Comments: 100 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

PermanentTempAccount17 karma

As background: the CDC has often lumped HIV/STI/sexual violence victimization stats from trans women into stats with MSM. Do you collect statistics? If so, how do you ensure that trans women's experiences are reflected as part of women's experiences, especially if you report to agencies above you that may not care about the distinction?

How do you address experiences of sexual violence among your target population? I work in a DV shelter/rape crisis center and I've tried recently to do some outreach with sex worker populations in my city, but found it very challenging to address SV as it seems to be accepted as par for the course by those in the industry.

ProjectWeber-Renew13 karma

To address the stats question, we do take stats on how often people come to our center (we do this in a confidential matter), when they get tested, how many tests we do, etc. To ensure that the trans community is represented, they are allowed to be placed in whichever group they feel most comfortable in, whether that be male, female, or not sure. Basically, if a trans women goes into the women center, she isn't viewed as a trans women, she's just a women. The same goes for the female to male trans community. Does this answer your question?

As for the sexual violence question, it is a very interesting topic. Often times sex workers have been molested, or raped in the past. This history of abuse leads to something similar to a Stockholm Syndrome. Sex work becomes the only life they know, and due to their abuse in the past, it is viewed as normal. It is a tough thing to try and do outreach with because in a sense it is viewed as a normal part of the job. Usually, members will deny any type of violence, but once they feel comfortable they usually open up.

typeswithgenitals8 karma

First, thanks for the very important work you do. I'm wondering, if a trans woman identifies as a woman, of course she should be treated as such. As far as record keeping goes, by not recording trans status aren't you losing data that could give insight into the unique challenges trans women face?

Edit: fat fingers

ProjectWeber-Renew8 karma

Let me rephrase, when I say the woman is viewed as just a woman, I meant it in the personal sense. If someone is trans, we do acknowledge it as like you said, the information is valuable. I hope this clears things up.

typeswithgenitals3 karma

Yes, fully! Thanks.

ProjectWeber-Renew5 karma

No problem, tanks for the question! I should've been more clear.

judgebread13 karma

How difficult is it to get funding for a program that is focused on male and trans sex workers?

ProjectWeber-Renew18 karma

in one word, very. Fortunately for us, we have an excellent grant writer as part of our organization, so she plays a huge part in funding the organization. Another huge part is donations. Literally every single dollar helps us in one way or another.

RustledTacos12 karma

Thanks for the information, and for taking the time to do this ama. What are some of the typical forces that drive male and trans people to sex work, and how do they compare with factors influencing females?

ProjectWeber-Renew11 karma

Often times you can see a history of abuse in male, female, and trans sex workers. If someone is molested/raped as a child, or forced into sex work, it becomes all they know. For them, it is easier to sell themselves on the street than to find a typical 9-5 job. it's an interesting concept for sure.

Other factors include the need to fund a habit/need to fund something. If a heroin addict needs heroin, and can sell him/herself for money to get their fix, it is very possible that they will do that. Sometimes members of the trans community will do sex work to pay for their transition.

There's a multitude of factors, but those are some of the more common ones.

Wannabkate2 karma

What about the in ability to find regular work? And I know many Trans woman who fund their transitions through sex work.

ProjectWeber-Renew2 karma

Unfortunately in the US discrimination is still present, and it is tough for members of the trans community to get a job due to these prejudices. That being said, the amount of trans men, or women, that I personally spoke to were not engaged in sex work because they couldn't find other jobs. Often times, it was due to the reasons I mentioned above. This may vary depending on location, and your experiences with the trans community, I am just saying my experience.

troubleOseven10 karma

What stance does your organisation have towards criminalization / decriminalization of sex work and why?

Thank you for what you do ☺

ProjectWeber-Renew12 karma

Making a criminal out of somebody that simply needs help is not right. Putting someone in prison will not fix the issue at hand. We much prefer decriminalization as to putting someone in jail.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to comment!

hazelwazzername8 karma

Thanks for making this AMA, it's a topic that really deserves attention. What's the hardest thing about your job? Or the most rewarding?

ProjectWeber-Renew18 karma

Thank you for asking a question! The hardest part of the job would probably be the stigma associated with it. Working with drug addicts who perform male sex work isn't exactly a "normal" job, so when you tell people you work in the field, they assume that you were previously a male sex worker, or drug addict. Personally, I haven't felt this way, but it can be a struggle for other employees.

The most rewarding part of the job is helping people to become the best that they can be. Often times people who are drug addicts, or sex workers are viewed as inhuman to a degree. So, helping them get clean, find jobs, and stabilize their life is truly rewarding. Everyone deserves a chance to make their life better.

VogueCody254 karma

Its incredible what you guys are doing. How did the idea of this organization come to you?

