There has been a lot of discourse about transgender people, particularly as it relates to their ability to access medical care or to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. In most of these conversations, a significant fact has been left out: that transgender people are much more likely to be victims of violence. In reality, transgender people face far higher levels of violence and abuse than cisgender people (those whose gender identity matches the sex assigned to them at birth).
Transgender people make up just 0.6% of the adult population of the United States, with 2% of people aged 18 to 29 identifying as transgender. Despite representing a small minority of people in the U.S., transgender people are disproportionately impacted by all types of violence.
Transgender People Face Much Higher Rates of Violence
The statistics on violence against transgender people are startling. Transgender men and women are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization, including aggravated or simple assault, rape and sexual assault. In addition, homes where a transgender person lives have much higher rates of property crimes compared to cisgender households. A recent study by the UCLA School of Law found that:
Transgender people over the age of 16 are victimized at a rate of 86.2 per 1,000 people, compared to 21.7 victimizations per 1,000 for cisgender people.
Similarly, transgender women and men had higher rates of violent victimization (86.1 and 107.5 per 1,000 people, respectively) compared to cisgender women (23.7 per 1,000) and men (19.8 per 1,000).
Transgender households also had a higher rate of property victimization, at 214.1 per 1,000 houses than cisgender households (108 per 1,000 households).
About half of all violent victimizations were not reported to police.
Transgender people also experience far higher rates of sexual violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 26 men have experienced completed or attempted rape. By comparison, 47% of transgender people had been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. The numbers are even higher for communities of color, with transgender American Indian (65%), multiracial (59%), Middle Eastern (58%) and Black (53%) respondents of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey were most likely to have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
Barriers to Seeking Help
Unfortunately, transgender people are often hesitant to seek help from police, hospitals, shelters, and non-profit organizations. In a survey conducted by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, 85% of victim advocates reported having worked with a LGBTQ+ survivor who was denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition to organizations refusing services based on gender identity, transgender people may also be reluctant to seek help because:
They do not want to disclose their gender identity;
They worry that they will be outed without their consent;
They think that they will not be believed because of their gender identity;
They cannot access services because their gender identity is not recognized;
They worry that it will reflect badly on their community if the perpetrator is also LGBTQ+; or
They are concerned that law enforcement officers, medical providers, and others will discriminate against them or treat them poorly.
Transgender people also face the potential of being sexually assaulted by the very systems that are supposed to protect them. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 20% of transgender people who were incarcerated reported being sexually assaulted by facility staff. 17% of transgender people who stayed at a homeless shelter were sexually assaulted there.
At Blackburn Center, we offer services to ALL victims and survivors of gender-based violence. We offer inclusive, affirming, trauma-based care for our clients. All of our services are or can be accessible.
If you need help, we are here for you. Reach out anytime: 1-888-832-2272 (TDD available). All calls to our hotline are free of charge and can be anonymous.