Written by Anna Randall, Executive Director

April, 2023

We are delighted to welcome you to KinkHealth News, TASHRA’s kink science newsletter. We have planned this newsletter to keep you up to date on what we do here at TASHRA as well as keep you informed about the expanding field of kink studies.

A bit over 10 years ago, co-founders Richard Sprott, PhD, TASHRA’s research director, and myself, our Executive Director saw kink, BDSM and fetish rising in mainstream awareness, and with that, a greater need to reduce stigma and discrimination, and learn more about how to improve the healthcare of individuals who are attracted to kink, BDSM, and fetish subcultures.

Our current broadening roster of TASHRA’s ongoing and upcoming projects and programs include:

  • conducting of four IRB approved research studies,
  • disseminating research findings through academic papers, speaking opportunities and kink community involvement,
  • mentoring of new professionals and supporting long-standing professionals in the field of kink studies,
  • exploring novel transdisciplinary approaches to care,
  • expanding of our monthly professional development curriculum that serves mental and physical healthcare providers,
  • coordinating case consultation and process groups for kink proficient clinicians,
  • and the current development of a new delivery system that will expand kink-proficient mental health access, provide specialized care to kink individuals and offer intensive training placements for clinicians.

We are a creative and passionate sex-positive team, and never without emerging projects. Your ideas are always welcome.

It’s been a busy 10 years for our growing international organization; filled with amazing connections, deepened understandings, and an ever-growing body of research and research-based curriculum on the care of the kink-interested. Most of all, we are honored to have gathered a growing community of healthcare professionals, kink scholars, volunteers, students and members of the kink community, all interested in helping people with erotic interests outside the mainstream, live authentic, safe, and satisfying lives.

A bit about TASHRA’s Research

Prior Research:

  • 2013 – our first research project, The Kink Health Project involved in-depth interviews with San Francisco kink community members about their experiences with healthcare professionals. Our findings were published, describing their challenges with finding knowledgeable care providers and anticipated stigma, but also detailing a vibrant and supportive community where kink individuals go when help is sought.
  • The Gerbil Survey – is an ongoing informal poll at kink community events we attend, where we ask kink identified individuals whether they have a primary healthcare provider or therapist and whether they are out about being kinky with either or both.
  • 2016 – The groundbreaking Kink Health Study, surveyed 1000+ U.S. kinksters about key elements of their health, their relationships and wellbeing. As a pilot study, we learned the health concerns they face, how our study participants navigate disclosure with healthcare providers, that psychiatric medication use and self-reports of mental health problems are on par with the general population; but findings triggered questions about how those who are kink-involved manage crises of anxiety and depression, as well as identifying specific health disparities.  

Current Research  

  • In May of 2022 we launched the International Kink Health Survey (currently still enrolling participants) as an international expansion of the 2016 survey. Its eight part survey invites participants to provide more details on topics we wanted to know more about, including depression, anxiety, injuries, and how kink involvement can be a vehicle for healing by many. kinkhealth.org
  • Just launched, the PrEP4Kink study is the first HIV prevention study aimed at kink-involved individuals. We will be enrolling approx. 560 individuals to take part in a yearlong study to see whether PrEP educational materials that have been specifically designed for a highly intersectional kink audience impacts the participant’s attitudes and willingness to take pre-exposure prophylaxis medication to protect them from contracting HIV. prep4kink.org
  • Surprisingly little research has ever been published on D/s and Master/slave, power dynamic relationships. Now enrolling participants, the Authority Transfer Relationships (ATR) study aims to understand the first-person experience of those who have had long term relationships where the interpersonal interplay of dominance and submission have been central. [email protected]
  • It is not uncommon these days to hear about how kink can be a healing experience for those involved. Research on this topic is currently highly anecdotal. Using the framework of Accelerated Experiential Psychodynamics, The Healing Experiences Study (HEX) is an upcoming online survey that will attempt to identify and measure whether and how involvement in kink impacts attachment, self-regulation, security, trauma, and other ways we experience attempts to heal.