Gendered sex work in the San Francisco tenderloin

Arch Sex Behav. 1999 Dec;28(6):503-21. doi: 10.1023/a:1018765132704.


The variable "gender" rarely appears in prostitution research. Its inclusion raises the same questions brought up with respect to other areas of work: Is there a gendered perspective with respect to the work and are gender inequalities reflected in it? This study examines gender differences in the work of 140 sex workers in the San Francisco Tenderloin. As well as women and men who are workers, we include transgender workers (genetic males who present themselves as women), further accentuating differences by gender. Looking at work-specific characteristics, we find that women do not suffer inequities of income. They are, however, more prone to occupational hazards. Transgenders, who suffer the most societal discrimination, are closer to women than men in their work situation. Examining the sexuality of sex workers, the women are the least likely to enjoy sex with clients. Men report more sexual enjoyment with clients and transgenders are closer to the men in this regard. Few differences are, however, found in sexual pleasure in the personal lives of the women, men, and transgenders. A gender difference that stands out is that the men have more noncommercial sex partners than the women. Again, transgenders are more like the men, although various aspects of their condition make for some unique differences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • San Francisco
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Work / psychology*
  • Transvestism / psychology*