Social Networks and Exchange Sex among Transgender Women

J Sex Res. 2021 Jul;58(6):743-753. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2021.1892575. Epub 2021 Mar 28.


Transgender women are more likely to exchange sex than cisgender individuals. This study investigated how social networks were associated with exchange sex among transgender women in Los Angeles County. From July 2015 to September 2016, transgender women (N = 271; "egos") reported their sexual and substance use behaviors and perceptions of the same behaviors among their peers (N = 2,619; "alters"). Clustered logistic and negative binomial regressions were used to model odds of exchange sex and number of exchange sex partners in the past 6 months, respectively. Transgender women who perceived that any of their peers were engaged in exchange sex were approximately four times more likely to exchange sex themselves and reported three times as many exchange sex partners as those who did not perceive any peers engaged in exchange sex. Perceived ecstasy use among peers was associated with higher odds of exchange sex and more exchange sex partners, whereas perceived marijuana use among peers was associated with lower odds of exchange sex and fewer exchange sex partners. Peer behaviors were strongly associated with both transgender women's likelihood and rate of engagement in exchange sex. Risk reduction interventions with transgender women should attend to network dynamics that are often overlooked in existing programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Partners
  • Social Networking
  • Transgender Persons*