ProjectWeber-Renew10 karma

I found this organization through my sister. She's currently attending Medical School, and one of her classmates is a board member at the organization, and that is how I ended up here.

To answer the more broad question of why would I want to work at an organization like this, it comes down to two things, my passion for helping people, and my passion for studying drugs. Eventually I hope to get my masters in public health, and I hope to work with drug users and drugs in general. I figured I wouldn't be a great at making policy regarding drug users/drug use unless I did some work at the ground level.

Thanks for the compliment!

sockmonkey164 karma

You have provided a ton of useful and interesting info (which may explain the lack of questions--you already gave a lot of answers). I'm curious if there is a focus on detox, treatment and long-term sobriety? It seems to me the whole cycle of harm is driven by drug use and abuse, and there's no chance of harm elimination (only reduction) if that cycle isn't broken.

ProjectWeber-Renew11 karma

We absolutely focus on long term success. I have referred people to jobs to help them get back on their feet, and often times once they hit the ground running, they stay running.

We have connections with various half way homes, and detox centers within the state, and we often refer clients to these centers, and financially support them for a period of time.

The main problem with drug abuse is that people need multiple tries until they succeed. Sometimes people get clean on the first try, sometimes people get clean on the 100th try. But, until they are ready to quit and get better, the main focus is on harm reduction. We can't force anyone to go to detox or rehab, so until they are ready, we provide them the tools to use safely. It is taken on a case by case by case basis. Each member is different.

Edit: Not reflecting the views of the center, in my own views, I believe that eventually it is possible to negate all harm in drug use. It is not simple to do, and it isn't necessarily cheap, but it is definitely possible, but it will take massive reform in the government, and how society deals with drug users.

zeroReiZero2 karma

How does the organization proceeds when a regular client suddenly doesn't come to meetings? I know you said you can't force and I'm with you there but do you seek them to persuade into coming back or at least know what's going on?

ProjectWeber-Renew7 karma

If we have the contact information of the member, we will do our best to contact them, and figure out why they suddenly aren't coming to the center. If this fails, we can speak to other members in an attempt to see if they know what is going on. If both of these methods fail, we basically just have to wait it out. With some members this is extremely stressful because when they're not coming for extended periods of time it means they're getting into trouble, for other members it means they are with their family. So, just because they aren't coming by frequently, it doesn't necessarily indicate that something is wrong, it truly depends on the member.

Ferv0ur3 karma

Do you run support groups for members? do you even divide the groups on gender lines? if so do you enforce biological gender or the gender they identify as?

ProjectWeber-Renew13 karma

Yes we do run support groups! We do not identify people by their sex, but instead we allow them to identify themselves by whichever gender they choose, and allow them to go to whichever support session they choose. Often times the female sex workers will meet together, and the male sex workers will meet together. There are trans exclusive meetings, however sometimes trans people will go to a male or female meeting depending on how they view themselves.

Also as a side note, "biological gender" is your sex. Sex is the biological trait that you are born with. Gender on the other hand is how you identify yourself. Often times gender and sex are used interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. I recommended the author James Baldwin to another user. He has many pieces about gender roles and sexuality, and he is a great author.

Ferv0ur0 karma

Do you ever have issues with male or female clients when a trans client goes into the male/female group? They may have had a completely different experience of life and not have been told or taught the same types of things (i.e. their sex and gender don't line up so the values they were instilled with my be the opposite of the group). Perhaps this is more specific to the work I do but I thought id ask. I run groups for men and have concerns that if someone transgendered goes into the group it will create tension because of the lack of a shared life experience. (note that im not opposed to this but I am preparing for its inevitable occurrence)

ProjectWeber-Renew11 karma

Generally, no it does not create issues. Everyone at these meetings can relate in some way. All either were, or are sex workers. Most are drug addicts. Most have been abused in some way. Often times these bonds far outweigh the potential for tension. This may be exclusive to the community we deal with, but I think if you put in effort and attempt to make everyone see the connections that they have with each other, the meetings would go fine.

EdgarAllanNope_2 karma

How much money do you make?

ProjectWeber-Renew2 karma

Currently, I am an unpaid intern, however there are various paid positions involved with Weber.

Flibityjibbet2 karma

Hey, logged in because trolls are silly and I wanted you to know how much I apreiciate the work you and your organization does. My question: do you find people engaged in sex work because they need the money in the moment, and then move on with thier lIves? What kind of support do these workers need? I ask because a close friend of mine had a brief period of sex work in her past, and seems pretty ok with it.

ProjectWeber-Renew2 karma

Eh trolls aren't that bad. To be honest I expected much worse.

Often times members will engage in sex work as a result of going through abuse at a young age, or to fund something, whether it be to fund a drug addiction, or to fund their transition from male to female, or vice versa. The abuse side of things is a much different story. When people are abused at a young age, or forced into sex work by their guardians, it is extremely difficult for them to do anything else because sex work becomes the norm for them.

