Posted on | July 25, 2009 | 267 Comments
There are very few statistics available for the rate of rape among transgender individuals. One small study showed that 13.7% of transgender respondents had experienced rape or attempted rape. Another study shows that 50% of transgender respondents had been raped or assaulted by a romantic partner — and among all groups of people sexual violence is a common form of intimate partner violence.
Neither of these studies give large-scale data. Both also fail to separate out rates of rape for trans men, trans women, and genderqueer individuals. Anecdotal evidence in the trans community, however, suggests that rates of sexual violence are much higher than among cisgender (non-transgender) people. The rates of rape for trans women are believed to be much higher than the rates of rape for cis women, and the rates of rape for trans men higher than the rates of rape for cis men. Many of the assaults are hate crimes. And due to the high rates of police abuse or dismissal against trans individuals, the crimes are also extremely unlikely to go unreported.
Making matters worse yet again is the impact that prejudice has on access to victims services. For example, it’s not at all uncommon for trans people to lack access to health care — either because of a lack of insurance, or poor prior treatment at the hands of health care providers, and subsequent unwillingness to “out” themselves to receive care. As a result, victims can often miss out on vital services like STD testing and emergency contraception.
And even those who are supposed to help rape victims can discriminate on the basis of gender identity. While trans women are almost certainly raped at higher rates than cis women, they are often denied access to women’s shelters by so-called feminists. These women claim that it’s about ensuring that cis women feel safe receiving services, but that’s really just a way of positioning trans women as “fake” women, as well as positioning them as potential perpetrators rather than actual victims. (In truth, transgender people are no more likely to commit sexual violence than cisgender people.) This kind of denial of services can cost lives in the case of ongoing abusive relationships, and needs to cease immediately.