The Effect of Survival Economy Participation on Transgender Experiences of Service Provider Discrimination

  • Matthew Bakko


This study determines how transgender involvement in survival economies, namely sex work and drug sales, affects transgender experiences of service provider discrimination, in comparison to discrimination experienced by transgender people not involved in survival economies. It utilizes cross-sectional data from the 2008–2009 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS). Multivariate logistic regression is conducted on the sample (n = 4927) to determine the strength of association. Logistic regression sub-analysis is used to compare discrimination across different service provider contexts. Compared to those not participating in survival economies, participating in sex work has almost three times greater odds (OR 2.83, CI 2.20–3.63), and those participating in drug sales have approximately 1.5 greater odds (OR 1.52, CI 1.16–1.99), of experiencing discrimination from service providers. Participation in survival economies is a significant predictor of a transgender person’s increased likelihood of experiencing service provider discrimination. Findings suggest that service providers must attend to the specificity of transgender experiences in survival economies. Harm reduction is offered as a suitable intervention approach.


Transgender Survival economy Sex work Service provider discrimination Service delivery Harm reduction 



This paper would not be possible without the encouragement and support of Dr. Shanta Pandey, Dr. Vithya Murugan, and the 2013–2014 MSW Research Specialization cohort at the Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis. I would also like to thank the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the researchers and administrators of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey for supplying the data used in this paper.

Funding Information

No financial or material support was used in producing this article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no competing interests.

Informed Consent

Approval for human subject’s research was obtained from the Pennsylvania State University’s IRB. Since this article utilizes secondary data, there are no further ethical issues, including informed consent.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Michigan School of Social WorkAnn ArborUSA

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