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About Abuse


Updated: September 12, 2018

Are there other barriers to finding help that transgender victims may face in particular?

Transgender victims often have even more difficulty finding help and support for domestic violence than gay, lesbian, and bisexual victims of abuse. In general, there is less awareness about issues specific to transgender people than there is about lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals. Trans victims of domestic violence may have to overcome transphobia from service providers when trying to find help. A 2011 transgender discrimination survey found that 55% of transgender victims were harassed by shelter staff, 29% were turned away because of their gender presentation, and 22% were sexually assaulted by other residents or staff.1

Here are some of the unique challenges faced by transgender victims of domestic violence when they try to get help:

Refusal to serve transgender victims. Shelters may explicitly refuse to serve transgender victims of violence, and refuse to serve transgender women in particular. Shelters may also accept only trans women who have had gender confirming surgeries or only accept trans women who can provide “proof” of gender transition from a medical professional. Transgender women in particular who are refused entry to a domestic violence shelter may be forced to go to a homeless shelter if they have no other options. A trans woman who is forced to go to a men’s homeless shelter can be vulnerable to an increased level of violence.1

Discrimination or violence from law enforcement or legal professionals. Transgender victims of violence experience higher rates of harassment, violence, and sexual assault from law enforcement than other LGBQ people. Transgender people also face unfair treatment from court staff, judges, and other professionals in the legal system. For instance, court staff may refuse to use a transgender person’s correct pronouns or refuse to let a transgender person file certain forms based on anti-trans prejudice.1

Discrimination and harassment from medical professionals. Medical professionals may be uninformed about trans people or may be biased against trans people. A 2010 report found that 50% of trans people had to teach their providers about the care they needed. In addition, one in five trans people reported being refused care because they are transgender. These types of barriers may force trans people to go without medical care they need. Trans survivors may also be wary of reporting abuse to medical professionals who are uninformed or biased against them because they fear that they won’t get the help they need.2

1 This information has been adapted from Pennsylvania STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program.
2National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on Health and Healthcare,” The National LGBTQ Task Force