Domestic abuse and its impact on transgender and non-binary survivors

September 26, 2023

While abuse among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning “plus” (LGBTQ+) people occurs at the same rates and in similar ways as their heterosexual peers, transgender survivors or non-binary survivors may experience disproportionately high rates of intimate partner violence or relationship abuse compared to cisgender or non-transgender individuals. Here are some of the ways in which domestic abuse impacts transgender survivors.

transgender binary disproportionately high rates of intimate partner violence
transgender binary disproportionately high rates of intimate partner violence

Higher risk of sexual abuse

Intimate partner violence and sexual abuse may be even more prevalent among transgender and non-binary survivors than among their LGBTQ+ peers. Approximately 22.5% of trans women, 22.4% of non-binary women, and 19.2% of trans men reported sexual abuse to The Hotline in 2023, which is higher than the average of 14.2% of LGBTQ+ survivors.

More likely to be verbally abused

Transgender and non-binary survivors may suffer an even greater burden of intimate partner violence compared to their LGBTQ+ peers. Transgender victims of intimate partner violence are more likely to experience threats, intimidation, harassment, and police violence. Emotional or verbal abuse that transgender and non-binary survivors might experience includes:

  • Using incorrect or offensive pronouns such as “it” to refer to the transgender partner
  • Ridiculing the transgender partner’s body or appearance
  • Telling the transgender partner that he or she is not a real man or woman
  • Ridiculing the transgender partner’s identity as “bisexual,” “trans,” “femme,” “butch,” “gender queer,” etc.

A recent study found that transgender people who experienced IPV were also likely to have experienced other forms of violence such as sexual assault, transphobic family violence, transphobic school violence, or transphobic violence more broadly in society. Nearly 92% of survivors reported emotional and verbal abuse to the Hotline.

Lack of support and barriers to service

Although the response to LGBTQ victims of domestic violence is gradually improving, the LGBTQ community if often met with ineffective and victimizing legal responses.

45% percent of transgender and non-binary survivors do not report violence they experience to the police because they think they won’t help them. Furthermore, members of the LGBTQ community may be denied assistance and domestic violence services because of homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia.

Additionally, transgender or non-binary domestic abuse survivors were significantly less likely to have help from their family, with only one in eight receiving support from someone in their family.

transgender binary disproportionately high rates of intimate partner violence

You are not alone. Everyone, including you and members of the LGBTQ+ community, deserves to live a life free from abuse. We’re here to help.

Contact The Hotline 24/7 to discuss your situation with an advocate, access LGBTQ+ referrals to additional services, and identify available options to help you create a safety plan.

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