Disabled Sex Workers’ Fight for Digital Rights, Platform Accessibility, and Design Justice


  • Emily Coombes University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Ariel Wolf Hacking//Hustling; The Center for Court Innovation
  • Danielle Blunt Hacking//Hustling; The University of Southern California
  • Kassandra Sparks University of California, Berkeley




sex work, social movements, rights, sex worker justice, disability justice, design justice, UX experience, platform accessibility, shadowbanning, content moderation, FOSTA, SESTA, Section 230


Internet technologies are an increasingly necessary tool for sex working people, disabled people, and people who hold both identities to access resources, community, and income, as well as make claims to rights and fight for social justice. However, ongoing community research suggests that the failures of online platforms to address accessibility needs have had grave effects on sex workers, particularly those with disabilities. This article examines how normative whorephobic, racist, ableist user experience (UX) social media design intersects with punitive virtual content moderation systems to negatively impact disabled sex workers. To better understand how, we focus on unique problems faced by disabled people on the internet and how disability intersects with the sex trade and sexualization more broadly. We draw on data from our previous community research, Erased: The Impact of FOSTA-SESTA and the Removal of Backpage, in addition to Posting into the Void, to share experiences of sex workers navigating disability and discriminatory online systems. We highlight how whorephobic content moderation and punitive platform policing, exacerbated by FOSTA-SESTA, uniquely impact disabled sex workers, particularly those who depend on visual or aural aids to engage with social media. In doing so, we highlight critical intersections between disability justice, sex worker justice, and design justice to advocate for the importance of collaboration between movements.