Peer Specialist Adrien on Sex Work and Feminism

Adrien (they/them) is a Peer Specialist with Project PEER at Seattle Counseling Service. They have a background in social work with an emphasis on activism for sex worker’s rights. They are also passionate about writing and publishing in the intersections of sex work and public policy. Adrien has been instrumental at SCS in expanding Project PEER’s services and resources to more sex workers and trans individuals.

In July, Adrien was awarded a full scholarship to attend and present at the Global Feminist LBQ Women’s* Conference in Century City, South Africa. While the priority of the conference is to center women, including Intersex, Trans, Cisgender, and all people who identify as women with marginalized identities, it also includes Gender Non-Conforming and Non-binary people. This conference is organized by activists from across all regions of the world and aims to create a space for activists and advocates to come together, share knowledge, exchange strategies, strengthen connections, mobilize resources, and take the lead in building a global LBQ women*s movement.

Adrien pictured far left

Adrien presented on Feminism and Sex Work alongside two South African women who also work in Sex Workers Rights. Adrien spoke about the impact that FOSTA/SESTA has had on sex workers, especially those occupying more marginalized identities, and the importance of PrEP outreach to sex workers. You can read more about FOSTA/SESTA in this article that Adrien wrote themselves (Trigger Warning for mention of r*pe). As noted in this article, Adrien details how harmful this legislation is for independent sex workers in making it more difficult to screen clients, therefore putting their safety at risk, along with demystifying associations with sex trafficking and sex work. Adrien notes that one of the most harmful conceptions is that sex work and sex trafficking are the same thing, or that the sex industry is inherently violent and exploitative.

“one of the most harmful conceptions is that sex work and sex trafficking are the same thing, or that the sex industry is inherently violent and exploitative.”

On the topic of PrEP outreach to individuals who are at higher risk for acquiring HIV, Adrien highlights the importance of including trans people and sex workers in this work. Traditionally, white MSM communities have had the most access to PrEP because that is where the most outreach has been done. Overlooked populations like trans people, sex workers, and people of color have been an overlooked population in PrEP outreach and have higher rates of HIV than their cis, white counterparts. Thankfully, people like Adrien, and programs like Project PEER are aiming to reduce those barriers and increase access to services and education for marginalized communities so that no one is left in the dark.

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