Sex work, social support, and stigma: Experiences of transgender women in the Dominican Republic

Academic Article


  • Background: Transgender populations, and especially those in resource-limited settings, are at an elevated risk of experiencing stigma and discrimination. Aims: This study sought to examine the relationship between parental, familial, and other social support, experiences of stigma and discrimination, quality of life, and sex work in a national sample of transgender women in the Dominican Republic (n = 291). Methods: Descriptive analyses for the outcome variable, sex work, as well as for measures associated with socio-demographics, social support, stigma, quality of life, and experiences of abuse and violence were performed. Bivariate analysis examined differences between respondents involved in sex work and those not involved in sex work. Results: We found that participation in sex work was associated with low social support and quality of life and increased experiences of stigma, discrimination, and abuse. Specifically, Dominican transgender women involved in sex work received less social support than their non-sex working peers; they experienced heightened arguments and problems with non-parental family members, professors or bosses, classmates, and close friends, as well of loss of friendships. Involvement in sex work was also associated with higher levels of stigma and discrimination, lower quality of life, and experiences of sexual abuse, torture, and experiences of attempted murder on one’s life. Discussion: Transgender women participating in sex work require more rather than less social support from family members and loved ones, especially in areas where workplace discrimination policies that affect transgender individuals are nebulous, such as the Dominican Republic.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Milner AN; Hearld KR; Abreau N; Budhwani H; Mayra Rodriguez-Lauzurique R; Paulino-Ramirez R
  • Start Page

  • 403
  • End Page

  • 412
  • Volume

  • 20
  • Issue

  • 4