Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Health Social Science

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality


College of Liberal Arts


Behavioral Sciences

Thesis Adviser

Dennis S. Erasga

Defense Panel Chair

Stella P. Go

Defense Panel Member

Jesusa M. Marco
Cristina A. Rodriguez


This study investigated and described the phenomena of harvat or sex work involvement among transgender (TG) women in Cebu City, Philippines. This study characterized the gender identification and self-description of TG women; identified the factors and reasons for their entry and continuous involvement in sex work; highlighted the dynamics of and their experiences on the different types of sex work; and identified the perceived and experienced occupational risks. This study also emphasized the relationship between their gender identity and context for involvement with the nature of sex work they are doing. The method used in this study was face-to-face in-depth interviews with fifteen (15) key informants who are TG women sex workers. The findings revealed that TG women sex workers do not necessarily identify themselves as TG (i.e. ladyboy/shemale, gay/bakla/bayot, or TG/TS) but generally see themselves as women expressed in different modalities that was apparent in their self-descriptions. Another commonality between them is undergoing body modifications, specifically taking hormone pills, to transition to become more womanly. These commonalities signify homogeneity in general rather than being mutually exclusive gender identifications. The findings also showed that economic benefits, and the sexual enjoyment and experience gained from sex work are the main motivations for entering and continuous involvement in sex work. Life situations such as early sexual exposure, peer influence, and difficulty in finding a regular job are also influencing factors. The findings revealed four (4) types of sex work in which escorting has the most economic benefits, followed by online chatting, online harvat, then harvat in cruising sites. There is a greater preference for foreigner clients and the “versatile” sexual role because of greater economic benefits and sexual satisfaction. The findings also indicated that their TG identity has an effect on their client preferences, actual payment received and sexual role; and that context for involvement in sex work has an effect on the type of sex work done and their sexual practices. Lastly, there were lesser experiences of occupational, behavioral, genderbased risks than what they perceived which is partly attributed to the means they practice to avoid or reduce exposure to these risks.

Abstract Format






Electronic File Format


Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

211 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.


Transgender women; Prostitution; Sex; Women; Gender

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