Reflecting on our last year, there is no question the past 12 months have been immensely challenging. But it’s a challenge we have met with passion and determination.
The COVID19 pandemic has critically affected the sex worker, transgender/gender non-conforming (TGNC), impoverished, homeless, and drug-using communities that SJI serves. We are seeing more need than we have ever seen in the organization's history. Since the start of the pandemic, SJI has served 10,200 clients through engagement with outreach, clinic, and mental health services, a Transgender housing program, Our Mujeres TransLatinas En Accion group, syringe access sites, and the “STRIDE” Transgender healthcare program. That is nearly double the number of clients typically served. Along with direct service, SJI maintains its mission of meeting the needs of people engaged in the sex trade through campaigning for social justice and continues to prioritize advocacy for sex workers.
Current advocacy efforts are focused on SB357, which would end abusive profiling of women of color--especially trans women of color--accused of “loitering with intent to commit prostitution.” SJI has additionally joined coalitions advocating for increased access to housing (not shelters), and for drug user health and well-being, including ending the violent war on drugs, removing police from hospitals and other public health services, and creating safe consumption sites for drug users in San Francisco. In addition to pivoting direct services in response to the pandemic, we’ve made major changes inside the organization: the internal leadership structure of SJI has shifted over the past year.
In alignment with SJI’s foundation as a peer-based occupational health and safety clinic for sex workers of all genders, a co-leadership model is a natural next step. Starting in November 2020, SJI program directors, with the support of the Board of Directors, began restructuring the organization based on knowledge sourced from the Nonviolent Global Liberation movement founded by Miki Kashtan. We are now a Co-Directorship, made up of 10 program directors who work collaboratively on conflict engagement and organizational decisions made using the advice process. SJI has also initiated a racial equity audit and begun the process of further training and consideration of how to best facilitate the leadership of BIPOC community members.
For more than two decades, SJI has led the way in offering direct services in response to crises of criminalization, stigma, and impoverishment--and we continue to do so. The “Our Trans Home” transitional housing program serves a particularly crucial need. San Francisco has long been a refuge for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people (TGNC). However, trans homelessness has been an ongoing crisis. Due to the nontraditional nature of sex work, and the systemic discrimination against TGNC people in housing, employment, and healthcare, TGNC people are unable to access employment benefits, which contributes greatly to housing insecurity. TGNC people are 18 times more likely to experience homelessness and experience increased discrimination, harassment, and violence when trying to access shelters and housing services. In January of 2020, SJI opened its first transitional housing program for transgender and gender non-conforming adults, the Bobbie Jean Baker House. This housing program is the first of its kind, providing trans-specific cultural competence, an all-trans staff who are majority trans women, and majority people of color. The transitional home prioritizes houseless TGNC individuals who are BIPOC, disabled, elders, HIV+, and/or current or former sex workers. The Our Trans Home housing program serves 80 TGNC people with rental assistance, housing navigation services, and transitional housing and houses 15 people at a time at the transitional home.
In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SJI made major shifts in the ways and types of services it offers. Mental health and clinical services transitioned to online virtual meetings, over-the-phone offerings, and socially distanced outdoor sessions, and the clinic has continued to provide urgent and trauma-related care, linkage to HIV+ care services, and clinical services like STI testing and treatment and hormones. SJI’s outreach team kicked into full gear, creating a home delivery service for current and former sex workers to ensure that necessities for survival, including food and PPE, are plentiful. Via SJI’s street outreach van, groceries have been delivered twice a week along with meals, masks and hand sanitizer, condoms and lube, hygiene products, wound care supplies, and safer drug use supplies. These same supplies have been delivered to strip clubs and massage parlors, as well as neighborhoods where street-based sex workers work in San Franciso. As the overdose crisis intensified during this pandemic year, we responded with increased services for people who use drugs. We hired a new Director of Harm Reduction; more than doubled our distribution of Narcan in early 2021; and added a fourth syringe access site, in collaboration with the Hope Center, which offers a free clinic and many additional resources for women, trans, and gender-nonconforming people.
Our community-based health services provide aid to many marginalized communities. Mujeres TransLatinas En Accion offers support to TransLatina sex workers each week. SJI’s partnership with Openhouse features a group for senior TGNC people. We have also joined the fight against COVID-19 by providing the vaccine ourselves. SJI has provided vaccines to over 70 current and former sex workers and their family members. SJI program participants state that they would rather come to SJI for services because they know they will not be judged or lectured about their sex work activities.
We want to reach through and beyond our in-person interactions, creating virtual spaces of connection when we can’t get together in person. So, SJI has launched “Dear Sex Workers, We Love You,” an online series for sex workers that includes a “sex work and parenting” support group, mindfulness meditation, advice on money management and taxes, an art therapy group, and more. The isolation of sex workers has always been a struggle, but the pandemic showed that we need each other more than ever. Our online series is just one attempt to break the isolation.
