Accepted Paper:

Bodies and desires eroticized: migrant trans women sex workers on the internet  


Julieta Vartabedian (FCSH / NOVA, Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will analyse sex work in a non-heteronormative way through the comparison of Portuguese and English websites, on which migrant trans women offer their services.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on data collected within the ERC funded project "TRANSRIGHTS" (, I will analyse sex work websites from Portugal and the United Kingdom, on which migrant trans women offer their services. By focusing on the specificities of migrant trans women's sex work, my aim is to contribute to the analysis of a subject within Anthropology which is under-researched so far. An ethnographic and visual methodology will be used to describe the way migrant trans women sex workers present themselves to potential clients by very detailed descriptions of their body sizes, physical attributes, personal characteristics, and lovemaking skills. A comparison between websites in the two countries will enrich the discussion as it will show whether embodied visual presentations follow cultural and national patterns of desire so as to respond to the demands of each sex market. Considering that migrants are the largest group of trans women sex workers in both countries (TAMPEP, 2009), I will also highlight how they negotiate their own national origins within a European sex work context that eroticises and exoticises their physical, sexual, and 'racialised' attributes. Therefore, through the analysis of sex work websites it will be 'read' how trans women negotiate gender, nationality, 'race', and sexuality in relation to the cultural and socio-economic demands of the market. My aim is to understand sex work in a non-heteronormative way, complicating the analysis of gendered identities and embodiments of trans women sex workers.

Panel Gend004
Queer ethnographies of the 21st century: heritages, realities, and perspectives