stigma (homophobia, transphobia plus the stigma of commercial sex). According to various authors, “… this intersection is particularly pronounced in creating barriers for leaving sex work and limiting alternative employment options” (Sausa, Keatley & Operario, 2017 in Benoit et al., 2017).
For these reasons, the Transitions program at HIM is making a strategic visit to Montreal, to learn from the experience of organizations with extensive experience supporting MSWs, to share and exchange knowledge, build relationships, and consult regarding effective strategies and practices to deliver MSW support programs and develop programming. The Transitions Service Coordinator for HIM will participate in various activities with MSWs in organizations like REZO, which conducts drop-in spaces, do extensive outreach work, and have tailored, specialized programming for MSWs needs, including transition support.
Knowledge exchange, networking, experiential learning, and partnership with organizations serving MSWs to inform strategic planning (outreach, netreach, recruitment) and programming (best, cost-effective, evidence-based practices) for the Transitions program at HIM and the other organzations of The Metro Vancouver Consortium (serving male/trans sex workers). Ultimately, get imput to expand our capacity to support male sex workers.