The United States is a country rife with economic injustice. Commercial sex, as a low-barrier, informal economy which provides access to unrestricted resources. Many people who face a range of structural marginalization and inequity relay on the sex trade to make ends meet and provide.
LGBTQ individuals, and especially trans folks, face a range of barriers to formal employment and basic services. Almost 22% of LGBTQ individuals live in poverty – a combination of circumstances from abuse to discrimination which can span a lifetime. For trans individuals, that number is almost 30%. LGBTQ individuals are more likely to be pushed out by families and face discrimination and abuse at school, meaning that from youth, there are obstacles to economic stability. In June of 2020 the Supreme Court determined that it is a violation of federal law to fire someone for their sexual orientation, but problems still persist in implementation. In the National Transgender Discrimination Survey from 2015, almost 70% of people who had traded sex reported previous discrimination in the workplace. LGBTQ people also face discriminations in basic services such as homeless and domestic violence shelters and regularly encounter barriers to social services such as lacking documentation which reflects their name and gender identity or because of homelessness. For LGBTQ people of color, overlapping forms of structural violence and marginalization compound.
For people who are formerly incarcerated, people with disabilities, caregivers, students, substance users or people who face a range of other barriers, access to stable, living-wage employment can be challenging, if not impossible. The sex trade is one way that many people resist in the face of economic injustice.
Other forms of economic justice: resource redistribution, informal economies.