The life of a transgender sex worker in Pattaya is not easy. On the one hand, ‘Pattaya is a paradise for transgender people, a place where many transgender sex workers feel they can openly express their identities,’ says Thissadee of the Health Opportunity Network (HON). On the other hand, transgender sex workers face widespread discrimination, violence, and oppression, especially from law enforcement.
I am attending HON’s workshop on harm reduction for transgender sex workers who use drugs – the first such event organised for this group in Pattaya by HON, with support from the Ozone Foundation. HON was established in 2010 to provide peer-based health and support services for men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people and sex workers living with HIV in Pattaya, Thailand. The Ozone Foundation is an NGO that provides community-based harm reduction services for people who use and inject drugs in Thailand. Responding to a gap in existing services, HON has begun to focus on better understanding the experiences and needs of transgender sex workers who use drugs.