It is good your friend got out of the sex work field because it can be a tough spot to be in. It is uncommon to see "part time" sex workers.

LyingBloodyLiar2 karma

What do you think about sex change operations pre-adulthood? My partner thinks it's important to allow gender realignment as soon as possible in youth as it is easier/better results (?), but I have always argued that identity in early life is not fixed,and youngsters need time to develop their view of themselves.

When is too early / when is too late?

ProjectWeber-Renew10 karma

That's a very tough question, but I'll do my best to answer. Your partner is correct in the sense that young children often times do know what gender they are by around age 4. Source. I know it's not the most official source, but the age range between studies is usually around 4 to 6 years old. If I have time I can find you a study.

However, when commenting on what age is too early/too late to get the operation/start treatments I can't really say. Part of me wants to say that the child should wait until they are older, and more fully developed mentally. However, I have never been put into this situation. I am a straight male, and I don't have any trans people/kids in my family so my judgement may not be the best. My best advice would be to talk to a mental health professional, along with a primary care doctor to find the best route of action. I hope this answers your question!

LyingBloodyLiar1 karma

Thanks for providing evidence for your point. I appreciate it. I have seen people online talking about gender identity see-sawing in their young lives. And this makes me wary of the idea of early age procedures. No sources I am afraid as I am on mobile, and it was just forum discussions.

Are there not government level guide lines for this kind of thing? Or generally agreed medical best practice?

Thanks to all who have replied btw

ProjectWeber-Renew3 karma

Like I said, I'm not the best source of information on this as I haven't had to go through this, but the general course of action occurs once the person is an adult. It is rare to see a child who is transitioning. Some of the other comments above have been interesting. This is definitely something that I will have to look into more. Thank you for the very interesting question.

suuserx2 karma

Is Alex Rodriguez a True Yankee?

ProjectWeber-Renew6 karma

Sox all day man! Can't comment on the Yankees.

cold_lotion0072 karma

do you get paid for your internship? what are your plans after it's over?

ProjectWeber-Renew5 karma

I do not get paid for my internship. The funding instead goes to people who truly need it, and I am perfectly fine with that.

I will be returning to college in the fall, and one day I hope to get my masters in public health and work with drugs, and drug users. Who knows, maybe next summer I'll be working here again, or maybe I'll be working in the State House. I will have to wait and see!

cold_lotion0072 karma

what is a typical day like? is it a lot of admin/office work?

ProjectWeber-Renew4 karma

Typical days at the center include data entry in Microsoft Excel, hanging out safe sex supplies (condoms and lube), exchanging needles, doing HIV and Hep C tests, along with meeting with members in a formal therapy-like setting, and interacting with them in an informal way.

There's some office and administrative work, but there is also a lot of outreach and talking to members. It is an interesting job for sure. Some days there are no members in the center and it is a slow day, sometimes there are members who come in high on their drug of choice. It is always an interesting place to be, that is for sure.

EdgarAllanNope_0 karma


ProjectWeber-Renew2 karma

Since you're saying "uni," may I ask if you're from the UK/Australia? Here in the United States unpaid internships are pretty common, which is unfortunate in some ways, and beneficial in others.

I pay the bills because I have worked since I was about thirteen years old, and have saved my money well enough that I can support a fair amount of my needs and wants. Since I am also young, and still in school my parents help me out as much as they are able to. I don't feel as though I am making the field any harder to get into because I can work unpaid, this is how a lot of internships are in the United States. It is tough, but that is just the state of things.

I did not work a second job this summer. Instead I took summer classes to get ahead. It isn't too stressful, I still had plenty of time to enjoy myself over the summer.

Currently I plan on majoring in Public Policy, and minoring in Business Studies. I may get another minor, but at the moment I am undecided.

Lastly, thank you for the good luck wishes, and thank you for taking the time to comment!

lithedreamer2 karma

How do you feel about non-binary people?

Also, thank you for doing this AMA, and sorry for the trolls you've had to deal with here.

ProjectWeber-Renew8 karma

Ah the trolls will be trolls. It is a controversial topic so it is expected to see them. As i said in a previous comment, I treat all people the same. Gender roles are a very complex issue, people shouldn't be confined to a box when deciding how they want to be viewed, and how they view themselves. Life isn't black and white, there is plenty of grey area.

DieselMan2712 karma

How did you get such a cool internship?