The staff and volunteers of SJI have been working tirelessly to champion our community and this year we lost our most storied champion, and founder, Margo St. James. The recent memorial for her has sparked an intergenerational push to further the movement to decriminalize sex work and to offer dignity and well-being to all sex workers. St. James Infirmary’s staff and volunteers hope to see this change in our lifetime and we will continue to provide excellent, free, peer-based harm reduction services to our community for as long as it takes.
Thank you to all our participants, staff, volunteers, funders, and supporters!
Happy International Whore’s Day!
In addition to being our Anniversary, today is also International Sex Workers Day!!!
St James Infirmary appreciates our sex worker ancestors for leading the way and standing up for the rights of all sex workers all over the world. We will continue the fight and advocate for the decriminalization of sex work in the U.S. and beyond.
Check out the herstory of this important annual ho-liday.
Join Bay Area Workers Support’s event today in Oakland: A Whore’s Picnic
Dear Sex Workers We Love You
Online Workshops for Sex Workers
Featuring workshops and groups centering sex workers on creative writing, support for sex worker parents, mindfulness meditation for resilience, an upcoming writing workshop, and a weekly art hangout!
For a complete list of offerings and to register for our Dear Sex Workers We Love You online Series, please click the link below.
Welcome, New Staff!
St. James Infirmary is delighted to have some wonderful new faces join our team this year!
Happy Pride Month!
Support local organizations and stay safe during celebrations!
Give Out Day is June 30th,
For more information click the link below
Providing Housing for the TGNC Community
The OurTransHome program started in 2019 to house Transgender and Gender Non Conforming people in San Francisco. There are two parts of the program: The Bobbie Jean Baker House, a transitional home with 15 beds, and a rental subsidy program that aids 80 people with rent assistance!
The OurTransHome team of staff is working hard to secure more support for TGNC housing! At this time our program is full but you can email [email protected]
For more information, or to fill out an application and join the waitlist.
OurTransHome Case Manager
Harm Reduction Program Coordinator
Harm Reduction Site Manager
What We Believe
There are many factors which affect the working conditions and experiences for all Sex Workers including the political and economic climate, poverty and homelessness, stigmatization, violence, as well as the overwhelming intricacies of the legal, public and social systems. It is the philosophy of St. James Infirmary to build upon existing skills and strengths in order to allow individuals to determine their own goals.
- We are fundamentally against the criminalizing of Sex Workers—regardless of our different perspectives on decriminalization or legalization, the collective view of the St. James Infirmary is that incarceration of our community further marginalizes and disenfranchised us, which creates barriers to capacity building, and exacerbates a public health crisis.
- We believe in revolution through healthcare. We challenge the conventional healthcare model that divides patients and providers and fosters unhealthy power dynamics. Our peer-based model creates a safe, trusted, and honest environment in which to provide services, and empowers our community to define our own well-being.
- We are founded on the principles of harm reduction—St. James Infirmary supports Sex Workers being treated with dignity and respect, in every aspect of their lives
- We increase access to primary healthcare and social services for Sex Workers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
- We formalize communication and collaboration among individuals and agencies who serve Sex Workers to better serve our community.
- We promote peer-based public health initiatives on behalf of Sex Workers, which may be used as a model for improving occupational health and safety standards and developing comprehensive medical and social services for Sex Workers around the world.
From Our Blog
This November, San Francisco voters can decriminalize prostitution in our City by voting Yes on Proposition K. St. James Infirmary is against the criminalizing of sex workers for their profession. Regardless of how sex workers got to their current job, being criminalized is a social injustice with serious public health consequences. Police and prosecutors say […]Read More
Join legendary Sex Worker rights activist and St. James Infirmary Founder Margo St. James along with the dynamic staff of the first Occupational Health & Safety Clinic for Sex Workers at our very first Open House Party. There will be food & wine, random door-prizes and a 50/50 raffle. WHEN: Friday September 19th, 5:30pm – […]Read More
We are looking for people to help out St. James Infirmary and volunteer for a shift at Folsom Street Fair September 28, 2008!!! For St. James supporters with a darker dirtier side, this should be a perfect event for you to give of yourself and express your kinkier sides! For more information on how you […]Read More
This year St. James Infirmary is partnering as a major beneficiary of the Folsom Street Fair Events and will receive a grant of $9,000 grant. This money will be used to expand our under-funded Transgender Health Services Program. This program is currently at capacity, however this new money will allow us to enroll new participants […]Read More
St. James is raising money for the clinic and the AIDS Walk. In 2007, 25,000 walkers raised a record-breaking $4.6 million to help the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and 42 other Bay Area organizations fight AIDS. This year, we have a wonderful team, the Hos of Harm Reduction, and we would love to have your […]Read More