As a researcher, J. Leigh has studied the transphobia and queerphobia experienced by LGBTQ sex workers, analyzed data for an international qualitative study on casual sex, and co-produced an ethnographic short film for an international research project called SEXHUM in collaboration with transgender LatinX sex workers from the Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo in NYC. They began doing sex work in Vermont in 2012.
For MOMA/PS1’s Sex Workers’ Festival of Resistance and the 2018 International AIDS Conference, J. Leigh co-curated sex worker film programs and spoke about multi-gendered sex work. They have also presented at numerous conferences, rallies, workshops, and panels on (dis)ability sexual inclusion, trans, and sex worker harm reduction principles. They currently serve as the Gender Non-Conforming Non-Binary Advisor for Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (GLITS), Alternative Sexuality Advisor for the Sharmus Outlaw Advocacy and Rights (SOAR) Institute, and as the Research and Project Manager for Decriminalize Sex Work, organizations that fight for the rights of sex workers and survivors of human trafficking.
They have also been an advisor for the Museum of the City of New York’s Transgender Activism Exhibit and received the 2019 Marsha P. Johnson Community Leader Award from New York Transgender Advocacy Group, where they currently serve as an advocacy consultant and as the president of the New York State Gender Diversity Coalition.
J. Leigh has worked on Showtime’s Billions and Fox’s The Following, been featured in TIME magazine, VICE News, and TimeOUT NY. In 2019, they co-wrote an amicus brief to fight the anti-sex work legislation SESTA/FOSTA in the U.S. courts and in 2021, they will begin a Ph.D. program in human sexuality research focusing on sex workers and their mobility-impaired clients.