ProjectWeber-Renew2 karma

I was lucky enough to have connections to the organization through networking, and apparently I made a good enough impression to get the job! Thanks for the comment, and if you're interested in doing anything similar I definitely recommend doing it!

dominiquedenis1 karma

Hi there, I manage a program for adult sex workers of all genders in Calgary, Alberta, Canada called SHIFT. You mention the driving forces behind sex work involvement are abuse/trauma and drug addiction. I'm wondering why you don't mention that some sex workers choose to work in the industry without constrained choice and that it can be just another work option? Some sex workers enjoy their work and have chosen to do sex work as a short-term job or a long-term career. Perhaps this is less common in Rhode Island? Many of our clients, although they may experience stigma and discrimination related to their line of work, are happy with their choice, have no substance abuse problems, and no significant trauma that drove them to be sex workers. They make good money, keep themselves safe in terms of STIs, and provide for their families in the same way that you or I would. As we are not an exit-based program, we provide services regardless of where they are at. Many come to us for help leaving the industry, but others are ok with their work but need help in other areas (housing, finances, food, etc). We even help find resources and teach safety tips for folks wanting to get into the industry if that's what they want!

I caution using statements that deepen stereotypes that all sex workers have suffered childhood trauma, are exploited/trafficked and are addicted to drugs. This is simply not the case (here, anyway) and doesn't do any favours to the population we are trying to assist. I rarely comment on Reddit but felt I needed to fill a gap here. Thanks for listening and keep up the good work! :)

ProjectWeber-Renew1 karma

Thank you for the comment!

Often times, the members in our center have gone through trauma, rarely do they do sex work by choice per se. However, it is worth nothing that not all sex workers do it due to previous trauma. I'm not sure that they are the majority, however.

sporkemon1 karma

Wasn't expecting to come into this AMA and see my home state represented! Do you see many/any sex workers from the southern part of Rhode Island, especially South County? I grew up there and had never seen any sort of sex trafficking or drug use, but I know that drug use is on the rise.

ProjectWeber-Renew3 karma

Glad to see a fellow Rhode Islander! Most of our population comes from the Providence area. Both drug use, and sex work are prevalent if you know what to look for. As for the southern part of Rhode Island it is tough to determine exactly what is going on because people won't often make the trip up to Providence, so we don't have a ton of data. We know that sex work and drug use happens down there, but not exactly how much or how often. If you know anyone who could sue our services send them our way! Free condoms, free lube, free needles, etc. We love helping people out.

sporkemon1 karma

It amuses me to no end that people won't make the 45 minute drive up to Providence for any reason at all, apparently. Still, I appreciate all the work you guys do and I'm so glad you did this AMA today! Thank you!

ProjectWeber-Renew3 karma

You know Rhode Islanders, if it is 15 minutes away, it is too far. It is definitely unfortunate, and hopefully this will change in the future.

Thank you, and I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to comment!

Misterlulz1 karma

Are they hiring?

ProjectWeber-Renew2 karma

I will PM you.

Wannabkate1 karma

What's the one thing that you would want to tell Trans women?

ProjectWeber-Renew1 karma

Be yourself, and be strong. Don't let anyone tell you who you are, or who you aren't. Life is tough, and there may be speed bumps in the road, but never give up on being the best person you can be.

Also, don't be scared to reach out for help. Don't fear help, and don't feel guilty about getting it. We're all human, everyone needs a helping hand once in a while.

obeytrafficlights1 karma

Thats cool and all, but I was just really surprised that ..well, to hear that there were enough people to need your services.. are there many street-based (or ... at all?) male and trans sex workers in rhode island?

ProjectWeber-Renew2 karma

There are much more than you would think. If you knew what to look for, and went to the right places you could see sex work happening at almost any time of the day, by males and females.

Ricky_Davis-8 karma

How does it feel to know your job is useless?

ProjectWeber-Renew6 karma

It feels pretty great helping people, but if you classify that as useless, than I'm not sure what to tell you.

imaredneckama-32 karma

"Trans" people have a mental condition - and are sadly enabled by people who want to status signal to others about tolerance. The IV drug use and STD problems are out of control in the trans "community" not to mention suicide and other mental health issues.

What do you think about trans people? Are they suffering from a mental illness?

ProjectWeber-Renew32 karma

I think trans people deserve the same respect as anyone else. Gender and sex are often confused in the mainstream media. Sex is a biological trait (Ex. You are born either male of female), gender however is much more complicated. Gender roles in society are a very complex social issue. This complexity is what leads to the various different genders. So is it a mental illness? No. Would some members of the community benefit from mental health aid? Sure. But, the same could be said about any subculture in society. If you are interested in reading more about gender roles I recommend checking out James Baldwin. He is a fantastic author who speaks on gender roles pretty frequently.

jonloovox-34 karma

They could have just done anal. Protects against disease and no babies. How do you feel about anal versus vaginal?

ProjectWeber-Renew23 karma

Performing anal sex does not eliminate the risk of catching STDs. As with any type of sex (oral, anal, vaginal), protection should be used.

jonloovox-25 karma

What's your source on that?

ProjectWeber-Renew29 karma

Looking through your comment history it appears you're only here to get a reaction from people, but I will still provide you a source