The Stiletto Project: A culture-centered co-creative journey with transgender sexworkers in Singapore





The Stiletto Project, a communication platform, co-created by an advisory group of transgender sexworkers, emerged out of an ongoing relationship between CARE and Project X, South-east Asia's leading transgender sexworker advocacy organization.


The Stiletto Project showcases the role of participatory communication processes in creating openings for community voices at the "margins of the margins." 

As an advocacy and activist intervention, the Project emerges from a culture-centered process that works with transgender sex workers (TSWs) in Singapore through advisory groups, in-depth interviews, focus groups, a community-wide rights-based health intervention,  a pre-post survey in the community, and a national-level pre-post survey to identify the problems transgender sex workers face with health, violence, ageing and other affected areas of their life, as well as to implement policy-based advocacy solutions to health and wellbeing.

In 2014, the CARE team initiated a collaboration with Project X to reach out to local transgender sex workers and to form an advisory group of transgender sex workers. The task of the advisory group was simple: to come up with a list of key issues they wanted to work on and to crowdsource the solutions they propose to these issues. 

In 2016, they collaborated to produce a media campaign to create awareness of issues that they faced, the most salient one being stigma and discrimination.

The project went into production in late 2015, with the CARE team developing a website housing health information relevant for this community, based on strategies identified by the community. In addition to the digital component of the campaign, the peer leaders began reaching out to the community to deliver a health intervention in the form of postcards designed for TSWs, by TSWs.

The Stiletto Alliance worked through the framework of the CCA to develop solutions to health and wellbeing rooted in the experiences of community members. 

Challenging the traditional notion of campaigns usually targeting the transgender community with safer sex messaging, The Stiletto Alliance focused on developing infrastructures for community-responsive health information (sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy) resources and implementing communicative strategies for addressing discrimination and stigma.