Queering the Support for Trafficked Persons: LGBTQ Communities and Human Trafficking in the Heartland

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Queering the Support for Trafficked Persons: LGBTQ Communities and Human Trafficking in the Heartland


  • Corinne Schwarz Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66044, USA
  • Hannah E. Britton Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Department of Political Science, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66044, USA


Abstract  Human trafficking justice centers on the “Three Ps” model of prevention, protection, and prosecution. While protection and prosecution efforts have been moderately successful, prevention remains elusive, as “upstream” structural fac-tors—class, gender, and sexuality inequalities—remain difficult to target. Individuals who are affected by these factors are not fully served within linear service frameworks. Based on a 12-month study in Kansas City, we find that service providers recognize the limitations of a “one-size-fits all” approach. Using a public health model, our research team con-ducted a public health surveillance, explored risk and protective factors, and facilitated organizational self-assessments of services. Our findings support a prevention approach that supports a survivor-centered model, which creates new, non-linear or queered avenues of agency and community for trafficking survivors. This model allows survivors to make use of services in moments of vulnerability and opt out of others in moments of resilience. Given the systematic cuts in funding that have affected service providers, this research contends that prevention is cheaper, more effective, and more ethical than relying on prosecutions to curb trafficking. Developing a model that fosters survivor empowerment is a key step toward individual justice and survivor resilience for vulnerable and marginalized populations.


Keywords  agency; human trafficking; LGBTQ; prevention; public health


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/si.v3i1.172