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From Toads to Queens. Transvestism in a Latin American setting

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interviews were conducted in that part of San José where the
majority of brothels were located (ie. the central core and the city’s
south-eastern zone), though in some cases interviews were also
carried out in apartments, bars or in the homes of those
transvestites who did not live in the brothel area. Moreover, given
that there was some financial compensation available to those who
participated in the study, interviewees were generally willing to
recommend other prospective participants to our staff. Through
the use of this type of snowball sampling technique, a total of 22
transvestites completed questionnaires, with 20 of them also
participating in an in-depth interview of approximately one hour in
length. The latter interviews were conducted during the months of
January and February 1990, with each participant being paid 1,000
colones per hour.
Once contact had been made with transvestites who were also sex-
trade workers, it became feasible to interview their lovers as well,
with 11 such interviews being carried out (again, 1,000 colones
were paid to each participant). All but one of these interviews
were tape-recorded, with participants being assured of complete
confidentiality and that none of the information gathered would be
used against them. Moreover, in accordance with participants’
own wishes, only their professional names were used in the
findings report.
A second study was launched by ILPES in 1997 to evaluate the
degree of change over the course of the past seven years, and to
adapt education and prevention initiatives accordingly. Bearing
this purpose in mind, a qualitative survey was undertaken with 25
in-depth interviews being conducted with transvestite sex-trade
workers, of whom the vast majority were based in San José’s
Clinica Biblica neighbourhood. Interviews lasted anywhere from
one hour to 90 minutes, and dealt with significant changes in
participants’ lives over the course of the past decade: relationships,
money, drugs, jobs, love affairs and problems with the police or
the neighbourhood. This time individuals were paid 5,000 colones
per interview (US$20 in 1997), which was roughly equivalent to
the hourly rate they charged their clients. Also, five in-depth
interviews were carried out with sex-trade workers’ lovers and,
after having obtained the permission of the client in question, one
sex session was taped. Those clients who agreed to participate in
an interview were paid 5,000 colones, while 2,000 colones were
paid to the individual who agreed be taped during sex.
Moreover, in order to gain a broader understanding of conditions
in the Clinica Biblica area, five interviews were conducted with
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