Image of Vicky Taylor

Healthcare Access For Transgender Sex Workers: Student Co-publishes Public Health Journal Article

Vicky Taylor has co-published an article in Public Health titled "Self-reported access to health care, communicable diseases, violence and perception of legal status among online transgender identifying sex workers in the UK".

Vicky's co-authors include academics and scientists such as Dr Sarah Steele, Senior Research Associate and Deputy Director at the Intellectual Forum, Dr Martia Vannoni, lecturer in public policy at Kings College, London, Dr Eduardo Hernandez Salazar, Senior Research Associate at the Intellectual Forum, Professor Martin McKee, Professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Andrew Amato-Gauci, scientist at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Professor David Stuckler, Senior Research Associate at the Intellectual Forum, and J. Semenza, also of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 

Vicky talked to us about the internship and publication.

How would you explain the book chapter to someone you met on the bus?

Transgender-identifying sex workers are a particularly high-risk group in terms of health outcomes, but little research has been done to understand the barriers which prevent this group from accessing health services. What research that does exist focuses on the most ‘visible’ sex workers: those working on the street. This paper attempted to engage those may have been missed in previous samples due to working predominantly online.

Through a survey, we were able to hear directly from sex workers themselves about their health care access and outcomes. Only 62% identified feeling comfortable accessing a doctor; 40% reported they have been threatened by a client while working, or felt physically intimidated to do something they did not want to do, and 43% reported they would hesitate to contact law enforcement if needed. The results were clear that risk to health arises from exposure to physical violence which sex workers cannot be protected from while sex work remains decriminalised.

What impact do you hope the chapter will have?

As the paper is about an under-researched population, I hope that it flags some significant health barriers for this group that need to be addressed. Policy evidence requires both quantitative and qualitative analysis to substantiate a case for change: this study provides new quantitative data that points to clear problems within the current standards of provision for this group.

There are some clear research gaps flagged in the article, including the need for future qualitative work with transgender sex-workers to better understand the barriers identified.

Ultimately, the research calls for the decriminalisation of sex work as a necessary route to improving health outcomes for this population.

What did you study at Jesus College? 

I studied Geography for my undergrad at Jesus, focusing on cultural geography. My undergraduate dissertation looked at the role of music groups in London in supporting refugee integration and challenging dominant narratives.

What did you do at the Intellectual Forum? 

Whilst at the Intellectual Forum, I researched and wrote a paper on the changing methodological issues in research in online space with specific reference to transgender sex worker populations with Dr Sarah Steele. This research is partly captured by the recent publication.

I also developed a mapping document of faith-based community responses to the problems experienced by refugees in the UK. This was in preparation for a conference held at the Union Chapel.

Thirdly, I was able to develop my undergraduate dissertation into a more practical document meant to share best practice amongst music groups working with refugees and asylum seekers.

What are you doing now?

After working for the Intellectual Forum, I completed an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, graduating with distinction. My research focused on arts-based activism in the Calais Jungle. I am now working as a Social Researcher.